I sit back and bite the edge of my thumb as I wait to see what he says back. I don’t know why I’m panicking. I have a million things to do, yet this is keeping all of my attention. I just want us to be on the same page, but I have no clue what that is anymore.
When my email pings, I nearly jump out of my seat.
Subject: RE: Tonight
I’ll walk if you can keep up. Your short legs slow us down.
You weren’t weird. You were beautiful. Just like every time I see you.
We’ll talk more after work. You’ve got a meeting.
Just as I read the words in his email, a group of men and women come in, following Miles, and head for the boardroom. I stand up and greet them, offering coffee and drinks without missing a beat. Then I grab my notebook and follow them to take notes.
If any of them noticed that my face turned tomato red, no one said a word. And though I took eleven pages of notes, I couldn’t tell you one damn thing they talked about in that meeting.
He called me beautiful.
“You know now you’re just being dramatic,” Jay says and lets out a little huff.
I laugh at her and nudge her with my elbow as I walk at a snail’s pace for her to keep up. Her short legs are working overtime to keep up with my long strides, so I make a conscious effort to go as slow as I can.
“I can’t help it if you’ve got mini legs,” I tease.
She stomps as she walks, and huffs once more. It would be intimidating if it wasn’t so damn cute. Everything she does is cute.
“You’re about three seconds away from being uninvited to this,” she growls, but her words carry no venom. She likes my teasing.
“But I already bought your wine.” I hold up the brown bag along with my beer. “It would be a shame for this to go to waste.”
She eyes the bag and then sticks her nose in the air as she continues to walk in silence.
“The Slim Jims alone are worth it. Aren’t they?”
We stopped at the corner shop on the way to the art place, and I grabbed some of the jerky when I was checking out. I saw the way she looked at them, and no way was I passing up the chance to give her something I knew she wanted.
As we walk, I reach out and slip her hand into mine, and for a second she’s startled, but then she tightens her hand around mine.
“Just want to make sure you don’t try to run from me.”
She looks down at our hands and then away just as quickly, but doesn’t try to let go.
“Or maybe just so I can keep you from falling behind.”
She gives me a glare, but again she doesn’t try to take her hand away. I see her mouth pull at the edges as she fights a smile, so I take it as a good sign.
I was so thankful she emailed me this afternoon. I wasn’t sure what to say to her, and I had composed and trashed about seventy-two emails before she finally gave me the opening I was desperate for. I had checked her schedule and then the cameras, so I knew we didn’t have much time to talk. But I was happy that I was able to subtly let her know I was still very much interested in her.
“This is it,” she says as we arrive at a small art studio.
We walk inside, and I look around to see rows of tables with canvases already in place. Jay walks over and talks to the lady at the desk, confirming that there are two of us here.
“Great. Looks like you two got the last spots.” She looks me up and down and smiles brightly. “Oh, you’re in for a treat. It’s ladies’ night.”
It’s then I realize the room is full of women, and all of them are looking our way.
Leaning down to Jay, I mumble out of the side of my mouth, “Ladies’ night? Are you kidding me?”
She shrugs like she didn’t know either.
Suddenly the stereo comes on, and Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” rocks through the speakers. I hold in a groan as Jay laughs and pulls my hand to the front of the room.
We sit down, and I can feel people watching us as we settle down and pull out our drinks. Jay grabs one of the jerky sticks and leans back in her seat as the instructor begins.
As she talks about the process, I look around at our supplies and open a beer. I’m half listening when I hear the room erupt into catcalls worthy of a construction yard.
Looking up, I see a nearly naked male model walk across the room and take a seat at the stool directly in front of us. He’s wearing a loose wrap around his waist, and when he spreads his legs, I hear the crowd whistle appreciatively.