Home > The Shifter Romances The Writer (Nocturne Falls #6)(16)

The Shifter Romances The Writer (Nocturne Falls #6)(16)
Author: Kristen Painter

But then Shanna came back with the check, and Roxy never answered. He paid the bill and looked for Shanna to hand the cash back to her. No sign of Diego. He must still be in Bridget’s office.

“Worried about him?”

Alex turned back around. “I’m always worried about him. For a former Marine, he’s so…”

“Lackadaisical?”

“Now you’re just showing off.”

She laughed.

He sighed, smiling. “He’s my brother, you know? I want the best for him. But he doesn’t seem to want the best for himself. He just floats through life.”

“And that bothers you because you’re a routine guy. Everything is planned and by the book. You say you’re going to be there, you’re going to be there.”

“Pretty boring, huh?”

She winked at him, causing his body to tighten unexpectedly. “One woman’s boring is another one’s pleasure.” Then she sighed, and her gaze shifted to something behind him. “But I suppose the opposite must be true too.”

He turned to look. Diego was talking to Shanna. Alex frowned, then glanced at Roxy. “I need to let him be, don’t I?”

She lifted her shoulders, her expression placid. “He’s a grown man. And Shanna’s probably old enough to make her own decisions. Even if they are bad ones.”

Alex grabbed the signed book she’d given him. “In that case, I really need to get back to work.”

“Sounds good. I still have errands to run.”

They walked out together and all the way back to the station, then stopped at the door. “Where are you off to?” he asked.

“In no particular order, the post office, the Shop-n-Save and Delaney’s store.” She grinned. “Just because I didn’t eat dessert at lunch doesn’t mean I’m not going to want something sweet later.”

He nodded. “I get it.” He hesitated, the feeling that he should kiss her battling with the reminder that this was not a date. “I guess I’ll see you around.”

She smiled. “I’ll call you when the tank’s all done. You can come see the fish.”

“Sounds like a date.” He paused. “I mean, not a date. A…” What did he mean?

Her grin widened. “I have your number. I’ll call you.”

“All right. Good.” He went inside before he said anything else that made him look like a half-wit. The woman had a strange effect on him.

Birdie waved. “How was lunch, Alex?”

Her voice snapped him out of his thoughts. “It was…” He smiled, his mind returning to Roxy’s big, brown eyes and rosebud lips and warm sense of humor. “Good.” And it had been. Really, really good.

Birdie grinned and started humming the Wedding March.

Roxy felt lighter than air. It was the same feeling she got when she released a new book, or got a great, over-the-top review, or knew she’d nailed a scene.

Thomas had never made her feel that way. But Alex sure did. In fact, he was the first man who had.

And it scared the stuffing right out of her. It was an odd combination to be gloriously happy and also petrified of what that glorious happiness meant. What she did know was that she was not feeling anything remotely romantic for Alex. Not at all. He was just hot. (So hot.) And nearby. And nice.

That was it.

Please let that be it. She did not need, or want, a man in her life. She still hadn’t technically gotten rid of the one she had. Which reminded her that she needed to nudge her attorney on Monday about what was taking Thomas so long to sign the papers.

She looked in the shop windows as she walked, not really seeing anything.

Maybe she was feeling this way because Alex was the first guy in a long time who’d been so kind to her. He hadn’t wanted anything from her. Just to make up for the ticket and be a good neighbor.

She squinted at that thought. That was all he wanted, right? Nothing he’d done had given her any indication of anything else. And he was such a standup guy. It was literally his job to uphold the law. There was no way he was playing some secret game of Let’s Be Friends Who Turn Into Lovers.

No, this was just a guy being neighborly. Not a guy. A neighbor. That was a safer way to think of him.

She checked the address of Delaney’s shop on her phone, then plugged it into her maps app. She’d thought she knew where she was going, but after walking several minutes with her head in the clouds, she wasn’t sure at all.

As it turned out, she was only a block and a half away. She arrived at Delaney’s Delectables a few minutes later.

The smell was divine. She paused just inside the door and inhaled, eyes closed. Chocolate was both the fuel for her writer’s mind and the bane of her writer’s backside. But she’d had salad for lunch. Very low carb. She could splurge a little.

And chocolate was good for the writing. She believed in literally feeding the muse.

“Roxy!”

Delaney’s voice rang out over the hum of the shop. Roxy opened her eyes and smiled. “Hey, woman, what’s up?”

Delaney came out from behind the counter and greeted her with a hug. “I didn’t know you were coming by today. Did you tell me and I forgot? I might be getting pregnancy brain.”

“Can you have pregnancy brain when you’re not even showing?”

“I’m showing.” Delaney leaned back and pulled her apron tight across her stomach, displaying a slight roundness.

   
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