never saw myself in an office for forty hours a week.”
“Then why are you?”
Because being a single mother required a decent income, that’s why. Of course, I couldn’t tell him that. It wouldn’t be right when most of my family remained clueless. “Time to grow up, I guess,” I said instead.
“Remind me. What did you do before taking this job?”
“Lots of things. After college, I decided to try my hand at being a working artist. After a year of that, I decided I was tired of eating only ramen and mac and cheese, so I accepted a part-time gig at a gallery. The gallery’s owner, Maura, is a huge supporter of independent artists, and helped me gain a little notice.” My fingers curled together on my lap. “It was a good fit then, but things change,” I explained, not wanting to give more details.
“Why did you wait so long to enter the field you went to school for?”
While his tone still only held general interest, my nerves ramped up another notch. Not sure what to say, I settled on, “It was the right time.”
The waitress brought our food, but my appetite had vanished. Not because of nausea, for once, but out of stark, cold fear. I didn’t know what I’d do if I lost my job. Ethan’s appetite seemed to be fine, so rather than eat my food I watched him eat his. And for a few minutes, I was pleasantly distracted watching his jaw move as he chewed.
“I’m not firing you. I should have said that straight off. I apologize.”
In a blink, all my anxiety evaporated. “Oh. Well, good. You made me a little nervous.”
“I asked you here because I sincerely wanted to know if you’re happy.” He took another bite of his food. “I also plan on visiting Frosty’s on Sunday, and hoped you’d come with me.”
And just like that, a spark of energy passed between us. At a different time, with a different man, I’d think I was being asked out on a date. Of course, that couldn’t be the case here. But wow, I liked that idea. Way more than I should. Silly, really, because becoming involved with a man was not in my newly formed plan for the future. Even so, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the side effects of being in a relationship: having someone to talk to, share dreams with, cuddle and laugh with. Because I did. In a huge way.
And let’s not forget the sex thing. I really, really missed that. Especially lately.
“What are you thinking?”
“That I miss sex,” I admitted.
A raging inferno lit my cheeks on fire. Again. “Um. I didn’t mean that. Well, I did, but I shouldn’t have said it. I tend to speak without thinking. I’m trying to stop that.”
Little lines crinkled around his eyes as he laughed. He had a good laugh, strong and warm, like a bubbling brook, and the sound of it relaxed me immediately. “You have to be the most curious woman I’ve ever met.”
“Just outspoken. I’m actually kind of boring.” Or I used to be. I didn’t know what I was any longer. Paranoid? Delusional? Maybe the mother-to-be of a witch? None of those choices thrilled me. At all.
“Sex is a good thing to miss. It makes it all that much better when you have a chance to revisit it.”
Ha. He had quite a way with words, didn’t he? Revisiting sex. I liked that.
“About Sunday? Are you available?”
“To go to the ice cream shop? I’d love to.” But even as I answered, something hovered on the edge of my consciousness. Almost a déjà vu feeling but not quite.
“Great. It’s a date. I’ll pick you up around two, if that’s good.”
A date? My mind fixated, though it was probably just an expression. Still, a tingle of anticipation made me smile. “Two is perfect.”
Whether it made sense or not, in a flash everything seemed a little brighter than it had. My appetite resurrected itself, so I dug into my pasta. It was nice to have something to look forward to. Nice to have a plan for the weekend. And yeah, it was nice that that plan involved Ethan