The Gargoyle Gets His Girl

Page 14

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Nick’s brows lifted, and he looked at Willa, seated across from him in the red vinyl booth. “Quite an order. You going to eat all that?”

“That’s the plan.”

There was something unspeakably sexy about a woman who ate like a long-haul trucker. “Then I have serious respect for you.”

She squinted. “Why’s that?”

“It’s a rare woman who looks like you and doesn’t live on rabbit food alone.”

Amusement danced in her eyes. “You mean salad?”

“Uh-huh.”

“I like salad too.” She studied him for a moment. What was going on behind those piercing eyes of hers? “Especially if it has bacon and cheese on it.”

He laughed. “That’s one thing we’ve got in common.”

“Only one thing?” Willa tipped her head. “Why’d you ask me out then?”

The question was good-natured, but he couldn’t tell her the truth. Fortunately, the waitress returned with two glasses of water, buying him some time to think. He waited until she left to answer. “You’re very pretty. And I’m sort of new to town. How else am I going to get to know people?”

She laughed. “Do you plan on dating the whole town then?” Her smile slipped away, and she bit her lip. “I mean, unless this isn’t a date. Which is fine. Probably silly of me to think—”

“No.” He grinned. “It’s a date.” It was becoming harder and harder to imagine this woman had any nefarious intentions against him. He considered himself a good judge of character, and she seemed pretty straight up. “So long as that’s all right with you.”

She peeled the paper off her straw and nodded, a shy smile bending her mouth. “It’s all right with me. It was just kind of…sudden.”

“I’ve seen you around town. Walked past your shop.” He lifted his hands. “Not that I’m a stalker or anything.”

At the word stalker, her eyes rounded slightly.

He leaned in. “Did I upset you? I guess that joke wouldn’t be very funny if you’d actually had someone stalk you.”

He hadn’t really planned that segue, but it was as good as any. He waited to see if she’d say something about the man she’d talked about at the fountain, the one she wanted to stop bothering her. If she was really in trouble, now would be the time for her to speak up.

“No.” She shook her head and lifted her glass to drink. “It’s nothing. So what do you do, Nick? You said you’re new to town. Does that mean you’re job hunting?”

So much for his theory about her wanting his help. He wasn’t ready to tell her he was the gargoyle at the fountain. “I work security a few nights at Insomnia.”

She frowned. “That’s the”—she lowered her voice to a whisper—“supernatural night club, right?”

He nodded. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you there.”

She pushed her straw to the other side of the glass. “I’ve never been. It’s not my thing. I work a lot at night anyway.”

“How late is your shop open?”

“It’s not that. We close at nine, but I do a lot of…custom work. And I like to do that in my home studio.”

He nodded. Time for a little more interrogation. “You’re fae, right?”

“Mm-hmm. Lapidus fae, which is how I came to be a jeweler.”

“Makes sense.” Not a word about why she’d come to see him, though. He doubted now that her wish at the fountain had had anything to do with enlisting his help. But even if she hadn’t intended it for him, she’d made a plea and sealed it with the offering of stone.

He was bound by magic and honor to protect her. Except maybe there wasn’t anything to protect her from now.

Their lunch came, and they talked some more while they ate, but nothing she said made him think she was in any kind of trouble. Not a mention of the name Martin, the man she’d referred to in her wish. Maybe Nick should ask around, see if there were any locals with that name. Hank would know. If not, Nick would chalk the whole thing up to coincidence.

Of course, he couldn’t really consider it a done deal until she released him. What were the technicalities of that when the one he was bound to didn’t know she’d done the binding?

Now he was thinking it might be time to talk to one of the other gargoyles in town, see what they knew about such things.

She swallowed the last of her French fries. “Considering where you work, I know you’re a supernatural like me, but I can’t figure out what kind.”

He stilled. If she already knew he was a gargoyle, what was she playing at? And if she didn’t know, there was no way she made that wish on purpose. So…that meant he was free. Didn’t it? Either way, he decided to play things close to the vest. Until he knew more about her, maybe it was best she knew less about him. “I’m a shifter.”

She nodded, seemingly pleased with that answer. “What kind of—”

“Did y’all save room for dessert?” The waitress reappeared to save him a second time. “We’ve got the best pie in town. Apple, lemon meringue and of course, peach, plus today we have Better-Than-Sex pie.”

In unison, he and Willa answered, “I doubt that.”

They both laughed. Nick smiled at the waitress. “I guess we’ll have to see for ourselves now. Bring us two pieces.”

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