Everything was as perfect as he could make it. He’d cleaned his truck, set up the hotel room, complete with wine and candles, and the reservations were set. He hadn’t decided when he’d tell her about the internship, though. He didn’t want to ruin anything.
She waited for him on the front porch, despite the chill in the air. She wore a woolen wrap around her shoulders, but he could see a full red skirt peeking out beneath the wrap, shorter than she usually wore. As always, he wondered if she wore panties beneath. She’d taken to surprising him on
occasion by not wearing any.
Tonight was not about sex, though it would be a part of the evening. Tonight was about this woman who had captivated him these past months.
“You look great,” he said, stroking a finger down her throat, bared by her upswept hair. “You have your bag?”
She nodded to it, resting against the rail of the porch, and he scooped it up, taking her arm with his other hand. He didn’t want to encounter her mother, who he’d met twice before. He could see nothing of Jamie in that bitter woman.
“You look good, too. I never thought I’d see you in a tie.”
“I bought it just for tonight.”
She closed her hand around it as he opened the truck door for her. “Did you pay a lot of money for it?”
He grinned at the gleam in her eyes. “Not a lot.”
“Oh, goody.” She swung her legs in, offering him a peek of red silk beneath her skirt.
Oh, hell. They hadn’t even gotten to dinner yet, and he was already hard.
He walked around the front of the truck, hoping the chilled air would give him some relief. But when he got in the truck, Jamie had let her wrap fall open to reveal the rest of her dress. Thin straps held it up, and her breasts swelled, full and white, from the scooped neck.
Brady dropped his keys on the floor of the truck. “Christ, Jamie.”
“You like it?” She tucked the wrap against her sides so he could get the full effect. “My mother said I looked like I needed a street corner.”
“I’m wondering if we should skip dinner. Not a man in the restaurant will be able to eat, and you might get stabbed with a dessert fork.”
She laughed. “Whatever you want to do.”
He scooped the keys off the floor. “I’m taking you to dinner.” And then straight to bed.
She shifted in her seat as they pulled out of her neighborhood. “Want me to take care of that for you?”
He glanced over to see her attention on the tented front of his pants. The desire to feel her hand stroking him, or better, her mouth, was strong, but they’d done that once before, and he’d nearly driven into a guardrail.
“I kind of like the anticipation.” It wasn’t a lie.
She laughed and sat back. “You’re not going to be the only one stabbed with a fork.”
They arrived at the restaurant with Brady mostly in control. They were escorted to their table, where their bottle of wine already waited.
“Wow, you went all out,” she said with a smile as she folded her wrap over the back of her chair. “Just because school’s out?”
He couldn’t sit across from her all evening and let her believe that. He’d have to tell her sooner or later. He waited until the waiter had opened and served their wine, and Jamie had taken a sip, before he said, “I got an internship in Harlingen.”
He’d heard the saying, “a light went out in her eyes,” but he’d never seen it actually happen. Her gaze lowered, her lips turned down. Damn it, he’d ruined the evening, or at least the joy she’d felt in it.
She studied her wine for a moment and swallowed, then looked up at him with a bright smile. It wasn’t fake, but didn’t hold the delight she’d shown earlier. “I knew you’d find something. Are you happy with it?”
“I am. I’m thinking it’s pretty much as close as I’ll get to war correspondence this soon.”
Her smile froze. “I hadn’t thought about that. All the drug wars down there—you’ll be careful?”
He smiled and covered her hand with his. “Jamie, I was in Iraq.”
“It doesn’t make you immune.” She opened her menu and scanned it, but he saw her tears glimmer in the candlelight.
“I didn’t mean to ruin your evening,” he said quietly.
“No, of course you didn’t.” She looked up at him, and yes, tears shone. “We should be celebrating. This is a good thing. I’m just—going to miss you.”
“There’s a UT branch in Brownsville, half an hour away.” Whoa. Where had that come from? He couldn’t ask her to make a change like that for him. Hadn’t her ex done the same thing?
His words sent a jolt through Jamie. She went perfectly still and stared. Was he saying what she thought he was saying? And regretting it, if the deer-in-the-headlights look on his face was any indication. “I couldn’t do that.”
Well, she could. She just—didn’t make decisions like that. She certainly wasn’t going to change her career path to follow a man. She’d learned her lesson with David. No man was worth that.
Not even Brady.