Home > Sweet as Honey (Aster Valley #2)(8)

Sweet as Honey (Aster Valley #2)(8)
Author: Lucy Lennox

“Pretty sure all of us have done it before. Distracted isn’t the same thing as stupid,” I said a little more gruffly than I’d intended.

He pinned his bottom lip even harder which made me want to kiss it better. And that thought brought lights and sirens of dire warning. This adorably awkward man is not for you.

If there was one complication I absolutely did not need in my life right now, it was interest in a man. I had more than enough things to concern myself with between my general contracting business, my troublesome sisters, and my friends’ consulting needs.

Cute boys were off the table.

But he would look so good on a table.

I cleared my throat and stepped back, making way for Mikey to fuss over the spot of road rash on Truman’s face. Tiller looked at me with a slight grin on his face which snapped me back to what we’d been talking about before Truman’s arrival.

I continued what I’d been explaining before Truman’s arrival. “You might not need replacements. The old lifts were manufactured by a company no longer in business. There are two companies in Colorado still making lifts. I think you should have them both send someone out to have a look and give their recommendations. From what I researched, it’s possible you might only have to replace some drive terminals and possibly the chairs or pads at first.”

Tiller asked, “I wonder if the original lift operator is still around. We could ask them.”

It was a good idea. “Maybe. I can check—”

Truman cut me off. “No. No, I mean… no. That’s not… Are you… what are you two talking about? The ski lifts?” His voice was pitched a little high and thready like he was upset but trying not to show it. Clearly, he was flustered. I watched him as Tiller responded.

“Yeah. Mikey and I are looking into reopening the slopes. Not right away, but we want to see what it would take to get everything up and running again by the time I retire in a few years.”

Truman’s eyelashes fluttered like frantic butterfly wings. “But why? Why would you do that? The ski resort? Why?”

“When we bought Rockley Lodge, we had the option to purchase the portion of the mountain the resort was on. I thought it would be a good investment in the town, give me something to do after I retire from the league.”

Truman nodded and firmed his jaw. “I think that would be nice. I’m sure plenty of people in town would appreciate it.” He seemed to be considering his next words. “But, um… don’t… you probably don’t want to hire the old lift operator. He’s not quite right in the head. Well, that’s not accurate. I believe he struggles with alcohol addiction now. But he was never the same after everything happened, you know?”

Mikey shot Tiller some kind of warning look I couldn’t read. Tiller sighed and stepped closer to Truman which got my hackles up for some reason. “I’m sorry, Truman. I forgot about your history with the resort,” he said in a gentle, kind voice. “I should have been more—”

Truman plastered on a big fake smile. “Oh no! It’s fine. Totally fine. I think it’s great. Super great. Really great.”

What the hell was going on? I opened my mouth to ask questions, but Mikey shot me a warning look before the words could come out. I clamped my lips closed.

None of my business.

Tiller took Mikey’s hint and changed the subject. “Truman, I meant to ask if you were growing any arnica this season. Winter told me you make an amazing salve for bruises that I need to stock up on before football season.”

Truman’s entire face changed, as if he was thrilled to be of use. “Of course! You definitely need some. I’ll make you an extra-large batch to take home with you.”

Mikey suddenly lurched at Truman and hugged him tightly. “We are home. And you’re the best.”

Truman looked flustered but happy. His eyes slid closed for a brief moment as Mikey crushed him in the hug. It made me wonder what kind of jackass boyfriend he had that he seemed touch-starved.

Not that it was any of my business because it absolutely wasn’t, and I didn’t care anyway.

Yeah, right.

It didn’t take long for me to realize something about Truman Sweet pushed all my buttons in the very best way. He was a unique mix of shy and chatty. When the conversation centered around a topic he was familiar with, he came alive. He spoke with his hands and explained things in interesting detail. His knowledge was extensive. He seemed to know quite a bit about many different things.

When Mikey offered him tea after dinner, Truman’s face lit up. “I would love some. Any kind is fine with me. Did you know there are four kinds of tea but they all come from the same plant? Camellia sinensis. And I just learned recently that tea bags weren’t invented until the early 1900s. In fact, they were invented by accident. A tea merchant created little silk pouches to help him give out samples to his customers. Several of them thought they were supposed to dip the entire thing into the water instead of using a diffuser. Also, for the first three thousand years of its use, tea was only used as a medicine.” He took a small bite of the chocolate mousse Mikey had made and groaned. The sound went straight to my dick.

I watched him like a hawk. His long slender fingers held the spoon delicately, and his red lips slid along the bowl of it like the man was deliberately baiting me. Clearly, he was not, because he continued talking about tea.

“And if you meet an English person who pours the milk into their teacup before the tea, they were most likely taught by the older generations who did that to protect the delicate china cups from the direct heat of the tea. It’s not necessary anymore, of course. But cultural habits are fascinating, aren’t they?”

He seemed to suddenly realize he’d been going on and on about tea. His face heated, and his eyelashes fluttered. He stared down at his mousse. “But enough about all that,” he said quietly to himself. “I’m sure you don’t need to know more tea trivia.”

Mikey looked over at me with an expression of desperation on his face. I’d been best friends with the guy long enough to interpret it.

Do something.

I cleared my throat and took my best shot by making up a total lie. “I heard that in ancient China, tea was used as currency, but I don’t know if that’s true. Do you?”

Truman’s eyes widened. “Um, yes? Yes, it was. The leaves were pressed into a brick, and it was scored on one side in case someone needed to break off a piece to make change.”

“Wow, really?” I asked before I could temper my reaction. “I had no idea.” Honestly, I’d made the whole thing up. Needless to say, his answer had surprised me.

Truman’s brows furrowed. “But you’re the one who told me.”

Mikey jumped in. Finally. “What did you think of the mousse? I added the lavender like you suggested.”

Truman’s face lit up again with a kind of relief and quiet pride. “It’s amazing. I can’t believe you took my suggestion. What if it had turned out terribly?”

Tiller laughed and tried to reach for Mikey’s unfinished mousse. “I would have eaten it anyway, so it’s all good.”

Mikey batted his hand away and curled a protective arm around the dessert. “You’ve surpassed your allotted carbs for the day.”

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