“Damn, it feels good to sit down,” she said, leaning into me a little more.
“I bet.” Instinctively, I wanted to put my arm around her, but stopped myself. “Still not used to being on your feet so much?”
“Does one ever really get used to that?”
“Dunno. I figured they’d have to, right?”
“Well, if it happens, I’m not there yet. I spent most of my time managing the comic book store from the comfort of a stool behind the register. Even when we did inventory, I sat on that stool. A tired butt I can handle, but tired feet are the worst.”
“Tomorrow is another long one — a meeting with everyone in the morning, managing all day, and then singles night that night. You’re still coming, right?”
“Only for you,” I answered, and that was true, even though it was sure to be a good time. I wasn’t the most social creature these days. For a long time, really. But with Cam, it was always easy.
“It makes me feel better that you’ll be there.”
“How come? You’ve got this locked with your eyes closed.”
“I dunno. You just make it easier. Like my magic feather.” She smiled up at me, and the apples of her cheeks touched the frames of her glasses.
I nudged her with my shoulder, smiling back. “Same here.”
“Anyway. I think this one will be even better than the last. Everyone loves dressing up, and dressing up as comic characters is the absolute best kind of dressing up. Is your costume settled?”
I nodded. “Just put the finishing touches on my shield.”
“Good. You’ll make a better Captain America than actual Captain America, as far as I’m concerned.”
“I’m serious,” she said. “You look straight out of a poster for cigarettes from the 40s. They always used the hottest models for those.”
I smirked to cover the fact that I was suddenly very aware of her thigh pressed against mine. “Aww, you think I’m hot?”
She gave me a look. “Anyone with functioning corneas would say you’re hot. I shouldn’t even limit it to that. I’m pretty sure I saw a blind guy give you a double-take the other day.”
A laugh burst out of me, and she smiled, looking smug. “Well, thanks, Cam. You’re not so bad yourself, you know. I’m pretty sure I saw a guy at Wasted Words who was one set of batting lashes away from a proposal.”
She made a noise in dissent. “Please. The only guys who think I’m hot look more like Jabba the Hut than Han Solo.”
I snickered. “Aw, come on. You’ve dated some decent guys.”
Cam laughed. “It’s true. I mean, I only date nerds, but they’ve been mostly decent, if not forgettable. But I’ll take what I can get. I mean, guys who play Magic aren’t all bad, although they’re usually serious babies when I beat them.”
“Nobody likes a sore loser.”
“Nothing hoses off the libido like a grown man in a My Little Pony T-shirt throwing a tantrum over Magic cards.”
The visual made me smile. “You should teach me how to play.”
She raised a brow. “I dunno. Are you a sore loser?”
Her brow climbed.
“Listen — Street Fighter doesn’t count because you cheat.”
She gaped in mock surprise. “Sir, I do not cheat.”
“Sure, sure. And I hate steak and beer.”
“Says the guy who cheats at chess.”
I gave her a look. “You can’t cheat at chess.”
She folded her arms. “Uh-huh. You can Google it — there are strategy sites where you can put in the board and it tells you how to win.”
I folded mine back at her. “Oh? And how would you know?”
Her lips pursed. “I don’t cheat.”
“Prove it,” I challenged.
She huffed, rolling her eyes as she climbed off the couch. “Fine, but we’re playing on the board this time, no cheating phones. I practiced for at least six hours last week, so bring it on. Oh, and I’m black this time.”
I rubbed my hands together. “You can lose as whatever color you want.”
“I’m gonna beat you one day, if it’s the last thing I do, Knight,” she said over her shoulder.
“Good,” I said, smirking at her back. “Then I’ll have someone to beat for life.”
I WOKE EARLY THE NEXT morning as I usually did, making a huge pot of coffee for Tyler and I to share before cuddling up on the couch with whatever I was reading. Currently, it was Mists of Avalon, which was a favorite of mine. I hadn’t read it since I was in high school, and I was long overdue for a re-read. I’d been in a book rut, uninspired by the last three books I’d tried, but as my dad always said — the best cure for a rut was to pick up a sure thing.
I heard Tyler’s alarm sound, breaking the silence in the quiet apartment, and I did my best not to look when he shuffled out of his bedroom in nothing but a pair of sleep pants, dark hair ruffled. I waited until his back was turned to sneak a quick glance, at least — his skin was smooth and immaculate, and the taper of his long waist was of a mathematical proportion that made my ovaries clench.
Any hetero woman would have looked, I told myself for the thousandth time since he’d moved in. It made me feel a little bit better about blatantly creeping on him.
I turned my attention back to my book, sorta — I couldn’t fully focus as I listened for cues. I knew his habits so well, I could almost time the flush of the toilet, the length of his shower, the moment when he’d open that door and walk out, soaking wet, towel wrapped around his waist in front of a cloud of steam, water dripping down his abs—