“You’re welcome. And thanks for your help,” I replied.
“Anytime. That’s what friends do.” He left with another guy, who had come to pick him up.
I walked Rowena up to the building door, assuring her I’d be back. “I can’t leave the truck on the street, and it won’t fit in the parking lot. I’ll be right back, I promise. Give me thirty minutes. I’ll need a shower—”
“Bring a bag, change here. We’ll order out Chinese or something.”
“Anything you want.” I gave her a tender kiss. “I’m so glad you’re okay.”
“Thank you for rescuing me.”
“That’s what boyfriends do,” I whispered, giving her another kiss.
I pulled myself away, with a huge effort. I wanted nothing more than to join her, and do something naughty. The post traumatic adrenaline high was still surging through my veins. Instead, I went home, gathered up some things for the next few days, and headed back to her place.
I was glad I was leaving, because I could see a couple of TV trucks a few blocks down, stuck at a light. My food truck goes in a special garage, which I had built when I bought this place. Since I have expensive equipment, I don’t leave it out in the open. I was grateful for that, at least. I hoped that Rowena didn’t mind I’d packed for more than one night. Not that I was expecting anything, okay? Though, I wouldn’t be averse…. If the media camped at my house, I didn’t want to be there. She lived in a secure building, and the press could be run off by the security team.
Shortly after I stepped out of the guest bathroom, the delivery guy showed up with more food than we could possibly eat by ourselves.
“I like a variety, and they don’t sell half servings, or platters of the things I want,” Rowena said as she unpacked. “But I keep it and eat it over a few days.”
“That works. You know, I can do Chinese.”
“Yes, but I didn’t want you to have to work. I still can’t believe….” She burst into tears, throwing herself into my arms. “You came for me. You saved me! I’m the one with the gun, and you saved me!”
My arms held her close, my hands stroked her hair as she sobbed against my chest. I didn’t say anything. She wasn’t listening, and nothing I said would make any impression anyway. Instead, I held her, let her cry, and tried to soothe her with my presence. Music was playing on an iPod, plugged into a speaker deck. The song was something I knew, so I sang along with it, swaying to the music. After a few minutes, Rowena sighed, snuggling closer. Her tears stopped, and she wiped her eyes on her shirt.
“I’m a wreck,” she gave a damp laugh.
“You do look a little wet.” I smirked, raising an eyebrow.
Rowena punched me in the chest. Not hard, but enough to make an impression. “Not supposed to say anything.” She gave me a tap for each syllable.
“My apologies, fair damsel. Did I say that your dampness was bad? I merely stated a fact. You’re wet. I’m wet.” I held out my shirt, showing the tears. Luckily, she hadn’t put on makeup after her shower, or it would have been a different tale. “It’s okay to cry. You were through quite an ordeal today.”
“My boss called. He wants a full accounting of what happened.”
“He’ll be here in about an hour.”
“Damn,” I said, letting her go. “I guess I’d better not get fresh, then.”
Rowena stood with her mouth open, staring at me. I finished unloading the food, setting plates on the table, getting out tableware. All this took a few minutes. She stared the entire time.
“What?” I really didn’t know what had her so mesmerized.
“I was—imagining….” Blushing, she opened a carton, and served us each some fried rice.
Concealing a smile, I did the same with one of the other cartons. When we’d both been served a little bit of everything, we sat down, and I poured us each a glass of plum wine I’d brought.
“To catching the bad guys,” I said, clicking glasses with her.
“To getting fresh,” she whispered, blushing again.
I leaned over, trying to catch her eye. She was focused on her plate like it held the secrets of the world.
“It’s okay to have those thoughts.”
“I hardly know you. It’s completely inappropriate.”
“You know the difference between boys and girls?” I poured more wine. “Besides the obvious, of course.”
She waited, eyes wide.
“The main difference between boys and girls is, we don’t mind having those thoughts about someone we just met. Or a woman we see in passing on the sidewalk, or a pretty girl in the elevator….”
She raised her fist to hit me, but I held up my glass of wine.
“The point I’m making….”
I shrugged off the obvious. “Is…that I don’t mind. You’re not thinking of anything I haven’t thought of at least sixty-two times, since I met you. Or a hundred and sixty-two,” I continued. Apparently, the plum wine was stronger than I realized. I contained myself before I started to babble. “I’m not a one night stand kinda guy, Rowena. I don’t want you to think I am.”
©2021 Dellani Oakes