The Obsession Page 69

“Do you still want pictures of mine—the books?”

He caught the hesitation, though it was brief and well covered. “Yeah, I would. It’s a statement.”

“What will you do with them?”

“That depends on how they look, if they work the way I see. For the gallery, most likely. And I may do some as notecards for my website.”

“You do notecards?”

“It always surprises me how well they sell. People still use notecards. Plenty of book lovers out there to buy them. The wall of books—some angles on that. And a stack of them beside a lamp maybe. One open, being read. I could use your hands for that.”

“My hands?”

“You have big hands, big man hands, rough and callused. That’s a good shot,” she murmured, already seeing it. “Rough hands holding an open book. I could do, say, six shots for cards. One big, arty one for the gallery.”

“Do you have anything going tomorrow?”


Always cautious, he thought.

“You could take the pictures tomorrow, and since you’d have your equipment anyway, you’d be in the mode, I should be able to get the guys together. You could take the shot for the CD.”

“I don’t know what you want there.”

“Something that sells some CDs. You’re the doctor.”

“I’d want to see what you used before.”

He boosted up a hip, took out his phone. He noted that he had a half a dozen texts to check, then scrolled through for the CD shot.

The five men, with instruments on the stage at the bar. Done in moody black-and-white.

“It’s good.”

“She says without enthusiasm.”

“No, it’s good. It’s just not particularly interesting or creative. Nothing here to set you apart.”

“What would you do?”

“I don’t know yet. Where do you practice?”

“The garage, one of the back bays.”

“Well, I’d start there.”

He wanted, seriously wanted, to see where she’d start, where she’d finish. What she’d do. “Is tomorrow too soon?”

“No, I guess not. At least I can get a sense. The black T-shirts are okay, but have everybody bring a couple other choices—and some color.”

“I can do that. That was a hell of an omelette. I’ll get things washed up.”

It wasn’t much, and easily done. So he still had time to . . .

“Does the shower work up there?”

She did a little wiggle with her hand. “Grudgingly.”

“Okay with you if I grab one before I head to work?”

“You work today?”

“Eight to four, Monday through Saturday. Twenty-four-seven emergency towing and road service. When I have a gig, somebody covers until I’m clear.”

“Right. Sure, you can use the shower.”

“Great.” He grabbed her, had her back against the refrigerator, plundering with that hungry mouth, those big, rough hands. “Let’s go do that.”

She planned to get out early, explore on her way to Cecil’s—for pictures and maybe a table.

But his hands were under her shirt, and his thumbs . . .

“I could use a shower.”

Naomi blamed the sexual haze in the shower for her agreeing to have pizza with Xander after the workday.

It wasn’t a date, she assured herself, and decided to go wild and wear the pewter leggings instead of the black. They were having sex now, so dating was unnecessary.

If she hadn’t been hazed, she’d have made an excuse or at the least suggested he pick up the pizza, come to her place.

Her turf. Despite the short span of time since she’d moved in, the house was her turf.

“Then I’m going over there tomorrow,” she told the dog. “It’s work, yes, but that’s still three days running.” She topped the leggings with a tunic in a ripe peach color she liked, then belted it so it didn’t look as if she wore a bag.

She grabbed what she needed—wallet, keys—and started downstairs with the dog prancing beside her.

She stopped. “You can’t go. You have to stay here.”

Until that moment she hadn’t known a dog could actually look shocked.

“I’m sorry, but you’d just have to sit in the car the whole time, and that’s not fair, right? Besides, you’re my excuse for coming back in case he suggests, I don’t know, a movie, or going to his place. You’re my ace in the hole. I’m only going to be an hour or two. Tops two hours, then I’ll be back. You have to stay.”

He trudged back upstairs—actually trudged, she thought, while sending her forlorn looks over his shoulder.

“You’d think I was locking him in a closet and going out dancing,” she muttered. And felt guilty all the way into town.

As he pulled on a fresh shirt, Xander figured he was running right on time. Hitting her up for the pizza had been inspired—especially since she’d been hot and wet and limp in the shower when he’d come up with it.

He also figured it was past time they had an actual date. Pizza always served up a good starter. He’d be on call, but those calls—if any—would go to his cell phone. If luck stuck, he’d get her back to her place and into bed without being called back to tow anything or anyone.

He opened the door, pulled up short. Chip stood, his big, raw-knuckled hand poised to knock. Or punch.

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