I felt sweaty and frazzled, but the apartment was barely above freezing and I’d had all afternoon to prepare.
There were zero reasons for me to freak out about this. I’d shown James my work lots of times before. He’d even seen a couple early pieces that were incorporated into this one. He loved me—he’d love my painting. Right?
I paced in front of the easel, a pink sheet hiding the canvas from view. What was underneath was so much more than a painting of me and James. It was . . . everything.
Everything in me, that was his, everything in him that was mine.
I forced a sigh, shaking out my limbs and urging the blood to flow again. Everything would be all right. Everything would be great.
I heard James’ warm voice as he greeted Madame Belan in the foyer downstairs and the front door close with a bang. So his hands were full then—I’d asked him to bring home dessert, but I hoped he didn’t bring dinner as well. I should have told him not to bring dinner. Crap. Why didn’t I think of that?
Because I hadn’t wanted to give away the surprise, that’s why.
I should have said something. I should have come up with a reason why he shouldn’t bring dinner. He worked in a friggin’ café—of course he’d bring home food.
He clomped up the stairs, then shuffled across the landing to our door.
A whole flock (is it called a flock?) of butterflies took flight in my stomach and I thought I might be sick.
He fumbled the door open and saw me—no doubt looking like a dufus as my feet were glued to the floor, my legs as stiff as cement and my face frozen like a porcelain doll.
“Hey, bright eyes.” And just like that, everything was okay.
Plus, he hadn’t brought home dinner. Instead, he held a large pink pastry box balanced in his hands.
“Ah . . . smells like Maurant’s bistro in here!” He said the words angrily, but the sparkle in his eyes and sideways grin I loved so much told me he was teasing. “I’m starving.”
His smile finally melted away the ice that had frozen me and I tripped forward, stopping short of touching him. “Dinner’s ready,” I offered in a silly, quivery voice.
“Well, I’m not that starving.” James slipped the box onto the couch and reached for me. He pulled me to him, his hands fisted at my hips, swaying me gently from side to side as he pressed his cold lips to my own. The tip of his icy nose sent shivers down my spine as it touched my cheek.
I pushed him away with a laugh. “You’re freezing!”
“Exactly why I need you to warm me up.”
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