from “Fall in Love Again” – January 21
When I turned back to the dining room, there Charlie was, her pretty face set into what, at first glance, seemed to be nonchalant expression. I knew her too well to be fooled by that. The slightly lifted chin, eyebrow damn near about to pop off her face because she was trying so hard not to raise it…. She was…. Was she jealous?
Grinning, I sauntered over to where she stood observing the dining room. “Hey.”
Her gaze flicked around in confusion. “… Hey.”
“So… what’s up? You getting in some good analysis? See anything interesting?”
“Oh I saw something interesting alright,” she chuckled, shaking her head.
I leaned against the wall beside her perch at the kitchen door. “What’s wrong, Charlie? You’re not salty about me doing a little harmless flirting, right?”
“What?” Charlie broke into a laugh. “Why would I feel any kind of way about that, Nix? I mean… other than it being a little unprofessional, I really don’t care. And I hope you don’t think I’m jealous, Nix… I have a date tomorrow night.”
She looked so smug about telling me that, and I had to admit, hearing it set off a dull, irrational little anger headache at my temples. “A date?”
“Yeah, a date,” she nodded, smirking as she looked me right in the eyes.
“With who? You’ve been here two damned days, and you’re already going out with some stranger?”
Charlie’s eyes went wide, then her smirk spread into a full-on smile. “Whoa… “some stranger”? You’re not… salty, are you Nix?”
“Hell no. I’m just saying… you don’t think it’s a little fast?”
“Not at all… he’s not a stranger. You remember Trent Ellis, don’t you?”
That dull, irrational headache? Sharp and rational now.
I couldn’t help it — my face screwed up into a scowl. “With the pimples and shit? And the thick glasses?”
Charlie waved a hand. “Oh ho ho, the power of contacts lenses and a good dermatologist. Trent is fine now. Not just regular fine either. Capital F-A-H-N type fine. Ugly duckling to a swan type fine. Might give up the panties on the first night type fine. I may need to go stand in the cooler cause I’m getting so hot thinking about him type fine,” she said, with a big grin on her face, like she just knew she was getting under my skin.
“Whatever Charlene, you’re selling this dude way too hard. Must be another one of those boring pretty boys you seem to like.”
“Are you including yourself in that crowd?” she asked, poking a finger into my chest.
Grabbing the hand she’d used to poke me, I scoffed. “Come on, now. I’m not pretty or boring.”
She opened her mouth to deliver a comeback, but I eased her toward the wall, then stood in front of her not saying anything — just looking, until she began to squirm under my gaze.
“Nothing. I’m just looking at you.”
Her breath hitched as I lifted a hand to her face, grazing her cheek. “No reason, really. I just… missed you. And you’re beautiful.” I cupped her chin, tipping her head back as I closed the space between us, to the point that her chest was pressed against mine. “And… I still remember,” I murmured, lowering my mouth until my lips were nearly brushing hers, “that you taste so good.”
“Nix,” she whispered, biting her lip as she met my eyes. “You do realize we’re in full view of the customers, right?”
I chuckled. “I’ve never been shy about public displays of affection, you know that.”
“Is that what this is?”
Her expression was calm, tone measured, but the way her heart was racing — that was something she couldn’t hide.
“What… you think I’ve lost my fondness for you, Charlie?”
She shrugged, then averted her eyes. “How should I know?”
“You never should’ve doubted.”