Heart to Heart. Kayla Perrin
smile touched Deanna’s lips. “He is. He’s elated to have met his father and thrilled that his parents are back together. You’d never know that he hadn’t been in Nigel’s life until a few months ago.”
Vivian arrived at the table with their dinner orders. “Two Cajun catfish dinners,” she announced, placing the steaming plates on the table in front of them. “Now, if you need anything else, let me know.”
“Sure thing,” Eric told her.
“It smells delicious,” Deanna commented.
“Wait till you taste it.”
Deanna did exactly that and then moaned in pleasure. “Oh, wow. This is amazing.”
Eric cut a morsel of his fish but held it in front of his mouth as he spoke again. “It sounds like your sister and Nigel had issues to work out, and as hard as it must have been for you all, having to come back here for your aunt’s funeral allowed healing to take place.”
“You’re right about that,” she said, but she couldn’t help thinking that Eric was truly insightful. Perhaps that was why she had been compelled to tell him her problems as a teenager. He was the kind of guy who got it.
“Sadly, Marvin is hardly in his kids’ lives. I don’t think he sees them at all.”
“It’s tragic, isn’t it? People divorce, and suddenly they’re not a part of their children’s lives. It shouldn’t be that way.” Deanna paused. “You said Marvin is on divorce number two?”
“Yep. He was married to this other girl for two years. No surprise, she left him. And the worst part is, she has a child with him, too. I’ve only seen his daughter once.”
“I hardly talk to my brother,” Eric admitted. “He’s shacked up with some other woman in Louisiana. I don’t think he’ll ever get it.”
Silence fell between them, and they began to eat their dinners while listening to the smooth sounds of Trey Martinez. The man was good.
Deanna was halfway through her meal when she felt Eric’s
eyes on her. Slowly, she lifted her gaze and saw that yes, he was looking at her.
And something about the way he was staring at her made her breath catch in her throat.
“How old is your other niece?” she asked, hoping to alleviate the awkward tension she was now feeling.
“Cecelia’s eighteen months old,” Eric said.
No, it wasn’t awkward tension, Deanna realized. She was very distinctly feeling a sexual rush. But she tried to ignore it. “And what are the twins’ names?”
“Devon and Daneesha.”
“I bet they’re darling.”
“They are,” Eric confirmed. A beat passed, then, “You know what I’d really like to talk about?”
Deanna shook her head slightly, but her stomach was still fluttering.
“No,” she told him.
“I’d like to talk about us.” Eric held her gaze, his eyes not wavering. “About you and me.”
For some reason, Deanna felt a wave of heat envelop her. You and me.
What exactly did he mean by that?
“Us?” she asked faintly, wondering why her pulse had picked up speed.
“All those years ago, when you used to come to me and cry on my shoulder about Marvin, did you never…” His voice trailed off.
“Did I never what?” Deanna asked.
Eric paused, and Deanna wondered if he wasn’t going to finish his statement. And she wanted him to, wanted to hear what he had to say.
“Did you never wonder about me? Did you never look at me in the way that you looked at Marvin?”
She felt a tightening in her chest, the kind she felt when she was attracted to someone. And yet, there was only one way to answer the question honestly. “I was so wrapped up in Marvin that someone else could have come into my life with a neon sign from God shining on him that said he was Mr. Right, and I wouldn’t have noticed.”
Eric grinned, and not for the first time Deanna noticed the way the faint lines around his eyes crinkled when he smiled, as well as those two little dimples in his cheeks. Had he always been this good-looking?
“I like that,” he told her. “What you said. It set up a really great visual image.”
Deanna shrugged. “The songwriter in me, I guess.”
“What about now?” Eric asked.
Deanna looked away for a moment, then back at him. “Now…” She drew in a deep breath. “There’s no denying that you’re an attractive man,” she said, “but we’ve always been friends.”
“And you don’t want to cross the friendship line?” Eric said, point blank.
“I…this is all out of left field,” Deanna admitted.
“For you, maybe. I was always interested in getting to know you better, but you only had eyes for my brother.”
“What?” Deanna gave him a questioning look. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah,” Eric said softly. “But you were my brother’s girl. And even if you weren’t, I was nearly four years older than you, which is ancient when you’re nineteen. I knew that you never looked at me that way. Why am I even telling you this?”
Deanna shifted in her seat. This was getting somewhat uncomfortable. She liked Eric, and he seemed to be the same decent guy he always was. Not to mention that he was easy on the eyes. But…
“I haven’t seen you in almost nine years,” Deanna said.
“And I never forgot you in all that time. I guess what I’m saying is that I hope that now—without Marvin or anyone else between us—maybe you and I can get to know each other on a different level.”
He was serious. Deanna had to take a moment to digest everything Eric had just confessed to her.
“This guy’s good,” Eric commented, indicating Trey Martinez at his piano.
“Yeah,” Deanna agreed. “Really talented.”
“You going to have dessert?” Eric asked.
“I wasn’t planning on it,” she told him.
“The peach crumble is great. Maybe we can share it.”
“Okay, you’ve twisted my arm. Let’s get one each.”
Eric raised a hand to flag down Vivian, and she came over to the table. “Two peach crumbles,” he told her.
“How was the catfish?” Vivian asked.
“Fantastic,” Deanna told her.
“Great.” Vivian collected their plates. “Any coffee?”
“I’ll have one,” Eric said.
“Me, too,” Deanna chimed in.
And as Vivian sauntered away, Deanna couldn’t help thinking about Eric’s bombshell. Was it true? Had he always been interested in her?
And how did she feel about that?
Just the question caused her stomach to tingle. There was no doubt that she was feeling a definite attraction to him today. For the first time, she was seeing him for what he was—a man, and not just a sounding board. What wasn’t there to like? He was tall, handsome, well-spoken. It wasn’t like pulling teeth to get