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“Mom, can I play Wii? Zach asked, swallowing down the last of his milk.
“Sure. Say thank-you for dinner,” she answered.
“Thanks Nate. I have school tomorrow but I’ll be home by three to help out,” Zach told him, rushing off. Her son never walked if he could run.
“He’s a great kid,” Nate said, searching through the kitchen drawers until he found the cloths.
“He is. Thank you for being so sweet to him,” she said, pushing the chairs in.
“I can’t remember the last time, if ever, I’ve been described as sweet,” Nate said, laughing and wiping down the stove top. The wind was picking up, making the windows rattle slightly. The kitchen, with its granite counter tops and ceramic tiled floor, was a little cooler than the rest of the house. The cappuccino colored walls added warmth but the French patio doors that led to a wide patio where they could BBQ in the summers, rattled with the reminder of winter.
“Well, he thinks you’re great.”
She looked up. He stood leaning against the counter, completely at ease, or so it seemed. She wondered if that was a business tactic—make your prey feel safe. She frowned at her own unfairness. He’d done nothing to make her think of him like a predator. The Merricks had happily sold their business to a man who clearly wanted it.
“I’m looking forward to working for you,” she replied, keeping a wide berth as she moved back to the stainless steel sink to rinse the cloth.
“I would prefer that you think of it as working with me,” he said, turning. His hands rested on the counter. She could see the outline of his biceps pushing against his sweater. He wasn’t built like a wall-street wimp. Stop being so judgemental.
“I prefer to be realistic and honest. I work for you, Mr. Jamison. I am fully aware that you aren’t required to keep the staff that you acquired with the business but I truly appreciate that you were willing to,” she said. A weight lifted off of her chest at having said the words aloud. She needed this job. It was her home. He regarded her quietly for a moment, making her want to fidget. Instead, she stood still and let him gather his words.
“I think I’m the one who is going to appreciate having you here, Lindsey. At least, once you stop saying my name like that,” he said, his lips quirking. She sighed and shook her head but couldn’t hold back the laugh.
“Good night,” she said, needing some space. When she reached the doorway that led up the back stairs to the living area she shared with Zach, she looked back. “Thank you for dinner. Nate.”
The smile took her by surprise, stealing the air from her lungs. His face, with his wide jaw and long nose, came to life with his smile and it took her a moment to turn away.
“My pleasure, Lindsey,” she heard him call as she went to the stairs. She tried to catch her breath as she made her way upstairs. The last time she’d been overwhelmed by a smile, she had ended up with Zach.