Home > Wright with Benefits (Wright Series #8)(8)

Wright with Benefits (Wright Series #8)(8)
Author: K.A. Linde

“Annie?” Jordan asked.

But I was already leaning forward on my knees, trying to suck in air as I hiccupped around my laughter.

“What’s so funny?”

“Everything,” I gasped out. “This day. Just think, we came here to escape a flood, and your power is cut. It just feels too good.”

“I think you’ve lost it.”

Slowly, my laughter subsided, and I swiped at my eyes. “Maybe I have.”

The anger was gone. That end of my rope feeling subsided, and in its place was relief. Because the day was almost over, and if it wasn’t tempting fate, I’d wonder, What else could possibly go wrong?

Jordan used his phone as a flashlight to find a stash of candles. He lit a few of them, positioning them around the living room. The space glowed soft, ambient light. I dropped my purse on the island next to the case of wine and took in the vaulted ceiling with the enormous royal fireplace, nearly big enough to walk into. The couch and chairs matched without being too matchy, making the room feel open and inviting. The back of the house was all glass, looking out over a pool and the golf course beyond. It was a marvel, and he’d clearly spared no expense. Not surprising considering the family business.

“Here you go,” Jordan said, appearing again a minute later. He held out a set of clothes.

I raised my brows. “What’s this?”

“You look cold.” He pushed the clothes into my hands and walked away without looking back. “Bathroom is the first door on the left.”

I stared after him in confusion. This wasn’t the Jordan of three years ago, who couldn’t get me out of my clothes fast enough. Now he was offering me sweats and not even paying attention as he started a fire in the fireplace.

Huh. Maybe this wasn’t as bad a decision as I’d thought.

I ducked into the bathroom and stripped out of my ridiculous heels and dress. He’d left me gray sweatpants, a plain blue T-shirt, a black pullover with the Wright Construction logo on it, and a pair of wool socks. I hadn’t realized how cold I was until I pulled it all on. Even though it was way oversized and I had to roll the pants four times before they fit me, I was finally warm, which was all that mattered.

When I came back out of the bathroom, the fire was slow going, just a gentle flame in the enormous fireplace. Jordan had set up what was essentially a pillow fort on the floor in front of the fire. A dozen blankets and pillows littered the space with a few bottles of wine and glasses next to the fort, like a picnic.

“You’ve been busy.”

“It’s cold,” he admitted, glancing back at me. His eyes scanned me in my oversized sweats, and something possessive flickered through that gaze. As if the sight of me in his clothes did it for him just as much as my skimpy clothing. He quickly looked away. “I contacted the power company. I guess a line was cut in our area, and they’re working on it. They didn’t give me an ETA on when everything would be working again.”

“Idiots,” I grumbled.

“Do you think you could watch this while I change?” he asked.

“Sure. I was a Girl Scout. I can manage a fire.”

“Thanks,” he said gratefully and then disappeared around the corner.

I craned my neck, wondering which room was his, but the place was too big. I lost him around the bend, and really, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t like I had any plans to see his room.

I expertly tended to the fire while he was gone until it was burning nice and hot by his return.

His eyes rounded. “You really were a Girl Scout.”

“I was,” I said, admiring him in casual clothes.

He wasn’t exactly the sweats and T-shirt type. I’d mostly only seen him in suits. Otherwise I’d seen him in swim trunks and his birthday suit. This was a different Jordan. Careful. Cautious. He was trying not to scare me away.

I realized then that I didn’t really want that careful, cautious fear between us. I’d been hurt by what had happened, but I was to blame for that, too. What had I been expecting out of a one-night stand? I’d been stupid enough to fall too hard and too fast. He’d been smart enough not to…and I’d seen what I’d wanted to see. Everything that had happened afterward was miscommunication and hurt feelings that we let linger.

If Jordan was making an effort, then maybe it was time for me to put the past behind us. We didn’t have to be anything more than this. Someone who could be here for the other when they were in a bad place.

“Thanks for helping me today,” I said finally.

He sank into the cushions next to me. “You don’t have to thank me.”

“Yeah, I do. You didn’t have to help, and you did. So, thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

He nodded as if seeing the olive branch for what it was. Something passing between us that settled the past. After three long years, we were finally back on even footing.

 

 

7

 

 

Annie

 

 

We lapsed into silence. Jordan looked through the bottles of red in front of us. He’d put the white in a wine cooler, which I shouldn’t have been surprised that he had. He selected a bottle and expertly uncorked it.

“You’re good at that,” I told him as he tossed me the cork. I lined it up on the fireplace.

“Lots of practice. I’ve drunk my way through Napa a few times.”

“Fancy.”

“And France.”

“Of course you have.”

I’d never been anywhere. Not really. I was fourteen before I ever even left the state, and it was for a cheerleading competition in Oklahoma City that I thought was the coolest thing ever. Sutton and I went to New York City after high school graduation, and that was my first time on an airplane. I should have been terrified, and I’d promised myself that I’d travel more…but of course, you had to have money to travel. And I’d never really had money. My family wasn’t impoverished, but my parents had other priorities—volunteering, charity, church. Our money went to those less fortunate than us, which I appreciated and understood. But I still wanted to see Europe one day…to get out of Lubbock one day. As much as I loved it—and I did really love it here—there was a whole wide world out there.

Jordan poured us each a tasting glass. He held it aloft between us. “To free wine and good company.”

I laughed and clinked my glass against his. “Cheers.”

We each took a sip of the wine. My eyes rounded to saucers.

“Whoa,” I gasped. The wine was delicious. Fragrant and light with notes of cherry and something else I couldn’t quite put my finger on. “What is that last taste?”

Jordan picked up the bottle and read the back label. “Cherries and plums.”

“Plums!” I said with a nod. “So good. I could drink this whole bottle.”

He laughed and poured me another drink as he uncorked a second bottle. I inappropriately guzzled the wine like it was water. It was too good to waste a single drop. We moved on to the next bottle and the next and the next after that. Tasting alone likely would have gotten me tipsy, but any of the ones that I loved, Jordan would pour us both extra. Which meant that even though we hadn’t finished a single bottle, it was possible that we’d gone through three or four. The “tasting” was pretty deceptive.

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