She groaned as Jasper joined her on the couch. “Why is all this romance business so hard?”
He curled up in a ball on the cushion next to her.
“You cats have it so easy.”
Nick had said he worked a couple of nights at Insomnia. That’s probably where he was now. But she wasn’t about to visit him at his job. “Now, that would be desperate.”
Jasper sighed heavily and sank deeper into sleep.
She frowned and looked at the television. She didn’t want to watch TV.
She wanted to see Nick.
Night two on the job would undoubtedly be a lot less interesting than Nick’s first night had been, but at least tonight he had something else to think about while he crouched on the fountain’s platform.
Yes, she was kind of the enemy in the loosest sense of the word, but even thinking about her that way seemed wrong. She hadn’t given him any reason to think she was up to no good. Most likely, she’d been completely unaware of what she was doing, and who she was touching, when she made the wish the night before.
Didn’t mean he was completely off the hook to help her, though. It didn’t seem like she was in any trouble, but bound was bound, and now that he knew her—and liked her—he wanted to make sure she was safe. If only she’d opened up a little more at lunch.
But then, she’d only just met him. Couldn’t expect the woman to bare her soul after knowing him for a few minutes.
Or tell him he was released from protecting her when she probably didn’t even know she’d bound him to her in the first place.
He gave her points just for not being afraid of him. He knew he came off a little intimidating. Which was exactly why he’d done his best to smile and keep things light, an effort that had only gotten easier being around Willa.
She was really something. Gorgeous, witty, smart, owned her own business and supernatural. Sure, she was the one and only kind of supernatural on his Never list, but he might have to reconsider that list.
A lapidus fae and a gargoyle together. What were the odds that that would work out? About as good as a warden dating an inmate.
Then went very still.
Willa was walking toward him.
She looked perturbed as she came to a stop before him, peering right into his stone eyes. “Looks like it’s just you and me again tonight, Mr. Gargoyle.”
Was she…intoxicated? The subtle aroma of wine wafted off her, but she’d walked over to him without any signs of being under the influence. She might be a little buzzed.
She sighed, then leaned in, throwing an arm around his neck. “You’re not really the man I want to talk to, but he’s at work.”
Did she mean him? He stayed still. He couldn’t very well let her know who he was now, not after he’d kept silent last night. And especially not now that she was a little tipsy. People didn’t always respond to surprises so well when they’d been drinking.
She dug something shiny from her pocket. The slice of green rock gleamed in the moonlight. “This isn’t as pricey as the piece of opal I threw in last time, but malachite is a stone of transformation, and that’s what I need.”
Wariness coursed through him. Did she suspect he was real? Was she going to try to force him to shift in front of her? This was not going to go well.
She held the piece up between two fingers. “The guy that was bothering me before is bothering me again. I need this situation to change. I don’t like this feeling of looking over my shoulder. I’m not scared, really. Just totally irritated. I want him to leave me alone!”
Damn it. Why hadn’t she said anything at lunch? His instinct to protect her kicked in again.
She tossed the malachite in, sealing the deal. She stared at the water for a moment, then came closer to him, tipping her head to study him. He should have revealed himself last night. Now things had gone too far and…this close, her eyes were as blue as the water in the fountain. Her lips parted. “You know, the gargoyles who are here during the daytime are real.”
She patted his cheek, and her hand stayed put on the last one. “Poor gargoyle.” She bent her head until her forehead touched his. “I’m sure you wish you could fly like your shifter brothers.”
So she still thought he was a statue.
She straightened, and her hand followed the line of his jaw, coasting over his stone form to trail up along the folded span of one wing as far as she could reach. The warmth and sensation radiating off her fingers made him want to move, but he stayed still. In part so his true identity would remain a secret, but also because he didn’t want her to stop touching him.
Finally, her fingers left his stony exterior, and she sat, leaning against him as she had the night before. “If that troll really does come to town, he’s not going to like what he finds.”
He could only see her from the hips down in his peripheral vision.
She tipped her head back against his side, patting his flank with one hand. “No, sir. I’m not afraid of him, and you know what? I’m almost looking forward to seeing his troll face when he gets a load of my boyfriend.”
She had a boyfriend?
Her laughter trilled above the splashing water. “Don’t tell Nick I said that! I haven’t even asked him yet.”
Son of a—did she mean him? Of course she meant him. She’d said his name. Back to the important part—she was going to ask him to be her boyfriend? Did that even happen after high school?