“You let him win,” she said. The afternoon sun caught her eyes.
“You tacked on two extra seconds.”
“Maybe I did.” She took his hand. “Maybe I’ll make it up to you later.”
He folded her delicate, fine-boned fingers protectively into his work-hardened palm. Maybe it wasn’t too soon to discuss the future with her, after all. If they had a problem, he had to know. Better sooner than later.
“You can make it up to me now. Come with me.”
He hopped from the truck and lifted her down. She was so tiny, and yet such a force, the same as the blizzard she’d blown into his life on. He reclaimed her hand and led her up the path toward the garage, not the house. The garage was the one place where they could talk uninterrupted.
She followed him willingly enough, but not without a whole string of questions. “Now? Shouldn’t we head back to the barbecue? Aren’t you supposed to be in charge of it?”
“Do you really think Dan and Dallie can’t handle a few boys?”
“Fair. At least tell me why we’re going to the garage.”
“To see my car collection.”
She balked again, dragging her heels. “We’re not having sex in the back seat of one of your cars. You have security cameras everywhere in there.”
Which pretty much meant if not for those cameras, she’d give it serious consideration. “I know how to turn them off. But sex in the back seat of a car isn’t what I have planned.” Although of course now, he couldn’t get the possibility out of his head.
They reached the garage. He punched in the code and unlocked the side door. Inside, natural light flooded the showroom floor from a skylight above. The steel-blue AMG was where Ryan pondered life and all its odd little turns. Sometimes he never left the garage. He wasn’t planning to leave it now. This was a sit-and-chat kind of talk, not the drive-and-think, escape-from-it-all variety.
He opened the passenger door. “Have a seat. I want to talk to you.”
“Can’t it wait?”
“Sure. But admit it. You’re dying to find out what I want to talk about.”
“I am.” She got in the car, releasing another barrage of questions. “Why do we have to talk here? Why not the house or the office?” Her face took on an expression of horror. Amber eyes lit up in preparation for battle. “Are youfiringme? Is that why we’re here? Because you don’t want any witnesses if I make a scene?”
He rubbed his head. “Jesus, Elizabeth. I’m not firing you. We had an agreement. You’ve got almost three months left before I can do that. I wanted to discuss us living together.”
She got more comfortable, bending one knee and tucking it under her skirt, so she could face him. One hand rested on the car’s dash. The other, the back of her seat. “Technically, we’re not living together.”
“Technically, yes, we are.” It amused him that she still argued about it. “But that’s not what’s important. Where do you see yourself in five years?”
She tilted her head as she considered the question. “What’s this really about?”
He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something about the way she’d responded seemed… off. “I like what we have. I like you working in the office next to mine. I like you living with me. I’m curious if the group home will be enough for you.”If I’ll be enough.
“So, you aren’t planning to fire me in three months?”
“No. But you’ve been a little distracted lately. I’m curious what’s wrong.”
“I’m not sure how you’ll take it.” She didn’t meet his eyes, which wasn’t like her at all.
He began to wish he’d left things alone. Maybe he wasn’t enough for her. She could definitely do better.
“There’s only one way to find out. Hit me with it.”