Danica and Ridge were in the kitchen. He went there to put the take out food on the counter and she followed him. He turned to face her. “Dani, you can’t stay here.”
Ridge ran his fingers through his hair. “You know why not.”
“No, I don’t. Why don’t you tell me?”
“What will people think?”
“Why should they think anything? This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve slept under the same roof. We did that in Detroit.”
“Yes, but it wasn’t just the two of us. Sherilyn was there.”
“Are you worried that people are going to think that something is going on between us?”
“It’s possible that they might.”
“So what if they do? I don’t care what they think and you shouldn’t either. As long as we know the truth, it doesn’t matter what they think.”
“Why did you leave Seattle?”
“I got tired of the cold winters. I’ve always wanted to live somewhere hot. Sheri told me that you and she planned to move to Florida to get away from the winters in Detroit and she told me that I was welcome to visit anytime. And, here I am in Tampa.”
“Yes, but you aren’t visiting. You plan on moving in with me until you find a job and your own place.”
“Yes, that’s the plan. I really don’t see what the problem is.”
“Dani, I’ve explained to you–“
“Yes, you said that people are going to talk when they find out that I’m staying here. Well, let them talk. I don’t care. If I can’t stay here, where else can I go? I don’t know anyone else in Tampa. You’re the only family I have here.”
“You can stay here for a couple of weeks but after that, you should go straight back to Seattle.”
“I told you I don’t want to be there any more because of the cold. I want to be somewhere where it’s nice and hot all year round.”
“You’re putting me in a very awkward position.”
“I’m sorry, Ridge. That wasn’t my intention. I just thought that because you, Sheri and I were so close, you would be happy to see me and thrilled that I’ve decided to move to Tampa.”
“Under other circumstances, I would be thrilled to have you here but–“
“All right. I’ll stay here for two weeks and during that time, I will look for a job. If I find one, I’ll rent a bachelor apartment and be out of your hair. If I don’t find a job by the time the two weeks are up, I’ll fly to Houston and stay with my friend, Angela until I can find a job. Does this plan work better for you?”
“Good. Now, may I freshen up?”
“Sure. I’ll show you to the spare room.” He took her to the second bedroom which was very spacious.
She put her luggage in the corner and walked over to the window to look out. “Nice view,” she remarked. “You have a really nice apartment.”
“Thank you. The bathroom is across the hall,” he informed her quietly. “While you freshen up, I’ll take a shower and then, we’ll eat.”
“All right.” She went over to him. “I just realized that I haven’t given you a hug.” Putting her arms around him, she hugged him tightly. She felt him stiffen and then his arms wrap around her shoulders.
They stood like that for a while and then, he released her and she stepped back. She looked up at him. His expression was inscrutable. “Excuse me,” he said before he turned and walked out of the room.
When he got to his room, he closed the door which he usually kept open and quickly stripped. He went into the ensuite and closed that door as well. He stepped into the shower and turned on the tap, letting the water beat down on him.
Five minutes later, he walked into the bedroom after drying his skin. He quickly got dressed and left. He was in the kitchen microwaving the food before sharing it out when Danica walked in. “That smells really good,” she said. “What is it?”
“Well, we have Lemongrass Chicken and Duck Pho. Would you like to try one of them or both?”
“Both. Do you usually get two take out orders?”
“No, not usually. I got two because I didn’t feel like cooking today or tomorrow. One was supposed to be for today and the other for tomorrow.”
“And because I’m here, we’re going to have both today.”
“Well, tomorrow, I’ll cook.”
“You can cook?”
She stared at him. “Of course, I can cook. I learned to cook when I was thirteen. I may not be as good as Sheri but I’m pretty good.”
“Ok. You’re on. Now, let’s eat before the food gets cold again.”
They ate at the kitchen island and talked about different things. They didn’t talk about Sherilyn. After they finished eating, Danica insisted on washing the dishes. While she did that, he wiped down the island and took out the garbage. Afterwards, they went out on to the patio where they spent the rest of the evening.
It was after eleven when they decided that it was time to go to bed. After saying goodnight, they went to their rooms. Ridge closed the door and went into the ensuite to brush his teeth.
When he was finished, he stripped down to his pants and then, sat on the bed. Usually, he slept in the nude but how could he do that now with Danica there? He could sleep in just his underwear but he didn’t want to sleep under the covers tonight. It was too hot. He couldn’t open the windows because it was raining and he didn’t want to turn on the air-conditioner.
Sighing, he got up, went to the bureau and took out a pair of pajama shorts. He took of his pants and underwear and on put the shorts. He put his underwear in the dirty laundry hamper and his pants on a hanger. Then, he walked over to the bed, knelt down, say a prayer and then, climbed in.
He lay on his back, staring up at the ceiling, listening to the rain as it hit against the window. It was after one in the morning when he finally drifted off to sleep.