Key Of Valor (Key 3) - Page 86

"Don't you argue. I pay my own way or we don't go." She grabbed her coat, shoved her arms through the sleeves. "I won't pick up after you, but I will pick up after myself and Simon. Whenever you need quiet or privacy, don't be shy about saying so."

"Maybe I should write some of this down." He patted his pockets as if searching for a notepad. "I'm afraid there's going to be a quiz."

"You may find this hilarious now, but you haven't lived under the same roof with a nine-yearold boy and a dog before. You may need therapy by the end of the month. So, if you reach a point when you've had enough, just say so."

"Is that it?"

"One more thing. Simon and I had a discussion earlier, and I think we need to address—"

She let it drop as Simon rushed down the stairs with Moe. "Mom, I almost forgot the slime dragon."

"Simon, it's only for a few days. You don't need to take everything you own."

"Let's have a look." Brad held out a hand and took the hard plastic dragon. He found the mechanism, pressed it and watched a ribbon of pale green slime slide out of the dragon's snarling mouth. "Cool."

"I give up. Simon, let's start loading all this in the car."

It took considerable time and persuasion to settle Simon down for the night. Zoe couldn't blame him for jumping out of his skin with delight and excitement. The room he would use at Brad's was double the size of the one at home and boasted an entertainment center with its own TV.

Though she laid down the law in that area, she intended to keep her ear cocked for the sounds of the television post-bedtime.

She unpacked her own things, laying clothes in the cedar-scented drawers of an antique mahogany dresser, setting out toiletries on the acre of pale green countertop in the adjoining bath.

"Don't get used to it," she warned herself as she trailed her fingers over the delicate white lace of the spread accenting the four-poster she would sleep in.

It's just for a few days, she thought. Like a chapter in a faerie tale.

She looked up at the honey-colored wood that formed the coffered ceiling and wondered what it would be like to wake in the morning in this bed, in this room.

She zipped her empty suitcase as Brad knocked on the jamb of the open door.

"Find everything you need?"

"All that and more. It's a gorgeous room, like being inside a warm biscuit." Crouching, she scooted the suitcase under the bed. "It's tempting to have a few jumps on the bed like Simon."

"Help yourself."

Though she smiled, her eyes were troubled. She gestured to the yellow roses on the dresser. "Were you so sure you'd get your way?"

"I was sure of your common sense, and your commitment to follow through on the quest."

"You've got a way about you, Bradley." She trailed her fingers over the bedspread again. "A smooth way about you."

"Regardless, I wanted you and Simon as safe as possible. If I'd had to bully you to get you here, I would have. I appreciate you sparing us both that."

"If you'd bullied me, I'd've gotten my back up, which would've canceled out my common sense. Anyway, it's smarter to stick together."

"Good. Are you going to let me sneak in here in the middle of the night?"

Though she tried for a cool stare, she felt her lips twitch. "It's your house."

"It's your choice."

She let out a laugh, shook her head. "A smooth way. We have to talk. Can we go downstairs?"

"Sure." He held out a hand, and though he noted her hesitation, he kept it extended until she stepped forward and laid hers in it. "How about a glass of wine by the fire?"

"That would be lovely. Everything here is lovely. I'm terrified Simon's going to break something."

Tags: Nora Roberts Key Fantasy
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