There were so many parts of this book I wanted to post an excerpt from, but finally decided on this one. It’s from the chapter called Dangerous.
“So, would this could be considered our second date then?” Olivia asked a few days later.
“If we say that, then the first date kind of makes me a piss poor excuse of a man. Eating lunch at your work station was a pretty sad first date.”
He wanted to do better by her. Even sitting in the pub right now wasn’t that wonderful, but it was the best he felt he could do right now.
He liked her idea about a lunch date. Start slow. No worries, no stress, and no babysitters for him. No having to explain to anyone why he needed a babysitter either.
“Why? Do you think I’m so shallow that I can’t appreciate lunch with good company outside of a fancy restaurant?”
“I didn’t mean it that way.” And now he felt shallow himself assuming that, or making her feel that way. “I just meant that though it’s been a long time since I’ve been on an actual date, I still can figure out how to handle one.”
“A long time, you say?” She lifted her eyebrow at him, smirking slightly.
He brought it up, might as well lead in with it. They were on the clock, so there was only so much they could talk about. He wouldn’t be able to go into depth, not that he would even consider it.
“Hard to get a sitter.” She hesitated for a moment—he couldn’t miss it, not with her opening her mouth and closing it. “Go ahead, ask.”
“I’m assuming you’re a single parent. You mentioned you weren’t married and didn’t have a girlfriend, so…divorced?”
“Would it matter if I was?”
“Not at all. Just curious.”
He believed her, believed there wasn’t much more than that. “Trey’s mother decided motherhood wasn’t for her and took off shortly after he was born.”
“Oh.” She looked sad for a moment and the last thing he wanted was pity. He’d seen and felt enough of that in the last four years. “I know a bit about that, you could say.”
Somehow, he doubted that. “How’s that?”
“I haven’t seen my father face to face in close to fifteen years. Maybe longer. He doesn’t talk to me, not unless it’s through his assistant. He’s in the picture, but not really. Just a name to me, not even a voice or a face at this point. Checkbooks don’t mean a whole lot to me.”
“It’s not really the same thing.”
“No, you’re right. I still had my mother, kind of. When she wasn’t jet setting around the globe looking for her next conquest, the next man to help her get through her broken heart. And trust me, I’m ruining this date, so let’s change the subject. I’m sorry you’re on your own, but from what I can see Trey comes first to you and that’s the way it should be.”
Not what he expected at all. Not after listening to the brief description of her parents and her relationship with them. Maybe that was all the more reason he expected her to want to be put first.
“It is that way. Trey has to come first.”
She nodded. “Let’s move on to something a bit lighter, but I’ll tell you that I’m okay with that. With Trey coming first, I mean. I wish I had a father figure like that with me as a child, so I wouldn’t begrudge it of someone else. So how did you end up working two completely different jobs, pretty much full time each?”
He was relieved she changed the subject. He wasn’t ready to talk about his past with Trey or Trey’s mother. It wasn’t a subject he talked about often, and no one really knew everything. Pride had kept him from voicing the things that happened after Becca left.
“It just sort of fell in place that way.”
“Why firefighting? It’s pretty dangerous. Are you someone that likes the thrill of that? Living on the edge?”
“There’s no thrill rushing into a burning fire. Not like you’re thinking. It’s not for enjoyment, I can tell you that much.” He knew Becca was turned on by his job, by the risk factor of it, and it had always bothered him deep down.
“What is it, then?”
He shrugged, not used to talking about it.
“I guess you could say ever since I saw that big red firetruck in kindergarten, I was hooked. Bright red and shiny, the lights flashing, the sirens. What’s not to love to a five-year-old boy?”
She laughed softly. “Ah, big red firetruck. That’s all it took, huh?”
“What about the woodworking?”
“My grandfather was a cabinetmaker and he passed his love of woodworking on to me. It stuck and was a good hobby that turned into something more.”
“How long have you been at Harper’s?”
“Just a few years.”
He’d been on his own, picking and choosing his own jobs, but when Trey came along and he alone was responsible for him, it was too much to juggle everything. The stability of Harper’s and them deciding the jobs and times was what he needed in his life. They worked around his schedule easily.
“So how did you end up there? I’ve heard Phil talking to Sophia. It’s not easy to get hired at Harper’s. You must have been pretty good.”
“I am pretty good. And yes, it’s not easy. I’d done a few custom wood pieces for Alec personally on his flips, and it just evolved from there.”
He paused while their lunches were set in front of them and watched as she picked up her napkin and placed it in her lap, looking like the lady of the manor getting ready to pick up her burger and bite in.
“You know, you aren’t like any other woman I know.”
She finished chewing, wiped her lip and said, “I would like to think I’m not. Then again, maybe you mean that in a negative way. So why am I different?”
“Not negative, no. We’ve spent the entire time talking about me for the most part, nothing about you.”
“Ah, the shallow misconception again?”
She was laughing at him, he saw, even though she took a huge bite of her burger and continued to chew. It was the twinkle in her eye, shining so lively at the moment. He fought to keep the embarrassment from creeping up his neck and almost succeeded until she winked at him.
“I’ve been put in my place,” he had the grace to say.
“Have you? Somehow I don’t picture you as someone who gets put in his place often.”
“Misconceptions,” he told her.
“Points for you. So let’s say we both have them concerning each other. Okay, ask away, what do you want to know?”
“Why jewelry?” It was a safe enough question. “I figured you could do anything you want, or nothing at all and still live comfortably.”
“Yes to both assumptions. But I like shiny things. Kind of like you, only my likes are smaller than big red firetrucks.” He grinned at her, he couldn’t help it. “Anyway, I like to draw, too. But I got sick of having pieces of jewelry like everyone else had. I wanted different, unique. What better way to get them than to make them myself?”
“Different and unique, just like you.”
“You could say that.”
“And yet you never wear your pieces.”
“I’ve noticed a lot about you.”
“You know, Finn, you’ve got a smoothness to you.”
“You’re the first to ever say so.” Seriously, no one had ever said he was smooth. Must be she brought it out in him.
“I’ll take that as a compliment. As to why I don’t wear much jewelry, well, that’s easy. It gets in the way when I’m working, and that is really the only environment you’ve seen me in.”
“Don’t forget the playground.”
“Jewelry and toddlers at the park don’t go hand in hand either.”
“So if I take you on a real date, you’ll let me see more of your designs?”
“You mean this isn’t a real date?” She fluttered her eyelashes at him. “I’m hurt. Here I was all proud of myself with the suggestion.”
She was dangerous, no doubt about it. Every time he thought he had a handle on her, she did or said something that threw him off track.
“It was a good suggestion,” he said trying to make her feel better.
“Well then, whenever you think you want to try for a real date, I’ll make sure I give you something to look at.”
Yep, dangerous. Really, really dangerous.