Page 21 of What Lies Beneath

Will didn’t seem to notice. “You’re welcome,” he said with a devious smile. “If I’d known you’d react like this, I would’ve bought it two years ago. Or at least last week.”

Cynthia smiled awkwardly at his statement, still wrapped tightly in his arms. She wasn’t sure if she wanted him to let go or to pull her closer and kiss her again. “I…I’ve been reading up on how to use it,” she stuttered.

He held on for a moment longer before releasing her to take a few steps back. “Already studying?”

The short distance was enough to clear her head and return her focus to the topic at hand. “Yes, I think I could have it up and running by tomorrow morning. Do you think we could take a little field trip tonight? I’d love to get some supplies to play with. Fabric, thread, maybe some buttons?”

Will let his computer bag drop to the floor and shuffled out of his jacket. “We can. I was actually thinking I would take you out for dinner tonight anyway. We can go by the fabric store on the way. Just let me change out of this suit.”

Cynthia prepared quickly, knowing most fabric stores would be closing soon. He changed and they grabbed a taxi to whisk them to the Garment District. They took the old-fashioned elevator up to Mood, and she entered it like she would a sacred cathedral. Will loitered near the entrance doing business on his phone while she disappeared into the three stories of fabrics.

Triumphant, she greeted him a half hour later with a large black Mood bag filled with everything she might need. The dress form that wouldn’t fit in the sack would be delivered tomorrow. One of the employees had helped her, making sure she had all the basics, and gave her a good idea of what to do with them.

It was all very exciting. She had this surge of energy she hadn’t had since the accident. It was like the world had opened up to new possibilities. Fate had closed the door on her past, but as the operator slid open the metal grate of the elevator door, it was like he was opening a window to her exhilarating new future.

“Did you buy out the store?” Will asked, pushing open the downstairs door as she breezed past him.

“Not today. Maybe next week.”

“It’s good to have goals,” he said with a laugh. “Are you ready for dinner?”

“Yes,” she said. Lunch had worn off long ago, but she’d been too wrapped up in her new sewing machine to notice.

“There’s a steakhouse a few blocks east of here that I’ve been wanting to try. Does that sound okay?”

“Sounds great.”

Will took her bag and carried it for her as they made their way to the restaurant. As they stepped inside, Cynthia immediately felt underdressed and stopped dead in her tracks. The dark restaurant had paneled walls and deep burgundy tablecloths, delicately folded napkins and enough flatware to confuse an etiquette expert. Her slacks and sweater just didn’t seem up to par. Will had to nudge her forward so the door could close behind them.

“This place is too nice,” she whispered.

“You’re fine,” he assured, pushing her toward the maître d’s desk. “Two, please.”

Cynthia followed the two men through the restaurant to their table. They were seated at a secluded two-top in a corner where they wouldn’t be disturbed by other diners. The waiter was obviously under the impression that they were on a date. It certainly didn’t feel like one. At least not with Will eyeballing his cell phone again instead of his menu.

“Would you like to try one of our fine wine selections this evening?” the waiter asked when he arrived.

Will put his phone aside and looked expectantly to her, but she didn’t know what to say. He’d mentioned before that she liked to drink wine, but she was really just craving a tall, cold glass of Diet Coke. So she said so.

Will nodded. “A Diet Coke for the lady and a merlot for me, please.”

Once the server was gone, Cynthia tried to focus on the menu. There were so many things she hadn’t tried yet, but there’d been almost nothing she hadn’t liked. Except brussel sprouts. She had to remember to tell Anita that before she made them again. Tonight, however, she decided on a surf and turf to sample a few new items at once.

When the ordering was done and they were left alone with their drinks, Cynthia noticed for the first time how romantic the restaurant was, especially their quiet little alcove. A large stone hearth contained a fire that roared on one wall, the warm lighting casting everything in a golden glow. She hoped it would do wonders for her skin tone, which still wasn’t quite back to the perfect cream it once was. It certainly looked good on Will. The flickering of the fire sent shadows across the angular planes of his face and darkened his hair to a deep mahogany color. The flames reflected in his eyes as he watched her intently from across the table.