“Well, she’s wrong. I probably should have stayed late and finished up with that paperwork, but it’ll wait until morning. I wouldn’t miss seeing your old man.” He loved the guy—Emerson Sr.—loved talking to him about his days in the Corps and hearing stories about Emerson when she was a kid. He liked being part of her life, knowing the people most important to her.
Her shoulders eased at that. “Well, good. He loves seeing you.”
“What about you?” he asked.
“What about me?”
“Do you love seeing me?” he asked in a teasing tone—even if he did want to know the answer.
She rolled her eyes before giving him one of those heart-stopping grins that made him forget how to function, let alone speak. “You just brought me food. Of course I do.”
One day he was going to put that smile on her face because he’d given her the best damn orgasm of her life. Because he loved her more than any other man ever would. He was going to convince her that they were meant to be together.
She was already one of the closest friends he’d ever had, and that was saying something. His family loved her, and hell, even if they didn’t, he wouldn’t care. He just needed to get his shit together. Christmas was soon and he planned to let her know how he felt then. Planned to give her a present that made it crystal clear how much she meant to him. If she didn’t return his feelings…
He’d deal with it.
As Isa steered into her garage she frowned at the sight of headlights in her rearview mirror, pulling into her driveway. They quickly went off, making her frown deepen.
She lived in a quiet neighborhood. She’d rented for about a month when she moved to Miami, but then she’d found this adorable little ranch-style home in a quiet cul-de-sac neighborhood that she loved. It was filled with palm trees and pools in practically every backyard, and she loved everything about it, including her neighbors. Everyone here knew everyone and they looked out for each other.
She pulled out her pepper spray from her purse and quickly exited the vehicle. It wasn’t too late for visitors, but no one ever stopped by for a random visit and she didn’t recognize the vehicle.
When she saw Graysen’s familiar form step out of an SUV, that momentary spike of panic left her body. Maybe there had been an emergency at work?
She tossed the pepper spray onto the driver’s seat and hurried out of her garage. “Hey, what’s going on?” she asked, her heels clicking on the pavement.
Instead of answering, he opened the door behind the driver’s side and a bundle of gray and white fur jumped out. Yipping excitedly, Peaches raced toward her and as she jumped into the air, Isa caught the adorable mutt in her arms. She was inundated with licks and kisses as she buried her face against Peaches’ head.
“What are you doing here?” she asked Graysen.
He wore the same suit he’d had on today, sans tie. The top button of his dress shirt was undone and for some insane reason she wished she’d been the one to take off that tie, to unbutton his shirt, to…
Nope, nope, nope. Not going there.
He lifted a shoulder. “Peaches missed you.”
“There’s no emergency at work?”
He shrugged again, all casual nonchalance. “Not that I know of.”
Her eyes widened. “So you just decided to stop by with your dog? Out of the blue?” Like we’re freaking friends?
She narrowed her gaze at him, tried to keep her annoyance clear, but it was hard to look serious and frustrated when Peaches was licking her face, just begging for attention. “How’d you even know where I liv— Never mind. Don’t answer that.” He’d probably found out long before he started working for Red Stone.
“Aren’t you going to invite us in?”
“I must be out of my mind, but come on.” She didn’t want to stand outside and have whatever conversation he wanted to have while any of her neighbors might see and come out to check on her. She turned back toward the garage, and, still holding Peaches, grabbed her purse and laptop bag from her car before shutting the door. Once inside her mudroom she disarmed her alarm system, but only after making sure Graysen turned around. Not that it would likely matter. He would probably have no issue breaking into her place if he truly wanted to.
Before they’d taken two steps into her kitchen, Graysen stepped in front of her, his weapon drawn. A little burst of panic set in before she realized what he was doing.
The man was a total freak sometimes. Even when she’d thought of him as Michael, he’d been the same: vigilant about security.
“Sure, go ahead and sweep my house as if you have every right,” she muttered more to herself than him as he made his way through the kitchen to one of the attached rooms.
He clearly wasn’t listening and didn’t care anyway.
“You are in luck,” she murmured against Peaches, who’d stopped squirming and was now sitting contently in Isa’s arms. “I’ve got a treat for you.”
Peaches knew what the word treat was and started wiggling again, licking Isa’s face as if she loved her more than anyone in the world. Unexpected tears stung her eyes. She’d really missed this sweet dog. She’d even contemplated getting one of her own when she moved to Miami, but she’d been a mess a year ago and hadn’t been ready.
Now… Yeah, she could get one now. Of course, no dog compared to Peaches.
Reaching into her pantry, she held onto the dog with one arm and opened the plastic bag of fake bacon treats. “One or two, do you think?” she asked.
Peaches let out two little yips, as if she actually understood.
Laughing, Isa gave her the two strips and when she wiggled to be freed, set her down. Peaches scurried away, probably to hide one of the strips, right as Graysen walked back into the kitchen. He was sheathing his weapon as Peaches raced by him.
“So any dangers lurking in my secured house?” He clearly knew the security system had been armed.
“You’re good.” He frowned slightly at the bag of treats. “Why do you have dog treats?”
“Babysat a neighbor’s dog not too long ago.”
“So…why the heck are you here?”
“I wanted to see you.” Heat flared in his blue eyes as he watched her.