“I have never, not one day, hated you.” For the first time since I left her in California desert, I realize it’s the truth. I never hated Poppy, I hated how lost I felt without her. How addicted I was to every facet of her.
Her eyes glaze as she turns back to the task at hand. “That’s nice to know.”
I pull some cider from the bag, along with cinnamon sticks and oranges. That means one thing. “Ah, your famous mulled cider.”
“Yep. This is the virgin version. I’ll throw in the rum at home.”
“I loved that stuff.”
“I have some from yesterday. Want a mug?”
I lean against the counter, allowing myself to really bask in her beauty. Take her all in. After all, the woman always was my sunshine. “Sure.”
“Let me warm it up. Make yourself comfortable.”
She disappears into the kitchen area while I peruse the store. Everything is still in a state of disarray, likely because of my stubborn inability to let the women proceed in peace. Instead, like a chump, I add fuel to the fire. “Did you and Troy have a nice dinner?”
Poppy reappears, a scowl crossing her features. “You drove down here to inquire about my dinner?”
“No.” I shove my hands in my pockets, feeling like a schoolboy in front of his first crush. Come to think of it, that’s not so far off. “I come bearing good news.”
“Really? That’s a change for you.”
Okay, I deserve that biting remark. “We have approved you to open the clinic.”
A wide grin crosses Poppy’s face as she claps her hands in glee. “Oh, that’s fabulous! Thank you!” She raises her arms up, but thinks better of it, dropping them back to her sides.
Poppy is a hugger. She gives love to everyone. Apparently, I’m too prickly for her to consider anymore. Yet another fact I’m going to have to rectify.
I grasp one side of a rickety wooden ladder, leaning against the wall. “Please tell me this is for decoration only.”
She glances up, shrugging off the statement. “I’ll tell you that, but it isn’t the truth.”
“Poppy, you could hurt yourself.”
“I’ve been up on it several times. It’s fine. Sturdier than it looks.”
“You are so stubborn.” I turn and walk out without saying a word. Jumping into my Jeep, I head for my workshop and within thirty minutes, I’m back in front of her store, unloading tools that don’t look like they were used in the colonial days.
As soon as I cross the vestibule, I release an exasperated sigh. There, perched on the ladder I told her to avoid using at all costs, is Poppy. “Get down. You’re going to get hurt.”
Her eyes widen at the sound of my voice. “Wow. You came back this time.”
I ignore the pointed barb. “Had to get some tools.”
“Finishing me off, Dylan?”
My dick twitches at her unintended innuendo. “There’s so many ways to take that statement.”
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