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He took a step toward Andi and she immediately leaned backward. It wasn't an actual step away from him, but it was enough to make him stop. There was no confusing that body language. He let his hands drop to his side and looked away, disappointment pushing his shoulders down. "I'm sorry, Andi," he said in a low voice. "If I came on too strong, or misread things--"


She shook her head and snapped her attention to him, cutting him off. "No, see, this isn't a bad romance novel."


He tilted his head and squinted his eyes. "What?"


Then she started talking so fast, it took all his focus to keep up with her. "If this were a bad romance novel, then you'd assume that I stepped away from you because I didn't want you to touch me. Which would be wrong, I just stepped back because I need to think, and I don't do that very well when you're touching me. But, if this were a bad romance novel, you wouldn't know that so you'd assume I didn't want anything to do with you, and you'd back off -- or leave -- or get angry because I 'sent you mixed signals'. And then I'd get upset because that's not what I intended at all, but being TSTL I wouldn't say anything, I'd just let you go because I figured that was what you really wanted all along."


He followed most of what she said, but his focus kept lingering on the part where she couldn't think when he touched her. And since all he thought about when she touched him was how much more they could touch, he figured in the grand scheme of things whatever point she was getting at was in his favor.


"What's TSTL?" he managed to slide in.


She stuttered, and her eyes locked with his for a moment while fresh color bloomed in her cheeks. "Too stupid to love. It's a heroine who just keeps making mistakes and doing stupid things to drive the hero away, so she's so stupid she shouldn't be loved anyway."


David nodded and took a step toward her. "But, you're not too stupid to love. Because you're not going to let me assume anything."


"Right," she said with a decisive nod, laying her hand against her chest. "And I'm not going to assume anything, either. I'm going to actually ask you what I need to know and that way there won't be any confusion. And I don't have to sit around wondering what's really going on, or try to convince myself that you're thinking one thing but you're not."


He grinned at the way she could go on for three sentences without seeming to take a breath, and wondered if her thoughts always moved that quickly. If so, he was going to have to get some of those brainpower video games just to train his brain to keep up. He tested the waters by taking another small step toward her. She didn't move away, just hitching her chin up so she still looked at him.


"What do you think I'm thinking, Andi?"


She shook her head, tiny frown lines appearing between her eyes. "I don't know. That's what I need to find out. Maybe you're not thinking. Maybe you haven't thought about this enough. Because if you had been thinking, then you'd realize¿" Her voice trailed off, and she drew in a deep, sharp breath that shuddered as she released it.


"That's a lot of thinking."


She nodded, her eyes shifting back and forth in tiny degrees as she looked up at him. "It's driving me crazy."


You're driving me crazy. He smiled at the random thought and took the last step needed to bring them as close as possible without touching. David kept one hand at his side, not wanting to make her shy off again by touching her the way he wanted to, or too soon. The other hand he set on the counter edge near hers, and watching her face for any reaction, he curled a single finger over hers. She didn't pull away.


"What would I realize?" he asked, keeping his voice low and just between them. Behind him, a car chase screeched and crashed on the television.


"What?" she asked this time. After all that talking, she was the one who lost track of the conversation.


David smiled again, something he found himself doing often when Andrea Parker was anywhere near him. "You said that if I just thought about things, I'd realize... I want to know what it is I'd realize."




The word slipped from her lips at the same moment she must have realized how close he stood, because she looked away, the single finger he held slipped from beneath his so she could cross her arms, and she took a step back. 

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