14. Ever so tempting.
Mason’s apartment, as he did tell me, is not far from the twins’ school. The building; not too tall in its structure, is a welcome sight. Red brick exterior and an even amount of large windows. It looks as though it has been recently renovated.
He parks the car outside in a designated spot before coming around to my side to help me out. After unlocking the building’s main door, he guides me gently through the foyer and towards the lift.
I yawn as the doors shut behind us.
“What’s the time, Mason?” I ask as the lift climbs the floors to reach its destination.
He checks the watch on his wrist before telling me it’s already reached half one in the morning. Something I can’t quite believe. Five hours ago, I was sat on the best date of my life. How could such a perfect night go so wrong so quickly?
“Come on.” He says as we reach his floor.
He doesn’t waste time in welcoming me into his apartment. A large kitchen, living area meets me. High ceilings and dark, wooden floors. The walls which are painted a light grey colour would make the place feel cold if it wasn’t for the cosy, cream rug that lays between two leather sofas.
I admire the modern kitchen with all of its appliances.
“Nice place.” I comment.
“Thank you. It’s a rental.” He explains, offering to take my jacket before hanging it on the coat rack. “Do you want something to drink? Or eat? I could whip us up an omelette?”
I’m about to refuse his kind offer when my stomach growls out at the sound of something to eat. He grins, gives me a cute thumbs up and heads towards the kitchen. I follow him, sitting myself in one of the barstools.
“Do you want to take a shower?” He asks.
“I don’t want to impose anymore than I already am.”
“Veronica, don’t be silly. A hot shower might make you feel better? I’ll have one too.” Almost immediately he realises what he just suggested. His cheeks turn pink, “I didn’t mean it like that.”
A soft smile fills my features, “It’s okay.”
“There are two showers.”
“Two showers? I share a bathroom with a pair of children. It’s hectic.”
He grins, “Both bedrooms have ensuites.”
“Look at you and your fancy ass appartement.”
“Take a shower. For my sake. You stink of smoke.” He approaches me gingerly; eyes gazing down at me.
I narrow my eyes, “You’re not one to talk about stinking of smoke!”
As he reaches me, he rests a hand on my shoulder. His touch, like it always has been, is electric. I reach up and place my hand over his.
My breath catches in my throat.
With the smallest of smirks, he brings his lips to my forehead.
“Come on, let’s shower.”
I wash my hair twice using a citrus shampoo I find at the base of the shower. No matter how hard I try though, the stench of smoke doesn’t leave my skin. No matter how hard I scrub. I’m covered in large, red marks by the time I’m done with the body wash. I climb out, wrapping myself in the fluffy, yellow towel Mason left for me. It engulfs my frame. I use the second towel for my hair, wrapping it up on top of my head.
The bedroom of which the ensuite I’m in is adjacent to, is your typical spare room. A large, double bed sits in the middle of it, the sheets a navy colour. The rug on the floor is soft against my feet as I take a seat at the edge of the bed. I stare down at the dress I wore earlier. It’s too dirty to even attempt to wear.
That only leaves one option.
“Mason?” I call out his name hoping that he is also out of the shower.
A soft reply reaches my ears and I hear his footsteps approach the bedroom. He taps on the door lightly.
“I don’t have any clothes to wear. Could I borrow something?” I approach the door that is the slightest bit ajar.
From the other side of it, I hear him laugh, “Of course! Give me a second.”
Mason’s back a minute later, tapping on the door once more. I pull it open. He stands there in just a towel that hangs low on his hips. I swear I barely catch my jaw before it falls to the floor. Sure, I’ve seen him topless before, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s nice to look at. He’s a beautiful man with muscles that are obviously well trained, but not too offensive. Water droplets from his damp hair fall down his forehead as I tune my eyes in on his.
His, which are clearly gawking down at my own body.
Well, at least I know he’s attracted to me too.
“Are those for me?” I point to the pile of clothes in his left hand.
“Yep.” His cheeks turn a pale shade of pink as he hands me the clothes. I take them, pulling them to my chest. Mason clears his throat, “How was your shower?”
I press my hip against the door, accentuating my curves, “How was yours?”
“I asked first,” a smile that is ever so heartwarming appears on his face.
“You’re right, you did. Mine was hot.”
“Yep... Are these your pyjamas?” I notice the bright pink, chequered bottoms I’ve been handed.
Mason nods, “I am very secure in my masculinity.”
“I’m sure you are,” a long breath escapes me.
“Get dressed, Veronica. I can’t be distracted when I make your omelette.”
“I distract you?”
