Things I Never Told You(9)

By: Beth Vogt


I pushed the Speaker button to leave my hands free and powered up my computer. “Hello?”

“And good morning to you.” He dropped his voice to a sexy whisper, although the effect was ruined with his voice amplified through the phone. “Did you sleep well?”

“Why, yes, I did. Thank you for asking.”

“I did, too, although someone kicked me out instead of letting me stay.”

My skin warmed as if someone else had heard his comment. “Tsk. Sounds heartless.”

“You know, if we lived together, we wouldn’t be having this conversation—”

“And we are not having this conversation now, Nash.” I typed in my password. “I’m at work. You should be getting ready for work, too.”

“Well then, how about if we continue talking over dinner tonight? And I’ll use my most persuasive powers to convince you it’s time to take our relationship to the next level.”

A smile was woven through his words. I was tempted to admit his suggestion tugged at my heart. I could imagine how his brown eyes darkened—the way they did right before he kissed me. But what I couldn’t imagine was Nash moving in. Getting that close. He already stayed too many nights at my town house, his toiletries crowding my bathroom shelves. Clothes lingering in my closet.

“You are distracting me, sir.” His laugh came across the phone line, just as I knew it would. Teasing always worked when I needed to distract Nash. To put him in his place. “And while dinner sounds nice, I can’t tonight.”

“What can I do to convince you?”

Maybe he could just take no for an answer? “There’s no convincing me. I’m sorry, but I’ve got some things to catch up on, so I’m going to be working late—and so is Kimberlee.”

“Lunch?”

“Nash!” I softened my tone with a quick laugh. “You are persistent, but it has to be no. No lunch. No dinner.”

“This is what I get for dating someone so dedicated to her job.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” Before he could reply, I moved the conversation on. “I really do need to get to work. Please.”

“I understand. I love you, Payton.”

“Mmm-hmm. Even if I am a little too dedicated to my job, right?” With a laugh, I ended the call.

I should have said I loved him, too. But maybe the bantering tone to our conversation had covered up my omission. It wasn’t that I hadn’t ever told Nash I loved him. But each time I said those three not-so-little words, I committed more of myself to him.

Did I want to keep moving toward a deeper commitment with Nash? After dating him for eight months, I still wasn’t sure. Not in the same way he was ready to commit.

Kimberlee breezed in forty-five minutes later, her blue-streaked blonde hair flying about her face, begging forgiveness and bribing me with a half-dozen homemade doughnuts. “Is Bianca here yet?”

“Of course. She’s sorting through the mail and listening to the phone messages.”

“I’ll let her choose one or two of these and then come back so we can start talking about the day.”

“Sounds perfect. I should have my in-box under control by then. And grab the to-do list I asked Bianca to print off, will you? We can look over that when you get back.” I selected a doughnut, plopping it onto a napkin on my desk. “When did you have time to make these?”

“I like to bake. It’s no big deal.”

Homemade glazed yeast doughnuts. No big deal. Right.

I logged out of our bank account just as Kimberlee returned, balancing the box of doughnuts in one hand and carrying the list in the other. “Someone’s here to talk to you.”

“What? I checked and we don’t have an appointment until after lunch.”

“He’s not here to talk to us. He’s here to talk to you.” Kimberlee tossed me a wink. “And if you weren’t dating Nash, I’d mention he’s kind of handsome in an outdoorsy way.”

“Well then, I know you’re not really interested in him. The most time you spend outdoors is walking back and forth to your car. Who is he?”

“He introduced himself as Zachary Gaines and asked if you were available to talk.”

“I don’t know . . .”

Zachary Gaines.

“Payton? What’s wrong?”

The way I’d frozen behind my desk in a half-standing, half-sitting posture must have alerted Kimberlee that something was off.

“I just remembered how I know Zach Gaines.”

“Is there a problem? Do you want me to tell him you can’t talk right now?”

“We . . . we went to high school together.” I rounded the desk, wiping my sticky fingers on a napkin, the sugary sweetness of the doughnut congealing in the back of my throat. “I’ll see what he wants. Maybe he’s planning a wedding or a birthday party and heard about Festivities—”

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