The Obsession Page 68

He worked his way back, wondering what in the hell one person would do with all the space—then stopped at the library door. For the first time he felt genuine and deep, deep envy.

He’d seen the early stages of the built-ins when he’d dropped by Kevin’s shop a couple times, but the finished product beat it all to hell. The natural cherry would glow red-gold in the light, and simmer like the fire in the evenings. And all the space—what he could do with all that book space.

He’d get himself a big leather chair, angle it to face the fire and the view out the window.

Change the chair to a couch? He could live in this room.

The empty shelves and cases stabbed his book-lover’s heart. They needed to be filled.

He took one more step toward the kitchen, and the scent of coffee reached him.

She was racking up points like Fast Eddie.

He found her sitting on one of the four stools that hadn’t been there on his last visit, drinking coffee and looking at her tablet.

“Help yourself,” she told him.

He went for one of the big white mugs rather than the daintier blue cups, poured coffee.

Though it was cool, she’d opened those accordion doors. He could hear the dog chowing down on the deck in the dark that was just starting to thin.

“I found a toothbrush in one of your boxes. I used it.”

“That’s fine.”

“That blue bathroom. Slated for gutting, right?”

She looked up then—just punched him in the gut with those deep, dark green eyes. “You don’t like the Boxer Bathroom?”

“Boxer—wait—black and blue. Funny.”

“I wasn’t sure what to call the pink and black one, but it’s gone now. And so is its cabbage rose wallpaper border.”

She sipped her coffee as she studied him. He looked rough and rugged, jeans zipped but not buttoned, the slate gray T-shirt bringing out the blue of his eyes, his hair mussed, stubble on his narrow face. Feet bare.

What the hell was he doing drinking coffee in her kitchen before dawn—and making her regret she hadn’t taken him up on the offer to come back to bed?

He watched her as steadily as she did him.

She set the coffee down. “So. I’m trying to decide if you get a bowl of cereal, which is my go-to if I go-to breakfast. Or if I really want to try out my new omelette pan.”

“Do I get a vote?”

“I believe I know your vote, and lucky for you, I really do want to try out the pan.”

“You cook in it, I’ll wash it.”

“That seems fair.”

She rose, went to the refrigerator, began to take out various things, set them on the counter. Eggs, cheese, bacon, a green pepper, those little tomatoes.

This looked serious.

She chopped, sliced, tore up some leaves she got from a pot on the windowsill, whisked, while he drank coffee.

“What makes that an omelette pan?”

“It’s shallow with sloping sides.” She poured the eggs over the tomatoes and peppers she’d sautéed, crumbled bacon over that, did the cheese-grating thing over that.

She slanted him a look as she eased a spatula around the sides of the cooking egg mix. “I wonder if I still have what it takes.”

“From where I’m standing you do.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” Watching him still, she tipped the pan, gave it a gentle shake. “I’m taking the gamble.”

Before his astonished eyes, she jerked the pan so the egg flew up, flipped over. She caught it neatly back in the pan, smiled in satisfaction.

“I’ve still got it.”


“Could’ve been a disaster. I haven’t made a serious omelette in a couple years.” She used the spatula to fold it. “Bread’s in that drawer—pop some in the toaster.”

She slid the omelette out, set it in the oven she had on warm, and did the whole thing again. Including the flip.

“I officially love this pan.”

“I’m pretty fond of it myself.”

She sprinkled a little paprika over the plated omelettes, added the toast. “I still don’t have a table.”

“We aren’t far off sunrise.”

“My thought, too. Take the plates, and I’ll bring the coffee.”

They sat on her glider, the hopeful dog sprawled at their feet, and ate while the stars went out and the sun began its golden burn over the water.

“I thought the library was the only thing I was going to envy here. But that . . .” Red, pink, and pale blue joined the gold. “That’s another one.”

“It never gets usual. I’ve taken dozens of pictures of sunrises here, and they’re all their own. If this place had been a dirt hut, I’d have bought it, just for this.”

“And this is where you eat your cereal.”

“Or whatever. I probably will even after I get a table. I need to look for one for out here, and some chairs.”

“You need books. That library needs books. I haven’t seen any around here.”

“I use my reader when I’m traveling.” She arched an eyebrow. “Do you have something against e-readers?”

“No. Do you have something against actual books?”

“No. I’m sending for mine. I don’t have anywhere close to what you do, but I have books. And I have the room now to collect more.”

It made him think of the book on his wall, the one that told him things about her she didn’t want anyone to know.

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