Quench Me by Amy – Chapter 26

Republisher’s Note: Spaulding Executive Danny Santos is looking after Michelle Bauer.

Quench Me by Amy – Chapter 26

“Michelle, what’s that smell?” Rick yells from the second floor.

I crept back into the house just after 6:00 this morning, so Rick has no idea that I was out all night. I tried to go back to sleep, but it was no use. Images of Danny flooded into my every thought, the warmth of his arms still surrounding me. Finally, at 7:30 a.m., I gave up trying to sleep, and decided to fix breakfast. I know in my heart that it’s time to tell Rick what’s going on.

“It’s breakfast, big brother,” I yell back at him. “So, hurry up and get down here.”

Although Rick and I rarely cook because of our hectic schedules, I’m actually pretty good at it, and my cooking always puts him in a good mood. I don’t think he’ll throw a big fit about Danny, but I want to butter him up as much as possible anyway.

Rick walks into the kitchen to the smell of omelets and fresh, homemade hot chocolate, just like my mother used to make. A smile crosses his face instantly, and I know that I’m already beginning to work him over.

“What’s gotten into you, Michelle?” he asks.

“Just wanted to spend some time with you,” I answer.

“I don’t believe a word of it, Michelle,” Rick says. “But I’ll take it anyway.”

“Good,” I say, handing him a plate with his breakfast on it.

I pour the hot chocolate into mugs, and join him at the table. “I haven’t cooked for you in a while,” I say.

“What do you want, Michelle?” He knows me too well.

“Nothing, Rick,” I say.

“Come on,” he says. “I appreciate breakfast, Michelle. Just tell me what’s on your mind.”

I can’t put him off any longer, and the stupid smirk on his face tells me that he’s about to break into one of his humor tirades, and I really don’t want to endure one of those this morning.

“I don’t always have an ulterior motive, Rick,” I say. “But I do want to talk to you.”

“About Danny?” he asks, shoving a bite of toast in his mouth.

“Yes, about Danny,” I answer.

“I’m not oblivious, Michelle,” Rick replies. “I’d have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to know that something big is going on between the two of you.”

“Sometimes, Rick… deaf, dumb, and blind are exactly the words I’d use to describe you,” I retort laughingly. I change my expression to one of sincerity, and ask, “How did you know?”

“It was little obvious that morning that I found the two of you on the couch,” he says. “Why else would a guy come over late at night and just fall asleep on the couch?”

“Danny’s really wonderful, Rick,” I say. “He’s nothing like what you’d expect, considering who his family is.”

“I know, Michelle,” he says. “Phillip told me a lot about him, and he told me not to worry. He thinks the world of Danny.”

“I’m glad,” I reply. “I know it means a lot to Danny that Phillip respects him and trusts him.”

Rick puts his fork down and stares across the table at me. Despite our age difference and the personality clashes we’ve had, my brother knows me as well, if not better than anyone, and he’s keenly aware of what’s in my heart right now. “How serious is it, Michelle?” he asks.

Tears brim in my eyes at the love in his voice, as I answer, “Very.”

He reaches across the table and takes my hand. “Are you in love with him?”

I don’t know how to answer him. I know that I am in love with him, but I haven’t said those words out loud, even to myself, much less to Danny. How can I say them to Rick?

He sees the look in my eyes, and says, “It’s OK, Michelle. You don’t have to say it. I can see it in your eyes. I saw it in his eyes, too, the morning before he left for Atlanta.”

“Rick, we haven’t really gotten to that point yet,” I reply. “We haven’t said that to each other.”

“Neither one of you ready to admit it?” he asks rhetorically. “I’ve been there before.”

“It’s just happened really fast,” I answer.

“Well, if this man is going to be a permanent fixture in your life, I think I need to get to know him better,” Rick says.

“Please don’t start playing the over-protective brother, Rick,” I beg. “I’m a grown woman.”

“I promise, Michelle,” he says. “I won’t give him the third degree. Just call him and ask him to join us for dinner at Company tonight.”

I agree to ask Danny about dinner, and Rick and I finish our breakfast. Even though he’s a pain sometimes, I’m so glad that I have a brother who cares about me and is involved in my life. Rick’s presence doesn’t make up for the void left by my mother’s death or the gaping hole left by our father’s absence, but my relationship with my brother is a comfort, and Rick is a rock that I know I can always turn to.

As we clear the table of our breakfast dishes, Rick hugs me and says, “I’m really happy for you, Michelle. I’m happy that love finally found you.”

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