Portia Bledsoe is new in town. She inherited a house and property from a great-uncle she barely knew. She meets Wood Cirocco through her friendly neighbor, Carl—he's Carl's nephew. They immediately hit it off. Strange things start to happen shortly after they meet. For one thing, someone sets fire to her abandoned chicken coop. Scared silly, she asks Wood to spend the night—on the couch. She barely knows him and doesn't feel right taking him to bed yet.
Someone tapped on my bedroom door. Groaning, I glanced at the clock. It was almost 9:00.
“Coffee,” Wood sounded cheerful.
“Be right there.”
I went to the bathroom and stared at myself in the mirror. I looked ghastly. A cold washcloth helped, as did brushing my hair. I threw on a T-shirt and yoga pants, foregoing a bra because I simply didn't feel like putting one on. If I hadn't known better, I'd have thought I was hung over. The aspirin were still by the bed, so I swallowed a couple with a handful of water from the tap.
The coffee smelled delicious. I also detected the distinct aroma of baked goods. When I got to the kitchen, I found that Wood had baked muffins. He set a mug in front of me, perfectly doctored, as well as two muffins, slathered with butter.
“I had no idea I had ingredients for muffins,” I said, taking a bite.
“Everything but the blueberries, but Carl has them in his freezer. I helped myself.”
“You're one of those perky morning types, aren't you?”
“Yes, grumble pussy, I am.”
I groaned, holding the coffee mug to my forehead.
“Mornings are what you make of them,” he continued.
“I want to make them go away. Is that possible?”
“You have to make it fun. Find something to smile about.”
I sipped the coffee and took another bite of muffin, and managed a vague impression of a smile. Wood leaned over, giving me a quick kiss. I smiled more, sighing contentedly.
“See? Morning isn't so bad after all.”
“Not with you in it,” I replied without thinking.
Instead of getting upset, he grinned, winking. “Trust me, there are better uses for morning, but I'll try to be a gentleman.”
I groaned again, not in a good way.
“Not a fan of morning sex?” he raised an inquisitive eyebrow.
“Seriously? I can barely see straight. I do not feel sexy in the morning.”
“Haven't woken up with the right man,” he suggested casually as he walked away.
I had to admit, he was probably right. Mornings were often when Cory chose to go off on me. He loved to argue and he picked at everything I did. The coffee was too strong, or too weak. The eggs weren't done right, the milk was curdled.
“He was such a dick,” I grumbled. “He made mornings extra special by pitching tantrums.”
Wood sat across from me, arms crossed on the table, his chin on his wrists. He looked up at me like a puppy dog. “I'll make you a deal,” he said, chin bobbing on his hands.
“What?” I leaned over, resting my chin on my hands.
“I won't talk about my bitch of an ex if you'll quit bringing up Cory. Every time you mention him, I have this urge to kick him in the nuts.”
“That makes two of us.”
“I'm not him, Portia. I'm not like him and I won't break your heart.”
“It wasn't the breaking as much as the ripping out of my chest part. And the trampling it part. But you're right. Creepy Cory needs to be thrown out with the garbage.”
“Maybe we should introduce him to your ex.”
“I don't think the world would survive if the Bride of Frankenstein met the Anti-Christ, do you?”
I laughed loudly, tossing my hair. “Probably not.”
“What's on your social calendar for today?”
“Besides breakfast with a handsome, sexy man? Nothing.”
His eyes twinkled. “Good. My crew is coming over to clear out some of the undergrowth in the south acre. Also, my plumber and electrician will be by. I was looking at the wiring earlier. I tripped a fuse when I turned on the coffee pot.”
“Oh, yeah, you can't use it and the oven at the same time.”
“Which shouldn't happen. That was one of the things that Ambrose hired us for. It may take a few days. She's going to have to replace everything.”
“Well, crap. Where am I gonna go? I can't stay here with no power.”
“You can camp out with Carl,” he suggested. “Or—me.” He cleared his throat. “I have a nice guest room. Fresh sheets, new duvet. . . .”
“I'm surprised you even know the word duvet,” I giggled.
“Hey, I'm cosmopolitan. I even have throw pillows.”
“Thank you.” I touched his cheek tenderly, my fingers drifting to his hair. “I'd like that.”
© 2015 Dellani Oakes