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“No problem,” I said. “I’ll head over in just a second.”

I smiled at her, making sure I was maintaining eye contact and not letting my eyes wander, then headed into my bedroom to grab some sweatpants and a shirt. Slipping those on, I went back into the dining room, where Allison was holding a key. My eyes went to the key and then to the background behind it, which included her spectacular figure hiding behind the white towel.

“Here you go,” she said. “I really do appreciate it. And everything you’ve done.”

“Absolutely,” I said. “Be right back.”

I headed over and unlocked the door, taking a few deep breaths to calm myself. Seeing her in a towel was almost too much. It was bringing back thoughts that I’d already had to act on by relieving myself, only now they weren’t solely the product of my imagination. I had seen the swell of the top of her breasts and water sliding between them.

The key stuck in the door again, and I made a mental note to offer her some grease to fix that. Opening it up, I saw her duffel just beside the door and grabbed it, pausing only a moment to listen and see if I heard the drip in the bathroom. If I hadn’t turned the water off all the way, it would be dripping and probably rather loud. When I didn’t hear anything, I slipped back out, and shut and locked the door behind me.

Allison was waiting in the living room as I got back inside and handed her the bag. She thanked me and headed back into the bedroom, and I had to busy myself with getting plates and glasses for us so I didn’t think about how very, extraordinarily naked she was just a few feet away. When she came back out, she was wearing a tight tank top with some print on the front and loose pajama pants. My eyes couldn’t help but see the outline of one hardened nipple just above the print on the tank, and I shuddered. This was going to be a difficult meal to get through.

As I got back into the dining room, she was pulling a hoodie on, and I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed. As much as it would distract me, the tantalizing temptation of occasionally letting my eyes drift to her body was exciting.

“So,” I said as I sat down across from her, putting a slice of gooey cheese pizza on my plate, “you mentioned last night that you might not stay. Are you planning to sell the house? Go back to where you were living before?”

“God, no,” she said, and seemed to realize it was a bit more emphatic than she planned on. “I mean, I have no intention of going back to Houston, no. Not with my ex there and all the things I’d rather forget.”

“Fair enough,” I said.

“I have a dream, anyway,” she said, almost muttering it like she was ashamed.

“What’s that?” I asked.

She shrugged and took a bite of her pizza, chewing thoughtfully for a few moments.

“It’s silly,” she said.

“Go on,” I said. “Tell me. What is it?”

“Okay, so, it’s dumb, but I always wanted to own a bed and breakfast,” she blurted out, almost like it was one long word. She took a deep breath. “I just thought it would be so much fun. But I never had the nerve to try, much less the finances. But in the last couple of months, the idea kept coming back to me, and I started casually doing some research about it.”

“The Internet is a wonderful tool,” I said, taking a sip of the lemon-lime soda I had brought out.

“It is,” she said. “There are some hoops to jump through and stuff, but I felt like this might be my time to try it. So I’m going to try to fix that place up a bit and flip it. It should be worth a lot more than my grandparents paid for it originally if I get some stuff done, and then I can buy a little place to run as a B and B.”

“Sounds like you have it figured out,” I said.

“I hope so,” she said. “It’s exciting to think about anyway.”

I smiled. I liked seeing her so excited. For the first time since I had met her on the side of the road, she looked genuinely happy. The bed and breakfast idea really lit her up, and the sparkle in her eyes added to the allure of her. She was so petite and lively, and I wanted to see her succeed. I wanted to see those dreams light up her eyes as she achieved them.

We hung out at the table for a while, casually eating before moving to the living room. We each had another cinnamon roll as we watched some television and before long, she was looking at her phone.

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