“I can help.”
“Don’t worry about it. Actually, I was hoping to surprise you with breakfast in bed, but the best I can do is coffee. Unless you want a PowerBar.”
“I’ll take the coffee, but pass on the PowerBar, thanks. I like real food.”
“So I’ve noticed.” He winked. “I’ll run to Mummy’s and pick up whatever you want. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.”
Of course he was. He’d worked hard last night. They both had. She grinned. “I could eat. I’ll take a ham and cheese omelet with home fries and wheat toast.”
“Good choice.” He grabbed his car keys. “I’ll be right back.”
“Um, don’t you want to put a shirt on? And shoes?”
He glanced down and laughed. “See what you do to me?” He headed for the bedroom. “Putting clothes on now.”
He was back a minute later, still pulling on a T-shirt over his glorious abs. “Should I get cinnamon buns, too?”
“I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I think I’ve had enough sugar for a day or two.”
“How about just one? We could split it.”
“Okay, I can swing that.”
“All right. Back in a bit. Feel free to shower if you want. Or wait for me.” He shrugged in a sort of lopsided way that made her think he must have been doing the same thing since he was a little boy. Well, there was nothing little about him now. “Either way.”
She nodded, imagining how amazing it would be to wake up to this guy every day. “I can wait. I need to call to make sure my employees can open up the shop this morning. We’re supposed to go see Sheriff Merrow so he can take our statements, remember?”
Nick nodded. “In that case, you should probably shower. If you wait for me, it’s not going to be quick.”
“That’s not what you said last night.” He ducked as she threw a kitchen towel at him. “Off to get breakfast.”
As his truck engine revved up, she headed back to his bathroom to see what sort of supplies he had. She kind of hoped there wasn’t a bunch of women’s stuff lying around. She hated to think she was one of many who’d spent the night here.
But her fears were unfounded. There wasn’t much in his bathroom besides shampoo and shaving cream. She grabbed her toiletries from her bag and headed into the shower with her hair twisted up on top of her head. The hot water felt divine, and it helped wake her up. She wrapped up with a big towel when she got out and padded back to the bedroom to dig through her stuff for something to wear.
She pulled out a long cotton peasant skirt and a tank top. It was supposed to be hot today, no point in wearing more than necessary. As she got dressed, something plinked to the floor behind her. It was followed by a louder clomp a few seconds later.
She turned to see Jasper sitting on Nick’s dresser, systematically cleaning it off, one item at a time. “Jasper, quit that.”
He jumped down and swatted at one of the things he’d knocked off, flicking it across the rug. A glimmer of pearly white and a spark of blue caught her eye. “What have you got there, Jas?”
She pinched the thing up and laid it flat in her palm.
The air around her turned to ice. It was the shard of opal she’d thrown in the fountain. Knees about to buckle, she sat on the edge of the bed. There were two explanations for why Nick would have this. One, he’d seen it in the fountain and fished it out from sheer curiosity, which didn’t strike her as the most likely option, or two, he’d been there when she’d thrown it in.
She squeezed her hand around the piece of gemstone, not caring as the jagged edge cut into her hand. The sharp, hard lines of the face of the brand new gargoyle statue came to the forefront of her mind.
Her next thought was that Nick had yet to tell her what kind of shifter he was. In fact, every time she’d asked, he skillfully changed the conversation or made a joke or they’d been interrupted, but never once had he come close to answering.
The front door opened and closed. “Breakfast has arrived,” Nick called out.
Willa stood, anger and doubt and a pointed sense of betrayal pulsing through her. Breakfast could wait. Especially since her appetite was gone.
Nick almost ran into Willa in the kitchen. He put the takeout bags on the counter and grinned. “I think the waitress likes me. She gave me an extra order of bacon and—”
Anger flashed in Willa’s aqua eyes.
He frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“What kind of shifter are you?”
That had come out of nowhere. “The kind who’s crazy about you.” He lifted a hand to touch her cheek.
She grabbed his wrist, preventing him from making contact, and a piercing jab of power stabbed into him. She was angrier than he’d realized. She repeated herself. “What kind of shifter are you? Tell me now.”
This wasn’t the sort of mad that could be kissed away. This also wasn’t the way he’d wanted to reveal his true nature to her, but he had no choice now, not with her demanding an answer while touching him. Warning bells went off in his head. This was what he’d worried about from the beginning, that she’d try to exert her control over him with her fae power. His guard went up. “Gargoyle.”
The muscles in her jaw twitched. She released him. “I knew it. How long were you going to keep this lie up? Why didn’t you just tell me?”