Mitch shook his head. “Not necessarily. She has family. She could come to her senses and call them, and be gone by noon.” Just because she’d been adamant last night about not contacting them didn’t mean her justifications would hold true in the light of day.
“I don’t think so.” Gracie peered behind him, looking thoughtful.
“She told me she has no money.” Mitch pressed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. The more he thought about it, the more he saw it as the most likely outcome. He’d only been able to convince her to come back to his house last night because she’d been tired, scared, and drunk. “There’s no way she’ll take any from me. What other option is there?”
“One little hitch and you’re giving up?” Gracie’s gaze raked over him, her lip curled in disgust. She started to speak, but her expression cleared as he heard the door swing open behind him. “Hey, we were talking about your car.”
Maddie slid onto her chair, all her focus on the bakery box. “I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle that problem on an empty stomach.” Her tone was light, even breezy, but Mitch thought he detected the sounds of strain underneath.
“Let me get you a piece.” Gracie jumped from the table and moved to the drawer of kitchen knives.
Mitch studied Maddie, who fidgeted in her chair but refused to look at him. What was going on in that brain of hers? With Gracie here, making her presence known, he was unable to reestablish the connection they’d had last night. With every second, Maddie felt farther out of his grasp. He didn’t like it.
It surprised him to realize he gave a shit.
He didn’t know how, but in less than twelve hours Maddie had slipped past his defenses. He continued to watch her as Gracie moved around the kitchen doing God knew what.
Even if he managed to talk her into staying, then what? Her life was a mess. She was a mess. And what did he hope to gain?
Maybe it was best to let her go. It wasn’t giving up. It was being smart.
Maddie darted a nervous glance in his direction. Her green eyes were bright. Too bright. He frowned. She’d been crying. He leaned closer to her, reaching across the table to close the gap between them. His thumb stroking her hand, he asked, “Are you all right, Maddie?”
The muscles in her neck worked as she swallowed. “Sure, I’m great.”
Before he could press, Gracie butted in and plopped a plate down in front of Maddie with about half of the cake. She pulled her hand away from him and her fingers traced the faded, blue flowered porcelain edge. “Thank you, this looks delicious.”
Mitch glowered at Gracie, mentally listing the different ways he could wring her neck.
Maddie looked around the table, auburn brows drawing together. “Where can I find a fork?”
Gracie gasped, placing a hand dramatically over her ample chest. “You don’t eat Swedish flop with a fork. Silverware ruins the texture.”
“I see.” Amusement replaced the shadows in Maddie’s eyes, and as the smile tugged those strawberry-stained lips, Mitch’s irritation with Gracie evaporated. “Well, then, I guess I’ll eat it with my hands.”
Her small, delicate finger swiped at the pink-tinged cream spilling from the flaky crust. She raised it to her mouth. Licked.
Jesus. He raked a hand through his hair and tried to think about baseball as Maddie picked up the pastry and flicked her tongue over the frosting spilling from the sides.
He gritted his teeth, his cock hardening as though he were fucking sixteen.
Oblivious to his predicament, Maddie took a bite, moaning in pure pleasure. When she’d finished chewing, she looked adoringly at Gracie. “This is the best thing I’ve ever tasted.”
Gracie beamed. “I knew I was going to like you.”
Mitch dragged his mind from the gutter and said the first thing that popped into his brain. “I had your car towed this morning.”
The slice of Swedish flop stalled halfway to Maddie’s mouth.