“Nope. No allergies.”
She gives me a wide smile, revealing cute little dimples. This woman is just full of all kinds of surprises.
An hour or so later, I’m finishing up patching the drywall when Avery calls me into the kitchen. I walk in to see a plate full of giant muffins sitting on the table.
“There are muffins if you want one,” she tells me with a small smile.
“Thank you.” I walk over to wash my hands before touching any of the baked goods. Avery hands me a small paper plate.
“Sorry I don’t have any fancy china,” she says.
“Hey, you won’t hear me complaining. I live off paper plates. Fewer dishes.”
She lets out a small laugh. “Especially since down here, I have no dishwasher.”
“Yeah, a lot of the houses around here don’t have them.” I take a bite of one of the muffins. “Damn, this is really good.”
“Thanks. Like I said, I cook or bake when I’m bored or anxious.” She fidgets nervously with her fingers.
“Well, it seems like you’re good at it.”
“Probably why I weigh more than I should, despite working out pretty frequently.” As if realizing what she said, she says, “I am so sorry. I have no idea why I told you that. I think being alone in this house has made me starved for someone to talk to.”
Damn, she’s cute.
I try to push the thought out of my mind.
“It’s alright,” I tell her. “I’m a decent listener. It’s the talking that I’m not so good at.”
She jokes, “I’m sure I’ll do enough talking for the both of us.”
We sit in silence for a few moments before she glances at her watch. “What time is it?” She mumbles to herself. “I’ve got a meeting here soon.”
“What do you do for work?” I ask, hoping it’s not too personal.
“I run a publishing company for children’s books.”
“Wow,” I say, raising my eyebrows.
“It’s not quite as impressive as it sounds. It’s still a pretty small company, but hopefully, one day, we can expand.”
Still sounds impressive to me. Although I know next to nothing about children’s books—or children, for that matter—I do like to read. Getting lost in a good book helps to quiet my demons for a little while.
But I don’t say that. I just finish my muffin and thank Avery before getting back to work. She’s on phone calls the rest of the afternoon, but I poke my head into her office when I’m about to head home for the day.
Avery is bent over, digging through a box, looking for something.
Lord have mercy.
Still on the phone, she turns around to say bye to me.
I seriously need to start knocking on this door.
I’venowbeeninMaple Oaks for four days. I don’t know that I’mfitting in,but I’ve fallen into a decent routine. I’m up every morning at five. Sometimes, I do yoga. Sometimes, I skip straight to the coffee. I usually then spend a couple of hours on the phone with my second-in-charge, Sue. We tried doing the Zoom meeting thing, but using the hotspot from my phone doesn’t make it easy. So, I may take a call from a rep from a store or an author, but Sue handles a lot of it.