They finally came up for air, finished breakfast and a few minutes later, she sent him off to work with a promise to see him at lunch and another long kiss that almost ended up with them back in bed.
Life was remarkably good.
She hoped it stayed that way, but so far, that wasn’t her track record.
For once in her less than illustrious career as the receptionist for the Nocturne Fall’s sheriff’s department, Birdie was at her desk before Hank arrived. He checked his watch. That explained it. He was six minutes late.
He grinned. The kiss had been worth it.
“Something’s wrong,” Birdie chirped.
He stopped in front of her desk to pick up his messages. “What’s that?”
“I have no idea, but you’re late and you’re smiling. Are you feeling all right? Bend down so I can feel your forehead.”
He frowned at her. “I’m fine.” He turned one of the message slips so she could see it. “What does this say?”
She squinted at it. “Beats me.”
“It’s your handwriting.”
Her brows lifted. “Can you always read your handwriting?”
“Yes. Because it’s my handwriting.” But he was in too good of a mood to let Birdie’s nonsense get to him.
“You’re just trying to change the subject. What’s going on with you?”
“Nothing. I’m just happy. Or I was until I got in here. I’ll be in my office.”
“You want coffee?”
“That would be great.” Now who wasn’t acting like themselves?
“Then you should probably go buy some. We’re all out.”
And that explained it. At least he’d had coffee at home. Shaking his head, he took ten dollars out of petty cash and slapped it on her desk. “Go to the Shop & Save and buy some. Please.”
“Who’s going to answer the phones?”
“I will. Go.”
“This doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. I’m going to figure out what’s going on with you soon enough.”
Everyone would. He just wanted another day of peacefulness before the town erupted with the news that he was getting married. To a Kincaid. “Now. Please.”
With a put-upon sigh and no small amount of muttering, she gathered up her purse and headed out.
He went into his office to check his email and work on the week’s schedule. Besides himself and Deputies Cruz and Blythe, he had another four on the night-shift crew. Night shift in this town had been much easier to fill. In addition, he had five more reserve deputies he could call up in times of need. But those were few and far between in this town. He paused for a moment to enjoy the quiet. His mind went straight to Ivy. Hard to keep his mind on anything but her. Very hard.
He found himself staring at words on the screen, but not really seeing them. Random smiles found their way onto his face. No wonder Birdie thought he was acting strange, because he was.
He was falling for Ivy.
Or maybe he’d already fallen. Whatever the case, there were worse things than being infatuated with the woman you were going to marry.
He sent Bridget a text to reserve one of the back booths for him for lunch. It was a big step to go out in public with Ivy. The tourists wouldn’t care, but the locals would be abuzz with the news.
He sighed. He ought to tell Birdie now. If she found out secondhand, she’d make his life miserable.
And he was going to need a ring. He frowned. That was another area he had no expertise in. Maybe he’d take Ivy down to Illusions after lunch and see if the jewelry store had a ring she liked.
His smile came back. Maybe it was the wolf in him, but there was something deeply satisfying about the idea of making Ivy officially his. He knew it was his wolf that fueled that kind of possessiveness and would cause him to protect her with his life if need be. Thankfully, having the treaty in place meant life should be fairly peaceful.
He leaned back in his chair and kicked his feet up onto the desk. Would they bond? Having the mental communication would be nice, but he knew it wasn’t a guarantee. Bonding came most often with love matches, which this wasn’t.
Although the more time they spent together, the less it felt like an arranged marriage. How was it possible that they were so well matched?
He tapped the end of his pencil on the desk as a sliver of suspicion shot through him. Was there a chance Ivy was just telling him what he wanted to hear? Acting the way she thought he’d want her to act?
There was always a chance, but if the military had honed his already keen instincts, working as sheriff had put a fine point on them. He sensed no guile in her feelings toward him. And thinking his intended was setting him up in some elaborate ruse was a dangerous path to follow. Being skeptical was one thing, being paranoid was another.
He pushed that from his mind and went back to work. Birdie returned from the store a few minutes later, erasing the quiet. She was humming something to herself. Loudly.
“Birdie, come in here please.”
“What?” She stuck her head in through his office door, a grocery sack swinging from her hand. There was a bag of coffee and a bakery box.
He inhaled and picked up the sugary scent of chocolate glazed donuts. The woman had a worse sweet tooth than he did. He should have brought her a slice of Ivy’s chocolate cake. “Come in and shut the door.”
She squinted at him. “I thought you wanted me to make coffee.”
“I do. But that can wait. I need to talk to you.”