Three weeks Later
My eyes fluttered open as my cellphone alarm interrupted my sleep. Disoriented, I rolled over and shut it off, then sat up in my painfully comfortable kingsize bed.
It was the third of July today. I'd been working at the ranch for officially one month now. That was crazy to think, too. Sometimes it felt as if I'd been working there forever. And sometimes it felt as if I'd only just started. Yawning, I laid down again, figuring I had a good five minutes to just rest before I had to get ready.
I only had a month to go, I realized. Luke had told me a few days ago that Matt thought the house would be fixed by august. So that meant in four weeks, I wouldn't have to bother with Luke or any of the rest of them ever again.
But I would, I confessed. Luke and I had become close friends over the course of the past three weeks. I didn't want to shut him out of my life. Though part of that might be because I was...well, I felt things for him now. More than the initial lust. I wanted him. I wanted to try to be more than friends with him. But how was I supposed to tell him that? I didn't want to ruin what we had now. It had been so hard just to achieve that. He had became one of my best friends. I felt like I could trust him with anything. If we dated, and it didn't work out, things would forever be awkward and we could never be like we are now.
Depressed at the thought, I sank down farther into my bed. If I didn't feel so strongly about him, I would suggest being friends with benifits. Guys love that. But I wanted everything with Luke, not just the dirty benifits. I wanted a relationship with him. A relationship along with the dirty benifits. Smiling a little, I closed my eyes and allowed myself a few vivid daydreams about those benifits...
And jolted awake an hour later to realize I was late. I got ready in hyper speed, skipping breakfast and driving to the ranch thirty miles over the speed limit.
"I'm late, I know, I'm sorry!" I said hastily as I burst into the kitchen. To my surprise, everyone-Matt, Tommy, Danny, Cooper, Owen, Leon, Abel, Billy, Brice and some other people I didn't know-were all piled into the kitchen, most sitting around the table, and some standing. Conversation quieted and every face turned to me. I felt blood rush to my cheeks. Luke, who stood over the stove wearing an apron-wtf?-looked up at me.
"Everyone, this is Sadie Charlington." he announced to the room.
The strangers all smiled and nodded at me. Luke reached over, grabbed me by the elbow and dragged me to his side.
"What's going on?" I whispered.
"You're late." he said, handing me an egg. He cracked one of his own, tipping the contents into the sizzling pan.
"You're cooking?" I said in astonishment. Pancakes, bacon, sausage and fried potatoes were piled in heaps around him.
He gave me a crooked grin. "This is one of my rare talents I've never gotten to mention to you. I'm an excellent cook."
I cracked the egg he'd gave me and then watched as he stirred them in the pan with the finesse of a fine chef. Why was he so attractive in that apron? My cheeks still scarlet, I avoided his gaze, staring instead at the food.
"Sorry I didn't think to text or call you. Last night, everyone decided to come over for breakfast today. I didn't even think to warn you. I'm so used to you being here it's like you're one of the family."
Great, I thought in a grumbled hopeless tone. He considers me family. "Who are all these people?" I asked, pleased with my nonchalant tone.
"Give me a minute and I'll introduce you."
It took more like fifteen minutes, actually. Once everyone was at the table, the prayer had been said and everyone had dug in, Luke walked me around the table to meet members of his family. I met Robyn, Cooper's mother, and Samantha, Owen's mother, who were too involved with gossip to actually acknowledge me. Tommy's mother Stacey was rather old-she had to be in her sixties, and greeted me warmly, as did Billy's mother Treva, Danny's mother and father Julie and Todd, and Brice's mother and father Bree and Cory. The only person who didn't seem happy to see me was the twin's mother April, and I'm pretty sure that was because, according to Luke, I'd taught her children some colorful vocabulary. (Whoops.)
Since the kitchen was so crowded, Luke and I took our food to the stairs in the half-dilapidated livingroom. I knew at first bite that Luke was an amazing cook.
"Oh my God, these eggs are amazing."
He grinned. "Told you."
I narrowed my eyes as I pointed my fork at him. "What other hidden talents do you have that I don't know about?"
He took a bite of his bacon, thoughtful. "I'm a pretty good artist."
"Hm. You'll have to prove that one." Geez, the sausage was even better than the eggs.
"What about you?" he asked.
I shrugged. "I'm a really good singer."
He nudged my ribs with his elbow. "Whatever."
"No really!" I insisted. "I took singing lessons when I was little. And violin lessons, because my mom used to play."
He looked at me thoughtfully. "You'll have to prove that. Anything else?"
I slanted him a mischievious look. "I could only tell you if we either had been dating for longer than three months, or if I could kill you afterward."
He lifted his brows, one of his cheeks dimpling in his smile. "That's interesting. Well which is it?"
"Which is what?" I took another big bite of sausage, pretending I didn't know what he was talking about.
He nudged me again. "What do you want to do, date for longer than three months, or kill me after you tell me?"
I tried to suppress a smile as I considered him. "You have to answer that."
"Oh I do?"
I nodded. "Yes. See, it doesn't matter to me. But you should know that the dating would be longer, whereas I could just tell you and kill you today."
He picked up the buttered roll from his plate, took a bite, his eyes never leaving mine. "But how do I know if it would be worth it?"
I snatched the roll, watched him as I stole a bite. "You'd just have to trust me."
"Can I do that?" he said, and I had the feeling he was being completely serious about this one.
I handed him back his roll. "Yes."
I was surprised when he suddenly turned, put both my plate and his on the step below our feet. He took my hands between both of his, gripped them. "Then let's do it."
I blinked, bewildered. "Do what?"
"The three month plan." he said patiently.
My mouth sagged open in shock. Whoa. Hadn't been expecting that.
"Come on, Sadie. Go out with me tonight."
"Tonight?" I said faintly.
He nodded vigerously. "Tonight. We can go watch that movie you've been wanting to see, Grownups."
I just gaped at him for another moment before regaining myself. I took a deep breath to steady. He wanted to go on a date. Tonight.
"Well, okay." I managed.
He smiled as he stood, gathered our empty plates. "I'll pick you up at six."
As he walked away, I remembered my thoughts from this morning. "Luke," I called. He looked back. Nervous, I clasped my hands together. "Are you sure about this?"
He smiled again, nodded. I weakly returned the smile as he disappeared into the kitchen.