Marriage of Inconvenience (Knitting in the City Book 7)(8)

By: Penny Reid


The way Dan twisted his mouth to the side lent him an air of amusement without actually smiling. He was adorable.

I hadn’t spoken to him in a long while. His chestnut hair was longer than its typical close cut and it was styled expertly, back and away from his forehead. Or maybe he’d been pulling his hands through it. Either way, it was an exceptionally good look for him.

We’d seen each other in passing, at Janie and Quinn’s apartment, in the lobby of this building, but this was the first time we’d traded words in six months. This was the first time he’d called me Kit-Kat in over two years, since before he started dating Tonya from accounting on the seventeenth floor.

“Sorry. Hi, Dan.” I gave him a tight smile. “Sorry. I just wanted to ask—”

Dan shifted closer and dipped his head, like he couldn’t hear me, and I caught a trace of cologne, just the faintest hint of something expensive and masculine. His new proximity set my heart racing. Inexplicably, I felt like crying.

But I didn’t. I wouldn’t. I never did.

Clearing my throat, I started again. “Sorry. I don’t mean to interrupt.”

His mouth did curve then, a slow spreading smile that usually would’ve made me forget what I was doing, because I loved this smile.

Dan didn’t have perfect teeth. They were a little crooked, like he’d never had braces, and maybe one or two had been cracked during a fight or while playing sports, and then capped. The dentist had done a great job with the repair work, but I suspected the reason Dan rarely showed his teeth when smiling was because he was self-conscious about it. That meant, when he did show teeth—like now—it was because he couldn’t help himself.

To me, his real smile was wholly genuine, devastatingly charming, and absolutely perfect.

Also perfect, his nose. It had been broken at least twice and was bent just slightly. His shoulders were also perfect, big and wide; how he moved paired with his stocky frame reminded me of a boxer, capable of both brute strength and remarkable grace.

His neck was also strong—but not in a disconcerting way—and provided the perfect pedestal for his exquisite jaw, which was perpetually shaded with a twelve o’clock shadow. Every so often, when he turned his head, I’d catch a tantalizing glimpse of swirling, black tattoos peeking out of his suit shirt.

But his lips . . .

No words could adequately describe the flawless beauty of his lips.

He was rugged everywhere that I could see, except for those lush lips.

I wanted to bite them.

“You’re not interrupting,” he said, gaze warm and a little lazy, eyelids at half-mast. Dan leaned closer, lowering his voice. “How can I help?”

Marry me.

Internally, I shrank from the unbidden thought. Holy wish fulfillment, Batman.

In the next moment, it occurred to me that Dan was recently single, having split from his longtime girlfriend—the aforementioned Tonya from accounting on the seventeenth floor—just two months ago.

When I’d first discovered they were dating, I’d been devastated and ate $47.31 worth of cheese in one sitting. While crying. I cried on my cheese. It was a sad day.

But when I’d discovered they’d split, I went home, did my laundry, did my homework, didn’t cry, and answered work emails while steadfastly refusing to obsess about it.

Presently, I was staring at him, unable to speak, as the idea solidified in my brain.

Marry me . . .

The dangerous notion dug its claws into my fragile yet safe plan and tore it to shreds. Shaking my head, I cursed myself for approaching Dan while I was like . . . this. Already feeling all the feelings, I was vulnerable, and I hated feeling vulnerable.

Seeing Dan just compounded everything; it made me contemplate crazy, grasping-at-straws ideas. I should’ve waited until he was gone.

Not helping matters, with each beat of my heart the words chanted between my ears, Ask him. Ask him. Ask him. Ask him.

Dan’s grin waned after a time. And then, after more time, his grin reappeared. He was looking at me like he thought I was funny. Or cute. Or maybe both.

“Kat?”

“Yes?” The single word was strangled, but I was profoundly proud of myself for managing to say it.

Another flash of teeth framed by his alluring lips, before asking gently, “How can I help?”

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