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His warm reply negates my snide response. “Thank you for the invitation, but we have dinner reservations. Maybe another time.”

“Oh! Of course! You kids have fun. I’m sure Sidney will be more than happy to have me all to himself tonight!”

“Okay, well, we don’t want to be late!” I tug on Alex’s sleeve, praying my mother doesn’t say anything else to further my humiliation. This is exactly why I need to move into an apartment far away from her.

Alex helps me into my coat and my mother waves us off.

“Sorry about her,” I say as we walk down the path to the driveway. It’s icy, so I hold his arm. “Parent introductions aren’t supposed to happen until the fifty-seventh date or something.”

“No worries. I think she likes me.”

“She’s embarrassing.”

“Aren’t all parents?”

He opens the passenger door and helps me in. I feel like an idiot. Here I am, a grown woman, still living in my parent’s pool house. Yet another reason I should’ve suggested meeting him at the restaurant. He puts the car in gear and we’re on our way downtown.

“Are you okay? That fall looked like it hurt.” His palm comes to rest on the back of my neck.

“My giant booty broke my fall.”

“I happen to like your booty . . . almost as much as I like your other assets.”

“Speaking of which, the Victoria’s Secret gift certificate is excessive.”

“You used it?”

“Maybe, b—”

“What’d you get?” His eyes move to my chest. It’s covered by my jacket. “Did you spend it all?”

“You want to know if I bought something for my boobs?”

“Maybe. Did you?” He taps his fingers on the steering wheel.


Alex hums and nods, his attention on the road once again.

It doesn’t take long to reach our destination, which is a good thing because discussing lingerie purchases makes me nervous about what could happen later. Alex turns into the parking lot of a swanky restaurant and pulls into a spot near the door. “If you did happen to buy something for your boobs, I don’t expect to see it tonight.”

“You don’t want to see it?”

He caresses my nape with his thumb. “I didn’t say that. I don’t have any expectations beyond dinner. I realize the gift card may make it come across like I do.”

This is why I like him. Well, one of the reasons. I lean in. Alex mirrors the movement until our lips are less than an inch apart.

“What are you waiting for?”

He bridges the gap. I’m not interested in chaste kisses. I have to sit across from him during dinner. We could be in the restaurant for hours. It doesn’t look like the kind of place where we can sneak into the bathroom for a quickie. Not that I’m considering it as an option. Since sex isn’t an expectation, I suddenly want it to be. I grab the front of his jacket and strain to get closer. Maybe this is how reverse psychology is supposed to work.

With a low groan, he releases me. “As much as I’d like this to continue, we’re going to be late for our reservation if we keep it up much longer.”

He goes in for one last kiss. I’m into this wooing business. If dinner goes well, we can always pick up where we left off.

Alex is very much a gentleman. He opens doors and helps me out of my coat once we’re inside the restaurant. “You look gorgeous. I love this dress.”

It’s red and clingy with a low neckline. Charlene made me buy it last summer. I never had a reason to wear it until now.

Alex takes off his jacket. He looks sophisticated and sexy in his black button-down dress shirt and charcoal gray pants. His tie matches my dress. Almost like we planned it.

The hostess takes us to a private table in a small room, away from the other guests. Alex passes me the wine list once we’re seated.

“There aren’t any prices,” I whisper after the waiter fills our water glasses.

“Just pick what you like.” His smile makes the fountain of beave turn on. I better not soak through my damn panties.

I go with red. I don’t like it as much as I like white, so I’ll drink slower. Wine tends to hit me hard and fast, and I don’t want to make a fool out of myself in a nice restaurant. Bars and hockey games are a totally different story.

There are no prices on my dinner menu, either. I have a feeling it’s purposeful. I order the bacon wrapped filet mignon, medium-rare. There’s nothing better than a nice cut of beef hugged by a pork product. I opt for a garden salad instead of Caesar to avoid garlic breath. Alex orders seafood-something-or-other, and then we’re alone.

Taking my hand in his, he lifts it to his lips. It’s funny how he can be so smooth sometimes and other times he blunders around like me. “I’m glad you’re here.”

“Me, too.”

“I didn’t think I’d ever get you to go on a date with me.”

“Me, either.”

Alex laughs.

When the waiter brings my salad and his soup, Alex moves his chair closer so he’s next to me, like at the café.

“I wish I didn’t have to leave again tomorrow.”

“You’ll be gone for a couple of weeks?”

“We have a six-game series. Usually the long stretches aren’t so close together. The games are spread out, so we’re on the road longer than I like.”

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