Coffee and Kisses

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Ashe was leaning against her front door when Riley reached her floor, the sight of him making her catch her breath as the elevator doors opened. Still wearing his skin-tight shirt and jeans, the addition of a long dark coat made him look English, just like in the movies.

"I thought Bob dropped you off," she said as she stepped off the elevator.

"He did," Ashe said. "But I needed to make sure that you were all right. Your sister wasn't happy, and I don't blame her. She must think I'm such a cad for making advances toward you."

"Does it really matter what she thinks? You're here anyway, aren't you?"

He sighed. "Not for what you must be thinking. If anything, I'd like to talk, Riley. At least, let us talk."

"How'd you get up here?" Riley asked.

Ashe bit his lower lip sheepishly. "I'm afraid I bribed Frank. Being recognizable has its perks."

Frank Rogers, the doorman, was good at his job and it wasn't easy to get past him as long as he wasn't helping the elderly tenants who often needed help with their groceries. Though he could be a bulldog about visitors, he was nice to Riley and loved to talk about what his teenage daughter, Marie, was up to. Lately, it was social media, something about Twitter, though Frank had no idea what it meant.

"He's going to get into trouble when I make a complaint."

Ashe frowned, moving away from her door as she approached. "I wouldn't want him to get into trouble, not when all he wanted was an autograph and a picture for his daughter. But if I leave right now, will you promise not to report him?"

"You'd actually leave?"

"I would. It's not his fault I needed to make sure you didn't get into too much trouble because of me."

"Then I won't report him. Frank's like a father to me, and I don't want him getting into trouble on account of me being a bitch," Riley said. "But if you're here to get laid, you've got it wrong. Maybe you should call Betty and have her arrange something for you. I'm sure she can think of more interesting people than me for you to hook up with. You won't have to work so hard at trying to get someone to give you a blow job or whatever."

His face darkened. "Is that really why you think I'm here? This is what your sister thinks, isn't it? That all I want from you is sex because of something Betty must have told her about the parties she must have set up for other...people?"

"Does it matter what Betty told her?"

"Yes, it does, Riley. Because as much as some of what Betty says might be true, it doesn't mean it applies to every single one of her clients. She doesn't babysit me, nor supply me with models or drugs, if that's what Paige is implying." Ashe replied, taking a step closer. "I will leave right now, but not before you answer me this. Do you always let your sister run your life?"

"She's just worried about me. She doesn't want me to get hurt again," Riley said, biting her lower lip as she gazed up at him. Ashe had such a magnetic presence, and it was overwhelming at times. The broad chest, narrow waist and muscles along his jaw that tensed as he looked at her all made her feel weak, unable to put up defenses strong enough to hide from him. "So, if you're not here to get laid, then why are you here?"

His expression softened. "Just talk."

"I bet you can get laid a hundred ways from here till Sunday if you wanted to, even without Betty's help," she said, exhaling. "Why the hell would you give that up just to know me better? To talk?"

Ashe didn't speak right away. He watched her, observing her face go through all the emotions she was feeling—anger, confusion, regret.

"That's Paige talking now, Riley, not you," he said, taking a step away from her. "I want to speak to the Riley I got to know tonight. The Riley who is the perfect narrator to my Sam-I-Am, the one who knows how to assemble a Lionel train faster than I can without needing to read the directions. The one who can convince three boys that macaroni and cheese with corn chips mixed in tastes so much better because Vitamin F means fun."

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