Erika wants, and gives, even more.
"Chips," she answered honestly, but with a hint of sass that at the moment served only to upset me.
"Chips," I repeated dryly.
"That can't have been sufficient for a woman who's been working all day."
"Curt, please, I'm fine. Now here, if you want to help, take these bags inside and set them in the foyer," she ordered, avoiding eye contact.
I indulged her for the moment as the task needed doing, and the sooner I had her inside the better.
I was a worker ant for the next forty-five minutes getting things unloaded and sorted out in their different areas, as per her instructions. It was clear that Beth was only accepting my help because she was running on fumes. She was coming up on a twelve-hour day, and I didn't like it at all.
When the bags had been sorted to her satisfaction, Bethany managed to shoo me away so she could get things set up. I was angry that she was refusing to call it quits for the day when she was so clearly exhausted, but I let her continue. As long as she was within earshot, I would allow it.
Two hours later, she found me in the family room, on my brand new leather sofa, watching the news.
"I'm loving the new sofa Beth, it's so fucking comfy!" I grinned. "And see, no shoes on the table!" I pointed out proudly.
"Good boy!" she giggled. "Well, I'm gonna head home now. Be back tomorrow first thing. Furniture for the bedroom was rescheduled for tomorrow, and I'm expecting Rick as well for some touch ups and other tasks."
"Beth," I rose from the sinfully comfortable sofa and approached her. "I know you probably don't want to hear this, but I'd feel much better if you just crashed here tonight. It's obvious that you're tired."
"No, it's fine. I'm just a half hour away. And traffic is dying down a bit," she insisted.
"No Beth. It's not fine. You shouldn't be on the road. You can bunk in the guest suite downstairs. It's fully equipped, I assure you," I smiled, trying to lighten the mood a bit and convince her with reason, rather than force.
"No, I can't," she shook her head, a flustered look on her face. "I don't have a change of clothes, and I just...I can't. I'll be fine!"
She turned and all but ran from the room.
I struggled to harness my anger as she grabbed her bag from the table. She said nothing to me as she gripped the door handle to make her departure.
"Stay," I growled, as darkly as I dared.
She froze. She stayed.
I approached her from behind, and gently turned her to face me.
She trembled in my grasp, and finally whispered, "Okay."
"Good girl," I smiled, squeezing her arms gently before releasing her. "Now come sit. I'll order us some pizza, and you will relax. Understand?"
She nodded, still not making eye contact. But she was respecting my wishes, and that was enough. For now.
I sat her down on my new cozy couch, and went to the kitchen to dial my regular pizza parlor.
The pizza guy quoted me thirty minutes, and when I rejoined her in the family room, she finally looked at me.
"Curt, I, thanks for inviting me to stay. I really appreciate it. But again, I don't have a change of clothes. I'm dirty from today, and need clean clothes."
"You can wash the clothes you have, here."
"I believe," I interjected, "that my designer very conveniently provided some bathrobes in the guest suite closet. Would one of the robes not be sufficient while you wash your clothes?"
I don't know if she blushed at my recognition of her thorough attention to detail, or at the idea of wearing nothing but a robe in front of me, but I suspected it was the latter.
"That would be...inappropriate to say the least Curt."
"Hey, you saw me in a far more compromising ensemble just this morning, need I remind you?" I teased. "A robe is quite innocent by comparison."
"I'm sorry about that Curt," her eyes diverted to the soft supple leather of the couch.
Lifting her chin, I whispered huskily, "I'm not.