The rain had stopped, but it was a gray, gloomy day. Daphne kept glancing out the back windows of her house on Saturday morning. She’d made a fresh pot of coffee and set out clean mugs. She’d put out the toaster and a loaf of raisin bread. Leaves blazed with color. She almost liked the vivid hues better against the moody background, a contrast to the sunny days they’d had for most of the month. Usually, she’d gaze in awe at Nature’s beauty, but today wasn’t one of those moments. Where was he? Had he decided to hike deeper in the forest today? Maybe it was too dreary for him to tramp the trails. But finally, she spotted Tyne on the path that ran behind her property. Just as he approached her yard, she whipped on a sweater and stepped outside, leading Shadow on a leash.
Tyne glanced over and waved, then came to see the kitten. “Well, look at you.” He opened the back gate and came to join them, frowning at the leash.
“I’m trying to teach him the yard’s boundaries, so I can let him outside and not worry about him jumping the fence when he’s bigger.”
“And the leash is working?”
A bug flew past them and landed on her picket fence. The cat crouched to spring on it. Shadow leapt, and the leash jerked him back. Then he fussed and howled. Daphne sighed. “Not so well. It’s going to be a process.” She bent and released the clasp so that Shadow could run off. Right now, he couldn’t escape the fence, but she knew that time would come.
When the bug flew away, Shadow scampered back to check out Tyne. Tyne scooped him up and rubbed under his chin. “You’ve grown since the last time I saw you.”
The cat’s body went limp and purrs started.
Daphne smiled. How cute was her pet?
When she glanced up at Tyne, she realized how close they were to each other. Lips barely inches apart. Their gazes locked, and Daphne had never wanted a man to kiss her so badly. She ached with the need. He smelled of fresh air and musk. Of maleness. His gaze went to her lips, lingered there, then he turned away.
No, no, no! What had Paula told her? That a man can’t survive without encouragement. But what was she supposed to do? Purse her lips? Smile more? The moment had passed. She settled on, “I was going to make some eggs for myself. Are you hungry?”
His shoulders relaxed. As a chef, kitchens and food were his comfort zone.