Recovery’s a lot more enjoyable with her around.
I pad into the kitchen. It requires restraint as I can’t take my eyes off her. Those soft lips of hers practically beg to be kissed. I could so easily back her up in a corner and make her even more flustered. She’d probably gasp my name and then her expression would soften and she’d give into me.
I resist. For now.
“Resting is boring. I prefer the view out here.”
She wrinkles her nose to keep from smiling, though it bleeds through anyway. “Lucky for you, it’s about ready anyway. Sit down. I’ll fix you a bowl. It’s time for you to take your next dose of medicine.”
We eat in the living room around the coffee table. The stools at the kitchen island are impossible with two broken ribs and a sprained shoulder and I don’t have a real dining room table (nor have I ever needed one). Delphine serves the soup she’s made along with some toasted bread buns.
She bustles from where I sit, back to the kitchen as if a waitress at a restaurant. As she returns with a stack of napkins, I grab her by the elbow.
“Take your own advice,” I say. “Sit. I’m not eating alone.”
When she settles across from me, I realize why she’s been behaving the way she has—she’s nervous and she wants me to enjoy the meal.
She fidgets with her napkin before laying it neatly on her lap. “Do you… is it good? I tried to follow the recipe that seemed most like your Grandma CiCi’s.”
I swallow a spoonful and almost cough it up—the smoky pepper clogs my throat and the gnocchi’s hard and undercooked. The chicken overcooked. I question how both are possible in the same dish.
But Delphine’s curious face does me in. I can’t tell her it tastes like shit. Not after all the trouble she’s gone to. Even if it tastes more like pepper-flavored sink water with burnt chicken, I’ll eat it.
Only becauseshemade it.
I funnel another spoonful into my mouth and give a nod of approval.
She breathes a sigh of relief and then digs into her own bowl. We eat in silence for the first couple minutes. Finally, to break the ice, she lets her spoon go with a clang against the bowl, and releases a short laugh.
“That… is the worst soup I’ve ever tasted in my life,” she says. “Thanks for lying to spare my feelings.”
I shrug with my only good shoulder. “I’ve had worse.”
She arches a brow. “Worse than that monstrosity?”
“You ever have some of Stefania’s cooking after a day-long drinking binge? Should I also mention she’s never so much as made toast in her life, and that she tried to microwave a roll of aluminum foil? It was a disaster start to finish.”
“I’ll take your word for it. But you didn’t have to eat my soup. We can order you some much better food.”
“That’s okay. It’s not every day the district attorney cooks for me.”
The softness vanishes from her face in exchange for a stern look. “You’re making too much out of this. Nothing has changed between us.”
“Right. You still hate me… yet can’t stay away.”
“I don’t hate you. I’ve never… hated you.”
“You never hated me? The look you gave me outside Little’s house says differently. So does the day you found out about my surveillance.”
“Can you blame me? You spent twelve years spying on my life. I found out my engagement ended because of you. I don’t even want to talk about what happened at the tapas bar.”
“Nobody forced him to take the cash.”
“Nobody forced you to offer the cash in the first place.”
“Do you really want a husband who’d abandon you for a million bucks? Is that the kind of guy you think you deserve?”
“Don’t,” she warns. “You have no right to try and spin this as if you did it to save me heartache. You did it because you don’t want anyone else having me. Because you’re selfish and couldn’t stand the idea of another man marrying me. That was what the tapas bar was about too. I had the audacity to go on a date with another man. So what do you do? You try and punish me for it.”