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I didn’t want him to think I was psycho, and calling him would imply psycho behavior. Further, when I called him last night, I’d asked him to dinner, which was dinner two nights in a row with a woman he hadn’t seen in nine years, a woman with a boyfriend, and that was semi-psycho.
Okay, maybe it was totally psycho.
I didn’t want Jacob to think I was psycho.
But I wanted to hear his voice. I wanted to connect with him on the phone. I’d missed him and I liked having him back. I liked it a great deal.
I also missed him a great deal.
And I needed to ask him something. Further, he was the only one I could ask.
I looked from the yard to my phone. My mind telling my thumb not to do it, my thumb not listening, I found Jacob’s contact and hit go.
I put it to my ear.
“I’m a psycho,” I whispered and luckily finished whispering two seconds before Jacob’s voice sounded.
“You okay?” he answered.
He kept asking that mostly, I figured, because I kept calling when I didn’t need to so he probably thought something was wrong.
Or that I was a psycho.
“I need to know if you don’t eat anything,” I lied.
Actually, it wasn’t a lie. Although I remembered a lot about Jacob (most everything, in all honesty), I couldn’t recall if there was something specific he didn’t like to eat.
I could recall how beautiful he was, how tall he was, how strong he was. I could recall how smart he was and how funny he was. I could recall how cool he was with me. I could also recall how much I missed him. But I couldn’t recall if he didn’t like chicken.
But that wasn’t the only thing I needed to know. I needed to know something else too.
Much like last night, when he didn’t make me feel like a psycho, in fact, the opposite and sounded like he was happy to hear from me and would be willing to talk all night, he again sounded like me psychotically calling him yet again in a precursor to stalker way was no big deal.
“I don’t eat it, I’ll pick it off.”
“You can’t pick it off if I cook with it in it or if the mainstay of dinner on the whole is what you don’t eat,” I informed him.
“You makin’ Indian food?” he asked.
“No. Don’t you like Indian food?” I asked back.
“Love it,” he answered.
“Then why’d you ask if I was making Indian food?”
“ ’Cause I hoped you were.”
I burst out laughing.
No, Jacob definitely didn’t make me feel like I was being a psycho.
When I quit laughing, I told him, “Sorry, honey, I don’t know how to make Indian food.”
“Shame,” he muttered, a smile in his deep, attractive voice, and if I was on an infrared scanner, specific parts of me would have shown up hotter.
You have a boyfriend, Emme! I told myself.
For a while, I answered myself.
Jacob is also your ex–best friend’s ex-boyfriend, Emme! I reminded myself.
So? I asked myself.
I shoved those thought aside, thoughts that, if anyone knew I was talking to myself in my head might prove I was indeed a psycho, and pointed out to Jacob, “You haven’t actually answered the question.”
“I’ll eat what you cook, Emme. Cook what you like.”
He was such a nice guy.
He always was.
Nice. Tall (very tall). Handsome (unbelievably handsome). Smart (so damned smart). Funny. Interesting. Gentlemanly. And a repeat of nice because it was worth a repeat since he was just that nice.
I liked all that about him. I liked that he wore his dark hair way too long. I liked that sometimes a thick hank of it fell over his forehead and into his eye. I liked that he was who he was and didn’t wear designer jeans or put gel in his hair. I liked that, even considering he was extortionately intelligent, in fact, a genius, he never made anyone feel less than him because they weren’t as smart. I liked that he never acted superior or arrogant and with all that was him, looks, body, brains, he was one person who could. And I liked that he liked to do what he liked to do, he did what he liked to do and wouldn’t get pushed into doing something he didn’t want.
Like Elsbeth tried to do.
He’d lost her to that and he’d accepted it. I knew it killed. He’d loved her to distraction. But he refused to be the man she wanted him to be and instead was the man he was.
She should have seen she had it all even if he didn’t make bucketloads of money and thus couldn’t give her the life she was used to getting from her daddy. Country clubs, tennis lessons, vacations in villas in Italy and beaches in Thailand, fabulous homes kept by maids and fabulous meals cooked by cooks.
She didn’t see all she had.
“Are we done?” Jacob prompted when I fell silent.
We were. Or at least we should be.
But we weren’t.
“Okay, well, I could obviously talk to you about this tonight but it’s preying on my mind so much I can’t get any work done. So do you have a second?” I asked.
“For you, anytime, babe,” he answered.
Really, such a nice guy.
I took in a breath and started, “Okay, you’re a guy—”
There was laughter in his voice when he interrupted with, “Glad you noticed.”
Oh, I’d noticed. Any woman who was breathing noticed Jacob Decker. Hell, it was possible he could walk through a graveyard and his very presence would call up the dead females as zombies rabid to get just an undead glimpse of him, he was that noticeable of a male.
“Shut up, Jacob, and listen, will you?” I asked, a smile in my voice.
“Right. Out with it,” he invited, a smile in his.
“So, you’re a guy and say you’ve got a girl. You’ve known her for a while but you’ve been dating her for a short period of time. You like her and she knows this. You also know that she’s holding herself back like she did the fifty times you asked her out before she finally said yes.”
Jacob said nothing while I did and when I didn’t continue, he prompted patiently, “Right, Emme, got that part.”
I knew he did. I knew he knew I was talking about Dane. I didn’t know why I was beating around the bush. I just felt I had to, maybe to protect Dane, maybe to protect me from Jacob thinking I was an idiot.
“Okay, you got that part, so you’re a guy, say you’re that guy and no vows of love have been exchanged. No commitments, not even to exclusive. Would you, um… say, buy her an expensive gift to maybe get the ball rolling in your relationship?”