Wed By Deception(10)

By: Emilie Rose

But it wasn’t Dan on her doorstep. Lucas stood outside looking totally GQ in Burberry. She couldn’t get over seeing him in a suit instead of the snug T-shirts and jeans or khakis he used to wear.

The little thrill that streaked through her really ticked her off. “What do you want?”

His blue eyes ran over her like heated maple syrup over Belgian waffles, slowly slipping into crevices and beyond and making her hyperconscious of her sleepless night, the makeup she’d slathered on to cover the dark circles beneath her eyes and last season’s less than stellar jeans and sleeveless sweater.

He pulled a bag with a familiar logo from behind his back and dangled it from one long finger. “Yours, I believe.”

“Yes.” She reached for it.

At the last second he snatched it away and sniffed. “Something smells good. What’s your cook whipping up for lunch?”

“No cook. Me. Where’s Dan?”

“If you mean the kid, I paid him. He’s gone.” He muscled past her into the apartment, and even though he didn’t physically push her aside, his size, scent and presence had the same bulldozer effect of knocking her off balance.

“Come in,” she sniped sarcastically. She didn’t want him here, the traitor. She offered the folded twenties. “This should be enough to cover the total and the tip.”

“I don’t need your money. Is that marinara sauce?” He strode toward the kitchen as if he were familiar with the apartment’s layout, which as owner of the building he might be. But even more irritating, he acted as if he had every right to venture where he pleased in her space. Which he most certainly did not.

Temper rising, she followed in the trespasser’s wake. “Yes. I’m testing a new recipe and I’d like to finish it. So buh-bye.”

She’d discovered if she didn’t focus one hundred percent on the recipe, she’d mess up something, and sometimes it wasn’t salvageable. Or edible. With her new budget she couldn’t afford to throw out food—something she would remember next time she went to an overpriced restaurant and left most of her meal on her plate.

It’ll be a long time before you hit another trendy restaurant. Forty-three weeks, to be exact.

Not a happy thought. Especially now that he’d turned up.

She reached for the bag again and again he eluded her. “May I have my groceries, please?”

“You couldn’t cook eleven years ago.” His gaze swept the homemade fettuccini waiting to be boiled and the bowl of unfinished brownie batter. He picked up the wooden spoon, stirred the pot then pursed his lips and sampled her sauce.

A territorial urge to growl rumbled through her. “Now I can. Lucas, I’m not interested in playing a childish game of keep-away. Hand over my nuts.”

“Invite me to lunch.” He scraped a finger along the edge of the brownie batter and licked the thick chocolate from the tip. “Mmm. And dessert.”

That was not sexy. It wasn’t.

She swallowed and closed her eyes against the shower of memories and hormones. Just because he’d had the most talented tongue on five continents didn’t mean she wanted to experience his skills again firsthand. How could she ever trust him? She couldn’t.

She planted her hands on her hips and scowled. “I don’t want your company.”

“You have more than enough for two and you know marinara is my favorite.”

She’d forgotten. Liar. Okay, she hadn’t. But she hadn’t cooked the sauce for him. She liked it, too. It was the easiest recipe in the book and the only one she’d had all the ingredients for in the apartment. Besides, she’d needed something to go with the pasta she’d made using the machine Mitch had sent. Her brothers kept sending her kitchen gadgets to entertain her. Their help made being independent difficult. But it kept her sane. Catch-22.

“I’m freezing the leftovers for later.”

His eyebrows lifted. “You’re planning ahead?”

His incredulous tone ticked her off. “Is that so hard to believe?”

“Frankly, yes.”

The sad fact was that two and a half months ago he would have been right. She hadn’t planned ahead as her father had so unkindly pointed out.

She sighed and pushed back her tangled mop of hair, which only reminded her she would not survive a year without her hairdresser to keep the unruly waves under control. She’d have to find someone local. And cheap.

“Go away, Lucas.”

He shrugged and headed back out the door—with her walnuts.

“Hey, hand over my groceries.”

“You know the price,” he called over his shoulder as he entered the open door of his place. Nadia plowed after him. She didn’t bother to close her door because no one could get upstairs without security calling first, which was cool because it meant she didn’t have to learn how to work the apartment’s electronic security system. She just left it turned off.

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