Having her here with him like this made his heart beat faster, made him feel worth something, and he enjoyed every second he spent with her, even when they were bickering. Maybe especially when they were bickering. They had something here between them, something good. And he was pretty sure he could prove it to her. But if she needed to hide behind the sex until she felt safe, until she realized that he would never hurt her, that was fine. And damn if he wouldn’t make sure she enjoyed herself in the meantime, because even though he had the patience of a saint, he most definitely wasn’t one.
Her hair was wild and crazy, and he stroked the beautiful mess back from her face and bent to kiss her.
She put a hand between their mouths. “I haven’t brushed my teeth!”
“Me either,” he said, not retreating but instead smiling into her adorably worried face. Then he stayed right where he was, their mouths a fraction of an inch from each other, separated only by her hand, waiting, letting her make both the decision and the move.
She blinked once, slow as an owl, and then slowly lowered her hand.
Taking the invitation, he gave her a short, sweet kiss. “Morning,” he said huskily, and then grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the bedroom.
“What are you doing?” she asked, looking hot in only his shirt and bedhead hair.
“Making you breakfast, which is what you missed out on when you played possum and then sneaked out the last time you spent the night.”
“I didn’t sneak.”
He gave her a knowing look, and she had the grace to blush. “Well, if I’d known breakfast was on the itinerary…,” she muttered.
In the kitchen, he lifted her to sit on the counter and started pulling stuff out of his fridge.
She watched with avid interest. “So you can cook?”
“Bacon and eggs,” he said. “But my ability is born out of hunger, not raw talent.”
She watched him start the bacon and then crack eggs into a bowl one-handed and gave a wolf whistle of appreciation.
He grinned at her. “Guess I do have a talent.”
“More than one,” she quipped, making him laugh. She’d recovered and was back to her usual sunny self, which he was beginning to get was just her invisibility cloak.
“So…today,” she said. “And Wounded Warriors. I’m working beneath you.”
He liked the sound of that. A lot. And at whatever she saw on his face, she rolled her eyes. “Don’t go getting any ideas,” she said. “No bossing me around.”
“On the job? Never,” he said, turning the bacon and then flipping the eggs in the pan with a flick of his wrist.
“Or in the bedroom,” she clarified.
“I promise you’d like it.”
She blushed, and he laughed softly. “I’ll show you sometime if you ask real nice.”
She snorted. “Like that’s going to happen.”
He shifted from the stovetop to between her legs, bending his head to meet her gaze head-on. “Your pace,” he said softly.
“We’ve tried that,” she reminded him.
“We’ll try harder,” he said, and kissed her.
When they broke apart for air, she stared at him. “I thought you said my pace.”
“It is.” He grinned. “But I never said I wasn’t going to stake my claim or try to coax things to go my way.” He moved back to the stove and flipped the bacon and eggs onto two plates. He handed her one of them and then went to the cabinet for two glasses, which he filled with orange juice. “How about a new game?” he said.
“Aren’t you tired of games?”
“Humor me. This time we’ll just tell a truth.”
She regarded him warily. “That doesn’t sound like a game at all.”
He kissed her on the tip of her nose. “Now you’re getting it.”
She narrowed her eyes as she considered this, along with the ramifications. He could read each and every thought as it crossed her face. Curiosity. Worry, because if this wasn’t a game, it meant he was serious.
Which he was.
Finally, she sighed. “What do you want to know?”
He was a smart enough guy to get that she was the one for him. He was also smart enough to know that he was going to have to work his ass off for it. Because she wasn’t open to this. To them.
He was shocked by how much he wanted to change her mind. “You’re not scared of me,” he said, wanting to hear her say it.
“No,” she said. “I’m not scared of you. But that wasn’t a question.”