“This is really good.” Scott scooped a second helping of meat and vegetable pie onto his plate.
“Rose always makes good crusts,” Kent nodded. “Even without regular flour. Flaky and just right for the filling.”
Rose waved off the compliment. “And Kent’s fillings are always good. He’s a better cook than his mother.” She watched Scott, wondering what exactly one did to get a man to ‘submit’, and what that really meant. The subject had occupied her mind all afternoon while she rolled and poured dough and batter.
“That’s not hard,” Kent muttered.
Rose gave him a sharpish look. “That’s your mother you’re talking about. Don’t be disrespectful.”
“You say things about our father all the time.”
“That’s different,” Rose sniffed. “He’s an ass.”
Scott snorted into his food, then coughed. Startled, Rose watched him thump his chest, grinning even as he stopped himself from choking. “Who’s your father?”
“I don’t expect you met Kevan Becker. That would mean doing work to benefit everyone instead of just himself.”
“Rose,” Kent said with a frown. “He’s not that bad.”
“No one gave that name, no,” Scott confirmed, grinning. “Would you like me to ask around about him tomorrow?”
Rose rolled her eyes. “If you do that, everyone will assume you intend to ask him for permission to handfast to me.”
Scott smiled innocently at her. “Sounds like a ‘yes’ to me.”
Jabbing her fork at him, Rose glared. There went her good mood, right out the door and into a snowbank. “Listen, you. I’m glad this is all fun and games to you, but I live here. There’s no reason to go messing things up for me just to entertain yourself. You do that, and next thing I know, everyone is stopping by and asking what kind of cake I’ll make for my own handfasting.”
He grinned again. “Voice of experience?”
“Yes, actually, if you must know. It was extremely annoying, and I don’t want to deal with it again. Keep your mouth shut,” she snapped.
She didn’t believe him, not at all. Bastard. With that smarmy smirk plastered all over his face. “Don’t you think for one second that that meant anything at all.”
“What?” Despite the fact she sat directly across from him, Rose had actually forgotten Kent was there. He stayed quiet, just listening, letting her spar with Scott.
“She means when I kissed her in the kitchen.”
Rose reached over to smack Scott in the back of the head. She intended to say something, too, but he grabbed her hand before she got close enough and turned it painfully, dumping her out of her chair and onto the floor with a squeak. He blinked at her and let go.
“I’m sorry, Rose,” he said as he dropped to the floor to help her back up, all traces of amusement gone.
“Are you alright?” Kent got up, too.
“What did you do that for?” Rose backed away from Scott and took ignored Kent’s hand, preferring to use her chair to stand.
Scott sighed and raked a hand through his hair. “Because hands reaching for my head usually have claws or knives attached to them and are trying to kill me. It’s just a reflex.”
Rose immediately regretted being upset about it. For a second or two. Then it surged right back. “Inside my house, a guest at my table, and you take my hand as an attack to defend against after that?” She grabbed her plate and stomped into the kitchen with it.
To her annoyance, he got up and followed her. “I said I’m sorry, I meant it.”
“Leave me alone.”
She dumped the plate in the washbasin and spun around, finding him close enough to pin her there. “Back off.”
“You’re so troublesome, woman.” He blocked her from moving by putting his hands on the counter to either side of her, bringing him in close. “Who hurt you, Rose?”
Pushing against his chest did her about as much good at shouting at the wind to stop. He was too close and she wanted him to stop before he kissed her again. The moment he did that, she wouldn’t be able to resist him anymore, and she didn’t want to be unable to resist him anymore. “No one. I just know what I want, and a vagabond thrillseeker who tries to kill me by accident isn’t it.”
“What if I wanted to stay after all?” He leaned away, taking the hint.
“Prove it.” Without him looming so close, she didn’t need to move away anymore. She crossed her arms. “Fit into the town and put down roots. Then we’ll talk.”
He scratched his cheek and flicked his eyes to the basin behind her. “Would it help if I washed the dishes?”
“Do you know how?”