Tessa's Temptation(6)

By: Ella Jade

“You did a great job. I love the colors.” She leaned down on the counter, giving him a full shot of her cleavage. “It’s a big house but it has a cozy vibe.”

“That’s what I was going for.” He dragged his attention back to her face. “Your dad tells me you like to draw. Are you good?”

“I’ve taken a few classes and my professors say I’m good but I’m sure I can’t do anything like you do. I like to play with colors. Paints and prints and texture. I could hang out in a home improvement store for hours. Maybe someday I’ll have my own home to decorate.” She laughed and he liked the way it sounded. “I figured real estate was the way to go. If I get a degree for that, then I could buy and sell all kinds of houses.”

“I didn’t know you were interested in designing.”

“I’m full of surprises.” Her smile dazzled him.

“I’ll bet you are.” He took his mug and headed for the back staircase. “I need to hit the shower. May will be here to prepare dinner for the next few days. If there’s anything special you’d like just let her know. I’ll be late tonight. If I don’t see you in the morning, good luck on your first day.”

“You won’t make it home for dinner?” She looked disappointed.

“I’m sorry.” He glanced at the time again and, much as he wanted to stay and talk with her, he had to get a move on. “I’m really busy at work. I have three new clients who are absolutely torturing me. I have to go.”

“Have a good day.”

“You too.” He waved before escaping up the stairs. When he got to the top he leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. In just a few weeks’ time he’d become so taken with this stunning young woman who shared his home. No matter how much he wanted her, he couldn’t act on that impulse. Not only was there a twelve year age difference but she was vulnerable and needed more attention than he had time to give. He reminded himself he was simply repaying a debt to an old friend. As long as he didn’t lose sight of that fact he’d be okay.

Who am I kidding? He wanted the forbidden fruit. Hell, he wanted the whole garden.

Chapter Three

A week into school and Tess was already overwhelmed. As if adjusting to her new professors and course load wasn’t enough, she visited her dad five afternoons a week, usually getting home after seven. She ate alone because Chase was a workaholic and then it was homework, homework, homework. Her dad and Chase were right when they insisted on not getting a job this semester. Living with Chase had taken the financial burden off her but not the emotional one. Her dad’s progress was slow. She hadn’t seen much improvement in weeks.

“I’m getting ready to go, sweetie,” May said as she pulled on her sweater. “Do you need anything?”

“I’m good.” She held up a fresh baked cookie May had made that afternoon. “These are awesome.”

“They’re Chase’s favorite. I could teach you how to make them if you want.”

“Really?” Tess bit into the cookie. “I’ve never baked anything before.”

“Oh honey, just wait until the holidays. I’ll keep you real busy in that kitchen.”

“I’m going to hold you to it.” Her mother left when she was young, but even before that they hadn’t spent much time together that she could recall. They definitely never baked together. It was pleasant having May in the house. She always asked her how her day went and even packed her lunch every morning before she left for school.

“I’ll see you in the morning,” May said. “I’ll bring those homemade croutons you like and make you a salad for lunch.”

“You rock, Miss May.”

“That’s a good thing?” she asked as she headed for the foyer.

“A real good thing.”

Tess plopped down on the sofa and opened her new laptop. Thanks to Chase she could chat with classmates and do her homework and research much faster than she could with her old dinosaur. Her last two had been bought used.

She loved the little red convertible that he was letting her use. She’d read about people like him – rich, successful and good looking, but she never thought she’d meet one. Who knew her dad would know someone like Chase. Last month she was starving and on the verge of eviction and this month she was living the life of a princess. Crazy!

Just as she was about to start her assignment, Chase came in through the attached garage. She listened to his footsteps on the hardwood floor. Usually she was upstairs when he got home and the sounds of his presence in the house stirred the wanting deep within her. Tonight she wanted a change of atmosphere. A chance to see him when he came home. She heard him place his keys on the foyer table.