None of the women I’ve been with have been playful like she is. Since I always choose older women, she’s quite a bit younger than what I’m used to. At least fifteen years. Maybe twenty. Will she wonder if I’m too old for her the same way I’m wondering if she’s too young for me? “I’ll be thirty next month. Is that a problem for you?”


“Nope. I hope to be thirty in about eight years.”

All right, Jack. You could have your hands full with this one. Are you ready for her and what she could bring?

“Are you in school or do you have a profession?”

“I’m a musician.”

Oh, that explains why she sings and plays the guitar so well. “I heard you at the club the other night.”

“I didn’t know if you were there when I sang.”

I decline telling her I was the guy sitting in the corner being a creepy stalker. “You’re very good. I’ve never heard ‘Crash Into Me’ sound quite like that before. I won’t forget it anytime soon.”

She blushes like she’s not used to hearing compliments. “Thank you. It was a pretty big coincidence that we ended up at the same vintage dinner after running into each other at the club.”

Should I tell her how I worked everything out so I could see her again? Oh, why not? “I don’t think it can be called a coincidence since I already knew you were going to be there. I paid my waitress to find out if you’d be accompanying your friend’s brother.”

She gawks at me. “So, that’s why that waitress was so damn nosy?”

I smile with pride. “Yes, and I arranged for your friend’s wine to be temporarily misplaced so I could lure him away from you. You do realize he’s quite smitten with you?”

“You’re a master of manipulation.”

I notice the way she chooses to not acknowledge my comment about her roommate’s attraction and I wonder if she is well versed in the game of manipulation as well. “I prefer to call it determination.”

“And are you always that determined to get what you want?”

I go to extreme measures to have my way, but I think I’ll keep that to myself. “Within reason.”

“I’m not certain I want to hear anymore about the tactics you use to get what you want.” That’s probably a wise choice.

I decide to let her choose our new topic of conversation. “So, what would you like to hear about?”

She shifts her attention to the glass of wine in her hand. “Tell me more about what you do in the wine industry.”

That is an easy one. I can recite this in my sleep. “My employer owns a vast majority of the wineries across Australia and New Zealand. You can call me his right-hand man. I travel from vineyard to vineyard to oversee everything from the books to the harvest.”

She nods. “I see. Do you have family?”

“Yes.” She’s waiting for more of an answer, but I don’t budge.

“Do you see them often?”

“I visit when I’m in between vineyards.”

She gives me a quizzical look. “This is like pulling teeth with you. I just want to understand you better. I’m not asking you to tell me anything identifying.”

None of the other women were interested in knowing about my family, so I’m not well prepared for how to answer. “My oldies live outside Sydney. I have a younger brother. He’s married and has two little girls. I also have a younger sister still living at home. She’s a year younger than you and studies at a culinary institute.” That’s all she’s getting from me. “What about your rellies?”

“It’s just my mom and me.”

She doesn’t have a father? “What about your old man?”

“That’s a long story.”

Maybe it’s not fair of me to ask since I’m unwilling to share much about my family, but I want to know her story. “I don’t have anywhere to be.”

She looks like she’s settling in for a long explanation. “My mom was a rising musician when she got pregnant with me. My sperm donor was a famous country music star. They met when my mom signed with his label.” She shrugs. “He was married so they started having an affair. His wife didn’t take too well to finding out about her husband’s pregnant mistress, especially since she was pregnant too. I have a half-brother I’ve never met and he’s almost the exact same age as I am. Isn’t that charming?”

She lifts her wine glass to her mouth. “So, as you can see, I wasn’t joking when I said I had daddy issues.”

“That’s why you immediately asked me if I was married.”

She’s pushing food around her plate. “It’s only one of the reasons.”

“You didn’t eat much. I thought you weren’t scared to eat on a date.”

She shrugs again. “Nervous stomach, you could say.”

“If you’re finished, you want to get out of here?”

“Sure.”

We leave through the same revolving doors we used the previous night, but under very different circumstances. We stand on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant and Daniel pulls to the curb from across the street where he’s been waiting. He gets out to open the door, but I don’t have a clue where I’d have him drive us since I’m unfamiliar with Wagga Wagga. “It’s a beautiful night. Do you feel like walking?”

“Sure.”

I tell Daniel, “I’ll call when we’re ready to be picked up.”

He shuts the door. “Of course, sir.”

“Which way? Lady’s choice.”

She glances in both directions and shrugs as she points to her right. “Always go right and you’ll never go wrong.”

We start walking and I remember the shoes she’s wearing. She looks great in them, but there is no way they will be comfortable for walking. “Those heels are sexy as hell but don’t they hurt your feet?”

She laughs. “I’m used to wearing high heels. I’ll be okay. But it’s very considerate of you to think of my feet.”

I’m not sure if she’s being honest. “I wouldn’t want you to be uncomfortable, so please tell me if they hurt and I will call Daniel to pick us up.”

“I will.” She surprises me by looping her arm through mine. “Thank you for the beautiful flowers and breakfast you sent. Addison and I were almost drunk by ten o’clock. It was great.”

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