Considering Kate Page 20

"Brody seems to be concerned you may shoot him."

"I don't have a gun."

"That's what I said. I also told him that my father knows I've kissed men. You do know that, don't you, Daddy?"

She only called him Daddy when she was trying to charm him. They both knew it. "What I know intellectually is a far cry from walking in on… He had his hands on your…" Spencer set his teeth. "He had his hands on my little girl."

"Your little girl had her hands on him, too." She scooted around, wiggled into her father's lap.

"I hardly think the kitchen is the proper place for you to…" What? Exactly what?

"You're right, of course." She made her voice very prim, very proper. "The kitchen is for cooking. I've certainly never seen you and Mama kissing in the kitchen. I'd have been horrified."

His lips wanted to twitch, but he overcame the urge. "Shut up."

"I always knew, if I happened to walk into the room and you and Mamaappeared to be kissing, you were really practicing lifesaving techniques. Can't be too careful."

"You're going to need lifesaving techniques in a minute."

"Until then, let me ask you this. Do you like Brody, as a man?"

"Yes, of course, but that doesn't mean I'm going to do handsprings of joy when I walk into my kitchen and see… what I saw."

"Well, there's a possibility of a motel room on Route 81 in my future."

"Ah." Spencer dropped his forehead to hers. "Kate."

"You and Mom taught me I never had to hide anything from you. My feelings, my actions. I have feelings for Brody. I'm not completely sure what those feelings entail, but my actions are going to reflect them."

"Your actions have always reflected your feelings, with a stiff dose of logic tossed in."

"This won't be any different."

"What about his feelings?"

"He doesn't know. We'll figure it out." "Doesn't know?" His eyes, so like hers, went to smoky slits.

"Well, the boy better make up his mind in a hurry, or—''

"Oooh, Daddy." Kate blinked rapidly, shivered.

"Are you going to go beat him up for me? Can I watch?"

"Reallygoing to need those lifesaving techniques," Spencer muttered.

"I love you." She pressed a kiss to his cheek. "You raised a child, on your own, for a number of years. You know what it means when you do that, when you love the child, when you're committed to the child."

His Freddie. His first baby, now with babies of her own. "Yes, I do."

"How could I not be attracted to that part of him, Daddy, that I love so much in you?"

"And how am I supposed to argue with that?" He cuddled her closer, sighed. "You can tell Brody I don't plan to buy a gun. Yet."

She went down for lunch the next day. Then made a habit of dropping by, taking pastries and coffee, subs or sandwiches, to Brody and his crew.

Some might have called it a bribe. In fact Brody called it exactly that, as the offerings tended to make his men more cooperative when Kate skewered them with questions, or asked for changes to the original plan.

It didn't stop him from anticipating her visits, or gauging his time so he could spare twenty minutes or a half hour to walk with her around town, or share a cup of coffee with her in the little cafe up the street. He knew his men were wiggling their eyebrows or giving each other elbow nudges whenever he walked off with Kate. But since he'd gone to high school with most of them, he took it in the spirit it was meant. And if he caught one of them, occasionally, checking out her butt or her legs, it only took one hard stare to have that individual getting busy elsewhere.

He still couldn't figure her. She sauntered down to the job looking, always, like something clipped from the glossy pages of a magazine. Perfect and female. But she poked around the dust and grime of the site as if she were one of the crew, asking pointed questions about things like the wiring. He'd come across her having a heated debate with one of his men over baseball. And an hour later, he overheard her on her cell phone, chatting away in precise and fluent French. No, after two weeks of this easy routine, he still couldn't figure her. But neither could he stop thinking about her.

Now, as she wandered the main studio, he couldn't stop looking at her. She wore some soft sweater in deep blue over gray leggings. Her hair was bundled up in some fascinating way that left her nape bare and sexy.

The room was warm thanks to the new heating system. The plaster work was well underway, and he'd brought in the first samples of the woodwork he had molded himself to match the original. His father had left only a short time before, after putting in six hours on plumbing. A difficult and tense six hours, Brody thought now. It was a pleasure to put that aside and look at Kate.

"The plasterer's doing a great job," she said after touring the walls. "I almost feel guilty that we're going to cover so much up with mirrors."

"Your glass is on order. It'll be in middle of February."

She picked up the sample of woodwork. "This is beautiful, Brody. You'll never be able to tell it from the original."

"That's the idea."

"Yes, it is." She set the wood down again. "You're moving along, right on schedule. Job wise. But…" She started toward him. "In the personal department, you're lagging."

"Takes a while to lay the groundwork."

"Depends what you're planning on building, Brody." She laid her hands on his shoulder. "I want a date."

"We had lunch."

"A grown-up date. The sort reasonable, unattached adults indulge in from time to time. Dinner, O'Connell. Maybe a movie. You may not be aware, but many restaurants stay open after the lunch shift."

"I've heard that. Look, Kate." He backed up, but she moved forward with him. "There's Jack, and school nights, and complications."

"Yes, there's Jack. I enjoy spending time with him, but I'd like a little one-on-one with Jack's father. I don't think your son will be scarred for life if you go out one evening. In fact, here's what we're going to do. You, me, Friday night. Dinner. I'll make the arrangements. Pick me up at seven. You, me, Jack, Saturday afternoon. Movies. My treat. I'll pick you both up at one. Settled."

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