Stay Close(7)

By: Alexa Riley

“Okay, you two need to go to work,” I say, handing them their lunches. I don’t want to hear their flirting. Dad gives me a hug and another kiss on the head before leaving the kitchen. I smile as they depart, and then I turn around to make my own plate.

I grab my phone and start up some music on it. After I find a song I like, I start dancing a little as I take a few bites of my food. I look around the kitchen to make sure I have stuff to make tacos for dinner tonight, wondering when Ivan will get here. As soon as the thought pops into my head, I turn around and freeze when I see him standing in the backyard, staring at me.

My breath catches as our eyes meet. Today he’s in black slacks and a buttoned-up white collared shirt. The sleeves are rolled up, and I can see a bit more of his tattoos today. There’s still so much of him that’s hidden, but I think that’s part of the attraction.

I can’t pull my eyes from him as he starts to move towards me. I’m rooted in place as his long, thick legs eat up the distance between us. He stops at the glass doors that line the far wall of our kitchen, then he slides the door open and lets himself right in.

I lick my lips as he closes it and leans up against it. His eyes never leave mine, and he doesn’t utter a word. I don’t know how long we stand there until I’m finally able to pull enough air into my lungs to say something.

“Hungry?” I nod to the food that’s sitting on the kitchen counter. It’s not normal for us to have leftovers, but everyone seemed to be in a hurry this morning, so there’s plenty for him.

“You’d feed me?” Ivan asks, his dark eyebrows pulling together as if he’s confused. It’s then I hear an accent that I think is Russian. His voice is seriously deep. Deeper than any voice I’ve ever heard before.

“It’s kinda my thing. I feed people around here,” I tease, finding a little more of my voice again. Jesus, what is wrong with me? I’m never tongue-tied when I’m around guys, but Ivan is different. He’s head to toe man, and this instant attraction is something I’ve never experienced before.

He steps farther into the room, so I grab a plate and serve him some of the food. When I turn around he’s standing right behind me. I have to look up at him. His inscrutable dark eyes are locked on me.

“Sorry, there’s only one piece of bacon left. I’m shocked there’s even that,” I say, a little more breathily than I mean to.

I feel a tug on the plate, and I let go, knowing he grabbed it. I don’t look down to see because our eyes remain locked.

“I would eat anything you served me,” he says simply, and I feel myself blush.

The thought of other things he could eat enters my mind, and I have to turn around. I don’t want to get caught thinking of such a dirty image, because I feel like he can read it all over my face. Oh. My. God. Something is wrong with me.

I start cleaning up the kitchen, trying to distract myself with something, anything. As I grab a plate in the sink, he reaches out, taking it from my hand.

“You cooked for me, I will clean for you.”

I should probably tell him that we have someone who comes in and does this for us. I was only doing it because I was trying to stay busy in an effort to not make a fool of myself.

“Perhaps you should get dressed.”

His eyes travel down my body, and embarrassment floods me. It’s then I realize I’m in sleep shorts that are more like underwear and a Harry Potter shirt that says I’m up to no good. It’s so faded it’s almost see-through. At one time it belonged to my mom, but I love it so much because I remember her reading the books to Pandora and me when we were little. She wore it all the time until I stole it about five years ago.

“Okay,” I whisper, and then I actually do something my guard told me to do. I turn to leave, but he grabs my wrist. I stop short and stand there, with him holding on to me. I look into his dark eyes, and I’m unable to move. There’s so much there that I can’t read, but I recognize one thing for sure.

“Are you up to no good, krasotu?” The low words rumble from his chest, and they vibrate through me.

I lick my lips, wondering what that word means. I’m surprised by his question. There’s an edge of danger in it, and it doesn’t feel like he’s only asking as a concerned guard looking out for me.

“I guess you’ll have to find out for yourself,” I whisper before pulling my arm from him and leaving the room.

I feel his eyes on my back the whole time, and I remember what I saw there. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before, and I want it again. No man has ever looked at me like that before.

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