Home > Lion's Quest (A Lion's Pride #12)(7)

Lion's Quest (A Lion's Pride #12)(7)
Author: Eve Langlais

The query threw him off balance, but not for long. “You exercise and make food. Of course, I noticed.”

She laughed. “You assume I can cook.”

“You don’t?”

“Not much. But I do make a mean toast.”

“You’re scaring me about the lunch special.”

“We have a special?” she blurted out. She’d studied it, and yet she couldn’t remember what it was. His presence oddly frazzled.

He pointed, and she turned her head to see a chalkboard. Written on it in big letters was the name of the special and what it contained: basic sandwich, drink, and a side.

“Oh, you mean that special.” Way to cover. She kept her hands laced behind her back. “What will it be?”

“I’m not sure. What do you recommend?”

He wanted a suggestion? Shit. Did they have a menu? She glanced behind her. Saw nothing.

He cleared his throat. “I take it you’re new.”

“How can you tell?” was her sarcastic reply.

“Then let me help you out. I tell you what goes on the sandwich, you make it.”

“You, a man, want me, a woman, to make you a sandwich? I see the patriarchy is alive and well.”

He choked and covered it with a hand. “I just assumed that was part of your job description given you’re behind the counter and health laws forbid a customer from serving themselves.”

“I guess in this case, it’s okay,” she said begrudging, because she really didn’t want this expectation of her making food to persist. She liked her stuff readymade.

“Thank you? I think,” was his bemused reply. He took a moment to eye the deli meat selection, hands shoved into his pockets, hair askew as if he’d been in a strong wind. Maybe the flapping of book pages?

“I’ll have a pastrami on rye, easy on the mustard, with cheddar, please. And a bag of chips.” He pointed.

Seemed easy enough. As she went to grab the bun, she remembered to wash her hands, mostly because there was a sign right above the bread screaming, Wash First. Right over the little sink was a box of gloves. Ick. She wasn’t rectally probing a sandwich, just making it.

The knife-wielding part she had fun with, tossing the bun in the air and trying to slice, only the dull blade failed. The bun fell, hit the edge of her counter, and hit the floor. She eyed the bun and then Montgomery. “Guess I should get another one?”

He sounded quite choked as he said, “Yes, please.”

She kept a firm grip on the bun this time and sawed it jaggedly into two. Made a mental note to bring a sharper knife.

“That’s not rye.”

“Get over it.” She eyed the whole-wheat interior. Now what? She glanced at the array of bottles, hand hovering until he said, “I like it with mustard in a zigzag first.”

She grabbed the yellow bottle, hoped she guessed right, and to be contrary, did a big circle on each bun. Then for good measure, added an N with a flourish.

“What does the N stand for?” he asked.

“Nora.”

“Good to know. Next, let’s add some veggies.”

She wrinkled her nose. “You really want to ruin it that way?”

“What do you suggest?”

“Cheese. Then meat. Don’t take away from the meat!” She tossed on some orange cheese slices, layering it three deep. Who cut them too thin?

He talked as he watched her layering on the pastrami—which had a label!—like she’d enjoy eating. Thick to reduce the ratio of bread.

“So you like to jog.”

“Guilty,” she said, adding even more meat since the bread was the poufy kind. Eyed a pickle and wondered if she dared add it. It counted as a vegetable, which he might like. As if she cared. Still… She threw a line of pickles into it then lifted it to hand over.

“Are you going to wrap it first?”

“You’re difficult,” she grumbled as he added yet another step to the process. Who knew food took so long? No wonder she preferred having it made for her.

As she placed the sandwich in the paper, she wondered where they kept the larger pieces, since it wasn’t big enough to wrap around.

“Where did you move from?” Wasn’t he just a Chatty Cathy today?

“East End.” Technically true, the false part being she’d not really moved. All of her stuff remained in her condo, like her bed, which she really missed.

“And you’re on the floor below me with your boyfriend.”

It might have been the boredom that made her purr, “Why are you asking? Interested?” She leaned forward and batted her lashes. It would have worked better with a lower-cut shirt, and maybe not having the stench of meat stuck to her as she handed him his sandwich, mummied in several pieces of paper.

“Interested?” He appeared startled. “Fuck no.”

“That’s a little harsh.” She couldn’t help a moue of discontent.

“Not because of you. A man would have to be stupid to get in the way of your refrigerator-sized partner.”

Her lips twitched. He had a valid point. “Lucky for you Zach isn’t the jealous type.” All the jobs they’d done together and not once had there been the slightest spark.

“You’d cheat on your boyfriend?” He, the career criminal, sounded shocked.

She rolled her shoulders. “We have an understanding.”

He snorted. “Yeah. I’d never be into that.”

“What are you into?” She gave it a husky note.

“I’m into getting the rest of my lunch. I’ll have those barbecue chips and a bottle of iced tea.”

“Everyone knows salt and vinegar is the best,” she said as she grabbed the items and handed them over.

“I’ll remember that for next time. See you later, Nora.” He tossed a ten on the counter and walked out.

She almost went after him.

 

 

Chapter Four

 

 

That afternoon Nora wondered what he meant by later. Today? Tomorrow? Maybe he just said it because it was the thing to say. Not because he meant it.

She’d screwed up royally. How could she get close to him if he wanted nothing to do with her?

His replacement arrived at five o’clock. Rather than head home, Montgomery again crossed the road for the butcher shop!

“Back so soon?” she said lightly as he entered.

“What can I say, the service is impeccable.”

She almost snorted. “You want another sandwich?” Which she’d learned wasn’t supposed to have a proper three inches of meat. The owner, Pamela, had almost fainted when she saw the size of the sandwiches Nora kept making.

“That sandwich was epic. But I’m thinking something different for tonight. I’m in the mood for some steak.” He pointed to a bacon-wrapped filet mignon. “Two of those, and two of the double-stuffed baked potatoes.”

Enough to make a snack for her, but for a human? Two portions could mean, “Hot date tonight?” she asked.

“Nope. Just really hungry.”

“Maybe you should get a sandwich, too, just in case.”

“That one you made me for lunch was pretty big. But good. Maybe another for a snack.”

Pamela emerged from the back with a snarl. “You’re done. I got this. You can go.”

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