The Fall Groom - Page 8

“I have a friend that loves apple pie.” I shrug, trying to play it cool.

“Is this the same friend that had you pissed Friday night and then all smiles yesterday?”

“I wasn't pissed Friday night.” He stares me down. “Okay, I was irritated, but I think I read him wrong.”

“Believe what people show you, pumpkin. Don’t go making excuses for him.”

“I know. I know.” I wipe my hands on a dish towel before I take my apron off. “I don’t think he’s used to dealing with people. He’s a recluse, and I’m starting to realize I fluster him. It’s kind of adorable.”

“And who is this?” he asks.

“Donovan Combs.”

“That’s the lawyer's brother, right?” When a fancy lawyer moved to town, of course people talked about it.


“I don’t think I’ve met him yet.”

“You haven't because he stays hidden away. Something happened to him,” I explain, suddenly feeling defensive for Donovan. “He’s got a scar on his face. It doesn't look that old either. Maybe a couple of years.”

Dad leans back in his chair, studying me. “You don’t have to fix and take care of everyone, pumpkin.” His eyes drop to his almost empty plate, and I know he’s partly talking about himself.

“I know that.” I walk over, giving him a kiss on the cheek. “I take care of who I want to take care of.” That’s the truth. My dad needs me here so he has someone to look after him.

“You’re sweet. I don’t want anyone taking advantage of that.” Of course he’s going to worry over me. More so than normal, I’m sure, because I don’t think I’ve ever really brought up a guy to him before. Though Donovan is much more than a guy.

“It’s only a pie.”

“The best pie in Hollow Oak.”

“I think you’re biased,” I say with a laugh. “I’m going to change and then take this pie on over. I don’t think it will stay safe in this house.”

“You wound me.” Dad puts his hand over his heart. I shake my head because we both know he wouldn’t make it two hours with that pie here.

After darting up the stairs, I change into a pair of jeans and a long-sleeve top in case Donovan invites me out to see Ginger and Cookie again. He surprised the hell out of me yesterday when he chased after me. He forgot all about shielding his face in his haste to get to me, and I feel like that has to mean something.

He thinks he hides the scars well, but it draws more attention to them when he’s trying to hide them. I can clearly see that once upon a time Donovan was your classic kind of handsome. The scars not only highlight that but give him a sexy edge. I’m sure that’s not something he’d want to hear or likely believe, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking it. It also doesn’t stop me from wanting to grab him and kiss him.

I rebraid my hair before I put on some lip gloss and head back to the kitchen to grab my pie. I give my dad another kiss on the cheek before I grab my keys.

“You’ll be home before dark,” he calls after me.

“Is that a question or statement?” He shrugs. “When have I ever had a curfew? I’m twenty-two,” I remind him.

“Fine, but I got that tracker thing you showed me.”

How is that biting me in the ass? I’d had him share locations with me when I finally talked him into getting an iPhone. I’d shared mine so he could see how it worked. I don’t think he’s ever actually used it before.

“Track away, Dad.” I wave as I take the pie to Donovan’s.

It’s not until I’m almost there that I start to have second thoughts about popping in on him without telling him first. When I’m halfway down his driveway, I see his front door open, and my worry fades.

He comes outside, and he’s opening my car door the second I get it into park. “I brought you a pie,” I say, grabbing it from the passenger seat and handing it to him.

“Are you going to have a piece with me?”

“If you don’t mind me coming inside.”

“I’d like that,” he says softly, and it makes me smile.

I follow after him, and when I get inside I look around in awe. “This place is amazing.” The décor is a beautiful mix of contemporary and rustic, but it's also pretty bare. I don’t see any personal touches or photos.

“It still needs some work.” He places the pie on the kitchen counter and turns his head away from me so I can’t see his scars.

I don’t know what comes over me, but I reach up and touch his chin until his face turns back to me. Our eyes lock for a long moment as I slide my hand over his jaw and to the back of his neck. My movement is slow so he sees my intentions as I pull him down and rise up on my toes at the same time.

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