It was just after lunchtime when her phone rang. Paige reached across her desk to answer. “Paige Andrews, may I help you?”
“I hope so.” The velvet timbre of his voice was unmistakable. “I can’t stop thinking about this young lady I met last night. I needed to know if she’s thinking about me at all.”
It took her a few seconds to catch her breath and collect her thoughts. “It’s hard not to think about you with this huge bouquet sitting on my desk.”
He chuckled and the sound sent ripples of excitement along her spine. “Did you like them?”
“Like? Oh, the flowers. They’re beautiful.” She gazed at the bouquet that was the source of office gossip that day. “But you didn’t need to...”
“You seemed so nervous last night when I asked you out. I wanted to offer you some refuge.”
She was confused. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s a Roman myth that a beautiful nymph caught the eye of a god, but she wanted to escape. So she turned herself into a daisy and hid amongst the flowers in the forest.” He paused. She heard him take a deep breath. “I’m glad you didn’t turn into a daisy.”
Paige was very happy that she never stopped to take lunch, her stomach was doing flip-flops. “I guess I missed my chance to escape then.”
She got the feeling that he was challenging her. In defense, she tried for a bit of brevity. “Of course you’re not egotistical at all comparing yourself to a god.”
He laughed. His laughter sounded so delicious to Paige and she was totally confused. How could a laugh sound delicious?
“I think I really like you Paige Andrews. I know I’m going to enjoy your company.”
No matter how many times she told herself he was too dangerous for her, Paige couldn’t manage to refuse to see him that Friday night. She offered to meet him at the restaurant. At least, Paige figured, she would manage to keep some distance between them by arriving and leaving separately. But Lon explained he was looking forward to a chance to use his car. He usually kept it garaged and enjoyed it when he got to drive it.
She had barely hung up the phone when Jeanmarie paged her into her office.
Paige was given the task of helping to announce the upcoming merger and Bartlett’s arrival at By-Lines Publishing. The first order of business was researching Bartlett’s personal history for a feature story to introduce him in the magazine.
Every detail that Paige unearthed convinced her even more that he was the kind of lothario that she had learned to detest. His reputation for seduction was unnerving. Even though he was adored by women and celebrated by men for his sexual expertise, Paige was convinced that his renowned exploits were no more admirable than any other dog in heat.
Friday night she made sure to greet Lon on the sidewalk when he drove his BMW coupe to pick her up for their date. His look of surprise should have felt victorious but instead she felt his disappointment. Lon stepped around the car to open the door for her.
“I’d like to think that you were just anxious to see me.” His rough voice felt like a caress. “But I get the feeling that... that you were wary of being alone with me.”
She refused to let him know how close he was to the truth. “Nonsense. I have no reason to be scared of you. I just know how difficult parking can be some nights.”
He wordlessly glanced at a few open parking spaces along the block. Shifting his eyes back to her, he simply nodded. After he was once again seated in the driver’s seat, Lon turned to her and asked earnestly, “I hope you like Japanese food.” He actually looked worried until she nodded. “I’ve got a favorite little restaurant downtown I’d like to take you to.”
“Sounds good.” She wondered if his concern was only an act, just part of his seduction technique. “So long as I can use a fork and knife. I haven’t managed to master chopsticks yet.” She smiled to cover her nervousness.
He looked at her quietly for a moment. Then he spoke softly. “I’d like to teach you.” His eyes lingered for a moment more and then he turned his attention to pulling the car away from the curb. “Japanese chopsticks are actually smaller than what most people are used to... but I’ll make sure you get a fork so you can enjoy your food.”
Lon felt confused. Paige was a pretty young lady but he’d seen more beautiful women. So why couldn’t he stop thinking about her ever since their business dinner date? Every time he closed his eyes, all he saw was Paige Andrews. He’d had the opportunity to date many attractive women, some of them were set-ups by his agent designed to boost his image. He really wanted to get to know this woman. It wasn’t enough just to be seen with her in public.
They were both silent for the ride to the restaurant. The only conversation in the car was between Lon and the female voice of the GPS navigation system. He stopped in front of the restaurant and handed his keys to the valet.
At the entrance to the restaurant, Lon explained the significance of the restaurant’s simple name, O-Tei. “The story of O-Tei is about two lovers who were fated to be together, even after she died. The girl O-Tei was reincarnated and met her betrothed seventeen years after he promised to wait for her. They married and lived happily ever after and she never even remembered her former life.” He gently cupped her elbow and ushered her into the restaurant.
Remember - Vanilla Heart Publishing and Chelle Cordero will donate $1 for every copy of Bartlett's Rule bought in the VHP bookstore (through April 28th)to AIDS Walk New York. Buy your copies today and contribute to a worthy cause at the same time! Also, Publisher Double Discount still applies!"
AIDS Walk New York, will be held Sunday, May 18th, 2008.
Item : BRCC40808
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