“Mostly I work, which I know isn’t healthy, but I love what I do. Sometimes I hang out with Pandora Williams. Do you know her? She’s a real estate agent here in town.”
“And a witch.” He nodded. “I know her well. She sold me my house.”
She laughed. “Very. But I like that. It feels like a community to me.” Kind of like a replacement for the family she no longer had.
“Yeah, I get that. I didn’t have a lot of family around me growing up, so maybe that’s what I like about this place. I mean, it’s a little…”
He snorted. “Yes. But I’m finding out boring isn’t so bad.”
If boring meant dinners out with Nick, she could get behind boring in a big way. “So how about you? Girlfriend? Wife? Ex?”
“None of the above. Yet.”
Willa’s smile probably came too fast after his answer, but whatever. She liked him. And knowing he was unattached just made him—and the evening ahead of her—a whole lot more interesting.
Nick held the door for Willa as they left Guillermo’s. It was leave or get kicked out since they’d lingered almost until closing. She had their doggie bags and the desserts they’d ordered to go after they’d discovered just how large the portions were. Even after their server had brought the desserts, though, they’d just sat there, talking, completely lost in each other, laughing and sharing stories from their past. He’d even told her he’d been a foster kid, something he rarely shared with anyone.
He hadn’t had a night like this in a long time. Maybe forever.
“Thanks.” She touched his arm as she went past and the shiver of power he’d felt from her before skidded over his skin like a reminder not to fall too far.
Which really sucked.
Dinner with Willa had been more enjoyable than Nick had anticipated it would be. She was easily the most fun person he’d spent time with in ages. He loved that she didn’t take anything too seriously and, yet, knew her mind about things. He also loved that she’d yet to eat anything he’d describe as diet food in front of him. Granted, she had the advantage of her fae metabolism, but she put it to good use.
She was exactly the kind of woman he needed in his life, full of energy and a desire to enjoy things. In fact, she was exactly the kind of woman he could see settling down with.
If only she weren’t fae.
Her heritage hadn’t been a problem so far, but all he had to do was imagine the future to see how it could be. He pictured them married and having a fight. Would she use her power against him to win? What if they had kids? Would those children be handicapped by the bloodlines that warred within them, unable to fully realize either of their supernatural sides?
“You seem lost in thought there.”
He glanced over. She walked alongside him, bathed in the soft glow of the street lamps and the light spilling from the store fronts, as beautiful as ever.
He nodded. “Yeah, I guess I was. Sorry.”
“What were you thinking about, if you don’t mind my asking?”
He couldn’t tell her the truth. Not when he’d been tasked with keeping her safe from her potential stalker. Instead, he smiled. “When we’re going out again.”
She blushed a little and looked away. Damn, that was sexier than it should have been.
She transferred the food bag to her other hand, then slipped her free one into his.
Every nerve ending in his body hummed to life as her latent power spiraled through him. It was a mix of warrior on alert and instant desire. Her touch was such an unexpected jolt, and while it left him speechless, a thousand thoughts shot through his head.
If she wanted to hold his hand, then she liked him, and that was cool. But what if she was touching him deliberately to control him? Did she have any idea what she was doing to him? Could she tell what he was by touching him in his human form or could she only read stone? If that was the case, he was safe. In his stone form there was nothing to give him away as a living gargoyle unless he moved. It was one of his kind’s greatest passive defenses.
But what if her plan was to control him and force him to get rid of this Martin guy who was bothering her? That was a possibility. Except he’d been the one to arrange this date as a way to surreptitiously protect her. The more he thought, the more he simultaneously wanted to shake her hand loose and hold it tighter.
He was losing his mind.
She shrugged one shoulder, seemingly oblivious to the maelstrom of emotion she’d loosed in him. “I’d be happy to see you whenever.”
“Good,” was the best he could come up with.
“Would you like to come up to my place? We could eat our desserts and…talk. I can make coffee.” She laughed nervously. “It’s one of the few things I can do successfully in the kitchen.”
Common sense told him that if she was trying to control him, she wouldn’t have asked him to her place, she would have demanded it. Her tone was anything but certain.
It was time to let the theory of her as some fae mastermind go. “Yeah, that would be great.” And now was the perfect time to find out who Jasper was. “You live alone?”
She nodded. “I like it that way. I need peace and quiet when I’m designing.”
So Jasper wasn’t a roommate. “I know you said you don’t get out much, but I’m still surprised you don’t have a boyfriend.”