There was a long pause, but then Tina began talking.
"I saw him in the neighbourhood, and invited him over. That's okay, isn't it?" Tina asked worriedly in the continued silence. Meaghan was the first to wake up, reminding herself of who and what he was.
"Of course. En Ahmad, how are you doing tonight?" Rickie looked at her for a moment, and then suddenly bent down, causing Meaghan to jump back with a squeak. He straightened up, the dishtowel in one hand. He reached out and Meaghan took the cloth from him, pulse jumping as their fingers touched. She gestured with her free hand towards their sofa. "Please have a seat, and I bring out some tea."
"Oh, you don't need to do that…" Rickie began, but she quickly retreated to the kitchen.
Tina brightly spoke, "We don't get many visitors, except when my friends come over to study." She looked at him curiously. "So are you a playboy?" Rickie looked at her, affronted, but she blithely continued. "Meg said the birthday party was nothing more than players showing off."
She giggled at his face. "She was probably exaggerating. Anyway," Tina performed a lightning-fast shift, "my birthday is coming up soon. Do you play any instruments?"
"Well, I play a little guitar, but I'm not all that good. I don't have a lot of time to practice." Rickie secretly smiled, thinking about Raine and her cello. "So what classes are you taking in school?
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~ ~ ~
When Meaghan returned to the living room, carrying a tray containing a plate of fruit, several coffee cups and a teapot, she stopped for a moment to look at the pair on the couch.
In spite of his high-quality attire of dark gray slacks and lighter-toned golf shirt, he looked perfectly as ease on the well-sprung couch as he listened to her sister's prattling. The two of them seem to hit it off. It seemed like a chance meeting, but she was still suspicious.
Their conversation broke off at the sound of the tray being placed on the coffee table. Meaghan poured three cups, and then sat down on the wing-back chair.
Rickie admired the picture she made, dressed casually in green cotton pants and a button down blouse in a purple-check pattern, tied at the waist over a light green shirt. The curve of the shirt exposed the smooth skin of her throat; a gold necklace with a floating heart peeked out between the plackets. Her hair was in a simple braid; two small gold hoops in her ears. Her eyebrows suddenly moved together into a frown and he realised he was staring. He blurted out the first thing that came to his mind.
"You've got flour on your nose."
Meaghan's hand flew to her face as she rubbed her nose. Sure enough, there were telltale white smudges. It must have happened when she was refilling her flour tin. The heat creeping up her neck warned her that she blushing furiously. Tina squealed, and even Rickie was unable to hold back a chuckle as she rubbed her nose with napkin. To cover up the incident, he took the closest cup and brought to his nose. Sniffing, he said, "Chai tea is one of my favorites. Thank you."
Meaghan decided she needed to gain back a little control. Picking up her own cup, she asked, "So why are you in this area? Aren't your offices located in Sama Jaya?" She nearly cursed when his eyes sharpened, and she realised he now knew she had looked for information about him.
He relaxed into the couch, his response ready. "I've been tasked with looking at various properties for sale, and bumped into your sister. Should we go out to dinner tonight? I promised you a meal that morning at the waterfront."
Meaghan's first thought was to immediately refuse, but she glanced over to Leaf, who was coiled on the couch looking at her pleadingly. She sighed. "I need to finish putting away the groceries and change. And I'm choosing the restaurant." She looked challengingly at the gorgeous man lounging on her sofa. He acquiesced with an almost royal wave of his hand.
"I'll stay here with my tea until you're ready to go. In fact," he said, "I'll help you with your kitchen chores so we can go to dinner that much faster. I'm getting hungry." He rubbed his stomach.
Meaghan was momentarily mesmerized by that slowing circling hand, but rallied to give him a curt nod.
"Leaf, go ahead and get ready. En Ahmad and I will take care of things here."
~ ~ ~
Rickie was very aware of the woman as they navigated her small kitchen. With the exception of helping with putting away things on the higher shelves, there was little he could do. At least until it came time to clean the remains of the tea.
"Let me wash those for you while you go get changed".
Meaghan demurred while holding the teapot. "I can do it. After all, you are a guest."
Rickie decided to see if the attraction went both ways; after all, did she look for information on him?
He stepped towards her; she took a step back. He advanced until she was up against the sink, still clutching the pot. He took it from her unresisting hands and placed it on the countertop, and placed an arm on either side of the wide-eyed woman.
Meaghan could barely breath, watching as his eyes drifted over her face and hair, a visual caress that left her skin tingling. He leaned down towards her right ear. Incongruously, she stared at the diamond stud in his tragus as his breath whispered along her sensitive lobe.
"Trust me." He pulled back and tweaked her nose. "Just go get ready."
She practically flew to her bedroom and slammed the door.