“It’s almost done.” She placed two plates on the counter, then filled our glasses with ice. “Do you want a soft drink or sweet tea?”
“Water is fine with me. I don’t make a habit of drinking soft drinks and you shouldn’t either because they’re not good for you.”
She whirled around and looked at me. “You’ll smoke cigarettes that give you cancer, but you won’t drink a cola?”
“I didn’t say I never drank them. I said I don’t make a habit of it. And by the way, I quit smoking. I haven’t had a cigarette since Tuesday morning, four very long days ago.”
“What made you decide to quit?” She smiled, knowing she was my only reason.
Instead of worrying what she might think, I laid it all out for her because I wanted her to see what I was willing to do for her. “I’m doing it for you, Princess, because it’s what you want and I want to make you happy.”
She walked over to where I was sitting on the barstool, wrapped her arms over my shoulders and stared at me for a moment before saying, “Thank you for doing it for me, but thank you more for doing it for you.”
I took her face between my hands. “I would do anything for you because that’s how much you mean to me.”
A serious look came over her face and it worried me a little, then she said, “I broke it off with Forbes today.”
I wanted to jump up and down, maybe even do a cartwheel, but I convinced myself to remain calm. “How’d that go over?”
“Let’s just say it didn’t go well.”
My heart sped and my back stiffened as I sat more upright on the stool. “Did he hurt you? I’ll kill him if he laid a hand on you.”
“No. It was nothing like that, but he was really upset. I’m pretty sure he suspects I’ve been seeing someone. He knows my parents are gone, so I completely expect him to drive by tonight looking for the mystery guy and when he sees your truck, I’m afraid he’ll have a come apart. He really, really hates you.”
“Well, I’m not in love with him either and he can have a little hissy fit on me, but he better not so much as look at you wrong or I will take him out.”
The timer went off on the oven and Claire gave me a quick kiss on the lips. “Let’s not talk about him anymore. The lasagna is done and I’m ready to eat. Are you hungry?”
I nodded and said, “Starving.”
“Good, because I have plenty.” After taking the lasagna out of the oven, she cut two servings and placed one on each plate next to salad and garlic bread. “You can take our drinks to the dining room if you’d like. I’ve already set the table, so have a seat and I’ll be there in a minute.”
I went into the dining room and sat with extreme care to not spill our drinks because the formality of the room made me extremely nervous. When Claire came into the room, she placed my plate in front of me, then lit two candles on the table and sat in the chair next to me before saying, “Bon Appetite.”
Claire’s lasagna was fabulous, so she passed the wife material inspection by Earl’s standards. “This is delicious. Who taught you to cook so well?”
“My mom taught me a lot about cooking, but she cooks traditional food. She’s afraid to try new foods, so I watch cooking shows because I like to try new ingredients. Sometimes it turns out great. Other times, not so much, but I’m learning what not to try. I kept it traditional for you since this was your first time to eat my cooking. I didn’t want to scare you off.”
I don’t think she could scare me off if she fed me live bear. “Thank you for the invite and for going to the trouble of cooking for me. Everything has been perfect.”
“The night isn’t over,”she said, then blushed a deep crimson before looking down at her plate.
She covered her face with her hands. “And you’re pointing it out.”
“Only because I’m intrigued about why. Tell me,” I coaxed.
She peeked through her fingers at me. “Later, okay?”
Although the curiosity of finding out what had her so anxious was killing me, I reluctantly agreed to drop the subject for the time being. “Okay, but I won’t forget.”
We finished dinner and I volunteered to clean, but she only agreed to allow me to help. When we finished cleaning, we went into the living room and sat side by side on the couch. She flipped through the channels until she came across a movie only a chick could want to watch. “You want to watch this?”
“It’s Princess choice night since you cooked all afternoon for me. We’ll watch whatever suits your fancy.” I reached for her feet and said, “Here, put your feet in my lap and I’ll rub them for you because I know you stood on the ceramic tile a lot in the kitchen today.”
