He inhaled the sweet floral scent and nodded at her.
She chuckled. “You don’t have to pretend to like it.”
“Out of the three of us, Eric is the one who knows how to cook.”
“Dean cooked breakfast.”
“That’s all he knows how to cook. If you want breakfast, morning, noon, and night, Eric’s your guy.” Micah breathed in the warm air. It was so freeing. He’d been living in the city for so long and had grown accustomed to the loud noises. The beeping of car horns. The thick air. The people. This was … heaven. “Dean’s different while he’s here.”
“He talks a lot more than I remember.”
“That’s why he’s different. Back in the city, he was just as quiet and as brooding as he was back in high school.”
“I bet that makes for an interesting boardroom discussion.”
“It does. He has this ability to make people nervous.”
She nodded. “He used to make me nervous. I guess in a way he still does.”
“I’ve seen the way he is with you. Believe me, you’re safe with him.”
She picked some fresh tomatoes from the plant, placing them in her basket. Her hands were covered in dirt. Whenever he went looking for her, he often found her out here.
“Is this your favorite spot?” he asked.
“One of them. My grandma always told me to never take a single moment for granted, you know? Getting to my vegetable patch is another accomplishment for a good day. It’s like my reward.”
“It’s not the end of the day.”
She winked at him. “I know, and I’m going to do something I didn’t think I would.”
“Make you one of my fresh pasta dishes.” She got to her feet, picking up her basket.
She hadn’t cooked for them. In fact, she hadn’t even eaten with them. More often than not, by morning, Micah had to drink his coffee, scoff down his toast, and go find her.
Dean and Eric kept themselves entertained. He imagined sometimes Daphne was their entertainment, but again, he didn’t pry. She seemed to just move between all three. Actually, now that he thought about it, they all went to her, not the other way around. Ever since she’d accepted Eric, his friend had been different. Whenever he caught Eric and Daphne together, they were … he couldn’t think of what they were, just that something had happened. Eric wouldn’t tell them shit, and he was curious about it.
He’d have to bring it up to Dean to start hunting for the answers. If anyone could find out what happened, it was Dean.
They walked into the kitchen and Daphne went straight to the sink. She washed her hands, scrubbing beneath her nails until her hands were clean. She cleaned the sink and started to wash the herbs and tomatoes.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a woman cook for me.”
“Do you expect me to believe that?” she asked.
“Would I lie to you?”
“I’d hope not.”
“Well, I don’t lie to you. Perhaps to everyone else, but not to you.”
She grabbed a large pot and filled it with warm water. She carried it over to the stove, putting it on to boil.
“So, what are you cooking?”
“I’m going to cook you my basil and tomato pasta salad. I love it. Lots of fresh tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. Basil. Black pepper. Cheese. It’s so good. I also add in some healthy leaves.” She went to the fridge and bent down.
“Each time you do that, I can’t control myself.”
“Get your mind out of the gutter. Sex isn’t everything.”
He caught her up in his arms. “Then clearly, I’m not doing it right.”
She kissed his lips. “Oh, believe me, you are. You really are.” She pulled him down to kiss.
His stomach chose that moment to growl.
“But, first, I’ve got to feed you.”
He sat at the table and watched as she prepared the tomatoes, basil, and leaves. She used small pasta shells and reserved some cooking water, draining the rest.
Dean and Eric arrived as she poured the pasta into the pot, adding the cheese and water. Lots of black pepper, and she gave it a stir. That was it.
For the first time ever, all four of them ate as if they were a family, and Micah couldn’t help but wonder if they could make this work.
Dean made his way down to the kitchen. It was late. He couldn’t sleep, and he needed something to drink.
The moment he entered the kitchen, he spotted Daphne. She wore a white negligee. Her long hair was pulled up on top of her head.
“Hey, beautiful,” he said, moving toward her back. He pressed a kiss to her neck before passing her. “Hot chocolate?” He saw what she was drinking and decided to join her.
“Yep. The best kind of drink for when you can’t sleep.”
“You can’t sleep either?”
“No.” She’d gone to bed on her own. He didn’t know if Eric or Micah had joined her, but he had a feeling they hadn’t, seeing as they’d all been disappointed when she’d excused herself for the night.