She’s from the boundary waters of Northwestern Ontario, and he’s from a place his people call Waiekwakitchigami in northern Minnesota. Neither expects to meet, much less spend Thanksgiving together.
They’d retired their coffees. While Tripp drank a beer, Paulina sipped water.
“Admit it, you said no to the beer because it’s American.” Tripp snickered.
“Okay. True. Your beer tastes like…”
“Piss? I’ve heard Canadians say it before.” He set his hand on the back of the couch, feet propped on the coffee table, facing her.
“There’re many differences between Canadians and Americans.”
“Being on the border, you experienced a lot of this?” There was a sparkle in his eyes.
“Yes, I have. Answer this for me. Why biscuits and gravy?” She couldn’t get over how much people loved eating the stuff for breakfast in the sister town over the international bridge from her town.
“What’s wrong with biscuits and gravy? They’re good and stick to your ribs.”
“You eat biscuits and gravy?”
“Yeah. The coffee shop makes them. Try some tomorrow.”
“I will.” Why not? Everything about this trip had gone against Paulina’s schedule she’d outlined in her phone calendar.
“Anything else that’s American you haven’t tried?” His voice remained his natural friendly, teasing tone.
At the mention of American, Paulina’s throat dried. Sure, they were both Anishinaabe, but Tripp was from the States. Even while living on the border, she’d never dated a man who was from the other side.
Heat saturated her face. No, she hadn’t tried one certain thing from America.
The sparkles died in Tripp’s eyes. The ebony hue smoldered like polished onyx. “Well?” This time his tone lacked teasing and was dead serious.
“I guess there’s…something.” She was also dead serious, probably because she had no idea how to flirt.
“Yeah? What is it?” His other hand traced a circle around the cushion of the couch. The intensity left his stare.
She almost saw flames flickering in his pupils.
The words stayed put. No matter how hard she tried to push them out, they remained on her tongue.
“You wanna say something. It’s in your eyes.” Tripp kept gazing at her.
“It’s not part of your schedule?” He quirked a brow. “Neither was this.” He used his chin to point at the kitchen area. “Or your truck breaking down.”
Finally, she managed to get some words out. “No…none of it was.”
A ball seemed to lodge in Paulina’s throat.
“Say it.” His order was hushed, gentle.
“I…” Paulina couldn’t hold his stare any longer.