Without any warning Gray took her hand and used her finger to scoop up the chocolate batter. She watched as he lifted her hand toward his mouth, and about half a second before he closed his lips around her finger, she realized his intent. But by then, it was too late.
His tongue ran along her finger, and then he sucked the remaining batter off. Right away, a mental image of him doing the same thing somewhere else on her body danced before her eyes. Heat spread throughout her, and she swallowed, frozen in place.
He pulled her finger from his mouth. “Delicious.” Gray maintained eye contact as he kissed the top of her hand. His breath traveled over her skin, sending shivers up her arm.
“You, uh, always did love chocolate.” Her voice came out far from casual, but considering the circumstances, that came as no surprise.
He lowered their hands, but didn’t let go. “I didn’t mean the batter.”
Boy, oh, boy did she need a cold drink. “Gray—”
The intercom came to life.
“Pizzas.” Thank God.
Gray nodded. “I’ll get them.”
Alone, Kiera sagged against the counter. The Gray Sherbrooke who’d given her a hug, patted her on the back, and even kissed her on the cheek... that Gray she could handle. But she didn’t know what to make of the man who’d just sucked raw cupcake batter off her finger and kissed her hand. Most women in her shoes would thank their lucky stars, then grab hold of Gray before he changed his mind and went back to giving them friendly pats on the back.
She had no intention of doing that. A safer route would be to sit him down and ask him if he was okay. Maybe he’d bumped his head while in the shower or was, perhaps, having a life crisis.
Yup, when he came back, she’d ask him and get to the bottom of things because some kind of logical explanation had to exist. After all, they’d known each other for almost thirty years and he’d never once hinted that he saw her as anything but a friend.
Sure, she’d wished he saw her as more from time to time, but she’d gotten over the teenage crush a long time ago.
The apartment door opened, and Gray walked in, carrying two pizza boxes as if he did it every day. The aroma of pizza made her stomach rumble.
“I almost ate a slice on my way back up.”
She watched him cross the living room and wished he did do it every day. Move your legs. Do something useful. Kiera gave herself a mental shake and grabbed some plates from the cupboard.
“Go ahead and start without me.” She handed him the plates. “I need a drink. Can I get you anything?”
What she needed was a tub filled with ice, but for now, she’d settle for an extra large glass of water.
“I’ve got water and ginger ale.” She pulled open the refrigerator door more for the cold air than because she needed to see its contents. “Milk and a little cranberry juice.”
“Water, please.” Gray opened a pizza box and placed two slices on each plate. He didn’t start eating, though. Instead, he pulled out a chair and stood behind it. “Those cupcakes smell great. How long until they’re done?”
His mention of cupcakes sent her body temperature up again. She drank half of her water and reconsidered her earlier decision. Maybe the best option was to ignore what had happened earlier. She could pretend it’d never happened. Doing that might not answer her questions, but it would keep her from spontaneously combusting.
“About another fifteen minutes but if you want them frosted they’ll need to cool off.” Something she had no hope of doing anytime soon.
“If I want them frosted? You know me better than that.”
Until five minutes ago, she’d thought she’d known him rather well, but now? Not so much.
“Have a seat.” He gestured toward the chair he’d pulled out.
Right now, she’d rather stay where she was with the table separating them. Gray would never go for that. Each and every Sherbrooke had proper manners drilled into them, and that meant each Sherbrooke male had been raised to pull out chairs for women and only sit once all the women present had done so first. So Kiera did the only thing she could. She sat down.
Gray ate two slices of pizza before he spoke again. “You’re quiet over there.” He grabbed a third slice. “Are you sure you’re okay?” He left the pizza untouched in his plate and waited for her answer.
She’d spent the last several minutes avoiding eye contact. With him expecting an answer, it seemed rude to keep staring at her plate.
Kiera looked up and forced herself to meet his eyes. “Fine. Really.”
Gray remained silent as if considering her words. Then he reached for her. “I don’t believe you.” He squeezed her hand and waited.
Every Sherbrooke shared one particular characteristic: stubbornness. Gray included. If he suspected something bothered her, he wouldn’t give up until he got the truth or she tossed him out.
And she didn’t want to toss him out.
“What’s the matter, Kiera?”
“Before...” She paused and her gaze dropped to his mouth, lingering there for a bit before forcing herself to meet his gaze again. While his eyes were not as unique a shade of blue as many of the Sherbrookes, she found them beautiful.
“You know, when we were in the kitchen.” Kiera bounced her knee under the table and bumped his leg.
“Did I upset you?”
“No. Well, yes.” Kiera heard a growl and realized it came from her. Why did he have to sit so close? He could’ve picked the chair across the table, but no, he picked the one next to her. “Why?”
“Why what?” He moved his hand to her shoulder.
“Why did you do it?”
Gray leaned forward, and his voice became a mere whisper. “Because I couldn’t stop myself. Like now.”
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