Tangled Page 68

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And her shoes…Mother of Christ…her shoes are all heel, held on by an intricate black bow tied at the back of her ankle.

When I’m actually able to form words, my voice is rough. “Is there any way we could renegotiate the no-ass-grabbing clause? ’Cause I have to tell you, in that dress? It’s going to be hard.”

And it’s not the only thing, if you catch my drift.

She smiles and shakes her head. “All previous stipulations stand.”

I stand back as she walks in, looking me over out the corner of her eye. Watch her face closely. See how her eyes darken? How she licks her lips without realizing it? Like a lioness that just spotted a gazelle in the high grass.

She likes what she sees. She wants to compliment me. She wants to, but she won’t. This is Kate we’re talking about here. Post-my-colossal-foot-in-mouth-fuck-up Kate. And despite my recent progress, she’s still defensive. Untrusting. On guard.

And that’s okay. I’m not offended. Her eyes tell me everything she won’t let herself say.

I lead her toward the living room, and she bites her lip as she asks, “So, where are we going?”

And then she stops short when she spots the candles. And the flowers. And the perfectly set table for two.

I tell her softly, “We’re already here.”

She gazes around the room. “Wow. It’s…it’s beautiful, Drew.”

I shrug. “The room’s nice. You’re beautiful.”

She blushes. And it’s amazing.

I want to kiss her. Badly.

You ever been thirsty? Really thirsty? Like on a ninety-eight-degree summer day when you don’t have enough spit in your mouth to even swallow? Now imagine somebody puts an ice-cold glass of water in front of you. And you can look at it, and you can picture how perfect it would taste—but you can’t touch it. And you definitely can’t drink it.

That’s pretty much the hell I’m in at the moment.

I tear my eyes away from Kate’s face and hand her a glass of red wine. Then I take a long drink of my own.

“What happened to your fingers?” She’s referring to the Band-Aids that cover four of my ten digits.

“Mushrooms. Spongy little bastards don’t appreciate being sliced.”

She looks surprised. “You cooked?”

I was going to take Kate to a restaurant. The best in the city. But she’s about quality, remember? And I figure she’ll appreciate my effort a hell of a lot more than anything a gourmet chef could come up with.

I smile. “I have many talents. You’ve only seen a few.”

And this might remain true. I’ve never cooked before.

Which reminds me—Martha Stewart? She’s my new idol. Seriously. I used to think her whole deal was a joke. Who becomes a billionaire by showing people how to fold goddamn dinner napkins correctly? But that was before. Before I actually tried to use my oven or set a table.

Now Martha’s a f**king god. Like Buddha. And if her recipe helps me pull this off? I’ll worship at her pudgy sandaled feet every day for the rest of my life.

Kate and I sit on the couch.

“So…how are things at the office?” I ask.

She sips her wine and brushes nonexistent wrinkles off her dress. “Good. Things have been good. You know…quiet.”

“In other words, you’ve been bored out of your mind without me.”

“No. It’s been…productive. I’ve gotten a lot done.”

I smirk. “You’ve missed me.”

She snorts. “I didn’t say that.”

She didn’t have to.

“Come on, Kate, I’ve taken a vow of honesty here. It’s only fair that you do the same.” I lean forward. “Look me in the eyes and tell me you haven’t thought about me—at all—in the last few days.”

“I—”

Buzzzzz…buzzzzz…buzzzzz.

Dinner’s ready. Kate takes another drink from her glass.

“You should get that, Drew. Don’t want it to burn.”

And she’s saved by the buzzer.

For now.

The chicken Marsala I made looks…unique now that it’s actually out of the oven and on our plates.

Okay it’s f**king frightening. I admit it.

Kate’s brow is furrowed as she pushes at the brown lumps like she’s dissecting a frog in biology. “Did you mix the flour with water before you added it?”

Water? Martha didn’t say anything about water. That bitch.

“You know, Drew, some of the best culinary dishes in history looked disgusting. Presentation doesn’t count for much. It’s all about the taste.”

“Really?”

She picks up her fork and takes a deep breath. “No. I was just trying to make you feel better.”

I stare at my plate. “Thanks for trying.”

Before she takes a bite, I reach across the table and put my hand on hers. “Wait. I’ll go first.”

That way, if the food makes me keel over like bad blowfish, at least one of us will be conscious to call 9-1-1. Plus, if I’m hospitalized, I think there’s an excellent chance Kate would throw a pity f**k my way.

And don’t think for a second that I wouldn’t take it. In a freaking heartbeat.

I try not to breathe through my nose as I take a bite. Kate stares at me. I chew.

And then I smile slowly. “It’s not bad.”

She seems relieved. Maybe even a little proud. She slides her fork through her lips. Then she nods. “It’s really good. I’m impressed.”

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