Two hours and countless subway stops on what felt every line in the Metro Transit Authority later we arrived at my front door. I was exhausted and filthy and out of breath from running up the ten flights to my floor, but surprisingly enough I was having a good time.
Now I knew what older women saw in younger men.
"Admit it," Phelps teased as he poked me in the ribs, "you had fun on the subway."
I looked into those beautiful blue eyes and saw all the exuberance that was missing in my life. If only I were a few years younger.
"Yes," I admitted reluctantly, "it was actually pretty fun." My mother would have a heart attack if she ever found out. "You can't say anything about this on Saturday."
"About what? The subway?"
"Yes. It would kill my mother to learn I spent a night riding mass transit. For fun."
Phelps just smiled. Not that cocky, arrogant smile that grated my nerves-even though I was beginning to appreciate that smile, against my better judgment. No, this was a soft smile of indulgence. Of admiration.
"You, Lydia Vanderwalk," he said as he stepped closer and lifted a hand to my cheek, "are some piece of work."
His hand slipped behind my head and I felt the warm heat of his palm urge me closer. Hypnotized by his flame blue gaze, I leaned forward until my lips met his.
This was no hot and heavy, for public display kiss.
This was gentle and tender and I felt it all the way down to the tips of my toes.
My first response was, Why? Why was Phelps kissing me in this seriously romantic way?
But when he tilted his head and nibbled on my lower lip all questions-indeed all thought-ceased to matter. The soft fullness of his lips rubbed rhythmically against mine with a gentle pressure that begged me to open my mouth.
I was just about to accommodate when I heard a loud-as in this-is-not-the-first-second-or-third-attempt loud-ah-hem from behind me.
Reluctantly pulling away, I turned to find Gavin standing in the hall. He looked furious.
I glance at Phelps, who looked gloatful-was that even a word?
At least now I knew why Phelps had kissed me.
It had all been for show.
"So sorry to interrupt," Gavin said as he thrust a grocery bag in my face, "but I've been trying to call you all day."
Stepping out of the awkward entanglement with Phelps I took the bag. I hefted the several pounds of small, wrapped goodies and sighed. What was this? A peace offering? A bribe? A play in the chess match between him and Phelps?
"I know," I said.
Gavin scowled. "Did you listen to my messages?"
"Lyd, we need to talk. Can we-"
"Take a hint, man," Phelps said. "She's not interested."
"Listen, pretty boy, this is between Lydia and me." Gavin poked Phelps in the chest and I had a feeling this situation was going very wrong very fast.
I needed to step in. "Wait, let's-"
"Looks like I'm right in the middle of it." Phelps released me a stepped closer to Gavin, chest trust out like a strutting pigeon. "You show up here with a bag of junk and-"