I lifted a hand to smooth down my hair and offered up my own rueful grin. “I was expecting spaghetti sauce out of a jar and maybe some frozen garlic bread.”
Brite let out a booming laugh and slapped his knee. “No. When Avett gets it in her head to prepare a meal, it’s all from scratch and tastes like you should be paying her for the honor of eating it. When it was just me and her, I wasn’t around a lot because of my hours at the bar. She had free run of the kitchen. The leftovers she had waiting for me were better than anything you could get at any five-star restaurant in LoDo. The girl is a natural when it comes to food and I think in her own way that’s how she cares for the people that matter to her. She can feed them. Tonight she made chicken picatta and homemade pasta.”
No one would ever accuse Brite of not being an observant man. I had wondered where Avett’s enthrallment with my kitchen came from and his insight into his complicated daughter made a lot of sense. She knew how to cook and how to do it well. She knew she wouldn’t screw it up, so that was how she went about caring for those that she loved. That was her gift and she wanted to share it. My mouth started to water at the same time my heart flipped over in my chest. I couldn’t hold back a soft, “Damn.”
I pushed my suddenly acute hunger to the back of my mind and filled Brite and Darcy in on what the detective had told me hours earlier. Brite looked furious when I was done talking and Darcy nervously twisted her hands together. I told them my plans to take their daughter out of town for the weekend and was stunned that there was no argument. Brite agreed it was a good idea for her to lay low as much as possible until the trial, and assured me that when we got back to town he would rally the troops to make sure she was never alone. Darcy watched me, speculatively, and simply nodded as she muttered, “You’re both going to need to be very careful.” I wasn’t sure if she was referring to me being in danger because of the situation surrounding Avett, or if she was talking about the way her daughter and I were bound to detonate into an explosion of heartbreak and anguish by the time we were done falling in love with one another.
Avett hollered that dinner was ready and we all moved to the dining room. She wasn’t merely a good cook, she was something magical. The food tasted better than anything I had ever put in my mouth, and I couldn’t stop telling her how impressed I was. She blushed prettily as easy conversation flowed around the table, and when I got her back to my loft a few hours later, I thanked her for dinner and for sharing her family properly in the shower, several times. The first time I thanked her on my knees, with her leg thrown over my shoulder and my mouth buried in her core as she pulled on my hair and demanded I give her more. The second time I thanked her, I did it with her bent over in front of me with her hands on those slate tiles I couldn’t even see because I was focused on the way water sluiced down the sexy curve of her spine, and the way it made her cotton-candy-colored hair stick to her skin as I pounded into her from behind.
Losing myself in her sweet body over and over again did more to cleanse the cobwebs that clung to me from the dirty victory in court today than any amount of hot water and scrubbing could. She made me feel renewed. She made me feel improved. She made me feel like hearing her come on a long sigh, with my name dancing off her lips, was the only victory that was ever going to matter ever again.
After we had the bathroom cleaned up and the things we were going to need to get through the weekend in the mountains packed into two backpacks, I took her to bed and told her I would keep her safe. I told her she had a real gift with food and that I really liked her parents. I told her that I liked the way she told me hello today, and that I really liked going to bed with her. She let me give her the words, she let me hold her close, and she didn’t ask for anything else.
She didn’t ask about court. She didn’t ask about the mountains. She didn’t demand attention or validation. She took what I had to offer and snuggled into my side as she traced the wings tattooed on my chest in a lazy caress. She was content to simply be here with me, and what I offered seemed to be enough for her. I liked a lot of things about this young woman, but the fact that she wasn’t asking for more than I had to give was at the top of the list. Her unassuming and undemanding nature made me want to dig deep into a well that I was sure had run dry, in order to provide her with more than the bare bones of the emotions I had left. I wanted to give to Avett, as much as I wanted to take from her.
I fell asleep with her head on my shoulder and her hand resting over my heart. I woke up with the sun hitting me in the face and Avett’s sassy mouth wrapped around my dick, while her small hand played with my balls. It was the nicest wake-up call that I had ever gotten, and it had me smiling all morning long. I did my best to put a similar smile on her face, and by the time we were done destroying my bed and each other, it was well past time for us to get on the road. The bike was fast, but the drive up to the mountains was still over treacherous passes and the weather was always unpredictable in late fall. I was trying to get the girl out of danger, not put her in more of it.
I had a leather jacket and a helmet that I bought for Lottie and had never been used. Avett made a face when I told her where the gear came from, but she still put it on and climbed on the back of the bike behind me, like a pro. A street bike was nothing like a Harley, but the basics of how to ride on the back of one were the same. That meant she got to wrap herself around me, that I got to have her hands pressed low and tight across my middle, with her legs squeezing me tightly as we moved together around each of the switchbacks that led up to the mountain. She moved like she had been born on the back of a bike, which I guess she kind of had been. But she also moved so in sync and so perfectly with me that all I wanted to do was find a place to pull over so I could bend her over the bike and bury myself inside her, so deeply and fully that she wouldn’t be able to remember what it was like to not have me inside of her.
It took several hours as we passed through small mountain town after small mountain town, each one more exclusive and more elite than the last. The tourists were out in force, making their way into the mountains to watch the leaves change and for a last-minute getaway before the snow moved in. We rode hard and fast, zipping around traffic and chasing the wind higher and higher up in elevation, the leaves turning from leafy green to vivid yellow and red the farther away from the city we got. It had been years since I’d been here and I’d spent so much time blocking out the memories that I almost passed the outcropping of rocks that led to the small turnoff where I knew there was a small, flat area where I could park the bike.