I remained silent and tried to level my breathing. Mitch kept working. Then he kept talking to the tap.
“You got great taste in music, Mara.”
Oh God. I liked my music. I liked it a lot. I played it a lot and sometimes I played it loud. Damn.
“I’m sorry, do I play it too loudly that it bothers you?” I asked. His neck twisted to the side but his head was still bent so his eyes were on me but he wasn’t exactly facing me yet he was.
“No, at least not so it’s annoying. I can hear it now ‘cause I’m in your house. The Allman Brothers, “Midnight Rider”, America’s, ‘Ventura Highway’, great taste.”
God, of course. I was an idiot.
“Right,” I whispered, “of course.”
Then something happened to his eyes. Something I didn’t get but something that made a whoosh sweep through my belly all the same. It was stronger than normal and it felt a whole lot nicer.
“Better than your taste in baseball teams,” he stated and it hit me that he was teasing me.
Holy crap! Detective Mitch Lawson was in my bathroom teasing me!
“Um…” I mumbled then bit my bottom lip and checked the impulse to flee the room.
“Relax Mara,” he said softly, his eyes going super warm. “I don’t bite.”
I wished he did. I really, really did. Just like I wished I was at least a Nine. He’d never settle for anything lower than a Nine because he didn’t have to. As a Nine, I might get the chance to find out if I could make him bite me and I’d get the chance to bite him.
“Okay,” I whispered.
“But I am serious,” he went on, his eyes holding mine captive in a way I didn’t get but I still couldn’t look away no matter how much I wanted to.
“About what?” I was losing track of the conversation.
“I expect a knock on my door, you’re makin’ pizza or your beans.”
“Um… okay,” I lied. There was no way I was knocking on his door when I made my pizza or beans. No way in hell. In fact, I was moving the first chance I could get.
“Or just anytime you feel like company,” he kept going and I felt the room teeter.
What did he mean by that?
“Um… I’m kinda a loner,” I lied again and he grinned.
“Yeah, I noticed that. Your imaginary friend who was over watchin’ TV last night sounded a lot like LaTanya though. Now she sings loud and it skates the edge of annoying. Luckily it’s more funny than annoying and it only lasts an hour.”
Oh damn. He called me out on a lie. And double damn because I also sang with the kids on Glee. Hopefully he didn’t hear me but he wasn’t wrong. LaTanya thought she was Patti LaBelle’s more talented sister. She diva’ed her way through every episode of Glee that we’d watched together and we’d watched every episode of Glee together.
“Um…” I repeated, my eyes sliding to the mirror but I wish they hadn’t because I could see his broad shoulders and muscled back leading to his slim hips. I could also see him straightening which meant I had his full attention. Not that I didn’t have it before just that now I really had it.
“Mara,” I watched him call, my eyes at the mirror and they slid back to his then he kept talking. “What I’m sayin’ is, I get it that you’re shy…”
Oh God. Totally a police detective. He had me figured out.
He kept speaking and before he did, his body moved closer. I held my breath as he held my gaze. “But what I want you to know is that I’d like you to come over but because you’re shy, you gotta walk that breezeway, sweetheart. I’m tellin’ you you’re welcome but I made the first move, you need to make the next one. You with me here?”
No. No, I wasn’t with him. He’d made the first move? What move?
And he’d called me sweetheart which made the belly whoosh move through me like a tidal wave.
I was pretty certain I was going to die right there, totally swept away.
Then it I hit me as I stared into his beautiful eyes. They were so dark brown they seemed fathomless and if I wasn’t careful, I would drown in them. But I was careful and I knew who I was and what zone I lived in. So when it hit me, I understood.
Derek and LaTanya were both Nines. Brent and Bradon were firm at Eight Point Fives in the gay world, the straight world or an alien world (both Brent and Bradon were gorgeous, very cool and very, very nice). But they all liked me. We were not only neighbors, we were good friends. And Mitch had been living across the way from me for four years. He was a good guy. He fixed faucets. He smiled warmly.
Therefore, he was trying to be a good neighbor and maybe even a friend.