The Obsession Page 138

“Xander loves me.”

“I noticed.”

“You would. I’m adjusting to having a man who loves me, and enough to wait until I’m ready to shift the lines. Last night I was able to tell him I loved him. As desperately as I wanted normal, I never believed I’d have someone who knew everything about me and loved me. Someone who could get past the blocks so I could love him. It feels . . . miraculous.”

“He’s who I’d pick for you, if I had a vote.”

“Even though you don’t, it means a lot. He’s moving in. Not just staying here, but moving in. God.” With a hand pressed to her heart, she blew out a breath. “It’s huge for me.”

“How do you feel about it?”

A shrink question as much as a brother’s, she thought. But even that was okay.

“Nervous. Not scared, just nervous. And happy. And baffled as apparently we’re now building a three-car garage.”

“The uncles are going to go nuts.”

“I know it. I’m going to wait until they meet him. They should meet him first. Probably. Mason, get this finished before they come. Get this finished.”

“I’m working on it.”


Within a day Xander moved everything he wanted into the house on the bluff. The books presented the biggest challenge. The library wouldn’t hold all of them.

“I never imagined this house would be too small for anything.”

He shrugged, studying the shelves, now filled with books. And the tubs on the floor, still full of them.

“You don’t want all your books in one place anyway. We should scatter some around.”

“There are too many to scatter.”

“Don’t even think about saying I should get rid of some.”

“Wouldn’t think of it.”

Maybe she had—just for an instant—and had just as quickly rejected the idea.

“I just don’t know where to put them. They don’t deserve to be stuck in tubs either. How will I know what’s in there I want to read?”

“Kevin could do another wall of books.”

“I’d love a wall of books,” she considered. “But I don’t know where.”

“Basement. You’re putting in a darkroom down there, right?”

“Yeah, sooner or later.”

“I could use some office space. Don’t need much, but somewhere for a desk and some files.”

“You don’t want an office in the basement.”

“Works for me,” he countered. “You’re out of my way, I’m out of yours, and there’s a hell of a lot of space down there. Plenty for a wall of books. They’re okay in tubs until. I’ll spring for the office and the wall, whatever goes with it.”

Which included, to his mind, doors leading out to the yard. But he didn’t see the point of front-loading that on.

“I’ve got money, Naomi. Investing it here instead of another rental—I’ve been looking at that—makes more sense right now. Plus I just got another rental since Jimmy’s moving into the apartment over the garage. Gangly guy with the pitiful goatee deal? He works for me.”

“Yes, I met him. You . . . You’ve already rented it.”

“Jimmy graduates from trade school in June, wants his own place. And I like having someone over the garage. It’s a good deal on both sides as it comes mostly furnished. You don’t want the crap I had in there.”

“But don’t you?”

“I want the books. They’re nonnegotiable,” he said, idly picking up a worn paperback copy of The Illustrated Man. “Did you ever read this?”

“I saw the movie.”

“Not the same.” He pushed it into her hand. “It’s good. Anyway, unless you’ve got other plans or want to think about it, I can get Kevin thinking about office space and a wall of books.”

“Other than the darkroom, I didn’t and don’t have any plans for the basement.”

“Good. We’ll get on that. Worrying about what you’ve gotten yourself into?” he asked her.

“No. More wondering why I’m not. And I guess since I have some actual furniture coming tomorrow, we could scatter some books. Or at least consider their final location.”

She stuck the book in the back pocket of her jeans for later and would have picked up a tub, but he beat her to it. “They’re heavy,” he said.

“The little sitting area off the living room. That’s a good start.”

She led the way through the quiet house. Just the man and the dog, with all the workmen gone for the day. It didn’t seem smaller, she realized, now that she lived with a man and a dog. It seemed that was always what the house had in mind.

It seemed natural.

She mentally rearranged the sitting room furniture she’d yet to buy as she studied the space—added a funky plant stand with some interesting houseplant. And . . .

“There’s this open cabinet—four shelves—in the basement. I was going to use it outside for plants, but it would work right here for a bookcase—with knickknacks worked in. Books and maybe a couple of photos, some whatever. Metal frame, wood shelves.”

“I guess you want me to get that.”

“What’s the point in having a man around if he doesn’t get things from the basement?”


“Oh, you know, now that I see it here—in my head—Cecil has this old radio. You know, the dome-shaped vintage style. How cute would that be on the top of the case? It doesn’t work, but . . .”

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