Most people were not as reserved as he was. There was something more at work here. There was something about her that made him very, very nervous and he had a healthy respect for his own intuition.
Without quite knowing why, he felt that there was a very real danger of his being blown away by this very exceptional woman.
While she talked, Liz could feel his eyes on her, dissecting her. From the consternation on his face, she judged that he felt confused and not very pleased.
Liz nodded toward his mug. "Something wrong with the coffee?"
"You're frowning over it. Or is it me that's making you look so cross?"
Enough. He had encountered less probing when he had interviewed to join the police force. He set his mug down. He thought he did it with finality. "It's been a long day, Ms. MacDougall—"
He thought wrong.
She was off and running with another topic. "Well, now, I've held your baby—"
"My sister's baby," he corrected tersely, and even that correction didn't make him happy. This baby had no place in his life, or Sally's.
Well, she wasn't in Sally's life right now, was she? She was in his.
Liz steamrolled over his protest as if she hadn't heard it. "Which automatically allows you to call me Liz." She drained her coffee. "Or Elizabeth if you prefer to be formal."
He thought longingly of tape, the large, heavy-duty kind used to wrap packages that were sent through the mail. Applying the wide tape in a strategic place might just bring a halt to her nonstop stream of words.
"Elizabeth," he began again, searching his soul for patience because she had come to his rescue when he needed it.
Liz nodded her head. She might have known. "You prefer to be formal. I had a hunch. I, of course, prefer to be informal." There was mischief in her eyes as she made the statement.
"I wouldn't have guessed." His sarcasm couldn't be held in check any longer.
She was impervious to his attempt to constrain her. His mouth was no match for hers and they both knew it. "Liz."
He stared, lost. Was she talking to herself now? He wouldn't doubt it. "What?"
"Call me Liz," she encouraged. "It's only one syllable and not very hard."
He sighed, placing his large hands flat on the table. "What apparently seems to be hard is making a getaway from here."
So why wasn't he getting up and leaving? It wasn't as if she had him tied to a chair, for heaven's sake. Yet he remained seated. He didn't quite know why.
Was this man really so eager to head for the hills? She was receiving some very contradictory signals from him. Verbally, he was saying that he couldn't wait to be away. But she was getting a distinctly different impression from his body language. Especially when his eyes washed over her.
"Oh, were you trying to leave?"
"Before the turn of the century, yes," he muttered darkly.
If his retort was meant to put her off, it failed. "Any wounded bears in your family?" She rose and took the two mugs to the sink.
"I have no family."
She turned to look at his expression. It warned her that she couldn't cross this barrier. She hesitated, considered, and then crossed, intrigued by the No Trespassing sign she perceived. "I take it your sister and Casie belong to the stork who brought them?"
He laughed despite himself. "Does anyone ever get to have the last word with you?"
She shut off the running water and put the mugs on the drainboard. Reaching for the kitchen towel to dry her hands, she grinned. "Nope."
"I didn't think so."
A plaintive, insistent cry emanated from Liz's bedroom.
She draped the dish towel on a magnetic hook hanging from the side of the refrigerator. "That would be your niece."
Time to go. Suddenly, a deep dread filled him. He didn't welcome the idea of staying home alone with the child. Weighing the two evils, if he were being honest with himself, Griff decided that despite the verbal barrage, staying with Liz was actually the less odious of the two. Almost eager to escape a moment ago, he hesitated now, casting