"And what're you into?" Ryker asked, eyes boring into me.
"This and that," I replied vaguely. Was he flirting with me?
We went back to the original conversation and I recounted all the Creake lore that I knew of. Ryker was very attentive with a seriousness that was a bit confusing. It was just silly small town rumors but he was behaving as if it was of monumental importance in a life or death situation. We, or rather I, talked for ages with Ryker adding in little questions for clarification here and there. I didn't even notice it when the Johnson family entered right on time.
"Sorry, I actually have work to do now. Have fun researching," I said to him as I got to my feet.
"Thank you, Eli, you've been really helpful."
I tipped my imaginary hat at him with a grin, "T'was my pleasure, Rake."
"Rake?" he echoed but I didn't reply, instead going back to the counter to get the Johnsons' drinks and food ready. They always had the same thing. Everyone in Creake always did the same thing. I glanced at Ryker and smiled. But maybe a little change had arrived.
The following two weeks saw Ryker becoming a regular at my cafe. He showed up in the mornings before lunch and left by five in the evening. Each day he had his computer and a cup of coffee. He took it black, no sugar.
Annalise had been furious when she learned that I had become somewhat friends with him in her absence and was at the cafe much more often now, always staring and drooling after Ryker. Ryker didn't seem too bothered with my sister's obvious fascination so I let it be.
Whenever I had some downtime and Ryker was there, I ended up sitting with him and helping him with his research or just conversing casually. He was very secretive and I tried not to pry. A man's business was no one's but his own, something small town folk generally ignored but I understood the need to keep things private. I was curious, don't get me wrong, but I liked his companionship.
"How's the moving in going?" I asked Ryker as I refilled his coffee.
Ryker shrugged and stretched his arms over his head, "Fine. Got a bit of fixing up to do and walls that need repainting. My furniture's coming in tomorrow but they refuse to enter my house so I've got a day or three of lugging stuff around in store for me."
"Need any help?" I offered without thinking twice.
Ryker raised a brow at me, "You're willing to spend the day at the old Bosworth mansion?"
I shrugged, "Why not? Besides, you'll protect me from all those ghosties, right?" I grinned teasingly, watching for his reaction.
Ryker's eyes flashed and turned to stone, making my smile falter. I quickly tried to save myself by adding, "Kidding! Like ghosts even exist and even if they do, I could handle some transparent dude."
That cold look on Ryker's face turned harder, if that was even possible, and I made an excuse about checking on the oven in the back to get away from the tension.
When it was nearing five, Ryker packed up and I thought he was going to leave without a word but he strolled up to me, asking, "So what time do you think you could come over to help?"
I blinked, surprised he was pretending that nothing had happened, but shrugged and went along with it, "How about eleven? I'll get my sister to watch the cafe or I could just close it for tomorrow."
Ryker frowned, "Can you do that? What about the cafe?"
I grinned, "I"m the boss, I can do whatever the hell I want. And besides, I'm pretty sure you've noticed that I don't get much business."