Bad Case of Loving You(8)By: Kait Nolan
The romantic heart she tried so hard not to indulge outside the pages of her manuscripts gave a full-on swoon. All these years, he’d been in the back of her mind, and she’d thought he’d forgotten her. The idea that he hadn’t, that she’d been a comfort to him, that he’d carried a piece of her, even when they weren’t together, healed a hurt she’d carried for a long, long time.
Gloria arrived with their food, effectively interrupting the moment. And maybe that was for the best before Paisley said or did something to ruin this chance meeting and make it weird.
They dug into their food, and conversation turned to easier things. They stuck to the past, reminiscing about all the wonderful times they’d had together. There’d been many.
Paisley didn’t want the night to end, so when the meal was finished and he walked her out to her car, she turned into him, wrapping him in a hug and pressing her lips to his. He tugged her closer, enveloping her against the frigid January night. The kiss was sweet, nostalgic, and tasted too much like the goodbye she wasn’t ready for.
“Come home with me, Ty.” Her words were a whisper against his mouth.
He hesitated, lifting his head to look down at her, gaze searching.
Knowing she’d only have one shot to make her case, when the girl he’d known would never have made such an offer casually, she pressed ahead. “I don’t have any expectations beyond the night. I’m not that girl with stars in her eyes and forever on her mind. I know your life isn’t here. I just want you.”
She wouldn’t be ready for goodbye tomorrow either, but she’d take however much of him he’d give her, consequences be damned. She understood what this was. And what it wasn’t.
Ty stepped back, skimming his hands down her arms until his fingers linked with hers. “Lead the way.
Ty trailed Paisley into the house and, riding the wave of lust, turned to press her back against the door, caging her in with his body.
She stretched up against him with a purr. “I like where this is going, but we’re going to have to press pause for just a few minutes.”
A volley of barking interrupted her response.
The dog came racing around the corner, a blur of tawny fur, its paws slipping on the hardwood floors as it scrambled to get to Paisley. Ty immediately backed off, not sure whether the animal would view him as a threat. With a joyful yip, it launched itself at him, planting its front paws on Ty’s chest and trying desperately to lick him.
“There’s my total failure as a guard dog,” Paisley cooed. “Down. Down, Duke. Mind your manners.”
Still vibrating with excitement, Duke plopped his ass down, his baseball bat of a tail wagging ninety to nothing. Definitely part lab. With maybe some shepherd and border collie mixed in. He fixed bright eyes on Ty, and when no pets were immediately forthcoming, he left his sit and butted his head against Ty’s palm.
Giving in, he scratched Duke behind his floppy ears. “Guess I don’t have to worry about him trying to eat me.”
“My boy has never met a stranger. He loves everybody. Don’t you, baby?” Paisley beamed at him, obviously besotted.
Duke leapt up with another happy bark and turned a circle. Ty couldn’t help but think he had the same kind of sunny personality as his mistress.
“He’s getting dinner late since I was at the wedding. Let me just take care of him, and we can pick back up where we left off. Make yourself at home.”
She moved through the house, talking to the dog. Ty heard another door open and then the echo of Duke’s bark outside.
Curious, Ty peeked into the room off the entryway. Clearly an office, one wall was covered in bookshelves. A treadmill desk took up a corner, and another more traditional desk held a sleek laptop. A big, comfy chair occupied the little nook by the front window, flanked by a small table, covered in more books. Instead of art, one wall was covered in a dry erase board covered in post-it notes.
Wandering into the living room, he found a warm cozy space, full of color and comfort, with pillows and blankets and art that matched her boisterous personality. All of it bright, as she was. There were more books here and a dog bed by the fireplace. Built-in cabinetry held a flat-screen TV and an assortment of board games. Well-used by the look of them. The whole space said come in and stay a while.