Unexpected - *Book Five*

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It takes me five days to know I’m screwed if things proceed like they did.

For the past five days, I spent most of my time with Kaitlyn. Either at her house or my dad’s, or I took her to more of New York’s tourist attractions. And today—another one of those hot days—I walk into my dad’s backyard just as said woman emerges from the pool. She’s wearing a pink polka dot bikini, which fits her curves and tanned skin perfectly.

It’s become more apparent these past days how oblivious Kaitlyn is to her beauty. That’s another thing that sets her apart from the women I usually talk to. They all use their looks as a tool to lure men into their trap. With her, it wasn’t her beauty that caught my interest. Don’t get me wrong; she always looks gorgeous in her pretty summer dresses—or in that bikini. What draws me to her is how she seems to have some radar when it comes to my state of mind.

I’m usually excellent at not letting my emotions show. Not with her. She has an exceptional talent to read people, including me. She unravels me; she notices things others don’t, even the smallest shift in my mood. And after what happened at work, there’s been a lot of that over the past days. She calls me out on it too. I can’t tell her anything about my problems, of course, but she keeps saying I should feel free to vent to her because swallowing one’s anger and trouble isn’t healthy. It’s scary how she gets me, and that after less than one week.

I met with Ben again to do some venting, and talking to him helped me process the info a little more. But my coping mechanism of choice is still denial. I don’t want to deal with it, at least not yet. Ben asked me repeatedly to stay away from the bar and Jackson and to distract my thoughts.

As it turns out, Kaitlyn serves as a perfect distraction.

When I watch her come out of the pool and wrap a towel around her body, a sensory awareness hits me. A desire stirs inside me to get closer to her. Every troubling thought retreats to the back of my mind; all I can focus on is the beautiful smile on her face.

Damn, when did I turn into some sentimental sap who rather notices a girl’s pretty smile than her stunning rack or fine ass? Maybe it’s something she puts in her cookies that clouds my senses.

She comes to a stop in front of me, and her smile widens when she says, “Hey, Aaron.”

“Hey, Baby Doll,” I respond, knowing full well it pisses her off—or so she claims. I’m sure she secretly enjoys it.

Sure enough, she rolls her eyes, but a hint of an amused smile remains on her lips. “I’m gonna pretend I didn’t hear that because I’m thrilled you were able to fix the filter system. Going for a swim in your dad’s pool is a great way to cool down.”

“Yeah,” I say with my usual smirk when I move a little closer to whisper in her ear, “Luckily, I’m very good with my hands.”

She wants to seem unfazed by my words with the way she rolls her eyes again and snorts, but judging from the blush that suffuses her cheeks, she’s giving my hands some more thought.

“You’re such an arrogant ass,” she mumbles with a chuckle as she grabs a glass of water from the small table behind me and sits down on one of the loungers.

I smirk and sit down on a chair next to her. “I learned from the best. Speaking of which—where’s my dad?”

“Amy took him to his doctor’s appointment.”

With a deep sigh, I lean back in my chair and nod. Amy. Wow, I haven’t been thinking about her much since I saw her the other day—that’s a first. I know Kaitlyn met with her and Lauren, but other than that, Amy wasn’t on my mind like she usually was.

When I direct my attention to Kaitlyn, I realize she’s watching me—with the same look she had on her face when I turned to her as soon as I could tear my gaze away from Amy after we ran into her when she picked up Bella at my dad’s.

“What’s wrong?” I ask just like last time.

And just like last time, she responds, “Nothing.” She fixes her gaze on the pool and takes a sip of her drink, which makes me wonder if she picked up on anything about my behavior as soon as Amy is involved.

I guess it would be better if we left before my sister-in-law comes back with my dad.

“Have you eaten?” I ask her.

She looks at me with furrowed brows. “It’s only three thirty. I had lunch a couple of hours ago.”

I shrug. “By the time you’re ready to go, it’ll probably be five o’clock. We can have an early dinner. As my dad keeps reminding me, I still have to take you out to a fancy restaurant.”

She studies me, but just as I think she’ll call me on my bullshit, she nods. “Okay. I should get out of the sun anyway.” She stands up and drops the towel which was still wrapped around her body. She grabs a shirt from the backrest of the lounger she was sitting on and pulls it over her head. But not without giving me a nice view of her curves, which evokes pictures of my capable hands on her body and makes something else stir inside me. Damn, it’s been way too long since I’ve had sex.

Before she catches me staring, I tear my gaze away from her smooth legs. “I’ll wait here until you’re ready,” I tell her.

She nods. “I won’t be too long,” she responds. “I’ll take a quick shower and change—which won’t take me an hour and a half,” she says with narrow eyes.

I laugh. “We’ll see about that, Buttercup.”

She raises a single eyebrow. “You already used that one.”

“Oh, so you’re keeping a list?” I ask her with a wink. After the conversation we had about her being all shy, I know she certainly won’t admit it.

“Yup.” This time, she winks at me with a sexy smile on top of it before she vanishes into my dad’s house. Okay, I guess I was wrong. And I guess it’s settled: I am screwed.

Maybe I should take a shower too—a cold one to get my mind out of the gutter.

