“I run a food truck in the plaza downtown. Rowena came down with Bernie, and had lunch. Spinach salad, all the fixings. Then she came down for coffee and pie in the afternoon. We got to talking. We had a lot in common, so I offered to cook dinner.”
Ruiz nodded, his smile showing his admiration. I guess it was just audacious enough to be cool, not pervy. “Bold move, my man.”
“I couldn’t let a woman this amazing get snagged by another, less deserving, guy,” I said, planting a soft kiss on Rowena’s brow. “I’m rarely that impulsive.”
“Gotcha. Special circumstances for a special lady. What did you prepare?”
I told him the menu. He was curious about it, because he didn’t need it for the report.
“I’m not a bad cook. My best meal is arroz con pollo.” He smirked, winking at me when Rowena wasn’t looking.
Once he had all he needed, he bid us goodnight and headed down the stairs. I closed the door after him and heard his motorcycle start up a few minutes later.
“You okay?” I asked, sitting next to her.
“Yeah. Thank you.” She snuggled close, nearly on my lap again.
This time, I lifted her legs, pulling her to sit on my lap like a little girl. She put her head on my shoulder once more, her arms around my neck.
“I’m sorry about before,” she whispered.
“What about before?”
“I pretty much attacked you.”
“Did I seem to mind?”
She giggled, shaking her head. “Not a bit. Just that I don’t usually get so previous.”
“Me either. It felt pretty good, though.”
“Yeah. And right. And probably the biggest mistake we’d make in our lives.”
Sighing, I had to agree. As much as I wanted her, needed her, taking her to bed right now would constitute a major dating faux pas, and possibly ruin any chance of more.
“You’re a beautiful, sexy, exciting woman—who has a gun and carries a badge,” I murmured by her ear. “And that’s even more enticing. But, as much as I’d like to take you to bed, I won’t. It would have been great, and you’d have hated my guts in the morning.”
She nodded, giving me a kiss on the cheek. Her arms tightened around my neck and I knew she wanted more than that little kiss. If she went at me now, I’d very likely lose control. We’d come too close for me to behave. Not only that, I was on an adrenaline high after the incident with Bernie. It wouldn’t be fair to Rowena—or me, for that matter.
“I’d better go. Much as I’d love to stay. But we both have to work in the morning.”
“What’s gonna happen to Bernie?”
“She’ll be held for a psych eval, and they will lock her up for a few days to watch her. If she’s still considered unstable, they’ll put her up in Ravenwood.”
“Mental institution and rehab. It’s a nice place, overall. One of my sisters works there.”
“Nope. Antoinette. She’s a nurse practitioner.”
I stood up and headed to the kitchen. Rowena helped me gather up my things and put them away. I gave her a hand with the dishwasher and clean up the mess on the living room floor. Luckily, it hadn’t been her beautiful Fiestaware that had been our dessert plates, but cheap stoneware which was easy to replace. I picked up big pieces and she ran the vacuum. When that was done, sex was the last thing on my mind. I wanted to get home, run the dishes and head to bed. I get up early to meet the morning crowd with coffee and breakfast burritos.
Giving Rowena a last kiss, I took my cart and went to the elevator. She waited until the doors closed before going back in her apartment. My cell rang as I pulled out of her lot.
“Thank you again,” she said quietly. “Even with Bernie’s precipitous entrance and exit, it was fun.”
“We’ll do it again. With luck, we won’t get beat up in the process.”
Laughing, she bid goodnight and hung up. I sang the entire way home.
Jake was waiting in the plaza when I arrived. He usually comes in for the morning rush, taking payment and making coffee as I get the food together. It’s a busy time, but I enjoy it. Everyone is grumpy, until they get their food and coffee, then I’m everyone’s pal. Amazing the power of food and caffeine have over the human race.
Rowena stopped for coffee and a danish before rushing up to the office. She wanted to be early to deal with whatever fallout there might be from Bernie’s arrest. I wished I could go up and help, but my input would be neither helpful nor welcome. I’m not official, I’m just the food truck guy.
“You okay?” Jake asked, with an alarming clarity he frequently displays.
I told him about what had happened the night before. He nodded, lips pressed together.
“Poor kid,” he said.
I wasn’t sure if he meant me, Rowena or Bernie.
“I know it scared the shit out of you both, but maybe she thought she had a reason.”
I started to contradict him, but he held up his hand.
©2021 Dellani Oakes