When he reached Rena’s office door, he paused for a moment to steel his resolve. There was no denying he was attracted to her, but she wasn’t for him, and it was a fact he had to keep mind; otherwise, history would surely repeat itself.
“I know you’re out there! I heard you coming up the stairs.” Her voice was muffled but welcoming. “Come on in. We have paperwork to deal with.”
Zander balanced the coffee tray carefully and opened the door before quickly stepping inside. His secret hope that she would somehow be less attractive than yesterday was swiftly squelched when he got an eyeful of her. Wearing a well-fitted brown leather jacket, a clingy black blouse, jeans that seemed to be painted onto her rounded derriere, and a pair of tall, black boots, she looked even more desirable than the day before.
He must have stood there staring for longer than was socially acceptable because the look on her face quickly shifted to one of concern.
“What?” She brushed at her blouse and closed the file cabinet drawer. “Did I get something on my shirt?”
“No.” He looked away quickly and adjusted the tray of coffee in his hands.
“You look fine.”
“Gee, thanks,” Rena said with a sigh. “Just the level of awesome I was going for.”
He had insulted her. Perfect. Sure. This was exactly how he wanted to start their journey. Could he be a bigger asshat? Rena must have been asking herself the same question because she gave him the side eye before opening the folder in her hands.
“Please, sit down.” She slipped into the chair behind her desk and gestured to the seat across from her. “I have the forms you need to fill out a—”
“Black, right?” Zander placed the cardboard cup on the desk along with the bag and sat in the chair across from her. “I wasn’t sure what you wanted for breakfast, so I got a couple of options. There’s a chocolate doughnut, a bagel, and in case you’re one of those non-carb eaters, I threw in some beef jerky and a cheese stick.”
“Thank you,” Rena said slowly.
She stared at the coffee for a few seconds before finally picking it up. Her energy signature rippled as her fingers curled around the cup and those big, brown eyes widened slightly. He had obviously surprised her. Good. He liked knowing he could ruffle her tough exterior. This was a woman who tried to act like she had it all together, and for the most part, she probably did.
Zander blew on the steaming cup in his hands and tried to hide a satisfied smirk. Rena studied him warily and opened the lid, peeking at the liquid inside before closing it up again.
“You did say you take your coffee black, didn’t you?”
“Yes.” The word fell from her lips slowly. “Thank you.”
She glanced in the bag and, to his great delight, pulled out the chocolate doughnut and proceeded to take a big bite.
“That’s really flipping delicious,” she said around a mouthful the pastry.
“I’m glad you’re enjoying it. It’s refreshing to meet a woman who isn’t afraid to indulge in something sweet or worried about getting fat.”
He liked women with curves. It gave a man something to hold on to, and Rena McHale certainly had a body he would—
What the hell was he thinking?
Zander cleared his throat and sat up straighter in the chair. Rena was about to take another bite, but the doughnut hovered in midair and she gave him yet another look that told him he was an idiot.
“I’m not saying you need to watch your weight. I just meant that—”
“Don’t worry about it,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“I’m sorry if I offended you. I’m not great with people and I put my foot in my mouth a lot.”
Why was he bringing her coffee and breakfast anyway? He should stick to business and keep the pleasantries to a minimum. Trying to be nice was only making it awkward between them.
“Then you and I should get along great,” she said with a laugh. “I’m not one to beat around the bush. I prefer being direct.”
“Yeah, I noticed.”
Rena’s intelligent eyes peered at him above the rim of her cup and she took another sip. Zander stilled as she studied him wordlessly. A surge of heat flashed in his chest as he held her gaze, and even though he wanted to blame it on the hot coffee, he knew that would have been a lie. There was no denying that she stirred something inside him, a deep, primal urge to claim her and mark her as his, but he also knew it was not to be.
Not if he wanted to free his brother.