Justice Page 8

She shook her head, more embarrassed. ’’No. You didn\ forget.’’

He blinked. ’’What were you staring at? Is there a stain? Did I drop something on my lap when I had lunch?’’ He bent forward a little, glanced down, before straightening.

’’I don\ see anything.’’

She hesitated. New Species liked bluntness. That was one thing she knew about them with certainty. They appreciated honesty. ’’You don\ like shoes or wear socks. I know your females hate underclothing and I was inappropriately wondering if the men felt the same. I was trying to judge if you wore something under your jeans or not. I can\ tell. I\m sorry. It was extremely rude of me.’’

Jessie expected him to be offended or perhaps grow angry. Instead his eyes crinkled and a deep laugh erupted from his throat. It was a nice surprise that he was amused.

’’I see. I do wear them. I find jeans are a little harsh on sensitive skin and they can pinch too. I enjoy wearing thick, soft cotton between jeans and my skin.’’

Jessie wondered how sensitive his skin was where ’’the thick, soft cotton’’ covered it. Is he a boxers or briefs man? Maybe a Speedos guy? She hoped not. The later were her ex-husband\s underwear choice and she would hate to discover Justice had anything in common with Conner.

A doorbell chimed that distracted both of them. Justice walked to the door, his graceful, long legs carrying him there quickly. ’’That will be our dinner. I don\ have a dining table but would you mind eating with me on the coffee table?’’

An image flashed of him sprawled out on his back, hopefully na**d and her eating food off his muscular body. She shoved it back . Damn it, stop! He\s the boss of my boss.

Thoughts like those will get me canned. Stop fantasizing about Justice! Concentrate on something else and answer him .

He was so thoughtful and polite. It surprised her more than a little, considering the way he\d been raised in the testing facility. ’’It\s perfect. I never use my dining room table at home.’’ She laughed. ’’I\m one of those people who watch TV while I eat at my coffee table. I know it\s a really bad habit to have but I live alone. It beats watching something rather than staring into space.’’

Jessie couldn\ see who Justice spoke softly to but it was a short conversation. Her host pulled a silver cart into the room and closed the door. The cart had four covered plates on top and on the shelf under it were half a dozen various sodas and four small covered containers. Justice pushed the cart across the carpet to the edge of the coffee table.

’’You may choose whatever you like. I ordered things I enjoy so I\ll eat anything that\s left.’’ Justice lifted off lids and tossed them on an overstuffed chair nearby. He had a great aim when each lid landed perfectly on target.

Jessie peered at the four dishes. One plate contained pasta in a white sauce with shrimp and a side of garlic bread. Good. There was probably the largest piece of prime rib she\s ever seen on the next one with side dishes of a baked potato and some veggies.

The third dish almost made her flinch. It was a whole cooked fish, possibly trout and she had flashbacks of her past at the mere sight of it. Her ex ate them constantly and she\d grown to hate the smell. The fourth plate was a stuffed, baked chicken with gravy.

’’It all looks good except the fish.’’ She smiled. ’’You pick.’’

He hesitated before reaching for the chicken. ’’I\m partial to chicken. I never had it before we were freed.’’

’’I didn\ know that. They didn\ feed you chicken?’’ Jessie reached for the prime rib.

She set the plate down on the coffee table carefully. Justice moved across from her and sat opposite her a few feet down so they could both comfortably stretch their legs under the table without touching. She sat on the floor too. Her back settled against the couch, finding it really comfortable.

Justice was nearest to the cart. ’’What kind of soda do you want? Do you mind soda?’’

’’The cherry one, please. I love them.’’

He smiled. ’’So do we.’’

’’You were never given caffeinated drinks. I knew that one.’’

’’Just water. Sometimes we received juice.’’ He gripped the cherry soda and handed it over. Their fingers brushed.

’’Thank you.’’

They both popped the tabs of their cans and arranged the silverware. Justice dug in to his chicken and Jessie smiled at his amazingly good table manners. It surprised her again. She had eaten with the female Species plenty of times. They ate with their fingers mostly, tearing things apart and swallowed food quickly as if it were about to be snatched away.

Justice cut and chewed his food leisurely. She glanced at the baked chicken. He ate fully cooked meat too, also astonishing her. Maybe men were different from the women and his time away from his cell had changed his eating habits. Jessie knew she thought cooked food tasted a hell of a lot better than raw or almost-raw meat.

Justice\s cell phone rang and he sighed. He looked tired to Jessie suddenly as his features seemed to turn haggard. He shifted his body to reach inside his back pocket to dig it out. He glanced at the screen before he met Jessie\s curious gaze.

’’I\m sorry. I have to take this.’’

’’Go right ahead.’’ She hoped they\d get to talk before he was called away.

He flipped open the phone but kept eating. ’’What is it?’’

Jessie ate as Justice listened to the caller, responded with abrupt answers and kept eating his meal. He looked like a man used to working around a phone since he didn\ struggle to eat while holding a conversation. He could juggle the phone and his silverware with practiced ease. He chewed between words. He finally hung up and used his face and shoulder to close the phone. That was talent that drew a smile from her.


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