Shallow Page 18

We were alone at my house and I suddenly panicked. What was I thinking? This was a terrible idea. It was crazy for me to be alone with Nick after I got so carried away with him earlier. If I went that far with people here, what would I do without them?

And that wasn’t my only problem. I invited Nick to stay for dinner and I couldn’t boil water on my best day. “Claire wasn’t kiddin’ about me not being able to cook.”

“Not a problem. No one grills a better steak than me, so if you can wrap foil around some potatoes, we’re good.”

I relaxed a little because he seemed to have steak on his mind, not sex. That worked for me because steak wouldn’t get me in trouble. “Do you want to go to the market now so we can have an early dinner?”

“Sure. That works for me because I’m getting hungry.”

“Okay. Just give me a minute to get dressed.” I went upstairs and quickly changed out of my swimsuit into a casual sundress and sandals. I sprayed my hair with a little spritz and let it do its natural wavy thing instead of pulling the curl out with the straightening iron like I usually did. I spritzed myself with my favorite peach and cherry blossom body spray and then applied a fresh coat of lip gloss and I was ready to roll.

I saw Nick’s face as he watched me come down the staircase and I could see that he was surprised by the change in my appearance. “Your’s curly. Another surprise.” His smile grew and he reached out to pull some over my shoulder. “It’s beautiful.”

“Thank you.”

I went to get my purse and keys and wondered which car we would take. “Want to take my car or yours?”

“We’ll take mine.”

I liked it when he drove, so that was fine by me. I walked over and set the security alarm for the countdown. “Ready.”

As Nick had previously done, he opened the car door for me but this time I was expecting the drop to the passenger seat. “I think I did that a little more gracefully this time.”

“Nothing you do is ungraceful,” he said huskily before he shut my door.

Nick used the drive to the supermarket to quiz me about Dane because he thought Dallas was interested in him. He wanted to know how many girls Dane had dated and if he had ever cheated on one. He fit the role of protective older brother perfectly and it made me see a side of him I liked even more.

We went inside the supermarket and pushing a shopping cart with Nick felt so strange and...domestic. Going into a grocery store wasn’t something I had ever done on a date. Wait. Was this a date? If it wasn’t a date, what was it?

Nick insisted on fresh cuts, so we were waiting for the butcher to slice our steaks and I decided I wanted to surprise Nick with a dessert. “Be right back.”

I looked up and down the aisles but came up blank. I only entered the kitchen to eat and not cook so I texted Claire for an idea.

Being the perfect little Suzy Homemaker that she was, she instantly texted back, “Strawberries, pound cake & whipped cream. No cooking required.”

I loved her. She had the answer to everything.

After getting the cake and whipped cream, I walked to the produce area to get the strawberries and noticed a pretty girl watching Nick at the meat counter. When she pulled her compact out of her purse and applied lipstick, I knew she was about to approach him and my possessive inner biotch surfaced.

I eased over closer to her. “He’s hot, isn’t he?”

She jerked around to look at me and her expression told me that she thought I was strange for approaching her. I looked around as if I was afraid I might be overheard and leaned in to whisper. “It’s really too bad he has the crabs.”

“What?” she screeched.

I leaned in a little closer. “It’s true. He gave my friend the crabs and it took weeks for her to get rid of them. She didn’t know what it was and someone told her the only way to get rid of them was to put alcohol on them. Let’s just say that everyone in a five mile radius had to cover their ears. I don’t care how hot he is, no guy is worth the crabs.”

She promptly closed her compact and slipped it back into her purse. “Gee, thanks for the heads up.”

I held my palm up for a high five. “My pleasure. Chicks before dicks, am I right?”

She reached up and her palm met mine with a loud slap. “Absolutely.”

She went on her merry way and I laughed as I searched through the strawberries for the best looking ones. That was so wrong of me but it served that chick right for what she thought she was about to do with my Nick.

My Nick? Where had that thought come from?

My stomach did a flip as I thought about how that kind of thing probably happened to him all the time, girls throwing themselves at him. No wonder he had an unknown number.

“Ready?” I heard him ask when he walked up behind me.

“I think so.”

