Steve’s head was spinning, his heart was beating, and the rest of his anatomy was doing things that he hoped Kayla wasn’t noticing.
Earlier, he had been so close to kissing her. He could smell her scent as he watched her lips part. Yet before he got his chance, her damned parents walked in and reacted like they caught their daughter making out with the town creep. They aren’t totally wrong.
It was just as well, Steve thought. Kayla was not his type anyway. She was more than beautiful, she was gorgeous. A man couldn’t concentrate with a woman like that around. And her do-gooder nature would crimp his style if they got too close. Not to mention that she would want to change him. So it was a good thing that her parents stopped them from doing anything that would have led to just misery.
But that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy the present circumstances, and he so was enjoying Kayla being off kilter. Since leaving the Brady house, Kayla had been jumpy and nervous all the way home. Steve fought back a smile knowing that meant she wanted to kiss as much as he did. She couldn’t deny it. Oh, the fun he was going to have with this.
At her loft door, Steve began his verbal assault. “Aren’t you going to ask me in, Sweetness? We can finish what we tried to start.”
“No.” Kayla said, blushing hotly.
Grinning from ear to ear, he leaned in, “And why not?”
“Because I want you too much.”
Steve was so shocked at her admitting the truth he straightened up, his eye wide open. “What?”
“I think we should take this slow,” Kayla said, still blushing but looking at him directly.
Because you like it slow, don’t you Baby. That’s what Steve wanted to say but the shock from Kayla’s directness rendered him unable to talk. He stared at her for what seemed like a long time.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?”
“Um,” Steve said, “look, Kayla. I was just kidding with what I said just now…”
Kayla sighed, “I know, but I’m not.”
Before Steve could reply to that, Kayla continued, “I know it seems like we don’t have much in common but I think there is something there. I mean here. I mean… you know what I mean.”
Kayla was so cute when she was talking like this, but Steve remembered his earlier thoughts, “The only thing we have in common is sex, Baby.”
“I’m asking for more.”
That last line had hesitation in it and Steve knew she might have doubts as well. Looking into her eyes, Steve allowed himself to wonder if maybe there could be something between them. The moment passed and Steve steeled himself to say what he was going to say.
“Sorry, Baby, I don’t do more.”
“Steve…” Kayla began.
He quickly cut her off while hitting the button on the elevator, “Don’t Steve me, Sweetness. I am not a one woman guy. I don’t date. I’m a love them and leave them kind of guy. I do want more from you, Baby, but it’s not what you are talking about. It’s too bad, tonight could have been fun.”
He shut the gate before he could get into a real argument with her. As the elevator went down, Steve leaned on the wall and breathed heavily. He was surprised to find a tear forming in his eye. He tried to smile, tried to tell himself that he just dodged a major bullet. By the time the elevator hit the ground floor, he stopped trying. He simply went home.
The next evening, Steve wandered into Shenanigan’s. All day he had spent trying not to think about Kayla but was failing miserably. The events that occurred the night before had given him an extremely erotic dream involving Kayla and when he finally awakened, it was all he can do not to call her up so he could hear her voice.
Sitting at the bar, he ordered a drink. While his drink was being poured, Steve cursed aloud.
“Bad day?” the bartender asked
Steve muttered out a grunt and drank the glass down fairly fast. He ordered another one. The bartender gave Steve a look but poured anyway.
Taking this one slower, Steve held his head as he reflected on how he’d spent his day. Even though he had told himself that last night would be the last time he would see Kayla on purpose, he’d wound up at the clinic anyway. He had no business being there but it was almost like he had no free will of his own when it came to her. Luckily, today was her day off and he was grateful for that. He had a feeling that seeing her would lower his resistance and he’d give in by becoming “more” with Kayla, whatever that meant.
So why did he keep dwelling on her? Her face? Her eyes, her lips, and her scent? Steve finished off his second glass and ordered a third.
Before the bartender could warn Steve to slow down, Chris came out of the kitchen, walking behind the bar while fixing his tie. Steve heard a whistle come from one of his waitresses and Steve rolled his eye.
“You look great, Chris!” the girl said. “Hot date?”
