Daggers & Dresses (Enlighten Series Book 2)(7)

By: Kristin D. Van Risseghem

Okay. Totally not the jerk I’d thought he was being. For one, he’d just told me I was cute—twice. So that might be a little stretch; he thought my behavior was cute. And two, he apologized. What guy apologizes without being prompted?

I sat back down and returned to sorting and alphabetizing the movies. He did the same with his stack of vintage vinyl records. We worked in silence, and when I was done, I scooted over to the bookshelf and placed my pile on the lower shelf as he had asked earlier.

“Hey, I’m sorry,” Aiden said, tilting his head. “I didn’t mean to offend you. Can we start over? So, you live here all your life?”

I smiled back, only too happy to break the uncomfortable silence. “Okay, apology accepted. Yes. Your sister said you just moved from California. Where in Cali?”

“Santa Clara.”

“Cool. And it’s just you and your sister? No parents?”

“I see Dad every now and then when I make a point to see him.”

I could take the hint he didn’t like talking about his father, so I changed the subject. “Are you going to Trinity High School? You seem older than a high schooler.”

“Yeah, I will be. It’s a long story why I’m not in college,” he mumbled. “You like it here, in Minnesota, I mean?”

“It’s all I know. I haven’t traveled outside the state yet.” I shrugged. “If you want, you can ride with me and my friend, Kieran, on Monday morning.”

He visibly flinched when I said Kieran’s name. What’s that about? They definitely know each other. But what could Aiden have done to make my loveable Kieran not like him?

“Thanks, but no thanks. I have a car. I’ll drive.”

“You know it’s only six blocks to school from here, right? No pressure or anything. And we always stop at a coffee shop on the way, in case you’re into that sort of thing.”

One eyebrow lifted. “Ah, no. Men don’t drink coffee. Not unless they’re old or something.”

“What? Men do too drink coffee! And not just when they’re old. There are always guys in there.”

“Yeah, but they’re with ladies. They’re only there because of them. They are either married, with their girlfriend and they want to keep them happy, or they’re trying to pick up a girl.”

“Wow. That’s so stereotypical,” I exclaimed. “Real men do drink coffee. Maybe it’s just you who can’t man up.”

I fisted my hands. Why was I letting him get flirt with me? After my tirade—as he called my outbursts—I noticed him smiling at me. Was he teasing me? I narrowed my eyes, and his smile grew larger.

“Are you baiting me on purpose?”

“Maybe. I’m not trying to, but you seem to rise easily to the occasion. Sorry. You have something to say to everything, don’t you?”

“Whatever. I’m not even going to dignify that with an answer. So you said you have a car? What kind is it? My dad’s into old classics, but I like the new models.”

“An Audi.”

Something tickled in the back of my mind, but at that moment, Mom called from the bottom of the stairs to let me know she was going home.

“I should go and let you finish.” I stood. “So, um, I’ll see you later.”

“It was nice to meet you, Zoe,” he said quietly.

I glanced back at him and then looked out the window. I spotted my room directly across from his. Instead of leaving his room, I walked over to the sill and stared. Yep, I could see directly into my own bedroom. I need to keep the blinds closed. When I turned, Aiden was standing behind me, and having him so close made me nervous. My body prickled.

“Is that your room?” he asked.

I nodded.

“Looks nice, from what I can tell. Is that a walk-in closet?”

I adored my room. I was always happy to talk about it. “Yes, I have my own bathroom, too. I love it. When my parents would ground me, they sent me to my room, but I have everything in there I need. And Stella doesn’t come in. It’s my own space in the house, away from my family.”

“I can’t imagine your parents would ground you often. Then again, maybe that mouth of yours gets you into trouble.”

I turned to face him, and he was smirking. I punched at his arm, but he stepped back, making me look a bit silly as my fist sailed through the air.

“I should go and leave you to your unpacking,” I muttered again. He hadn’t moved, so I looked up into his eyes. I didn’t move either.

“You already said that.”

For a few more seconds, we just stared at each other. Eventually, I walked around him toward the door. “See ya later,” I called over my shoulder.