She gladly kicked off her heels and spun around. I took her tiny feet in my large hands and began to massage while we watched the movie. She occasionally made a sound I could only describe as something between a sigh and a moan. I concentrated on everything in the room trying to not get turned on by the sounds coming from her because I knew she didn’t intend for them to be sexual in any way. The more I tried to forget, the worst it got and my hands slowly drifted from her feet to her lower legs.
I stroked her calves up from her ankles to her knees and down again, over and over. Her freshly shaved legs were so soft and smooth against my palms and I ached to feel more of her, but didn’t dare push further.
She took her feet from my lap and I cursed myself for pushing her too far. “I’m sorry, Princess, I shouldn’t have…,” but she scooted closer and interrupted my words when she kissed me urgently. She put her hands in the back of my hair and pulled my mouth hard against hers and when that wasn’t close enough, she fell back against the couch, pulling me on top of her. She pulled me tighter against her and bent her knees to tuck me snugly between them, but when she wrapped her legs around my waist and pressed her lower body tightly against mine, I decided I had to tell her that I needed a minute.
When I broke our kiss and pulled away to break the news, I saw someone standing behind the couch peering over at us. It took a minute, but my brain eventually registered that I was seeing Forbes Henderson watch Claire and I while we made out. I reached to pull Claire’s dress down over her legs and yelled, “What the hell are you doing in Claire’s house?”
Claire quickly raised up from the couch to see who I was yelling at and I watched a look of shock, horror and disbelief come over her face. “How did you get in my house?”
“So, you’re screwing the Collinsville skank, Claire?” Forbes screamed. “When did you decide you wanted to go slumming?”
“Get out,” Claire shouted.
Forbes grabbed his hair with a fisted hand and slurred, “He doesn’t care about you, Claire. He’s just screwing you to get to me. Why can’t you see that?” then he stumbled toward her.
I stepped in front of Forbes and put my hand on his chest. “Whoa, dude. You’re drunk and you seriously need to back off.” He attempted to push me, but stumbled backwards.
“Shut up, skank. You have no right to be here,” he yelled at me.
“Don’t, Forbes,” Claire pleaded.
“Don’t what? Remind him he’s trash and not one of us?” he said as though I needed reminding of what I was or how I didn’t fit in.
Claire folded her arms. “We broke up and you have no right to come into my house uninvited.”
“How do you think your parents would feel about you slumming with the trash?” When Claire didn’t answer him, he continued, “I don’t understand you, Claire. We’ve been together for a year and a half and you broke up with me so you could screw around with a nobody you’ve known all of two weeks.”
She shook her head and said, “You wouldn’t understand, Forbes.”
He took another step toward her. “He’ll never be able to give you the things you want or need.”
“I want you out now!” she screamed.
I had heard enough. “I think it’s time for you to go.”
He was about to retaliate against me, but there was a knock on the front door. Claire and I looked at each other, wondering who it could be. She went to the foyer, opened the door and I could hear Cooper’s voice in the living room “I thought I’d find him here. I tried to take his keys, but he got away from me before I could. I’ll get him out of here.”
Cooper walked in the living room and put his arm around Forbes. “Come on, buddy, you’re coming with me.”
Forbes didn’t fight Cooper, but on the way out the door he turned to me and narrowed his eyes. “This isn’t over by a long shot.”
When they were gone, I walked over to Claire and hugged her closely. When I loosened my hold, she looked up at me. “I don’t want to be alone tonight. Will you stay with me?”
23 Sweet Dreams
The look in Forbes’ eye was feral and I had never seen anything like it. I was unnerved because he knew my house as well as he knew his own, but I was more alarmed by his ability to slip in unnoticed because I was positive I locked the front door after I let Jessie inside.
Another nerve-racking factor was my bold invitation for Jessie to spend the night alone with me in my house. I lifted my head from his chest to gage his response and saw an expression I couldn’t define. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you that. I’m sure you’ll be expected home tonight.”
His strong arms pulled me tighter and he stroked his hand down the back of my hair the way a mother comforts her child. “Of course I’ll stay with you. There’s no way I’d leave you in this house alone after what just happened. Are there any keys hidden outside?”
“There’s one, but he doesn’t know about it.”
“It’s probably wise to get it because he doesn’t need to find it and have access to the house while your parents are gone,” I recommended.