They walked out together, got in one of the fleet of SUV’s and headed out. Greg made the call and put a rush on the order. It cost more, but not enough to matter.
“Can you tell those boys are Marines?” He laughed as he hung up. “If we were still in the service, they’d both outrank me and they keep wanting to salute me.”
“Put ’em in a headlock,” Graves said seriously.
“They’d kill me or break both my legs. Where’s Taylor?”
“On the phone.” That was all Graves said.
Jason didn’t know if it was a euphemism for something else, or if she really was on the phone. He didn’t ask. It was none of his business. He sat at the bar, well away from the windows. He noticed they hadn’t been covered over yet and wondered if they would be. Since he liked the light, he didn’t ask.
Half an hour later, the pizza arrived. Everyone descended on the boxes like vultures. Jason still didn’t see Taylor anywhere. He went looking for her with a plate full of ham and pineapple pizza and a cold Coca-Cola.
She was in his living room on the phone, looking stressed out and unhappy. If she’d been on the phone all this time he could understand why. She looked up, smiling distractedly. Jason held the plate of food out to her. She pointed to herself with a question in her eyes. He nodded. She smiled her thanks.
“Yes. I’m still here. Yes.” She took a bite of pizza, chewing quickly. “I really need to go. It’s lunchtime and my partner just brought me something to eat. I’ll tell you about him later. Yes, Mom….” She blushed. “Yes—yes.” Her eyes raked over Jason from head to foot and she blushed more. “Yes, Mom…. Mother! I’m hanging up now!” She slammed the phone down. “She can’t call on my cell, oh no. She has to call on my work number and they have to transfer it here. I’ve been on with her nearly an hour.”
“Mothers, eh? Don’t know where mine is any more. Used to keep track of her, but not easy once I moved to the States. One reason I moved here, as a matter of fact.”
Taylor was stuffing her face, chewing and nodding. She licked her fingers as Jason snagged a piece of pizza off the plate. She smiled, her cheeks puffy with food.
“Damn, thought that was all for me.”
“It was, but I forgot mine. I put your name on the box so no one else will eat it.”
“Don’t count on it. Greg would eat it just to be a bastard.”
He laughed, tossing his hair out of his face. “Yeah, I can see that. So, you and he used to date?”
“Did he tell you that?”
“Nope. Little things between you”
She shrugged. “Good. He knows I’d castrate him if he did.”
“Ouch! Remind me not to piss you off, lady. You’re vicious and could kill me with your smile.”
Taylor burped, spoiling the moment. “Sorry.” She smiled sheepishly. “You’d have to do something awful for me even to think of hurting you.”
“Then I shall try not to do anything awful. Give me a warning though, yeah? Not knowing you for years, I might inadvertently overstep my bounds.”
She dropped her eyes, blushing as she remembered their almost kiss. “We have to keep this professional, Jason.”
“Yeah. I was afraid you’d say something like that.” He rubbed his face with both hands, sighing. “You intrigue me, you do.”
“Me? I’m not that intriguing. I’m only me.”
“You’ve got this prickly bubble around you,” he said quietly. “You try to keep everyone out. Trouble is, I can’t figure out why. I mean me, I obviously understand that. We can’t be involved, despite what our private feelings might be on the subject.”
She stared at him her eyes wide, mouth open. He’d seen into her soul and he’d known her only a few hours.
“I’ve said too much. I apologize. Sometimes—brain can’t keep up with the mouth and put the brakes on.”
“No,” she replied quietly. “It’s really interesting.” Her tone changed to a bit more clipped, almost angry. “Go on. It’s fascinating.”
“Prime example,” he said, holding out his hand palm up. “I said too much, tread too close to a wall, and now I’ve upset you.”
Taylor crossed her arms and legs, facing him defiantly. “You haven’t upset me.”
“Then the call from your mum did. You’re tied up in knots.”
“My mother is none of your business.”
“Fair to say.”
“Nor is my relationship with her.”
“She makes me so angry!” She set the plate down on the desk with a defiant click. “How can she make me nuts by asking about my new partner?”
“That being me?”
“Technically you’re not.”
“Got that. No badge. I’ve got a bulls-eye on me instead.”
“Not if I can help it.”
© Dellani Oakes