“As a matter of fact, I do have one,” he said while beaming. “Heading over to Kayla’s. Is the food ready?”
Steve had to put a hand on the bar to steady himself. Chris hadn’t noticed him yet. The bartender handed Steve’s drink and went to get the food for his boss. Chris was checking himself out in a reflective surface with his back to the restaurant. Steve took his drink and walked to the side out of sight but still within earshot.
“Here you go.” the bartender handed Chris his food.
“Thanks,” Chris said. “One last check…how do I look?”
Steve had to fight back a grunt at Chris’s primping. The suck up waitress told Chris she had never seen a more handsome man and Steve’s look shot daggers into her.
Chris thanked her and stated he hoped Kayla felt the same way.
“She will if you are bringing her dinner,” giggled the waitress.
Chris nodded, “I am. We are having a quiet dinner at her place.”
The bartender sneered, “Hoping she offers up herself as dessert?”
Before Steve could throw his drink at the guy’s head, Chris replied, “I don’t want to hear that. Kayla is my friend and I don’t like people talking that way about her.” The bartender apologized and Chris left.
Furious, Steve slammed his glass down on the bar; what was left in his drink went everywhere.
“Hey, man, watch it!” the bartender said while wiping up the mess. Steve tore his gaze from the door and glared at the bartender who blinked and turned away. Taking a breath, Steve headed into the bathroom.
Splashing his face with water from the sink, Steve stared at himself in the mirror for awhile. Would Kayla had still gone out with Chris if Steve had came into her loft last night? Chris might be perceived as a better man, but that didn’t mean he would take care of Kayla the way she deserved. Didn’t he use to go out with Kayla and they broke up? He already had his chance with her, and obviously blown it.
A man came out of a stall and glanced towards Steve. Still in a mood, Steve looked back intently and the man suddenly decided against washing his hands, quickly leaving the bathroom.
Drying himself off with a paper towel, Steve headed into the stalls to grab some toilet paper to take home. Gathering a few rolls, he was about to leave the bathroom when he saw some extra rolls of paper towels sitting in the corner. Putting down the toilet paper, Steve picked up the paper towels and glanced over at the toilets, the toilets in Chris’s restaurant.
A smile appeared across Steve’s face, almost immediately, he began to put his plan into action.
Steve hung out by the side entrance to Shenanigan’s. He was acting as nonchalant as possible but he had to know if this was going to work. He watched men go in and out of the restroom but so far nothing. If this failed, the restaurant would have no reason to call Chris.
Steve looked down at his watch and figured they would be sitting down to dinner by now. Getting panicked, Steve knew it was only a matter of time before…
His thoughts were interrupted when a man’s voice called from the bathroom. “Hey, you got a flood in here!”
The bartender and male waiters ran into the restroom but he knew there was going to be a huge mess. Watching with delight, the bartender ran around trying to figure out what to do and made a couple of phone calls. Looking at his watch, the bartender asked for a phone book and Steve knew he was looking up Kayla’s phone number. With that, Steve walked out while whistling out loud.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to go.”
Kayla was very surprised at the relief she felt and hoped it didn’t outwardly show. Worried that something serious could have happened, she asked, “What’s wrong, Chris? It’s not serious?”
Chris nodded his head but his frustration was evident on his face. “No, it’s not but I need to get back to Shenanigan’s. I guess a water pipe busted in the men’s room and we may have to shut the restaurant down for the night to clean up.”
“Really? How could that have happened?” Kayla wondered.
“I don’t know, Kayla, but I’m sorry I have to go. I guess I’ll need to ask for a rain check.”
“Sure,” Kayla said while getting out the plates to pack up the food.
“Oh, no Kayla, keep the food. I guess you are going to have a lot leftover.”
Kayla laughed, “Chris, what am I going to do with all this food? You brought too much for two people anyway.”
Chris was heading out the door, laughing himself. “I’m sure you can freeze it. I’m sorry again, Kayla.”
Kayla shrugged as Chris walked towards the elevator and she shut the door behind him.
