Especially when you were nipply and you weren’t wearing a bra.
I grabbed a bra and a pair of yoga pants I’d never in my entire life ever worn while doing yoga. I quickly re-twisted my hair and then resisted the urge to put makeup on. At this point, if I went back downstairs with a peachy glow and to die for lashes, it would be way too obvious.
I couldn’t believe Colton Anders had seen me braless before I had my first full cup of coffee. What is my life?
Ignoring the near constant flutter in the pit of my stomach, I headed back downstairs. What I saw had the weirdest, bittersweet feel to it.
Colton had placed the box of crepes on the dining table and moved my cup of coffee to the seat catty-corner to where he was sitting, at the head of the table. A fresh cup of coffee was placed in front of him. There were even plates and he’d found my napkins. And utensils.
It was so…familiar, and again, intimate.
“How are you hanging in there after last night?” he asked without looking up.
“Okay, I guess. I mean, I’m trying not to think about it.” Except that was a terrible lie. It was almost all I thought about last night.
He glanced up and the side of his lips quirked up. “I must say, I sort of liked what you were wearing before more.”
My cheeks flushed red as I made my way to the table. “You must be exhausted then.”
One eyebrow arched. “Oh, sweetheart, I’m never too tired to appreciate the beauty of a woman who just woke up and is still walking around in the clothes she slept in.”
I sat down, eyeing him like he was a foreign species. “I didn’t know you were a charmer.”
“More like an outrageous flirt,” he corrected, opening the box of crepes. “Obviously I’m not very good at it.”
Clasping my hands in my lap, all I could do was watch him pluck up a crepe and plop it down on my plate. Was he saying he was trying to flirt with me? That was definitely not typical detective protocol.
Well, not outside romance novels.
“I’m still shocked that it was you when I walked into the office last night. God. How many years has it been? Too many.” He moved on, picking up another crepe and placing it on his plate. “I really am sorry to hear about Kevin. The one thing I’ve learned over and over is that life is not guaranteed. Ever.”
“That’s true.” I glanced at the crepe. It looked delish, but nerves were conquering my appetite. “It’s hard to deal with and move on, but you do, even when there are a lot of moments when you don’t think that’ll happen.”
“And you have?” He picked up a knife and fork, cutting into the crepe. “You’ve moved on?”
“I…” The question caught me off guard, and I glanced at the photo of Kevin. “It was four years ago and I…I will always love him, but I have…I have closed that chapter of my life.”
His gaze flicked to mine and he didn’t look away as he lifted a piece of crepe to his mouth. He ate it with pure enjoyment, as if it was the first and last piece of food he’d ever devoured, and I couldn’t help but think if he ate food with such gusto, what he was like eating—
I cut that thought off and quickly turned my attention to my plate. Oh my God, what was wrong with me? Why I was thinking about Colton eating…well, definitely not food. Then again, who wouldn’t think about that when they saw him and those lush lips?
“So what have you been up to, Abby?”
My chin jerked up as my heart turned over heavily. “I graduated from Penn State. Um, I worked in New York at a publishing house.”
His brows flew up. “Really? That’s impressive.”
I shrugged a shoulder. “Well, it was not an easy job to get. I had to put my time in. Luckily, I was able to spend a summer interning while in college. It helped open connections, but I was still an assistant editor by the time I left. Kevin worked at a different publishing house. He made senior editor in record time. Of course.”
“Why?” He was almost done with his crepe.
I smiled faintly. “The publishing industry sure loves their boys.”
“Interesting. I didn’t know that.” He paused. “And you left after Kevin passed away?”
I nodded. “I just…well, I wasn’t a fan of the city. Even Philadelphia has nothing on New York. It was so damn expensive and I didn’t see a point in staying there afterward.”
He picked up a second crepe. “And do you still work as an editor?”
“Freelance.” I reached up, tugging a strand of hair that came loose back and behind my ear. “I still freelance for publishers and for indies.”
“Indies?” Genuine curiosity colored his tone.
“Independent authors—those who don’t work with a publisher. Right now I’m working on Jamie McGuire’s new novel. It’s called Other Lives, and it’s freaking fantastic. Sometimes my job is hard, though.”
“Why? Dealing with authors?”
I laughed. “All the authors I’ve worked with have been great. Like Jamie? She’s one hell of a firecracker, but she’s a sweetheart. But sometimes I just suck at remembering this is a job. Like I need to be paying close attention, but I get caught up in the story and the next thing I know I have to go back and reread an entire chapter. I’m hoping she hires me for her next Maddox Brother’s book. I’m a huge…” I laughed, a bit self-consciously. “Sorry. I can be a bit of a fan girl.”
I bit down on my lip. “There’s nothing more amazing than seeing a book you’ve worked on get talked about and loved or when it hits a list. You feel like you’re a part of something bigger.”
Colton was grinning as he watched me closely. “You really love your job.”
“I love books,” I said simply. “There’s nothing more powerful than the written word. It can transfer you to a place that exists right now that you’ll never get to visit or it can take you to a world that doesn’t. It can show you things you’ll never experience otherwise in life, and books…most importantly, they can take you out of your own world, and sometimes you need that.”
“I feel you.” He was still watching me with those intent blue eyes.
A moment of silence passed between us. “I’m sure you didn’t come here to hear about all of that.”
He put his fork down. “Actually, yeah, I did.”