With a blown-out breath, she answered the phone. “Hey Leo.”
An oven closed on the other end of the line and Reese could almost smell the chocolate cinnamon heaven of the Cookie Jar. “That doesn’t sound good.”
She wasn’t expecting his voice to comfort her so much, but it did. So much that she veered out of the dense sidewalk traffic to plop down on a bench. “I’ve had a pretty rough morning.” Her voice caught, making her wince. “Do you mind if we do lunch tomorrow instead?”
Only the slightest pause. “Sure.” The silence stretched, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. More like they were both giving themselves a few seconds to be disappointed. And Reese found herself squinting in the direction of the bakery, even though it wasn’t within seeing distance. “Do you want to tell me what happened?” he asked, finally.
The fact that she couldn’t made her throat ache. “Just your average, run-of-the-mill dance stuff. My brain wasn’t connecting with my feet today.”
“I’m sorry.” A beat passed. “You probably already know this, but off days happen all the time. For dancers, I mean. Even my father had them.”
She swallowed hard. “Really?”
“Not that he would admit to it, but yeah. Of course.” She pressed the phone closer to her ear, settling into his voice. “You have a hard job. If everyone was perfect on the first try, there wouldn’t be rehearsals. Tomorrow will be better.”
Gratitude welled in her chest. “Thanks, Leo.”
His grunt made her smile. “If it makes you feel any better, my brain wasn’t connecting with my mouth today.”
Her smile dimmed slightly. “You seem to be back on track now.”
“Don’t I?” He muttered something under his breath and more bakery sounds ensued, soothing in her ear. “You already know I don’t specialize in customer service, right?”
“Oh, I don’t know about that.” She noticed a sketchy splotch of liquid on the bench and scooted a little farther away. “I was a customer and now you have my number.”
Warmth spread in her belly, the splotch no longer a concern. She suddenly regretted rain checking their lunch date. Three minutes on the phone with this man and she already felt remarkably better than when she’d fled the theater in shame. “Hey, I was thinking…maybe we should have lunch today.”
She hummed, adjusting the duffel bag on her lap. “I was worried I wouldn’t be good company, but I’m feeling better after talking to you.”
Leo didn’t speak for several seconds. She waited.
“What were you going to do instead of lunch?” he asked.
“Honestly? Take a shower hot enough to scald myself and take a depression nap.”
His chuckle warmed her ear. “You could do those things with me.”
Now it was her turn to laugh. “What, like a nap date? Is that a thing?”
“It’s a thing if we make it one.”
She thought of her postage stamp-sized bedroom and inwardly cringed. “Where would this nap date take place?”
He gave her one of his signature chest rumbles. “My apartment isn’t far from the bakery. It’s clean. By man standards.”
Reese leaned back against the bench, wondering if she was crazy for considering this. Going to Leo’s apartment and napping with him. It sounded insane. But she’d been in those arms, she’d felt that strong shoulder against her cheek. After the morning she’d had, she couldn’t think of anything better than snuggling all up in that and falling asleep. However. “Do we really think we’ll, um…nap?” Heat rose in her cheeks. “If we get in bed together.”
The tone of the conversation was changing. Rapidly.
Whereas a moment ago, her body was nothing but weary and sore, it was showing definite signs of life, her thigh muscles flexed, her nipples tingling at the prospect of getting into bed with Leo. It was too soon, wasn’t it? They hadn’t even gone out on their first date yet. Although, oddly, nothing about this felt rushed. She was more comfortable with him than guys who’d taken her on multiple dates.
“I don’t know, Reese,” he said, his voice significantly deeper. “If you want to nap, we’ll nap. If you want something else…” His breath rasped in. Out. “I’ll give it to you.”
Okay, she was definitely getting hot and bothered on this grimy bench.
What was it about this man that gave her libido teeth?
“I have to take a shower,” she managed.
“I have one of those, too.”
Her laugh came out husky. “This is crazy.”
“Yeah.” He cleared his throat. “I’ll text you my address and apartment number. Tell someone where you’re going to be.”
Oh cool. Now she extra wanted to jump him. “I was planning on it.” Her legs were shaky when she stood up from the bench, her feet taking her in the direction of the Cookie Jar. “I guess I’ll see you soon, Leo.”
Leo was almost surprised when the buzzer went off in his apartment.
Had he really suggested a nap date?
Ever more unbelievable, did she actually accept?
The weirdest part of all? Inviting Reese over to sleep didn’t feel all that bizarre, considering how they’d gotten here. This whole thing between them didn’t seem to have a playbook. And Reese had that unnamed something that wiped him of any self-consciousness, allowing him to throw the odd idea out there.
Now she was going to be in his place. In his bed.
If he thought too hard about what could take place in that bed—if she asked for more than a nap—he was going to answer the door with wood.
“Jesus, pull it together,” he muttered, crossing his apartment to the intercom and hitting the buzzer to let her in downstairs. After unlocking his apartment door and leaving it open, he turned to view the space through a woman’s eyes. He hadn’t brought anyone back there for some time, and even then, there’d been no thoughts paid to the apartment’s appeal. Now, it seemed to matter quite a damn bit.
He lived in a one-bedroom in a pre-war building in Hell’s Kitchen, exposed brick making up the walls, original crown molding. Old, but kind of charming, maybe? His living room had all the basic furniture—television, coffee table. A couch big enough for a man his size to sit comfortably. But it was the kitchen where he’d paid the most attention to detail.