The Perfect Neighbor

The Perfect Neighbor by Nora Roberts

Book: The Perfect Neighbor by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nora Roberts
learn. Next time you’re going to have to carry your weight.” She peeled a carrot clean with a few quick, experienced strokes, then flicked a glance up at him. “Am I still naked?”
    “Do you want to be?”
    She laughed and picked up her neglected wine.
    It took a long time to cook a simple meal when you were distracted by conversation, by lingering looks, by seductive touches.
    * * *
    It took a long time to eat a simple meal when you were sliding lazily into love with the man across from you.
    She recognized the signs—the erratic beating of the heart, the bubbling in the blood that was desire. When those were tangled so silkily around dreamy smiles and soft sighs, love was definitely a short trip away.
    She wondered what it would be like when she reached it.
    It took a long time to say good-night when you were floating on deep, dark kisses in the doorway.
    And longer still to sleep when your body ached and your mind was full of dreams.
    When she heard the faint drift of his music, she smiled and let it lull her to sleep.

Chapter 6
    With his hair still wet from his morning shower, Preston sat at his own kitchen counter on one of Cybil’s stools she’d insisted he borrow. He scanned the paper as he ate cold cereal and bananas because Cybil had pushed both on him once she’d gotten a look at his cupboards.
    Even a kitchen klutz—which apparently meant him—could manage to pour milk onto cold cereal and slice a banana, she’d told him.
    He’d decided against taking offense, though he didn’t think he was quite as clumsy in the kitchen as she did. He’d managed to put a salad together, hadn’t he? While she’d done something incredible and marvelous to a couple of pork chops.
    The woman was one hell of a cook, he mused, and was rapidly spoiling his appetite for the quick slap-together sandwiches he often lived on.
    It didn’t seem to bother her that they hadn’t gone out to dinner since that first meal she’d cooked for him. He imagined she would, before much longer, tire of preparing the evening meal and demand a restaurant.
    People generally got itchy for a change of pace when the novelty wore off and routines became ruts.
    And he supposed they already had a kind of routine. They kept to their separate corners during the day. Well, except for the couple of times she’d dropped by and persuaded him to go out. To the market, just for a walk, to buy a lamp.
    He glanced back toward his living room, frowning at the whimsical bronze frog holding up a triangular-shaped lampshade. He still wasn’t sure how she’d talked him into buying such a thing, or into paying Mrs. Wolinsky for a secondhand recliner she’d wanted to get rid of.
    And rightfully so, he decided. Who the hell wanted a green-and-yellow plaid recliner in their living room?
    But somehow he had one—which despite its hideous looks was amazingly comfortable.
    Of course if you had a chair and a lamp you needed a table. His was a sturdy Chippendale in desperate need of refinishing—and as Cybil had pointed out—a bargain because of it.
    She just happened to have a friend who refinished furniture as a hobby, and would put him in touch.
    She also just happened to have a friend who was a florist, which explained why there was a vase of cheerful yellow daisies on Preston’s kitchen counter.
    Another friend—of which Preston had decided she had a legion—painted New York street scenes and sold them on the sidewalk, and couldn’t he use a couple of paintings to brighten up the walls?
    He’d told her he didn’t want to brighten anything, but there were now three very decent original watercolors on his wall.
    She was already making noises about rugs.
    He didn’t know how she worked it, Preston thought, shaking his head as he went back to his breakfast. She just kept talking until you were pulling out your wallet or holding out your hand.
    But they kept out of each other’s way.
    Well, there had been Saturday afternoon, when she’d invaded with

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