By: Alexa Riley

“Morning, Duchess. You miss me?”

“You messed with my car, didn’t you?”

I take a step forward, putting my body close to hers. We’re almost touching, but not quite. She looks away but then takes a breath and looks up at me through her lashes. “What’s wrong? Couldn’t get to Starbucks?”

“Actually, I was going for breakfast.”

I reach out and gently stroke her cheek, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “Didn’t get enough to eat last night?” My insinuation is clear, and her cheeks redden at my words.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She looks over her shoulder at Eddie, who’s unloading her car.

“Let me take you to breakfast. We can go to the diner around the corner.” I should have offered to make her breakfast, but there’s no food upstairs in the apartment, and I don’t know if she’ll go home with me yet.

Penelope turns back around and looks in my eyes. After a second she finally nods, and I feel like I gained a little more control. She’s got me so tied up over her.

Walking over to Eddie, I sign the paperwork and have him leave the car so I can fix it. Once he’s gone, I walk over to my Duchess and take her hand. I lead us to the direction of the diner, and she starts to pull her hand away. Feeling her resistance, I turn and look at her, wanting to make this clear.

“You married yet?” I don’t mean the words to come out angry, but they do.

She looks away from me, shifting her gaze to the ground. I can barely make out the word as she whispers, “No.”

“Then you can hold my fucking hand and have breakfast with me.” Snatching her hand back, I walk us towards the diner again, and this time I don’t feel an ounce of fight from her. She may be promised to someone else, but she’s mine. And I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure it stays that way.

I try not to think about how warm and soft her hand is or about how I’m rubbing my thumb across her fingers as we walk. I’m trying to focus on my steps so I don’t fall flat on my face because I’m too busy thinking about how beautiful she is.

We walk into the diner and there are a few old-timers at the bar. They turn and give me a nod because I’m a regular. I’m normally in here at 5 a.m., having my coffee, so I expect a few looks when I pull Penelope in behind me. Nobody says anything. They just give her a long, lingering once-over and then go back to what they were doing. I can’t blame them. I’d have a hard time keeping my eyes off her, even if I was seventy years old.

We sit down, and old Rick comes over with the menus. I look at Penelope and wait on her to go first. She looks back at me, and I see some hesitation on her face, but I don’t know why.

“Order what you want, Duchess.” She bites her bottom lip, and it has my dick rock hard. She looks so fucking cute that I want to come across the counter and bite her lips myself.

“I’ll have the Hungry Man’s Breakfast. Pancakes with chocolate chips, bacon, hash browns, eggs over easy, and a side of biscuits and gravy.” She looks at me and blushes, then slowly slides the menu back to Rick.

Just as I’m about to order, she interrupts. ‘Oh, and can I have coffee? But chocolate milk with my meal, please.”

Rick writes it all down and then looks at me. I feel the smile on my face as I pass him the menu. “I’ll have the same.”

When Rick walks away, she won’t meet my eyes, so I reach my hand across the table and wait for her to take it. She takes a second, but slowly she brings her hand from under the table and puts it in mine.

“People are going to talk,” she whispers, and looks out the window.

“About how much you ordered for breakfast? Guaranteed. Where the hell does a little thing like you put all that?”

She laughs and looks over at me, and we stare at each other in silence. She’s right. This is a small town, and people are gonna talk about seeing us together. I may not have been able to figure out who she is, but these guys in the diner know the Mayor. Whether they like him or not, I’m not sure, but I know for a fact they’ll talk. I smile as I run my finger over her wrist. I hope they tell the whole goddamn town.

“You going to tell me why you messed with my car?”

“I think you know why.”

She looks up at me and lets go of my hand as Rick sets down our coffee. I pick up the mug and take a sip as I raise an eyebrow, daring her to reply.

“You could have just asked for my number.” She pours cream and sugar in her coffee, taking a sip and raising an eyebrow just like I did.

“Would you have given it to me?” I ask, not reminding her I already have it from the first time she came into the shop.

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