I opened the door immediately to wait for Boss to come up the stairs, but he was already there, standing on the other side of the threshold. My mouth dropped open in surprise and I said, “Oh! How did you get here already?”
He wrinkled his eyebrows together and I saw his mouth pucker. “Were you crying?” he asked.
I touched my face and it was still wet from sobbing over Ian’s text. “Um,” I said. I wasn’t going to divulge that I was crying over his brother. “I’m fine. Just a little under the weather.”
He looked me up and down, and took in my dress and my heels and jewelry. He stared for a long minute and then said, “You look really beautiful.”
“I do?” I said with some surprise in my voice. No one, not even Ian, told me I was beautiful. I looked down at myself and decided I was not, in fact, beautiful, but that Boss was being really polite.
“Can I come in?” Boss asked, and tentatively stepped forward.
“Sure,” I said, and moved aside. But why did he want to come in?
“So, what’s wrong?” he said after I closed the door.
“Um,” I said again. “It’s nothing. I’m just a little under the weather.”
“Oh,” he said. Then, “I don’t believe you. I think maybe you’re–” He stopped and shook his head. “Are you hungry? Do you want some take-out? There’s a good Thai restaurant I walked past. Do you like Pad See Ew?”
What was he going to say about me? Did it matter? I decided it didn’t, and even though he looked absolutely the best I have ever seen a man look, and even though he was standing one foot away from me and I could feel my body getting warmer just by his proximity, and even though he was being polite and called me beautiful, that this was a bad, bad idea. “Honestly, I’m not really hungry. I think I just need to get some rest.”
“OK,” he said. “That means you’re asking me to leave?”
I nodded and looked down. I couldn’t look him in the face. I took a deep breath and decided that if I was going to be honest with Ian, I should be honest with Boss. It was good practice. I said more to my feet than to him, “We work together. I dated your brother. You just broke up with Dominique. This isn’t a good idea.” I kept my eyes fixed on my sandals and wished I was in a different room, or a different universe. I’d never been so open with a man, and I’d never felt so mortified.
I heard him exhale and he said, “You’re absolutely right. This is a bad idea.” Then I felt his hands on my shoulders, and then one tipping my chin up so I was looking at him. The second our eyes made contact I averted them again, because he was looking at me with a perplexing look. The feel of his hands on me was making me shiver. “I really like you, though, Aust3n. What should I do about that?”
And that was it. He turned my face back to him, leaned in and kissed me, and suddenly I was kissing him, too, my hands in his very soft hair. His hand was on my back, his thumb stroking my spine while he kissed me and I was very, very definitely not thinking that this was a bad idea.