It would be too easy to shut the bedroom door in his face once I pull the towel from my hair. My dark locks cascade down and with a simple swish of my head, they fall behind my bare shoulders. It would be easy but not as fun. The expression on Mason’s face is humorous. Wide eyes stare down at me; never blinking.
"Mason?” I whisper his name.
He lifts his right hand up, extending it towards me before catching a drop of water that runs down my neck with his thumb. Then he’s stepping forward and capturing my lips with his own. I’m caught by surprise; the tentative kiss, slow and sending my hormones wild. The hand that rests against my neck moves to cup my cheek as he gently presses his bare chest against me. I wrap an arm around his waist, whilst the other drops the clothes he handed me earlier to the floor.
I kiss him back as softly as I can muster until his tongue sweeps across my bottom lip. He sure knows how to kiss. Not too much tongue; just the right amount of pressure. Enough to make me weak in the knees. He’s so warm and inviting. Ever so tempting. I need him more than I thought I did and that scares the hell out of me.
A moan escapes me as he seduces my mouth.
He grins against me, pulling away an inch. He sighs, “If I told you how much you distract me, I’d lose my good boy reputation,” he teases my lips with another slow kiss before pulling away fully. A smirk plays on his face.
“You’re not so good, Mason,” I glance down briefly to the noticeable bulge in his towel.
"We'll have to see about that," he says without missing a beat. "Get dressed, Veronica. We need to eat something substantial before we collapse."
He walks away, leaving me with swollen lips and a racing pulse.
Once I’ve pulled myself together and dressed, I meet Mason in the kitchen. He too is dressed, in a red t-shirt and black joggers. He's stood behind the hob, on which a frying pan sits with an omelette cooking in it, that smells delicious. Our eyes meet across the room; a smile tugging at the corners of both of our mouths. I drag one of the bar stools underneath me, sitting on the other side of the hob to him.
"Looks good," I drag my eyes across him once again.
"I'm the master of the omlette." He jokes.
"Thanks. For letting me stay here."
"You're very welcome. Pepper?" He asks as he slides half of the omlette from the pan and onto the plate in front of me.
"Sure," I say; my mouth salivating at the sight of food. I didn't realise how hungry I was until my stomach growled the whole way through my shower.
He rounds the counter and sits on the stool to my right. His own food is covered in ketchup.
"You've ruined a perfectly good omelette there, Mason."
He shakes his head dramatically, "Only made it better."
"I hate ketchup!"
"Tastes too artificial." I shovel a forkful of egg into my mouth.
"Does that come from your ballerina days? Eating healthy and all that?" He asks.
I nod, "Probably. Though, my diet then was a lot better than it is now."
"You're going to hate how much butter is in this omelette then!" He says, making me laugh.
We finish our food in relative silence, the two of us enjoying the company of the other. It feels right to sit by him, listening to the silly stories that escape him when he's lost in his own world. Stories about his friends at work; about his twin sister and younger brother Finn. He doesn't mention Lou and I don't ask. Divorce is a trying time for anybody and it's none of my business. Though, I really do hope she's doing okay.
We're cleaning up the dishes when he brushes his hand across my lower back. I freeze, a reaction he notices immediately. With a sly smile, he chucks a tea towel towards me.
"You can dry."
"Hey, whatever happened to the sunflower?" He asks minutes later.
I gasp, "Shit. I left it at the restaurant. I'm so sorry!"
"I'll get you another one. Or ten." He jokes, laughing softly.
"You're too kind!"
"I really am, aren't I?" He takes a hold of the tea towel, using it to pull my body towards his. He wraps his arms around my waist, locking me in place. "What are the plans for tomorrow?"
"I need to pick the twins up. Probably head back to the house to see the damage..." My voice breaks away.
I hadn't even thought about our home and how the fire affected it. All night, I was worried about my children and then I was mad at Joel. But, the fire raged through the house. We might not have a home to go to.
"What am I going to do, Mason? If the twins are going to stay with me then they'll need a home." I can't bring myself to say that they may be better off with their father.
"I don't want to freak you out in any way, but you are welcome to stay with me for as long as you need. Your children too." He says, his chin dipping to rest on the top of my head.
I sink into his embrace, glad to have him to help me through this.
"You know, I know we've both showered, but I can still smell the fire." I mutter against his warm chest.
"The smell has a habit of staying around."
"Mason, you were so brave running into the fire. Most people would run away from something like that."
He repeats his words from earlier in the evening, "It's my job."
"Your job is terrifying," I pause, "Don't you get scared?"
"I've learnt to not let fear distract me from saving the people who need saving."
He sighs, kissing the top of my head once. "Yes."
"I'll never forget that you saved him, Mason."