Chapter Ten – Boxers or Briefs?
by Vonnie Davis
Candy took her first bite of Mitch’s homemade blueberry pancakes and closed her eyes. Heaven. Oh my God, curl-my-toes-in-his-socks heaven. He’d even heated the bottle of syrup in a pan of hot water. The sweetness of the warm syrup and tartness of the blueberries struggled for dominance on her tongue. She moaned, opened her eyes, and looked into inquisitive blue ones.
“Well?” His lips twitched. “What do you think?”
She forked in another bite, broke a cardinal rule, and talked with her mouth full. “I think you should come to New York and work for me.”
A faint redness crept up his neck, and he stilled.
“Yeah, I’m thinking as soon as the storm’s over, I’ll take you back to New York and set you up as my house boy. You can clean—” She took another bite of pancake. “—cook, and iron my blouses. How are you at catering parties? I throw them from time to time for The Wright Way.” She cut another bite of pancake.
“Candy?” His voice was deathly quiet.
She gazed into stormy blue eyes that held an emotion she couldn’t identify. A bubble of laughter broke from her chest. “I was just teasing.”
He rubbed his temples. “You know what would be great?”
Her giggles ebbed. “What?”
“If you would shut up and eat.”
Not very gentlemanly, but she deserved it. She heaved an exaggerated sigh. “Guess I should just…”
“I guess you should just eat.” Mitch extended a pancake to the dog who whined beside him. “You irritate me sometimes.”
“Really? Do you have a short fuse?” What put that odd look on his face? “I’m sorry. I was joking. Don’t get your briefs in a twist.”
He blinked twice. “I don’t wear briefs.”
She forked in another bite and eyed the last pancake on the platter. “Ah, a boxer kind of guy.”
Mitch raised his mug and took a long gulp. She watched his throat move and wondered what would happen if she snaked the tip of her tongue over his Adam’s apple and down his torso. Good Lord, what had come over her? Being sexually aggressive had never been her style. She eyed that last pancake again. Maybe she'd better resist. Evidently blueberries were an aphrodisiac.
“Don’t wear boxers either.” He rose and carried his dirty dishes to the sink.
Her gaze followed his very magnificent behind.
He turned and came back for more dirty dishes. Plates in hand, he leaned over and placed his lips next to her ear. An involuntary shudder went through her.
“Commando all the way, baby,” he whispered.
Candy’s gulp sounded like a gong in the silent kitchen. He was naked under those jeans? Her eyes darted around the small kitchen, trying to focus on anything but his crotch. Her tummy did its fluttery thing and her nipples evidently loved the commando visual because they were certainly standing at attention.
Mitch poured hot water into the sink and started washing dishes.
“I’ll wash.” She stood, attempting to regain control of her sensually overloaded system. “You cooked. I’ll wash.”
“Are you sure you know how?” His voice sounded strained, but he didn’t wait for an answer.
While Mitch headed outside to the woodpile, Candy stood at the sink and gazed out the window. Major jumped through the snowdrifts blown deep by the wind. His tongue lolled out, catching snowflakes. The dog was like a spoiled child. She shook her head and rinsed off the silverware. Her gaze cut to Mitch who'd loaded his arms with wood. The man was moody today. Maybe cabin fever was getting to him the same as it was with her. Still, if he remained silent and surly, their snow prison could get mighty uncomfortable. Which was why she was better off alone. Bad enough she had to deal with men flexing their egos at work; there was no way she would happily endure one in her private life.
Michael. The old memory resurfaced every time she did dishes. She smiled. A cherished memory she unfolded and relived when emotional needs upset her. How many times had she taken out the few memories she had of Michael, then folded them into a compact square and tucked them back into her heart?
Her memories were from a fragile time in a girl’s life, when hormones were just beginning to bud. Emotions bounced from one extreme to another. She'd been too old for childishly familiar things and not old enough for others. And, oh how she’d missed Vermont. Making friends in Manhattan was next to impossible, except for Michael. While she washed dishes, the son of her mother’s employer kept her company. He had a way of getting her to talk about herself, making her believe he was truly interested. Endearing qualities in a gangly kid—kind, gentle, caring, and incredibly honest.
Then suddenly Michael was gone from her life.
Twin tears tumbled down her cheeks.
For some reason, that loss left scars as deep as the loss of her childhood home and watching her mother work herself into exhaustion cleaning houses for rich people.
The door opened and Major bounded in, shaking off snow. Her vision was tear-blurred when she looked at Mitch.
“Candy?” He bent to lay the logs on the floor and removed his gloves, tossing them onto the pile of wood. “What’s wrong?” He approached and cupped her face in his hands.
“N…nothing.” She sounded like a needy woman. Damn, grow a backbone here.
He leaned in and kissed away her tears. “Honey,” he breathed on a moan as his lips covered hers. “I didn't mean to snap at you. I…I’ve got a lot going on right now. Forgive me?”
His kisses grew deeper, more passionate. Tender nips at her lips turned to mind-numbing kisses that made her system do twitchy things. She wrapped her arms around his neck and poured all her emotion into the kiss. For a brief few seconds she wondered just whom she was kissing—Mitch Johnson or Michael Crawford, III?