About one and a half hours later, we sit in a quiet corner of a cozy Italian restaurant. “How’s the writing going?” I ask Kaitlyn while we’re getting ready to choose our food.

She looks up from the menu and smiles. “Pretty good actually. I had trouble with this one chapter, but this morning, I finally finished it.”

“That’s awesome,” I say. “You still won’t let me read it?”

She looks back at the menu. “No,” she answers without further explanation.

Before I can question her about this any more, the waitress comes up to our table to take our drink order. I already noticed the way she smiled at me when she showed us to our table, and she’s still overly friendly—especially towards me. Any other day, I would have welcomed her open flirting, but tonight, it bugs me.

When the waitress recommends a red wine and gives me another seductive smile, Kaitlyn draws in a long, slow breath as she pretends to study the menu. I bite my lips to hold in a chuckle – and not to give that waitress a wrong impression. “Yes, we’ll take a glass of that wine. Is that okay with you?” I ask Kaitlyn.

She glances at me and mumbles, “Yes, that’s fine.” Once the waitress is gone, she snorts. “Wow, that woman has some nerve. Flirting with you while I’m sitting right here. Not that it’s a bad thing because we’re not together. But she doesn’t know that, does she?” she rambles.

I chuckle. “Yeah, I get what you mean. She wasn’t very subtle. But I’ll say something to her next time she does that.”

Kaitlyn shakes her head. “No, don’t. That would be silly. Let her flirt. Ask her for her number,” she adds with a wave of her hand. Again, she wants to seem unfazed, but I know it bothers her.

“I don’t want her number,” I tell her, and I catch the hint of a smile on her lips before I peruse the menu to decide on what to order.

For the rest of our meal, we manage to get back to casual conversation, mostly about her family. We even steer into deeper topics when I tell her a little about mine—about my mom’s death and how my dad had a hard time being a single father. But I enjoy that as well because talking to Kaitlyn and listening to what she has to say has become one of my favorite things.

An hour passes, and it literally flies by. When we’re done eating, the waitress comes back to take our empty plates. I feel her gaze on me again, but I ignore her and keep my eyes on Kaitlyn, who, on the other hand, observes the waitress with narrow eyes, and I can hardly suppress a grin. Luckily, the waitress gets the hint and leaves without any more attempts at flirting.

With a deep sigh, Kaitlyn gets up. “Excuse me for a sec; I need to use the restroom.”

I nod and look after her, and I can’t help but notice how the skirt she wears accentuates her cute ass. With a small sigh of relief that I am still that guy who notices a girl’s physical appearance, I turn my attention to the dessert menu.

“Aaron?” a voice next to me asks.

I look up into a pretty face, which I recognize at once, but I can’t remember the name to that face. It takes me a moment to recollect how I know her, but then it comes back to me. That’s the bridesmaid from my brother’s wedding. Shit. Not what I need right now.

“Hey,” I say with a forced smile before I look around to see if Kaitlyn is coming back from the restrooms because I’m not sure if that girl comes in peace. I never called her after the night we spent together.

“Hey. How have you been?” she asks with a sultry smile.

“Um, great.” I frown, still not sure how to get out of this as quickly as possible.

She lets out a soft laugh and holds up her hand. “Relax. I get it. It was a one-night stand. I’m not upset you didn’t call. But it was an amazing night, and maybe we could meet for a repeat?”

Damn, what’s it with all those forward women tonight? “Oh, uh, look–” I hesitate, still trying to think of her name.

“Michelle,” she says when she realizes my dilemma.

“Yes, Michelle. I’m glad you’re not upset, but I’m in the middle of a date here, and I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in meeting again. I agree it was a great night, but as you said, it was a one-night stand—nothing more.”

I grip the stem of my wineglass, expecting her to grab it and throw the drink in my face, but a subtle smile plays on her lips. “That’s fine. I understand. Can’t blame a girl for trying.” She hands me a napkin with a number on it. “As you probably lost my number. Call me if you change your mind,” she says before she walks away with a small wave.

When she’s gone, I spot Kaitlyn, who’s on her way back to our table, and judging from the look on her face, she saw Michelle talking to me. Great.

She avoids eye-contact when she sits down and finishes her wine. No word and no sound escape her lips, which are pressed together in a thin line.

“Are you okay?” I ask her.

“Of course,” she says with a smile that couldn’t look more unnatural.

“Do you want dessert?”

“No, I’m stuffed. And tired. Can you take me home?” She finally lifts her gaze, but it only holds annoyance.

I sigh. “Sure.”

I take care of the check while Kaitlyn goes ahead and waits outside. She doesn’t say a single word when I join her and when we make our way back to her place. And she doesn’t say anything either when I follow her inside her aunt’s house even though she didn’t invite me in. She’s mad, and I can’t leave without having talked about what happened, and why it bothers her like that.

I walk behind her into the kitchen, where she pours herself a glass of water. “Help yourself,” she says and points to the other glass on the counter.

“Kaitlyn,” I say softly. She turns, and her gaze meets mine. “What are you so upset about?” I ask with a frown.

She studies me with narrow eyes, and all she says is, “You.”

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