Jen DeLuca Quotes
“Hi.” I caught a flash of his smile as he bent to kiss me. His lips were warm and his kiss was sweet. Gentle. He only deepened the kiss a little while his hand slid into my hair and his other hand curved into the small of my back.
I smiled as he pulled away. “Hi.”
“That’s better.” He cupped my cheek in his hand, his thumb tracing the curve of my cheekbone. “I’ve missed you since yesterday. Is that weird? Does that make me one of those stalker guys?”
“Only if you follow me home. Cut off a lock of my hair while I sleep. Something like that.”
“I thought I’d save that for next weekend.” He bent to kiss me again but swerved at the last second to brush his lips against my cheek instead. “I have a theory about you, Emily Parker.”
“I do.” Another kiss on my cheek, and then his teeth grazed my earlobe, and I shivered. “I don’t think you’ve ever been wooed. Have you?” The words were a low whisper in my ear, and the shiver intensified.
“Wooed?” The word felt strange in my mouth.
“Wooed,” he repeated, punctuating the word with a kiss on my other cheek. “Courted. Swept off your feet. Had someone show you how you make him feel.”
“I . . . I can’t say that I have.” That was an understatement.
“Then brace yourself.” He straightened up and backed away from me a step or two. “I’m going to woo your ass off.”
“We have in our midst a woman named Emma. She is a tavern wench of great beauty, whose smile lights up the day like the sun, and the night like the moon. She has absolutely stolen my heart, but I do not mind in the least. In fact, if she would agree to keep my heart and take good care of it, I would never want it back.”
“Come over tonight,” he said, softly enough so only I could hear him. “Wear the roses.”
I shook my head. “I’m filthy. All covered in roses and Faire dirt. I should wash up first.”
“No.” He brushed his mouth against mine one more time before murmuring into my ear. “I can’t wait that long. Come over now. I’ll take care of you.”
“This good sir Knight here was showing me his most impressive weapon."
"Oh?" His eyebrow arched, and I tried to ignore the way it sent heat dspeeding down my spine. "Are you seeking out others then? Does my weapon no longer interest you?
I had to bite down hard on my bottom lip to keep from laughing. We were blowing right past subtle innuendo today.
"Oh, Captain." I fluttered my eyelashes dramatically. "I believe you are quite aware that I have no complaints with your... weapon."
He choked for a split second, but covered it with a small cough before he leaned a casual elbow against the bar. "I hope not, love." His smile was as broad as ever. "I would hate to think I would have to duel with another for your affections."
"I hope not, for your sake." I rounded my eyes in feigned horror. "I've seen you fight, sir. It typically ends on your knees in the dirt with a knife at your throat, does it not?" I shook my head, clucking my tongue. "Not a good ending." A nearby patron snorted, and it was all I could do to not turn my head. Great. Simon and I turned into a show all on our own. Come for the beer, stay for the bad comedy.
"Odd." He tiled his head and considered me, his eyes doing the same slow travel mine had done on him. It took everything I had not to fidget under his gaze. "Typically women don't mind when I'm on my knees in front of them.”
“I love cats... I’ve never had one myself, but they’ve always fascinated me. They’re these perfect little predators, yet we let them curl up on our laps like they wouldn’t eat our faces if we died in the night. Hmm, that got morbid. They’re also really soft, and I hear that sometimes they let you pet their bellies. I like that.”
“Simon and Emily." I blinked up at Chris, surprised to hear our names being used. She dropped a wink at me. "As your hands are bound together now, so your lives and spirits are joined in a union of love and trust. Above you are the stars and below you is the earth. Like the stars, your love should be a constant source of light, and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow."
I couldn't think of a better way to start a relationship.”
“But the chess field would be a great place to set up a wedding. Out in the woods, it would be all . . . I dunno, pretty. Picturesque.” I waved a hand; I wasn’t great with words.
“Pastoral,” Mitch supplied, and three pairs of wide eyes turned in his direction. He shrugged and took another swig of beer. “What, I have a vocabulary.”
