Page 6 of Lift

“You said Midtown Grocery, right?” I ask, and he nods.

“Yeah I just need to run in and pick up some stuff. I’m starving and I’ve had fast food for the last month. I can’t do it again. Are you sure you’re okay to wait?”

I nod and then realize it might be too dark for him to see. “Yeah, it’s okay.” The area of town isn’t bad, but it’s still a parking lot in the middle of the night. God, I hope this guy is a quick shopper. I could just leave as soon as he gets out and take his money. Although he could report me to the company and then I run the chance of losing my job.

“It’s not really safe for a woman like you to be picking up strangers at night,” he says, and I feel my hackles rise.

“A woman like me?” I glare at him from the rearview mirror, but he doesn’t look fazed.

“I just meant how small you are.”

I watch as his eyes move lower and I wiggle a little in my seat. I realize that I don’t feel the same repulsion I did earlier today when Lance did it to me and I wonder why it’s different now. Maybe it’s because I don’t know this guy and Lance is an asshole.

“Besides, this neighborhood isn’t great. It will be, but this is no place for a woman alone at night.”

“How do you know it will be?” He’s so sure of himself and I don’t know why I feel the need to challenge him.

“Because I’m helping to do it.” He shrugs like it’s no big deal as I pull into the parking lot.

The place is empty except for one or two other cars and there isn’t much light out here. I park as close as I can, but it’s still a good ways away from the entrance and I’m going to be looking around paranoid the whole time.

“Come inside and shop with me,” he says as he goes to open the door.

“You want me to grocery shop with you?” I ask, turning around to face him.

“Yeah, you shouldn’t be out here alone. Come keep me company while I buy frozen pizza.” He gets out without waiting for me to respond and comes around to the driver side. He opens the door and holds his hand out. “Besides, they have hot chocolate inside.”

“I’m more of a coffee girl,” I say as I get out without taking his hand or touching him. Why is this dude so damn charming?

“So that’s why you’re so short.”

When I look over, his megawatt smile is enough that this parking lot doesn’t need anything else to light it up.

“I take it you were corn fed.” I make a show of looking him up and down and I swear I can almost see a blush in his cheeks. This man is not only thick but he doesn’t know how damn cute he is.

“I’m from the Midwest and I do like corn.” When we walk through the automatic doors, he grabs a cart and pushes it over to the coffee shop located inside. It’s late, but there’s still someone behind the counter. “I’ll take a hot chocolate and whatever the lady would like.”

“Same,” I mumble.

“With extra marshmallows,” he tells the guy as he pulls out some cash.

He’s so polite to the barista and I watch as they exchange a few words. He leaves a nice tip in the jar too that I don’t miss as I walk around to the end to wait for our drinks. For the first time I glance down at his hands and I’m relieved when I don’t see a ring. I don’t even know why I’m bothering to look because it doesn’t matter.

Harris walks to where I’m standing as we’re passed our drinks and then we take the cart with us as we walk down the aisles of food.

“I feel better already,” he says, looking over at me and taking a drink. “So, what’s your late-night guilty pleasure?”

I watch as he grabs a box of double-stuffed Oreos off the shelf and puts them in his cart. Those are my absolute favorite, but I’m not about to admit it.

“I don’t know. It depends on my mood,” I say, pretending to be cool. What is wrong with me? Why do I care what this guy thinks?

“Well, I thought that was an easy question. I guess we’ll go straight to it then.” Immediately I become anxious at what he could possibly ask me. “White or wheat?” he asks, holding up two loaves of bread.

I bite my lip to keep from laughing as I shake my head and point at the white. I’m like a kindergartener when it comes to food. I love only the stuff that is terrible for me.

“Ah, I see. You’re one of those.” He winks as he places the bread in the cart.