shirtless, showing off an incredibly colorful array of intricate tattoos on his defined arms and
chest. The details were astounding. I forced myself to look up at his face and not at the gold
loops decorating his dark nipples. The color of his hair, if he ever let it grow in, would be a dark,
deep brown going by the neatly groomed Fu Manchu mustache and chin duster that framed his
mouth. There was a touch of gray, indicating some maturity. He was big all over, his stomach
and shoulders showing clear and precise delineations that could only come from a lot of physical
work. Power exuded from every pore, and I found it both intriguing and intimidating. I should
have been scared, but I wasn’t.
Because he had a tiny baby dressed in pale pink cradled in the crook of his hard bicep. He
held her close, curling her securely into his body, protecting her. How could anyone be scared of
a hard, strong man who was cradling a baby like she was the most precious person in his world?
It was enough for me to relax. Right?
His deep brown eyes regarded me silently, and I held up the basket.
“I have the eggs.” My voice came out croaky as my dry tongue stuck to the roof of my
His mouth split into a grin that showed off the whitest teeth I’d ever seen. I could see his
natural charm, the kind that was irresistible. One look at that devastating smile and women
would be lining up. My lower stomach tingled as I remembered him burying his head between
the woman’s legs and her reaction.
He turned his head and yelled back in the house, “Yo, Nanny! Your tenant’s here with the
“Imma comin’!” I heard faintly from the interior.
The baby squirmed in his arm and let out a little grunt. He jostled the pink bundle and
made shushing noises at her. “Ch-ch-ch almost there, baby girl. Almost there.”
He looked at me and smiled again. “Bottle’s not quite ready and she can get impatient.
Table? Strange name for a girl, but the last year had been a strange one for me in a lot of
“Never knew a little girl named for a piece of furniture.”
If I hadn’t been holding the heavy egg basket with both hands, I would have slapped one
over my mouth. I didn’t want to anger my landlady and that probably should extend to her
He seemed to take my faux pas in stride and laughed, those beautiful teeth flashing again.
“Nah, my name’s Table.”
“Nice to meet you, Table. I’m, uh, Lori.”
His smile got bigger and he nodded at the fussing baby. “This is my little girl, Angel.
Come on in to the kitchen. Nanny’s gonna have food ready soon and I’ll bet money she’s got a
full plate with your name on it.”
I entered the house like I was stepping back in time. The furniture was old, antiques you’d see in a museum-type house, but the pieces were still being used regularly and looked well cared for. I caught a faint scent of bacon grease in the air and heard the pop and sizzle of cooking meat. The kitchen contrasted with the antique look of the furniture. It was huge, with stainless steel modern appliances. Martha was shuffling around the stove, wearing another bright floral top, this time with blue denim capris. Her wiry gray hair stuck out and curled up into an odd-looking crown around her head.