Duke's Redemption

Page 24

HowstupidcanIpossibly be? I tried to kiss my handyman last night. I practically threw myself at him. And he wasn’t interested.
Of course, he wasn’t. I mean, look at him.
What was I thinking, taking more allergy meds than I was supposed to? You add that to a horny woman, and it’s a catalyst for stupid behavior.
I managed to get to sleep last night, but the entire time, I dreamed of the embarrassing encounter.
And today, I’ve done my best to avoid Duke. I’ve pretended to be busy with work, staying in my office. But the truth is, I finished work a while ago and have just been playing Candy Crush on my phone.
When I finally run out of lives on the game, I am left to twiddle my thumbs.
This is ridiculous. I am a strong, independent woman who, for the most part, has her shit together. I should not be hiding in my office.
What I should do is apologize. I hired Duke to work here for the next couple of months. If he walks out on me, I’m going to end up paying a hell of a lot more for this work. I need to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Plus, he’s the only one around here that I like talking to.
Really, the only one Icantalk to.
Taking a deep breath, I stand up and cautiously walk to the door. I slowly poke my head out and listen for where Duke might be. It sounds like he’s doing work outside.
I muster all the courage I have and try to act as cool as I can as I make my way to the front door.
I turn to the left and see Duke doing something to the floorboards of the porch. To be honest, I have no idea what he’s doing, but he looks good doing it.
“Hi,” I say as his eyes meet mine.
“Afternoon, Avery.” His voice is still gruff, but his eyes show a sudden warmth.
A large awkwardness hangs between us, and I quite frankly have no idea what to say. Before I know it, I blurt, “Do you want to eat?”
What is wrong with me? Calm down and speak clearly, Avery.
“I’d like to apologize for my behavior last night.”
He stops me. “Really. You don’t have to.”
“For my own peace of mind, yes, I do. I’d like to do that by making you dinner.”
“Yeah, that thing where I make a meal that hopefully tastes halfway decent, and we enjoy it together.”
Sarcasm… party of one…your table is ready.
When he doesn’t respond, I add, “Please. I’d really like to do this. And I promise I won’t come onto you again.”
He thinks for a moment, and I’m convinced he’s about to turn me down, but he asks, “What time?”
I pull my phone out of my pocket to see what time it is. Apparently, in all of my time on Candy Crush, I never bothered to pay attention to the clock.
“Six o’clock?” I ask it like a question.
Now, it’s Duke’s turn to look at the time. “Alright,” he says sternly. “Do you mind if I cut out a bit early to go home and shower? I have caulk all over me.”
I resist the urge to make a classic “that’s what she said” joke and instead just say, “That sounds fine.”