“It’s not going to melt any faster with you staring at it.”
I shifted back from squinting through a space between the front window’s boards to find Max holding out a steaming bowl of soup. “I’m hoping the intensity of my glare does some damage.”
The massive amount of snow nature had decided to dump on us had not gone down in the slightest. In fact, I was pretty sure it’d snowed again in the few short hours since breakfast. The thick, gray clouds overhead were still messing up my phone signal and threatened even more snow.
So maybe looking at the depressing scene wasn’t helpful...
I uncurled my fingers from the wood and waddled over to him. “What kind of soup is that? My nose is too stuffed to smell anything.”
“Chicken noodle. I know we should probably be saving the cans for emergencies, but...you could use it.” He shifted his weight anxiously and offered up a weak smile. God, he was so jittery. Maybe it was just his personality, but it provided endless comedic relief.
“Why are you so nervous? I’m not gonna bite.” I accepted the soup bowl with a devilish grin while my companion awkwardly gestured to the living room. Padding in that direction, I dropped onto the couch and tucked my feet under me. Two pairs of socks were nowhere near enough to keep my feet warm.
“I’m not nervous.” Max picked up a soft, cotton blanket he’d used to sleep with and draped it over my shoulders. “I’m just worried about you-uur health. Do you need anything else? Water? Another blanket? Tissues?”
Dipping my nose down towards the bowl, I let the soup’s heat waft over my face. My toes were still numb, and my skin prickled with goosebumps from hovering near the window, but I was already a lot more comfortable. “No, I’m good. Thank you, though.”
Max nodded but pressed the back of his hand to my forehead. I expected him to get all flustered; however, his expression was one of pure determination and concern. “You have a fever. I’ll go get you a cold washcloth, okay?”
“Oh, um...sure. Thanks.” While he left to rummage around in the downstairs bathroom, I drew the blanket closer to me. Just barely through my stuffy nose, I could smell something very distinct. Maybe...coffee and...rain, as silly as that sounded.
Shit, that’s Max, I realized with a start. And then very soon after, a second realization struck me. Shit, he smells really fucking good.
I jumped when Max swooped back into the room, washcloth in hand. “Here we go.” He paused in front of me and blinked. I probably looked psychotic, hunched over with the blanket shoved against my nose.
“Are you...okay?” Max leaned over and gently pushed aside the blanket and my hair to set the cold washcloth on the back of my neck.
“What? Oh, totally. I’m super good.” I forced my face down and began shoveling the tasteless soup down my throat.
Laughter like the tinkling of fucking bells made me glance up. Max was blushing but wasn’t spazzing out like he usually did when he got this close.
And oh boy, was he close. He was now crouched down next to my legs, one hand resting beside my thigh while the other adjusted the washcloth before it slid off my neck.
“Slow down, you’re gonna choke. If you die by chicken noodle, I swear I’ll make sure everyone hears about it. You’ll be the laughingstock of the zombie apocalypse.”
“Evil,” I hissed gleefully. Don’t do it, Charlie. Don’t you dare catch feelings for this total stranger. Yeah, so maybe he’s handsome and really nice-
Max laughed again and placed a hand under my bowl when I nearly tipped it. “Careful there.”
My eyes drifted down, and I blinked rapidly. I knew he was attractive, but goddamn, those eyes were fucking glorious. They looked almost golden with the lamp beside me reflecting off of them.
As my common-sense frantically tried to shut down my feelings, I allowed a slow smile to slide across my face and let Max continue to pamper me.
...I’m an actual idiot.