Now alone in her loft, Kayla was free to express how glad she was at the outcome of the evening. Not that she was glad Chris was having problems at his restaurant but her heart wasn’t into the evening. She had made this date with Chris several nights earlier and even then she was reluctant to do so. It was obvious since the first week she was back that she and Chris were through. The spark just wasn’t there anymore. Looking back at their past relationship, she knew what she felt for Chris wasn’t real love or passion.
Thinking about passion, Kayla’s mind drift to Steve and she was glad no one could see her face turn red. She could no longer deny she was attracted to him. She’d wanted him to kiss her last night at her parent’s house. She never would have guessed her feelings for him would have evolved to this point.
Since meeting him, she knew right away that he was the most irritating man she had ever met in her life but also the most exciting. These last couple of months his conflicting behavior had confused her to the point of madness. Who was this man? He wasn’t the cynical, bitter and unfeeling jerk he tried to project in public, she was sure of that. Kayla wanted to get to know the real Steve.
However, that wasn’t going to happen because Steve wasn’t interested in her. Or he said he wasn’t. Kayla didn’t know if he was pushing her away because he was telling the truth last night or of fear of being hurt,either way he had made his decision and Kayla needed to just let it go.
Kayla began to get pans out of the cupboards to store the delicious meal Chris had brought. Her mind remained on Steve and her actions last night. She was embarrassed by her directness in asking him to come in, especially since Steve may have been turned off by it. Kayla flinched as she recalled her hope being dashed and Steve walking away to the elevator, the memory having her slam the pans down on the counter hard.
Well, he had made his choice and she wasn’t going to dwell on it anymore.
Just as she got ready to begin putting the food in the first container, she was startled by a knock. Assuming Chris left something, Kayla walked to the door and opened it without asking who it was.
“Steve!” Kayla exclaimed, finding for the second time in as many nights, Steve Johnson standing uninvited at her door. “What are you doing here?”
“Relax, Sweetness,” he said, brushing by her, “I must have left my harp here.”
Recovering, Kayla slammed the loft door, his new habit of showing up at her door unannounced getting to her. “Your harp?”
Steve turned around to face her, explaining, “Yea, my harp. You know, the harmonica.”
“I know what you meant,” Kayla replied, frustrated. “What makes you think it’s here?”
“Because it might have fallen out of my jacket pocket when I was here last night.”
He was lying and Kayla knew it. What was going on? “No, it didn’t.”
Steve grinned but his nervousness was easy to spot, “Now, Baby, how do you know if you don’t let me look?”
“I know because you had your ‘harp’ with you when we were at my parents house. You used it to put Max to sleep. Maybe you should check there.”
Steve’s face fell. Kayla could tell she just blew his cover. Feeling her heart in her chest, Kayla demanded, “What is the real reason you are doing here, Steve?”
Steve high-tailed it to Kayla’s loft straight from Shenanigan’s. He told himself he just wanted to make sure Chris left as planned. The whole point of doing what he did was to save Kayla from the boring wit of Chris Kositchek. That and with what the bartender said about Kayla. Chris might have stuck up for her, but Steve knew no red-blooded guy in his right mind would go to Kayla’s loft and not hope it would lead to something more. She was too damn beautiful for her own good.
It wasn’t long before he saw Chris heading out the main door from Kayla’s building. He was so intent on where he was going that he walked right past Steve without noticing him. Steve breathed a sigh of relief. Looking up at Kayla’s window and seeing the light on, Steve knew it was time to turn around and go.
He did turn around, but leaving was harder than it should have been. Instead of walking away Steve began pacing; this whole thing was still bother him. Thinking about Chris leaving, Steve realized what it was. When Chris went to Kayla’s, he had brought a lot of food.
Knowing they hadn’t had time to eat, Steve wondered if Chris thought he could take care of the restaurant and return for a late late dinner with Kayla. Realizing his plan could have backfired on him, Steve made the decision to head up to Kayla’s.
Making it to her door, Steve was just about to knock when he wondered what he would say. How would he explain why he was at her house uninvited, again, especially after he told her he wasn’t interesting in dating her? Thinking quickly, Steve came up with a solution and knocked before he could change his mind.
It didn’t take long for the door to open. Even expecting to see Kayla dressed up, his breath still left him at the sight of her. His mouth going dry, Steve still managed to say, “Hey, Baby.”