He looked at the ingredients in my arms. “Strawberry Shortcake?”

“Yep. No cooking involved. Is that okay?”

“Whip cream is always okay with me.”

My eyes got big and so did his smile.

Whip cream is always okay with me. Was he talking about food or something entirely different? My mind was obviously in the gutter because on the ride home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the soft, sweet cream and all the ways I could use it.

I had to get my mind out of the gutter. “Why do you race? Is it for the money?”

“The money is nice, but I have a little habit I can’t kick.”

Oh, no. Was he on something? Marijuana? Heroine? Meth?

He started laughing when he saw the look on my face. “Don’t look so scared.”

Drugs were a deal breaker for me. “Tell me what you’re talking about and then I’ll decide if I should be scared or not.”

“I’m an adrenalin junkie. I love endorphins. And they’re not illegal. I discovered the feeling when I was a kid. I started out with trick skating. I liked the feeling I got from tricks on ramps. The ramps kept getting bigger and bigger and I moved up to BMX stunts and Motorcross. It takes more for me to achieve that rush so I’ve escalated to street racing.”

“What’s next? Stunts with planes?”

“Maybe one day."

He was serious. “Is that the real reason you want to be a police officer? You need that rush?”


He was so cryptic. “Couldn’t you just go bungee jump or something like that?”

He was quick to answer. “Done it.”

Yeah, I should have guessed that one. “You’re weird.”

“Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.”

Maybe he was on to something. “Your car has a lot of power.”

He grinned because he liked that I noticed. “It’s not exactly legal. It has a lot of bells and whistles I’ve added to it.”

I remembered the way his car made me feel the night I had to drive him home. “When I drove your car, I liked the way I felt when I was in the driver’s seat.”

“See? You could be a closet adrenaline junkie.”

I looked around at the Highway we were on and didn’t see any other cars. “Show me.”

He looked at me and then back at the road. “Show you what?”

He didn’t get what I was talking about. “How fast you go when you race.” He looked back at me to see if I was serious and I gave him a wink. “Give me a rush.”

He was smiling, dimples and all. He was proud of what he could do and he wanted to do it with me in the car. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Show me what this mutha can do.”


I grabbed the edge of my seat and felt my entire body tense as he sped faster and faster down the highway. It felt like we might lift off the ground any minute. “Shit! How fast are we going?”

“Speedometer cuts off at 120. I’m guessing around 140 miles per hour, but that’s as fast as I’m taking it with you in here.”

He started slowing down, but I wasn’t finished getting my rush so I lowered my window. “What are you doing?”

“I want more.”

I unbuckled and got up on my knees to put my head out the window. He was right. I liked this rush thing. I kicked my shoes off and pushed up until I was sitting on the door ledge. I raised my arms up and let the wind completely take me over. It was so exciting I couldn’t contain my squeal. “Woo hoo.”

I felt the car slowing down. “Shit, girl. You’re crazy. Get your ass back in this car before you swallow a bug.”

I slid back in the car like a Duke and pulled the visor mirror down so I could try to tame my wild hair. “That rocked.”

≈ ≈ ≈

I had calmed down from my rush by the time we got back to my house. We hit the kitchen as soon as we got back and started getting dinner ready. I washed the potatoes and wrapped them in foil first and then washed and cut the strawberries while Nick prepped our steaks. Surely, I couldn’t mess that up and I silently prayed I didn’t; I didn’t want him to think I was a total flake.

“These won’t be as good as they would have been if they had marinated longer.”

“I’m sure they’re gonna be great.”

“You’ll have to let me grill for you when they have time to marinate overnight.”

That meant getting together again. “I’d like that.”

He went outside to light the grill while I finished cutting the strawberries and I watched him through the window as I stood in front of the kitchen sink. I remembered what Claire told me about the way he looked at me when he thought I wasn’t looking and I dared say I probably had the same look on my face right now.

An hour later, we ate dinner and Nick was true to his word. No one grilled a better steak than him. “You weren’t kiddin’ You’re quite the skilled grillsman. I ate the whole thing.”

“I learned from watching my dad.”

“I like your dad. He was really nice to me the night he drove me home.”

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