FREE Spicy Romance Read

FREE Spicy Romance Read

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Chapter 10, Luke

“Did you tell her yet?”

“Tell her what?” I asked Logan.

He bent down and rested both his elbows on my granite countertop. “Did you tell her that you’re a frickin’ mogul in the solar industry?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I’m not being ridiculous, Luke. Look, not every woman is going to go after you just because you have a well-stocked cupboard of cash. Gracie seems like a really nice girl who is really into you. There’s nothing wrong with having huge success early on in your life. You need to learn to enjoy it more.”

I blended the tri-tip marinade and stirred with the whisk, perhaps a little bit too vigorously, splashing the ingredients onto the counter.

“Look, it’s fine as is. She thinks I came over to Sofie’s house as a repairman. She doesn’t need to know the ins and outs of my business at this stage. It’s still early. I’m not interested in telling her that my solar panel invention was sold to Sun Run Technologies.

“So,” said Logan, swirling his celery into the buffalo chicken dip that I had made earlier, “apart from that, how’s it going with Gracie staying here?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know… I just mean… um, what’s going on between you two? I can’t help but notice she’s extremely attractive and seems exactly your type: clumsy, a little messy, kind of a wreck. Like maybe she needs someone to rescue her.” He pointed to the breakfast nook where Gracie’s bunny, an array of cupcakes stacked on a plate so high that they spilled over the edges and onto the tablecloth, and many decorative shopping bags were strewn across the table. “She seems funny and sweet. Lot different from the last person you were with.”

“Look,” I told Logan, “it’s not like I am ‘with’ anyone now. She is staying here until I can fix Sofie’s solar array.”

“Okay, all right. I didn’t mean to upset you. Just making an observation.”

I whisked harder. “Oh, who am I kidding, man? You’re my best friend; I can tell you. She has me wrapped around her frickin’ little finger.”

“I knew it!” Logan punched a fist into the air. I watched as his mind meandered back to the here and now. His brow furrowed slightly. “Wait a minute? What’s the deal, then? If you guys are getting along, if you think she’s great…what’s the problem?”

“Well, I don’t feel right talking about it. I did something really stupid today. I tried to go to a shrink to get some advice about how to deal with Gracie.”

Deal with Gracie? What do you mean?”

“You know, the sex is great. And she and I enjoy hanging out with each other, but sometimes, it’s like I can’t protect her from the things inside her head. Things from the past that make her react a certain way to things that happen now. I can’t figure it out, and I hate to see her like that.”

Logan chewed his second celery stick noisily, apparently enjoying my rudimentary culinary delights.

“By chance, these reactions that Gracie has… would they be a bit like panic attacks? Like she gets real anxious in certain situations sometimes?”

“Bingo. How did you know that?”

“Luke, man… I guess you’ve only known Gracie a few days, and it sure as heck took me longer than that to get Sofie to open up about her past. Both of them grew up without parents who took good care of them. They lived their middle and high school years in a foster home for girls. Whatever led them to be taken away from their parents couldn’t have been easy. It’s hard to imagine the things they have seen. You had it tough enough: your dad and his temper, his drinking. But the girls were actually homeless before being put into the foster home for girls.”

I stopped whisking and stared at the olive oil, the garlic, and the floating circles of balsamic that had all suddenly lost their appetizing qualities. Part of me couldn’t believe that Gracie hadn’t told me about this. On the other hand, it made perfect sense. The fact that she had been homeless as a little kid and the scary things she must have seen along the way wasn’t exactly something she’d share with someone she barely knew.

Hearing this, it surprised me that Gracie could even get out of bed every morning. It seemed like a panic attack or two was nothing compared to the impact that such a childhood could have had on her ability to get through the day.

“Oh, man,” I said to Logan, “that explains a lot. I feel like such a jerk. I went to see that therapist, you know, and she practically laughed me out of her office when I said that I was there to talk to her on behalf of someone else.”

“Oh, really?” Logan asked.

“Yeah. In fact, we did end up talking about me and things that I didn’t want to talk about, but in the end, I figured that as I was there spending a hundred bucks and hour, I might as well get something out of it.”

“And did you learn anything useful?”

“Well, you know how my sister is always hounding me about how being a child of an alcoholic means certain things and has affected me in certain ways? How all us kids have the same negative characteristics, and if we’re not careful we’ll end up alcoholics ourselves, yada, yada, yada.?” Logan nodded his head affirmative.

“Well, this therapist basically asked me questions about how I felt to be around a panic attack with Gracie when I could not control her. She let me know that I may have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, which meant it’s easier for me to be concerned with others rather than myself. She told me this was one coping strategy for an adult child of an alcoholic and it was a way of not looking too closely at our own faults.”

“It had given me something to think about. If I realized that I was feeling out of control and like I couldn’t handle it, I could always go back to see her again.

“Right now, I’m very happy with the way things stand. My business is doing great. We have Josh’s wedding coming up next week and Gracie said she would go with me as my date. So yeah, I think things have never been better, man. You’re doing well with Sofie, and you make a great couple. Let’s just see where things go.

“Let’s get this shit on the grill. We’ll have a good meal and maybe play some Cards Against Humanity after.”

We walked out to the deck where Gracie and Sofie sat in the sunshine with their feet up, both admiring their newly painted nails.

And I had to admit it—they looked just as pretty as two soft petals on the bud of a rose.


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