“Steve! What are you doing here?” she said as he expected.
Using her shock to his advantage, he brushed past her, making sure to sniff in her fragrance while keeping down the jealousy he felt that she looked and smelled this way tonight for Chris.
“Relax, Sweetness,” he said, “I must have left my harp here.”
He heard the door slam behind him. Was she angry? “Your harp?”
Keeping his emotions in check, Steve explained, “Yeah, my harp. You know, the harmonica.”
“I know what you meant,” Kayla replied, obviously frustrated with him. “What makes you think it’s here?”
“Because it might have fallen out of my jacket pocket when I was here last night,” he said proudly, glad to have come up with something on the fly so quickly.
“No, it didn’t.”
The confidence in Kayla’s voice unnerved him. Deciding to keep with his plan, Steve continued, “Now, Baby, how do you know if you don’t let me look?”
“I know because you had your ‘harp’ with you when we were at my parents’ house. You used it to put Max to sleep. Maybe you should check there.”
Damn! He had forgotten about that. As Steve’s mouth fell open, Kayla confronted him straight on, “What is the real reason you are doing here, Steve?”
For once, Steve had no idea what to say. He had been so anxious to come up and see her that he never saw the holes in his story to get in. Trying to buy himself time, Steve shrugged, “There is no reason, Baby. I just forgot I used my harmonica last night and thought it might be here…”
“C’mon, Steve! You must think I’m stupid.” Kayla said. Steve had a flashback to when he tried to leave her an anonymous note about who kidnapped Andrew. She saw through it but said about the same thing, that he thought she was stupid.
Needing her to know that wasn’t true, Steve quietly said, “No, I don’t.”
Steve waited for Kayla to say something in return but she remained silent. Feeling lost, Steve glanced at her pans on the counter. Realizing that Kayla storing the food meant Chris wasn’t coming back, Steve felt a sigh of relief. Deciding to go with the obvious, “What’s with all the food?”
“I was going to have dinner with someone,” Kayla said, still looking at him.
“Was? You aren’t now?”
“He was called away. Why do you care?” Kayla asked walking in front of Steve.
“I… don’t. I just… I saw all this food and wondered…”
Kayla had had enough. Taking Steve’s arm, she began leading him to the door, “Fine. If you don’t want to tell me why you are here, then I would appreciate if you would just leave. I’m tired and not especially in the mood to put up with this…”
Fear crept into Steve’s heart. “Are you disappointed that this… that this dinner didn’t happen?”
Whirling Steve around to look at her. “I’m disappointed you won’t tell me the truth.”
Kayla’s eyes were so intense that Steve believed she could see right into his soul.
“Can I stay?”
What Steve said shocked them both and for a beat neither said nothing. Kayla was the first to break the silence, “Sure. Do you want to have dinner?”
Even with the invitation, Steve could see the wariness in her eyes. Realizing his actions the night before caused her to distrust him, Steve allowed himself to give in. “I would love to.”
Kayla’s smile was all he needed to know he made the right decision. “Well, sit down, Mr. Johnson, I hope you like steak.”
“What guy doesn’t like steak?” Steve said, grinning himself.
Kayla hadn’t had time to clear anything off. Sitting down together, Steve tucked his napkin in his shirt and Kayla laughed. “What?”
She shrugged, “It’s just funny how things work out isn’t it?”
Steve didn’t answer. He nodded and Kayla poured them some wine. Shaking off the truth of how he really came to be there, Steve dug into the food and was glad to find it was still warm.
As dinner progressed, Kayla kept studying Steve as nonchalantly as she could. He talked more than she expected, actually quite a lot. It was simple small talk and nothing of substance. Kayla herself was still too shell-shocked to know what to really say. Part of her wanted to demand why he was really there and the other part just wanted to be quiet and enjoy the moment while it lasted.
“I can’t remember you ever being this quiet.”
Not sure what to say, Kayla just shrugged and smiled.
Steve felt his frustrations rise. He didn’t understand what was wrong. She had wanted him to do stuff like this so here he was, and now she was acting like she didn’t want him there. He worried it was Chris she wanted after all.
“Or maybe you are just quiet about thinking what I can give you for dessert.” That got a change out of her.
