Duke's Redemption

Page 26

She walks back to the kitchen and gets right back to cooking.
“How can I help?” I ask.
“Oh, I’m just finishing the garlic bread to go into the oven. I got the lasagna in a few minutes ago. Have a seat.”
Without even asking, she walks over to the fridge and gets a beer and hands it to me.
“Thank you,” I say, popping the top. “Are you having something?”
She gives almost an embarrassed smile. “I’m still on the antihistamines. I figure that I should probably stay off the alcohol for the night.”
“Fair enough. I don’t have to drink,” I tell her.
“Oh, please.” She waves me off. “Drink. Indulge for the both of us.”
I take a sip, and she suddenly looks as though she’s startled. “Shit, I should have asked if you liked lasagna. I guess I’m just not used to cooking for anyone else. I should have asked if you are on a diet or something… not that you need to be on a diet, but I mean, look at you, you probably watch what you eat, right?”
She’s adorable when she rambles.
But I stop her anyway before she runs out of breath. “Avery, I love lasagna. And no, I don’t watch what I eat. In fact, normally, my meals consist of a bologna sandwich or something out of a brown takeout bag. Anything that you cook for me will be wonderful.”
Her cheeks turn the lightest shade of pink. “Okay, good.”
She slides the pan of bread into the oven and comes over to join me at the table. Neither one of us seems to know what to say since there seems to be a thick tension between us.
I decide to try to break it. “Oh, I figured out what your ghost is.”
“You heard it too?”
I chuckle. “Well, kind of. It’s not anything haunted. Just a raccoon.”
“A raccoon? A raccoon is making all that noise?”
I nod. “Yeah, they’re sneaky little bastards. I caught one digging through your trash cans. I’ll try to make something to keep them out of there, so you can get some sleep.”
“I appreciate that. I feel so silly that I was freaking out over something as small as a raccoon.”
“It’s understandable. You’re in a new place—in this house all by yourself. Not unusual to freak yourself out.”
She tucks a curl behind her ear. “You’re awfully understanding. Do you know that? How’d you get to be that way?”
I shrug my shoulders. “I’m an asshole sometimes. I guess I hope for some sort of understanding from other people about that. The whole practice what you preach thing.”
“I don’t think you’re an asshole.”
“That’s very nice of you, but trust me when I say I can be. I have a whole lot of baggage that sometimes brings out the worst in me.”
She looks like she doesn’t quite know what to say. I have no idea why I’m telling her any of this. I barely know this woman. I never tell anybody anything.
Even inside my own head, I sound insane.
But apparently, I can’t stop.
“By the way,” I begin. “You asked where I go on Thursdays. I don’t think I ever told you. I go to therapy.”
“Oh,” she says, and I swear I see something that looks a little like relief on her face.
She thinks for a moment before saying, “Thank you for telling me. I probably shouldn’t have asked. I guess I was doing all sorts of stupid and intrusive things last night.”