A metal rack hung from the ceiling above the free-range stove, spatulas, scrapers and ladles hanging down like a culinary wind chime. The apartment was rented, so he’d probably violated his lease by installing the sea glass backsplash behind the counter. There were Tupperware containers stacked everywhere, holding baked goods he tested in his spare time for their potential sale at the Cookie Jar. A window on the far wall overlooked the avenue, a fire escape affixed to the side of the building and bisecting his view. This was where he spent most of his time. Is that why his palms were sweating over her reaction?
Leo dragged a hand down his face. “You’ve got it bad.”
“What was that?” Reese asked from his doorway. “Sorry, it was open. Should I just—”
“Come in. Yeah.” He was momentarily dumbstruck by how fucking pretty she looked in the afternoon light, her hair pulled up in a ponytail, little curls springing out near her temples.
That much was obvious. She hadn’t been lying about her bad morning.
And he’d never wanted to take care of someone so badly in his life. Reese was capable of doing that for herself, but just for this afternoon, maybe he could take some of that responsibility. No way in hell she was leaving his place without looking more rested and happy than when she walked through the door.
Leo moved toward her without a command from his brain., reaching past her to close the apartment door and lock it “Hey.” He eased the duffel bag from her shoulder, setting it on the ground. “Shower, then nap.”
He watched her mind turning things over. “Are you letting me know who’s in charge, Leo?”
“No, I’m giving you the option of letting me be in charge for a while.”
“Oh.” She wet her lips, giving him a semi. Just like that. “Then I’ll allow it.”
“Good.” His hands itched to touch her, even just to smooth the loose strands of hair back from her face, but he settled on unbuttoning her coat instead, revealing a tight, red bodysuit that made her tits look like juicy apples. Black shorts similar to the ones she’d worn yesterday clung low on her hips, those long legs stretching all the way to the floor. God. She’d been in his place one minute and his mouth was already dry as a dust. “You have a change of clothes in this bag or do you want one of my shirts?”
She considered him through her lashes. “One of your shirts, please.”
Leo nodded, turned for his bedroom, but she stopped him with a hand on his arm. Her slow touch slid up to his shoulder, her finger tracing a line down the center of his chest. “This one.”
Jesus, all of his blood was rushing south. “You want the one I’m wearing?”
“Because you want to see me shirtless or because you feel vulnerable in my place and want to even the odds?”
Her mouth ticked up at one end, as if she appreciated his perceptiveness. “Both.”
Leo nodded. “All right.” He reached back, pinching the cotton material behind his neck…and he hesitated. Even though that hesitation was ridiculous. With their clothes on, it was impossible to miss the fact that they possessed vastly different body types. She was a petite dancer with tight curves. And he was a tall, thick man with some definite heft. The longer he took to remove the shirt, the deeper the thoughtful groove became between her eyebrows. Because he didn’t want her questioning his indecision, he took a deep breath and whipped off the shirt, handing it to her with a cough. “The smell on it…it’s aftershave. Not cologne.”
“Oh,” she whispered, her attention traveling from his throat to his waistband. “Th-thanks for letting me know.”
He made an inarticulate gesture at himself. “This going to work for you?”
“Hell yeah,” she breathed, looking at him like the question was insane.
His surprise was swift and—don’t smile, Leo. Don’t fucking smile.
Too late. By the time he turned toward the bathroom, a grin was stretching across his face. “You can shower in here.” God. He could even hear the smile in his voice. “Everything is in there. Left a towel on the sink.”
On her way into the bathroom, she leaned in and kissed his bare shoulder, twirling the shirt over her head a couple of times, closing the door on the sound of their mutual laughter. Unaware that she’d left his heart pounding wildly in his chest.
When Reese walked out of his bathroom ten minutes later, Leo promptly forgot about the stack of papers sitting on the coffee table. Knowing Reese wasn’t wearing a stich of clothing on the other side of the door had required a distraction, but there was no distracting him from the beautiful girl wearing his shirt, the hem brushing her knees, her dirty-blonde hair towel dried and sitting in a loose knot on the top of her head.
Watching her approach, his pulse beat low and thick in the base of his neck.
God, he wanted to fuck her. He couldn’t deny that.
There was also a developing tightness in his throat. Something about her being here in the middle of the day, essentially wearing pajamas. It called Sundays to mind. A couple doing lazy things, making no excuses for their lack of ambitions for the weekend. He liked it. He liked her being there. A lot. In his shirt and no makeup. No shoes.
If they’d been at this a little longer, he would have thrown her over his shoulder in that moment and carried her to bed, wasting no time tasting all those places she’d so recently cleaned. But while she might have given him the freedom to take charge, he didn’t have any intention of abusing that privilege. Or pushing his luck.
“Catching up on some paperwork?”
He dragged his attention from the curves of her knees, patting the cushion beside him. “These are some of the order forms for the Sweetest Fix. Jackie printed them out for me.”
Reese rounded the couch and sat down beside him, bringing a waft of shower scents and clean skin. “Ah. I forgot this was a working lunch.”
“It doesn’t have to be,” he said slowly, considering her profile. “I’m just trying not to rush you into my bedroom.”
Her expression was appreciative, thoughtful. “Thanks.” A beat passed. “Although, I keep thinking this nap date should feel weirder than it does.”
“Yeah.” Jesus, there went his heart again. “I know what you mean.”