“Seriously, Em, go back to bed. There’s no reason for you to be up at this hour. Especially since you were out so late last night.”
“Ugh.” My head thudded to the table. Ow. “Don’t remind me. Mistakes were made.” Mistakes of the multiple-tequila-shots variety. I wasn’t a tequila girl, but Mitch could be very persuasive. That boy was something like ninety-eight percent muscle; he could drink. I shouldn’t have even tried to keep up, but I’d been so discombobulated by the roller coaster of emotions that weekend at Faire. Simon was a dick. No, Simon was kissing me. No, he said he’d made a mistake in doing so. No, we were kissing again, and he was damn good at it. No, once other people were around he was back to acting like I was the living embodiment of gum stuck to his shoe. I’d hardly seen him all day Sunday, and while he’d shown up at Jackson’s with everyone else, he looked like he hated being there and was gone after about fifteen minutes.
Which had left me with Stacey, Mitch, and his endless tequila shots. ”
“What are those people doing there? Of course April had to notice and ask me about it. I sighed inwardly. It wasn't her fault; I'd never told her about this part of my time at Faire. So I forced a smile and a casual tone of voice.
"Oh, it's this mushy thing, it's for couples, no big deal."
"It looks cute. Let's go see."
"April, no." But she would not be deterred. She hooked a hand around my elbow and practically dragged me over there. "No," I said again, squirming in a pathetic attempt to get away. "Why do you want to see happy couples? I'm still in the ice cream and brownies and booze phase of my breakup, you know. This could set me back weeks."
"Ah, the holy trinity of heartache." She grinned at me over her shoulder. "Shut up and come on.”
“The bell over the front door chimed, and I caught my breath as Simon walked in. After all this time, we hadn’t interacted much outside of Faire. (Unless you counted one pretty significant interaction in his bedroom the night before last. I for one counted the hell out of it.) He looked like a strange amalgamation of his identities: the crisply ironed shirt and immaculate jeans of Simon Graham, but with the longer hair and face-framing beard of Captain Blackthorne. The juxtaposition was . . . well, I squirmed a little and fought the urge to hop the counter and wrinkle that shirt in the best possible way.
Simon stopped short inside the doorway when he saw me, and Chris nudged me with her shoulder. “Now, I know for a fact you can handle him.” While my face flamed with mortification and Simon’s eyebrows knit in confusion, she snickered at her own joke and walked out of the store with a wave. Simon held the door for her, then turned back to me.
“Hey.” I dropped my head to the counter and let the cool glass soothe my forehead. “God, it’s like working for my mother.”
“What was that about?”
I shook my head as I stood back up. “She knows.
Apparently, the whole town does.”
“Knows?” After a beat his expression cleared and his eyes widened. “About us?”
“Yeah.” I bit the inside of my cheek and waited for his reaction.
“Huh.” He looked over his shoulder in the direction Chris had gone, as if he could still see her. “Well, if Chris knows, that’s as good as taking an ad out in the paper.” He tilted his head, thinking. “Do people still do that?”
“Take ads out in the paper. Do people still even read the paper?”
“I . . . I guess?” I was a little confused by the direction the conversation had gone, but now that he mentioned it I was curious too. “I mean, my mother does. The Sunday paper has coupons, you know.” Coupons that she still clipped and sent once a week to April and me, inside greeting cards where the coupons fell out like oversized confetti when we opened them.
He considered that. “Seems like a dying thing, though. So will the idiom change? Should we start saying things like ‘posting it online’?”
“‘Create a banner ad’?” I suggested, leaning my elbows on the counter.
“See, I like that better.” He mirrored my pose and he was
close, so close to me that my heart pounded. I was no match for his smile. “Close to the original idiom, and it implies the same thing—spending money to make an announcement.”
I allowed myself a second to be lost in his smile before I laughed. “Good God. Once an English teacher, always an English teacher.”
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