Chapter First ii.

“It’s Jim,” a low, familiar voice called from behind the door. She felt a rush of love and safety fill the hole in her chest. Warmth flooded through her body as she hurried across the kitchen and began to fumble with the three security locks on the door. Finally she swung it open and stared up at him. His dark brown eyes bored into her, studying, taking tally before he smiled.
“Hey, Emily,” he said, and she smiled back at him, stepping aside to let him in. He set a grocery bag down on the butcher block that served as a table and then pushed his hood back, shaking out his short brown hair.
“I brought you soup,” he said, gesturing at the bag as he shrugged out of his heavy coat and hung it on the hatstand near the door. She was retreating away from him, back to the window, and when she got there she glanced out nervously. Her arms hugged her ribcage tight.
“Where’s Cordelia?” he asked, stepping out of the kitchen to look down the dining room into the living room.
“Church,” Emily almost whispered.
“Man, I forgot it’s already Sunday,” Jim said, stepping back into the kitchen and pulling a chair out for her to sit. Emily never forgot about Sunday, when Cordelia left her all day to spend time with family and God. She stood staring at the chair until Jim gestured for her to sit. She dropped herself lightly into the seat and he rested one enormous hand on top of her head. She felt suddenly grounded, held still. She breathed deeply and closed her eyes, resisting the urge to lean back against his stomach.
“Let me heat this up,” he said, reaching for the grocery bag and pulling out a carton of soup. “The heater’s busted in my truck, so it got refrigerated on the way over.” He grinned at her over his shoulder and she smiled back, but she hesitated first and he had already looked away by the time the message got from her brain to her lips.
She watched him, his narrow hips swaying to some silent rhythm as he grabbed a bowl out of the open cabinet shelves. The warm feeling flooded her again, and she pulled her arms more tightly around her ribcage.

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