“Yes, but…” She grimaced. “I’m still getting some mileage out of knowing Lucas is miserable because I’m living on his baby.” She didn’t look at him, not wanting to see what he thought of this.
But he laughed. “Okay, remind me to never piss you off.”
And that was just the thing. He had pissed her off, several times now. And yet she didn’t feel like retreating, or never speaking to him again, or strangling him with his own pillow in the dark of the night.
Well, okay, maybe she had once or twice…But she’d also felt like making up with him in ways that just thinking about made her squirm uncomfortably. In the best possible way.
Jacob gathered everything back into the bag he’d brought down from his cabin and stood.
Sophie did the same. “You told me I could stay here.”
A commander had once told Jacob he was the hardest sonofabitch he’d ever met, and Jacob had believed it. He’d been in some pretty ugly places and had done some pretty ugly things. People tended to give him a wide berth.
But not this woman. Nerves and fears or not, she still went toe-to-toe with him.
He fucking loved it.
Whether she knew it or not, she was comfortable with him. It made him want even more from her. Things he hadn’t imagined ever wanting from anyone. Things he’d promised her he didn’t want.
Which put him in the ridiculous position of either continuing to lie to her about that, or swallowing emotions he didn’t know what to do with anyway in order to keep her in his life. “Yeah,” he said. “I told you that you could moor here. And I meant it. Indefinitely.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. “Indefinitely?”
“Yes.” Expect more from me, he wanted to say. Demand it from me. You deserve it. Instead, he smiled. “No worries. I’ll collect my rent.”
She didn’t smile. Instead she stared up at him. “I’m sorry I assumed you were lying to me.” She said this quietly but also slightly begrudgingly, which made him smile. “I’m not good at letting people in.”
“I think you’re doing pretty damn good,” he said.
She stared at him as if she wasn’t sure how to take him. So while they were on that, he said, “And you should know, I don’t lie.” Well, except for how I feel about you… “Too much to remember. I’m lazy, Sophie. Very lazy. We square?”
“You’re the most unlazy man I’ve ever met.”
She looked at him for a long beat. “We’re square,” she finally said. “Are we friends?”
Is that what they were doing? He hadn’t put a label on it, but if he had, friends would have been in the mix. Friends. Lovers… “Is that what you want?”
She stared into his eyes, and then her gaze dropped to his mouth and she licked her lips, nearly causing him to groan.
“I think we’re a little more than that,” she said.
“Is that what you want?” he asked again.
She stared at him. “It’s a start, right?”
“And the end?”
“You don’t seem like a guy concerned with the ending of anything.”
True enough, he thought. And he had no idea why he was pushing on this. Except he did. He wanted more and yet he wasn’t exactly in a position to offer it. “You know what I’m asking. I’m asking if we’re going to be more than friends.”
“For the duration, you mean?”
His own words, of course, put right back on him. He’d said she was his for the duration, and he was hers. He’d meant it. He just hadn’t known how much…or how badly he’d want the duration to be extended.
She cocked her head and studied him, and he did his best to look like the kind of guy she couldn’t live without. And maybe also the kind of guy she wanted to take belowdecks and lick from head to toe.
“I have no idea what to do with you,” she said.
“I’ve got a few ideas.”
She snorted. “Stop. I mean it.”
He sobered. “I know.”
“And you know it’s not you, right?” she asked earnestly. “It’s me.”
He laughed at her use of the cliché. He couldn’t help it. And she smiled and gave him a push. “It’s not a line. I mean it.” Her smile vanished. “We both know I’ve got some things to work out. In my head.”
And she wasn’t the only one. Reaching over, he took her hand in his, liking it when she entwined their fingers. Bringing their joined hands up to his mouth, he brushed his lips over her knuckles.