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“Don’t come in!” Kenna yelled. Panic pitching her voice high enough to make Will wince and push through her body weight against the kitchen door.

Kenna prided herself on her inability to cook anything but coffee and grilled cheese sandwiches, and yet his – their – kitchen, usually immaculate under her care was strewn with battle remnants. Bits of onions and breadcrumbs appeared to have been tossed like confetti over one counter. Tomato juice dripped over the edge of a cutting board he was sure had never been used until today. Green herb bundles were obviously in mid-chop when he’d interrupted, bits of green clinging to the knife on the floor.

He didn’t even try not to laugh. “What the fuck are you doing?”

Kenna turned away, blushing so intensely her cheeks burned. “Nothing.” She picked up the fallen knife and dropped it in the sink.

“This is hardly nothing. You are cooking. Sort of,” he plucked a piece of bread from a bowl, sniffed it suspiciously and popped it in his mouth. “Why’re you acting like I caught you watching porn?”

Kenna jerked around, “Would you go away?!”

Truth jumped up and bit Will right on the butt. “It’s a man!” He laughed until he had to sit down, all the while fending off her protests and the occasional slap or kick to his backside. Gasping for air he sat grinning, “Fuck feminism!”

“Fuck you,” Kenna mumbled, before spinning around wielding a wooden spoon. “You’re my guinea pig, smart ass.”

Will instantly straightened, a feigned seriousness at the threat. “Seriously, what the fuck, Kenna?”

“It’s not what you think.”

“Oh it’s exactly what I think, so start talking. And don’t give me any bullshit. Your face can’t lie. And I know that face,” he pointed at Kenna. “Better than you do.”

He was right. Will had changed dressings, ice packs and threatened hospital staff if they dared to show any shock or dismay, or give Kenna a mirror in the weeks after the night he found her. Will had nursed her through pain and drug induced euphoria. Given sanctuary, sympathy and tough love when necessary. And never once pushed her for answers once she’d refused the police. Kenna in turn had never judged his motives for helping her, a virtual stranger. She’d done arguably the hardest part, simply accepted the gift and been a friend. Silent confessor when he needed it. Sometimes drugged. Sometimes just still and silent in her sick bed. He knew her face. He knew what Lucius had discovered at his first meeting. Kenna was a terrible liar. Excellent with secrets though.

“Not lying. I promise. I kind of met someone,” Will raised a skeptical brow. Kenna pushed on. “He’s not gay, married or anything else.” Will got her meaning. He wasn’t a gangster. “He is Italian or English. I think. The accent comes and goes.”

“The two of you should get on brilliantly then.”

She ignored the jab and kept talking. Both relieved to not keep this from Will and terrified he would find something wrong with Lucius. “He’s got a nice place. He cooked for me.” She omitted the fact that it was several meals and breakfasts. She decided to spare him her assessment of Lucius’ mystery and attractiveness. “And probably gone by the Fourth of July. You won’t even need to run this one off. But I don’t want to jinx it before it starts.”

Will avoided the subtle self-deprecation. “One! I ran off one. He was a cop and he was married. And how is telling me a jinx?”

“It just is.” As if that explained everything.

“You know it’s a sin to be this superstitious,” he said as Kenna crossed herself, and smiled. “What’re you making?”

“Panzanella salad?” she said.

“You asking or telling? You hate that stuff. Soggy bread, right?”

“I liked his and wanted some, so I thought I’d try,” Kenna slumped against the sink. She held up a two fingers wrapped in bandages he hadn’t noticed before. “Not doing so well either.”

“Why don’t you just ask him to make you dinner again?”

“He’s out of town on business.” Will arched a questioning brow. “I don’t know exactly what he does, yet. Hey, I don’t know what you do on your business trips either and I still like you so don’t give me that look.”

Will took off his jacket and threw it out of the danger zone. “You got a recipe?”

“You don’t cook either,” she said, but pointed to the tablet screen with “Easy Panzanella” in bold letters across the top.

“Yeah, but now I’m hungry, and you only have eight more fingers to slice.”

As they ate amidst the mess, Will set his fork down. A new question dawning on him. “This guy have a name?”

 

Projected publication date for Eden’s Fall is June 2017. Thanks for reading! ~KRB

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