Free Me (Page 41)

Free Me (The Found Duet #1)(41)
Author: Laurelin Paige

Neither of us had been to the farmer’s market at Port Authority, and we had to ask directions. It was smaller than the one I usually went to with Norma, but they had the vegetables I needed. And, again, JC easily found amusement.

“What size is good, Gwen?” he asked me as I tested the avocados.

I turned to find him holding a skinny cucumber in front of him. Low, in front of him. Crotch level.

“This size?”

I waved him away. “Stop it.”

“This one better?”

I couldn’t help myself—I glanced back at him. This time he held a fat stubby one. I laughed. “Definitely not.”

“How about this?” This cucumber was more of a…familiar…size. JC shifted the La Perla bag under his arm so he had both hands free. Then he stroked the vegetable up and down. “It’s long and thick. You like that, don’t you, Gwen?”

My cheeks were flaming now. I looked around to see if anyone was watching us as I scolded him. “JC. Stop it. You’re making me—”

“Embarrassed?” he finished for me, questioningly.

“No.” I lowered my voice. “I was going to say hot.” It was silly, probably, and honestly, it wasn’t that he was being particularly sexy. But he was being…him. And he was fun. And he was frisky. He made me feel fun and frisky simply by proxy. And that turned me on, not just to him but to life in general.

And also onto him.

But not onto cucumbers. I qualified immediately. “That doesn’t mean I want you bringing vegetables into the bedroom.”

“Maybe we’ll save it for our next trip to the Madison Suite then. Since the bedroom is out.” He winked as he threw the cucumber into my basket.

I rolled my eyes, but I didn’t hide my smile. “Oh, grab some yellow squash, will you? Norma loves those.”

JC picked out two and brought them to me. “Is your sister older than you or younger?”

“Five years older. But we’re still really close. Though sometimes she’s more like a mother than a sister.” I’d said more than I should, more than he’d asked, but I’d become so comfortable with our outing that the conversation seemed natural. At least it was info about my sister and not me.

“And she’s turning—?”

My heart sped up as I realized he was asking so he could figure out my age. I pretended to examine a tomato as I took that in. I’d tell him, if he wanted. But we’d been good about never sharing things about ourselves before this. He’d been adamant about it, and I’d…well, I’d thought it might help keep things unattached.

Now, I wasn’t sure if it mattered. I did know that if we started this—shared our personal life—we couldn’t take it back later. It would be out there. It would be a bridge we could never uncross.

I let go of the tomato and turned to face him. “Do you really want me to answer? I know how you feel about the no-details rule.”

He waved his hands in the air as if to erase what he’d said. “You’re right. Don’t tell me.”

I shifted my attention back to the tomatoes, forcing myself to ignore the bite of disappointment

“Except…”

My head shot back up. “Except what?”

“Except I’m kind of curious. About you.” His expression was wary, as though he wasn’t sure I could accept that.

Which almost made me laugh since I’d wanted to talk to him about me for a long time now. But he didn’t know that, so I played it nonchalant. “I knew it would happen eventually.” Once again, I was proud of my banter. I liked this me. I could get used to this me.

He laughed. “Sassy today, aren’t you?”

“But, seriously, how could someone not be curious about all this?” I swept my hand down, gesturing at myself.

“Honestly, that’s a question I ask every time I see you.” While I’d been teasing, JC’s expression was serious.

It made me feel funny. Warm and giggly. And confused. I wasn’t sure what he meant by it, really. Did he mean that he couldn’t understand why other people weren’t more interested in me? Or did he mean he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t more interested in me?

Or did he mean that he was interested in me, and he couldn’t bring himself to ask?

Whichever, it threw me, and I didn’t have a quick comeback. “She’s five years older. I turned thirty in January.” Cautiously, without trying to sound cautious, I asked, “And you?”

“I’m thirty-five in July.”

“Ooh. You’re old!” I teased.

“Hey, people usually say I look younger than that.”

“You do. Like a baby.” I’d thought he was younger myself, though I also wasn’t surprised to find I’d been wrong. “How do you manage to do any sort of business with such a baby face?” Now that I’d gotten the hang of this teasing thing, I couldn’t stop.

“Ha ha.” He looked up at his reflection in the security mirror and rubbed a hand over his scruff. “The face helps, actually. Not when I first approach people, but when they realize I know what I’m talking about, they seem to appreciate the things that my face can get.”

“Like girls who will voluntarily take their clothes off and do lap dances in public places?”

He shrugged.

But all I could think was, he’s thirty-five. I know something about him, and he’s thirty-five.

And I wanted to know more about him.

“What exactly is it you do?” I asked as I made my way to the bins with potatoes. In case he was hesitant to tell me, I added, “It seems only fair that I know that, considering you know what I do.” Funny, I hadn’t thought of that argument before.

JC answered without any pause at all. “I’m an investor. People give me their ideas, and I invest in them.” He raised a questioning brow as he held up a bunch of carrots.

I shook my head and nodded to the peppers. “Like what kind of ideas?”

“Okay, like one I’m working on now. I found a kid—he’s barely legal but brilliant as all fuck—who came up with this new social network idea we’re developing. It’s sort of like Linked In and a little like Facebook, but solely for businesses and organizations to interact for the purpose of cross-promotional opportunities.” He set a green pepper in the basket. “It’s not very interesting.”

“I think it’s very interesting.” God, I hoped that didn’t sound too eager.