But instead of getting angry, Kayla just smiled, “Maybe I am.” That shocked him.
Kayla grinned when she realized she was unsettling Steve. When he decided to have dinner she made up her mind she wasn’t going to let what he said or didn’t say upset her at least for that night. She was just going to see how things went and see if they could go a full evening without having an argument. Seemed like a good way to know if a first date went successfully.
Steve was finding he liked to argue with Kayla or missed seeing the fire that lit up in her eyes when he made her angry. So, Steve continued, “There aren’t any maybes in this. Either you want my dessert or you don’t.”
“It depends on what you got to give.” Kayla was matching him smile per smile.
Leaning over the table, Steve decided to go in for the kill. “I think you’ll like my dessert and it’s ready anytime.”
Kayla was lost on what other metaphors she could use so decided to try something different. “Well, I like to clean off the table first before moving to the next course.”
“Done!” stated Steve, jumping up and clearing off the table. Kayla started laughing at his behavior, not sure what to think of herself or Steve. It wasn’t like he was being a sleaze like he had been in the past as this was playful and teasing, incredibly harmless banter. On the other hand, Kayla knew that Steve more than hoped what they were not so subtlety alluding to was possible.
Following Steve to the kitchen, she was surprised when he began washing the dishes.
“You don’t have to do that.”
“It’s ok, I don’t mind, Baby.” He gave her a grin.
“You like doing dishes?” she asked, grinning back herself.
Shrugging, Steve said, “I like doing whatever will score me points.”
Walking back to the table to get more dishes, she replied, “In that case, I can show you where the vacuum is.”
That got him to laugh and as she brought more dishes, he returned, “Believe it or not, I’m a vacuuming fool.”
“I believe it, as long as you drop the ‘vacuuming’ part.”
“Hey!” he shouted while sloshing water on her. She yelled back while taking a towel to dry herself off. When he turned back to the dishes she took the now wet towel and wiped his face with it.
Grabbing her hand, Steve pulled her closer but this time took the disk rag and attempted to wipe it on her face but she squirmed away.
“Eeww, that’s dirty, Steve!”
“I don’t fight dirty, and you started it.”
Laughing hard by now, Kayla said, “I don’t mean you were fighting dirty, I mean that rag is dirty.”
“Ok, let me lose it then.” Throwing it back in the sink, Steve began tickling her with his hands as Kayla told him to stop between giggles.
Laughing along with her, Steve made sure Kayla faced him and said, “Do you ever stop complaining?”
“I do..” Kayla began then stopped when she realized how close she was to him. Her train of thought completely left her.
The silence that followed seemed to last forever while they stared at each other. Finally, Steve leaned in and Kayla felt the brush of his lips on hers and for a moment she thought her heart had stopped beating. As she leaned forward, Steve took the opportunity to cup her face and look in her eyes again, probably to make sure she wanted this.
She began to open her mouth to tell him not to stop but he took it as a sign of it’s own and kissed her harder. Kayla’s body practically melted into his and she moaned as how strong his body felt against hers.
They both turned around and Kayla could feel Steve’s hands moving down to her side and around her back. He pushed her up against the kitchen island, sandwiching her body between his and the cabinets. One of his hands returned to her face, cupping her cheek.
She wanted to protest when his mouth left hers but groaned in pleasure at the kisses he ran down along her neck. Lifting her hair up, he maneuvered around so he was just at that very sweet spot at the base of her neck, pausing there. Kayla was gripping his arms but eventually one hand moved up to the back of his head.
Needing to taste him again, Kayla pulled up on his body and he took that as permission to life her body up on the kitchen counter. Now she was eye level with him which made it easier for him to kiss her harder. Kayla’s legs began to wrap around his lower waist and her ears were finally rewarded with hearing Steve moan.
“Kayla.” he said, after pulling back to catch his breath.
Taking a moment to regain her voice, Kayla said, “Don’t stop. Please.”
For a beat, Steve stared right into her eyes as if he was afraid moving would cause her to change her mind. With her hold still on him, Kayla pulled him towards her while saying, “I want you. Please.”
Before he began kissing her again, Kayla heard him say her name one more time.