Sometimes finding what you want is the easy part.
Sally and Aldo were seated at the kitchen table when Caleb joined them there. His initial reaction was disappointment. They looked so comfortable with each other, so content. He almost hated to interrupt the pretty picture they made—like an illustration for domestic bliss. Delicious fragrances wafted through the air, but the food that had produced them was nowhere in sight. There remained nothing edible on the table other than some oranges, a plate of Christmas cookies, and two half-empty mugs of coffee. Maybe it was too much for Caleb to expect to be included in every activity, every meal, maybe he was nothing but an afterthought—an intruder, no matter how much Sally insisted otherwise, but couldn’t they at least have saved him something?
Aldo glanced up just then and saw him. “Well, it’s about time you decided to join us,” he said as he got to his feet. He grabbed the coffee mugs and headed toward the stove. “I was starting to think you’d never get up. And she”—he nodded at Sally—“wouldn’t let me wake you.”
Sally had turned in her seat to smile at Caleb. Now she rolled her eyes. “It’s a holiday, Aldo. Stop fussing. Show some holiday cheer. Besides, not everyone is as perky as you in the morning.”
“I am not perky,” Aldo insisted. “I am never perky, damn it, and I am especially not perky before breakfast.”
Caleb couldn’t help sympathizing. He wouldn’t ever want to be described as perky either. He crossed to Sally’s side and bent down to kiss her. Her lips were warm and soft and faintly sugary. “Mm. Sweet,” he murmured, then kissed her again. “Good morning.”
“Merry Christmas,” she answered softly. Then she pulled back and indicated the plate on the table. “It’s the cookies that’re sweet. Try one—they’re still warm. Aldo’s outdone himself this year.”
Caleb’s eyebrows rose. “You didn’t just bake these this morning, did you?”
Aldo shrugged. “I had time on my hands. It was something to do.”
The cookies looked professional. Caleb would have bet money they’d come from a bakery. He was sure they were delicious, but his idea of breakfast involved something a little more substantial. He glanced at the other man curiously. “You really like this cooking thing, huh?”
“Like I said, it was something to do.”
Sally rolled her eyes again. “That means yes,” she said, smiling at Caleb again. She reached for his hand and gave it a little tug. “Come and sit down. We’re about to have breakfast.”
Caleb’s mood brightened instantly. “You didn’t eat yet? I thought you went ahead and ate without me.”
Aldo snorted in disgust. “Oh, now there’s an idea. Why didn’t I think of that?”
“Caleb,” Sally murmured in chiding tones. “Of course we didn’t. That would’ve been rude.”
“Thank you.” Caleb leaned in and kissed her again. His ears had detected the slightest hint of a caress in Sally’s voice as she said his name. Warmth blossomed in his chest. As he’d told her last night, he’d do pretty much anything to keep that lilt in her voice.
“Help yourself to coffee if you want,” Aldo told him as he returned to the table carrying the two mugs he’d refilled and some kind of egg dish he’d retrieved from the oven.
Caleb nodded. “Okay, thanks.” Was it just his imagination, or was the expression on Aldo’s face this morning extra frosty? He felt his hackles rise and willed them back down. He didn’t want to be mad this morning. He was getting tired of walking around angry all the time. Of course, he didn’t want to be attracted to the other man all the time either. He took a deep breath and tried for a smile. “What’s that you got there? It looks good.”
“It’s a frittata,” Aldo answered in clipped, disinterested tones.
“It’s not just a frittata,” Sally corrected. “It’s a delicious frittata. He makes it every year, just for Christmas—see all the red and green bits?”
Aldo sighed. “They’re called peppers, honey. Red and green bell peppers.”
Sally laughed. Caleb loved the teasing note in her voice as she said, “You’re so picky this morning. What does it matter anyway? You both knew what I meant.”
“Well, let’s see,” Aldo answered. “When you perform a surgery, do you refer to the specific body part you’re operating on at all? Or do you just point and say, ‘Let’s cut out that bit there’?”
Sally shook her head. “Caleb, honey, he’s picking on me. Tell the mean, old detective how professional I am.”
There it was again, that soft little note in her voice. He could get seriously addicted to that. “Always.” Caleb smiled and poured himself some coffee. “She uses all the big words too. She’s probably just dumbing things down now so you can follow along.”
“Oh, I’m so sure.” Aldo rolled his eyes. “You can manage bigger words than ‘bit’? You have no idea how relieved I am.” Frowning at his plate, Aldo added, “And for the record, I make no claims for the quality of this dish. It’s highly unlikely it will be delicious this year. I’m guessing inedible will be closer to the mark, given how long I was forced to keep it in the warmer—through no fault of my own, I might add.”
Sally laughed again. “Look at you. You’re such a kitchen diva this morning! What’s up with that, anyway? You know how awesome you are. Who’re you trying to impress?”
From across the room, Caleb watched them enviously, marveling at how amazing they were together. Did they even realize it? And did either of them have any idea how much they were turning him on right now—with their smiles and their glances, their playful banter? Aldo by himself, when it was just the two of them, still had a tendency to piss Caleb off, but put him together with Sally? Totally different dynamic. Every eye roll, every smile had Caleb aching to be a part of it, to laugh and play together like that. To laugh and play together like that in bed, all three of them—oh yeah, that’s just what he needed.