“Yeah, I knew by the look on your face you had no clue, but thanks.” I get a nice smile from her as she dips her head and pushes a few curls behind her ear. “But these are nothing compared to some of my friends’.”
“I'd love to see theirs too. Maybe one day I'll get to meet some of your friends, and I can check out what they've done. As someone who works with his hands, I can appreciate this kind of stuff.”
Narissa rolls her shoulders slightly as if she's shying away. “Uh, yeah, maybe.” She dismisses the conversation. “So,” she says quickly, “I'm glad you came by to check on me. That was nice of you.”
“Sure, no problem. When you said you weren't feeling good, I figured it was the right thing to do.”
She leans back against the wall, placing her hands in front her waist as her fingers roll and fumble around each other. “I'm good now though, so you don't need to stay.”
“You want to go for a walk?” I ask. “I mean, since you're feeling better.”
“I don't know.”
“Come on, I know the park across the street pretty well.”
Her eyes shift between mine. I can see her thinking. She's debating what to do. Wondering if it's a good idea or not. Trying to weigh her options against whatever the hell she's feeling.
Just say yes.
“It's just a walk, that's it.” I don't want her over-analyzing what I'm asking her to do. I'm not trying to push her to do something crazy. I just want to get her to relax and talk to me a little.
“All right,” she agrees. Narissa slips her feet into a pair of flats and goes to her door. “A short walk.”
“That's fine. I just want a chance to talk to you, is all.”
Narissa pulls the door open and smirks. “Am I in trouble or something?”
“No,” I say with a chuckle. “I want to get to know you better. I mean, I know your dad pretty well, and I haven't nearly spent as much time with him. You and I worked side by side for days, and I realize I don't know anything about you.”
“Why does it matter? I'm done anyway. I did my part, I helped you. You don't need me anymore.”
“Who says I don't need you?” Quirking a brow, I keep my eyes on hers.
She's quiet, her eyes drifting around my face as she tries to read me. I hold her gaze for a moment, letting her try to figure me out. Her lids lower, lips thinning into a tight line as her head tilts slightly.
She has no idea. Giving her a big smile and a wink, I step past her onto the stoop. Narissa closes her door and follows me down the steps. Tucking my hands in my pockets, I look up at the sky.
We walk in silence through the lot, our feet clicking on the ground in tandem and echoing between the cars around us. The grass is damp, covered in a slick coat of water from the sprinklers.
“I love this little park.”
“The flowers are pretty. I come out here to draw sometimes.” Narissa points to the bench surrounded by flowers. “Right over there. I like feeling like I'm sitting in the flowers.”
I reach out and take her hand. “This way, I want to show you something.” Guiding her through the park, we walk around the small pond and over a little bridge to a gazebo sitting alone in the middle of a field.
“See this,” I say, slapping one of the thick beams. “This is what got me the job with your father.”
“This?” she asks. “Why this?”
“Because I made it.”
“You made this?” Narissa releases her hand from mine and steps up inside.
“Yeah. I showed your father a picture of it, and it sold him on hiring me. It's also how I know where you live. You might want to tell him not to point out your house to people in pictures.”
She giggles and shakes her head. “I'll have to tell him that. I was wondering how you knew.” Sitting on the bench that wraps the entire perimeter of the gazebo, she grips the seat and kicks her legs back and forth. “It's beautiful.”
“It took me a long time to get it right. A lot of details and small chisel work that took hours. My hands looked like they were chewed up in a woodchipper by the time I was done.”
“I know what you mean. Sometimes when I'm working on a piece of art, my hands take a beating. I get blisters and my skin gets stained from oil paints or pastels. But when you're into something that much, you just don't feel it.”
“Exactly. I think I still have splinters.” I chuckle as I look down at my hands. “That's why my hands are rough like sandpaper. I work them hard.”