13 | good morning

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N E V A E H

I open my eyes this morning with excitement building up in my heart. Today is my first day at my new campus in Seattle.

The clock on the wall shows that it's still early in the morning, but it's the perfect time for me to do my routine. I need my usual cup of hot tea, just like I always do every time I get out of bed.

Still dressed in my sleepshirt, I step out of my room and head to the kitchen. This penthouse is big, but after the house tour yesterday, I find it easier to navigate myself in this place.

A yawn escapes from my mouth as I arrive in the kitchen, but the sight in front of me makes me cover it with my hand instantly. I stop in my track.

There, before me, stands Aiden Klein, cooking. His back is facing me.

Correction. His bare back.

He's not wearing a shirt. He's only wearing a pair of joggers, and goddammit, I can see how toned his body is.

Broad shoulders.

Muscular arms.

Heat travels to my cheeks, and my mind goes blank. I've never had a shirtless man wandering around in the house when I wake up in the morning. I don't have an elder brother who likes to do this, anyway, so I'm not used to this sight.

"Ms. Spencer?" Ian, the butler, approaches me. "May I help you? Do you need anything? Coffee, or tea, perhaps?"

I clear my throat. "Tea. Just tea, please."

"Earl grey? Chamomile? Or Jasmine?"

"Chamomile, please."

Ian nods and excuses himself. I can make the tea myself, but he's already assisted me.

Aiden shifts his attention to me. A small smile touches the corner of his lips. "Morning."

Now that he's facing me, I can see even more clearly his well-built body -- his toned abs. That makes me abruptly look down like an idiot.

"Morning." I focus my gaze on the floor instead.

Come on, Nevaeh. Seriously? You have to look at the person when you talk to them.

Look up. Look up this instant. Your eyes will be forgiven. You're not doing a sin.

Slowly, I return my eyes to him, and that's when I find him chuckle. My cheeks heat up even more. My face must be red right now.

Oh, God. This is embarrassing. Just bury me.

"Do you like pancakes?" Aiden asks.

"Pan--" I try to remember the image of pancakes. Right, that food.

"Pancakes," Aiden repeats. "Do you like them?"

I immediately come back to my senses. "Yeah. I do. Of course. I do."

Who doesn't like pancakes?

"Are you hungry? I'm making breakfast," Aiden says. "It will be ready in a while."

I'm about to open my mouth to ask if I can help, but Aiden turns his back at me, focusing his attention back on the stove.

Before I can make any move, Ian comes back. "Your tea, Ms. Spencer." He places the cup of hot tea on the small table next to me and pulls a chair for me.

I sit down. "Please, just call me Nevaeh."

I've only spent two nights in this house, but I already feel so spoiled. I know that they treat me as a guest, but I hope that they can quit addressing me so formally.

When Ian notices me watching Aiden, he smiles. "Aiden likes to cook his breakfast whenever he has the time. Sometimes he skips if he has a hectic schedule, but it's definitely something that he enjoys doing."

Ian walks off as Aiden arrives at the table with the pancakes. He places other plates too on the table, and I find a whole set of mouthwatering breakfast -- pancakes, crispy buttered hashbrowns, slices of bacon, tomatoes, garlic mushrooms, and poached eggs.

I swallow. I didn't feel hungry when I came here, but now I definitely am.

Aiden takes a seat close to me, and that's when I remember all over again that he still has no shirt on. I automatically tear my gaze away from him.

Let's look at the eggs. Definitely not his abs. Not his abs.

"Right." He clears his throat, and that makes me look up at him. "I should have been aware. I don't want to make you uncomfortable..." he falters, and I raise my brows. "I don't really wear my shirt in the morning. Does this make you uncomfortable?"

I quickly shake my head. "No. Not at all. What are you talking about? This is your house. You can do anything you want."

This is my problem. I'm just not used to living together with a man. I mean, being this close with a half-naked one.

"Really?" Aiden scrutinizes me. "Is that really okay?"

I give him a questioning look.

"That I don't put my shirt on?"

Okay. If it's any other guy, this might sound like a tease. But Aiden sounds genuinely concerned.

"Yes," I conclude, and Aiden chuckles before taking a bite of his pancake.

We start eating our breakfast. I'm trying not to think too much about this awkward moment.

My phone buzzes on the table, and my eyes widen as I see who is calling.

Dad. He's requesting a video call.

Aiden frowns while I'm panicking. He becomes alert as soon as he notices the caller.

"It's okay," Aiden assures. "Just answer it."

I know. It's impossible to reject Dad's call every time I'm with Aiden. I'm now staying in this house, but I have to act normal, and that includes picking up Dad's call. Dad would be suspicious if I didn't.

I answer the call, but I have to reject the video. That makes Dad's voice echoes through the phone speaker.

"Nevaeh? Why are you rejecting my video call?"

***

AN:
Double updates for Chapter 13 & 14

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