“Since I’m not from around here, you’ll have to give me some suggestions.” Sam’s voice jolted him into the moment, and he realized he’d asked her a question. Did her voice always sound so husky and breathless? Or was that just his imagination?

“You’re in luck. We’ve got just about anything around here. Chinese, Japanese? Or maybe a burger? And the best damn steakhouse around. Your choice.”

“I’m game for a steak if you are.”

That he could get on board with.

Logan backed out of the space, turned the wheel and put his foot on the gas. Once they were headed toward the main road, he’d managed to get his head in the game.

He debated on whether to break the silence in the car. For the first time in years, Logan found he was incredibly nervous. His senses were flooded with the intoxicating scent of her, something exotic, spicy, but sweet at the same time. Maybe that was affecting his brain to mouth function.

She didn’t seem to be worried about their lack of conversation; instead she busied herself with staring out the window. He punched the volume control a couple of times to provide them some background noise, but it didn’t seem to faze her. Once, he thought he’d seen her sneak a look in his direction, but he kept his eyes on the road although he grinned like a teenager.

The short drive, though longer than he remembered, finally ended when he pulled into the parking lot. Once parked, Logan climbed out of the car and walked around to the passenger side door. By that time, Sam had already gotten out of the car, but he was quick to shut her door for her.

He’d been raised to be a gentleman, but he recognized her independent streak. She was a strong woman, likely set in her ways, but when they reached the doors to the restaurant, he noted she did allow him to open the door for her.

The smile she shot back at him went straight to his groin, and he fought the urge to release the groan that lodged in his throat. It wasn’t until they were seated at a table in the back and served the complimentary bread that either of them actually spoke.

“So, how did it go with Jeff this morning? I noticed he was more optimistic than he has been the past few days.” Logan asked as he leaned against the seat back, resting his arms on the table in front of him.

“We had a bit of a rough start.”

“How so?” Logan watched as Sam seemed to be examining his hands. In turn, he saw that she had her hands clasped together in her lap, and she looked just as nervous as he felt.

“He’s dealing with some personal issues, but we worked through it. He offered some excellent insight into the team, and we discussed a couple of the smaller projects he’s got going on.”

Logan realized what she said, and for the first time, he felt disconnected from a member of his team. Personal issues? Sure, he thought Jeff seemed stressed lately, but the man wasn’t generally a bottle of sunshine, so it hadn’t caught his attention. “What type of personal issues?” He found himself asking.

“I don’t think it’s my place to tell.” She smiled and took a sip of the tea the waitress had just delivered. “Without overstepping my bounds, I would suggest, however, that you take the time to talk to him before he leaves for good.”

Overstepping? He wasn’t sure Samantha Kielty knew how not to overstep, but she seemed genuinely concerned, so he smiled back. At least she wasn’t intimidated by him. He liked that she valued other people’s privacy. Most people answered whatever question he threw at them with full disclosure. It was refreshing to meet someone who wasn’t going to give him every detail just because he wanted to know.

“Understood. Glad to hear it turned around for you. I’ve heard you have that effect on people.” It was actually one of the reasons Logan had been so interested in her for the position, but he wasn’t going to tell her that just yet.

“It’s a useful skill, I’ll admit.”

“How so?” He asked, trying to get her to open up a little more.

“When you’re managing people and projects, sometimes, well, most of the time, in my experience, those projects don’t go as you expect them to. To be successful, you’ve got to be able to rally the troops and get them to want to do it. Being able to get them to open up is a good start.”

“You passed the interview with flying colors, Samantha. You don’t have to try and sell yourself anymore.” Logan laughed. She sounded so serious and as much as this was an official business lunch, he found himself wanting to get to know more about her personally.

“Right. Sorry. I guess I just get carried away sometimes.” Samantha replied, her cheeks turning a pretty shade of pink. “And please, call me Sam.”

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