I grabbed my backpack and followed him through the front door. I found myself in a living room furnished in what could only be called “man cave”. Big flat-screen, giant comfy L-shaped couch, four different remotes on the coffee table and a poster on the wall of a naked woman straddling a motorcycle backward, flat on her stomach and cheek resting on the back seat.
I hadn’t known bikes and human women could have sexual intercourse, but that was the clear implication. Lovely.
There was a hallway going straight back to what I assumed was the kitchen. A flight of stairs hugged the left wall of the house, which is where Horse headed. I really, really didn’t want to follow him.
“Get your ass up here.”
I trailed him up the wooden stairs, which were covered in the center with a runner so old you couldn’t even tell what the original pattern had been. Horse flipped on the light and stood on a landing big enough to run the full width of the house, waiting for me. A person could’ve put some chairs and a little table in there, but he just had boxes piled around. Three doors led to other rooms, two toward the back of the house and one toward the front. He pointed toward the front room.
“That’s mine. Stay the f**k out of it unless you’re invited.”
“This one’s the bathroom, here’s your bedroom. There’s another bathroom downstairs if you need it, next to the kitchen. Don’t flush the toilet if someone’s in the shower, the pipes are old. Go put your shit away and meet me downstairs. I’m hungry.”
I had a vision of him showering and me deliberately flushing, suddenly burning him. Maybe I’m a bad person but it made me smile. Horse narrowed his eyes at me, suspicious. I ignored him and went into my room. It was small and plain, with aged and scuffed wood floors, cream-colored walls with old-fashioned trim and two sash windows. A queen-sized bed took up most of the space, covered with very modern bedding—you know the type, one of those bed-in-a-bag things with a giant fluffy comforter that you can get for cheap at Walmart. There was a small dresser against the wall opposite the door with a mirror. A small closet stood open on the right.
The place was lifeless, which I appreciated in a way. It would be easy to put my stamp on it, even given how little I owned. I liked the idea of having my own space, separate from Horse and all the confused feelings of anger and lust that came to life whenever I saw him.
I unpacked quickly because I was hungry too, and the last thing I wanted was for him to come looking for me in the bedroom. I still wasn’t sure what his expectations were for the night. Probably not good to give him more ideas than he already had.
When I went downstairs, I found the TV on to some sports network but no sign of Horse, so I wandered back toward the kitchen. Sure enough, a door on the left led to a small bathroom under the stairwell. Double pocket doors defined the dining room opposite, which held a full-sized pool table instead of a dining room table, complete with a light hanging over it with beer logos. Definitely man cave.
That’s why the kitchen startled me so much.
I reached the end of the hallway to find what had to be the cutest kitchen I’d ever seen—like something out of a country-style magazine. Serious reality disconnect… Horse stood in front of the fridge, pulling things out and putting them on a large, wooden butcher’s block in the center. A wrought iron rack dangling pots and pans hung high above it and there were stools all around.
In a normal kitchen that would have taken up a ton of space, but this one was so huge you hardly even noticed. Horse had an old-fashioned farm kitchen, practically a living room in and of itself. Off the back I could see a door leading through a mud room. The walls were bright yellow with cutesy, chicken-themed wallpaper edging near the ceiling. The curtains over the windows were sunny, gingham-checked ruffles edged with lace.
“Who helped you set up the kitchen?”
“My mom,” he said, not looking at me. “She wanted to do the whole house, but once I saw this I made her stop.”
“Why? It’s a lovely room, Horse,” I said, heroically holding off a laugh. It felt good to tease him—it eased the tension just a bit. Horse turned and looked at me, all badass biker in his boots, jeans and leather Reapers’ cut, face black with stubble and hair tossed by the wind.
“I made her stop because I don’t have a pu**y and I didn’t want to start growing one,” he replied, voice testy.
Fair enough. I couldn’t keep the smirk off my face though.
“Make me some food, I’m gonna go take a shower,” he ordered. My mouth opened automatically to protest his tone, but I caught myself and snapped it shut. Horse held the power in this relationship, not me. It would be easy to forget that—I’d gotten too comfortable around him.
I searched through the fridge and cupboards, finding enough food for sandwiches. I would need to hit the grocery store soon if we didn’t want to starve. By the time he finished his shower I had everything ready and had spent several minutes debating whether or not to start eating without him. Fortunately Horse came back down before I could make the decision, hair all wet and slicked back. Without a ponytail it just brushed the tops of his shoulders. He wore a faded pair of sweats low on his hips and nothing else.
I don’t know how long I stared at him, just taking in the tattooed, muscular glory that was Horse almost naked. He broke the spell.
“Glad you like it.”
“What?” I asked, confused.
“My body,” he replied, smirking. “It’s the only one you get to look at or f**k, so it’s good the package works for you.”
I blushed fiercely, turning away to grab the plates and put them on the block. He took a seat and grabbed his sandwich. I did the same, trying my hardest not make eye contact with him. That was more difficult than it looked because he sat right across from me. He was big and bare-chested and I really, really wanted to take a closer look at those tattoos. I’d seen them before, but not enough to satisfy my curiosity.
“You want a beer?” he asked, standing and walking over to the fridge.
“That sounds good,” I replied, giving myself permission to check out his ass. Nice. He caught me looking as he turned around, but just handed me the bottle and we ate in companionable silence. I drank a second beer and started to feel a lot more relaxed. After we finished eating, he helped me load the dishwasher, perfectly civilized. Sometimes it felt like Horse was two different people—a badass biker jerk who gave lots of orders and a sweet, sexy man who made my body feel things Gary couldn’t even imagine, let alone spark.