An hour later, I’ve got a push cart loaded with hanging plants and a couple potted plants for my window boxes. I’d hoped to find some lilacs, but they didn’t have any, and since I’m only renting my house, it’s probably for the best anyway. Jace bought a giant hanging pot of the most vibrant-colored annuals for his mom, and it’s left such a sweet spot for him in my heart. He is unlike any man I’ve ever met, with a such a big heart and just the most incredible smile. He reminds me so much of my own dad, and the thought causes tears to prick the corner of my eyes, but I brush them away and busy myself with finding a hair elastic in my purse to pull my hair up and off my neck.
We’re next in line, so I pull the cart forward, and the woman running the register begins to tap away at the calculator in front of her, adding up the flowers.
“And one large annual hanger?” she asks.
Before Jace can object, I nod, holding out three twenties to her. She’s handing me my change when Jace moves next to me and drops a kiss to my temple.
“Thanks, Stella. You didn’t have to do that.”
“I wanted to. Just don’t go throwing a caveman tantrum because I bought you some flowers.”
Jace busts out laughing, and I rest my hand on my hip.
“What’s so funny?”
I shrug. “I don’t know, go all alpha and refuse to let me pay? Isn’t it something that makes most men uncomfortable?”
“I’m not most men, and I would never go all alpha on you. Unless it involves what I did to this sexy fucking body last night. In which case, I’m always down for that.”
I shake my head at him, and he grins and pushes the cart toward his car. When we reach it, he pops the trunk, and we place most of the flowers inside, except the one for his mom.
“I can hold this one, if you want,” I offer, moving to take it from him.
Once I get into the car and am buckled, he hands the planter to me and I settle it on my lap, laughing when I realize I can’t see out my window or the windshield. Jace climbs behind the wheel a moment later, and when he notices my predicament, he laughs and pulls out his cell phone.
“Do you mind?” he asks, and I shake my head, smiling when he snaps a picture. A little over twelve hours ago, I didn’t even know him, and now I’m posing for photos, laughing and enjoying the little things with him. It’s a heady feeling, but one I could certainly get used to.
When we pull away from the nursery, I notice he’s headed in a different direction than my house, but I don’t question it and just enjoy the drive. His fingers toying with the hem of my shorts, I force myself to ignore the butterflies in my stomach and reach over to his stereo, turning the tuner knob to a different station.
“This okay?” I ask, and he nods, focused on the road.
I hear him groan a second later when the next song comes on, and I laugh as I turn it up as loud as I can and sing along.
“I didn’t take you for an eighties fan,” he shouts.
“Best genre besides country.” I keep dancing around as best I can in the confined space.
“If you say so.”
“Oh come on, Jace. Loosen up. It’s ‘Love Shack.’ Everyone loves this song.”
Jace turns the radio down a bit, but I don’t pay any attention. The song is about to finish when we turn down a long dirt road. Moving the flowers a bit, I realize we’re pulling up to a house I don’t recognize. It’s a beautiful white Cape Cod set on a large lot with a wood fence running the length of the front yard.
“Where are we?” I ask.
“My parents’ house.”
My eyes widen in shock, but before I can protest, he parks in front of a large two-car garage.
“Jace, I don’t think I should be meeting your parents. We only just met last night,” I tell him earnestly.
He laughs, dropping a fast kiss to my lips. “They’re not home, Stella. I’m just dropping these on the porch for Mom.”
It’s not until he’s out of the car that I breathe a sigh of relief. I’m not ready for that.
But as I watch Jace jog up the steps, hanging the flowers from the railing, my eyes completely drawn to him, I realize that maybe it wouldn’t take much for me to be ready.