He catches me by surprise and I bust out laughing. I can always depend on Mike to smooth out an embarrassing situation. “I’m sorry I tried to involve someone at work with my personal life. It won’t happen again.”

He pulls my hand he’s still holding up between us. “I want to do it. I don’t trust anyone else to do it. I won’t have you taken advantage of.”

“Johnny wouldn’t …” I start to say until he interrupts me.

“I know that. I trust Johnny, but I just want to do this myself. Don’t you trust me?”

Swaying back and forth, which is something I do when I’m nervous, I tell him, “Yes, of course I do, but I can’t ask you – my boss – to do this.”

He starts shaking his head before I even finish the sentence. “You’re not asking me… I’m telling you. I want to do it. Now, that’s it. We both have work to do. I will pick you up at six tonight.”

I stare in awe at him until I get the courage to speak. “Uh, okay. Uh I can just meet you…”

“It’s a date, Carrie. I’ll pick you up.”

4

Mike

The rest of the day went so slow, I thought it would never end. Standing outside Carrie’s house, I ring the doorbell.

“Hey, Mr. Masters. Come on in, Carrie will be down in a minute.” I shake his hand firmly and the age difference between Carrie and myself smacks me in the face. I’m only a few years younger than her father and I have to wonder how he feels about me taking his daughter out.

“How have you been, Mr. Smith?” I ask him politely.

“Good. Good. I want to thank you for taking my girl out for a work thing tonight. I’m afraid she never gets to go out and she’s been pretty excited about it.” He slaps me on the shoulder as he says it.

So this is how she handled it. She didn’t tell her dad it was a date, she told him it was a work thing. I guess that will have to do for now.

“Of course. She has been a Godsend in the office. We couldn’t make it without her.”

Thumping on the stairwell has me turning toward it. Carrie is walking down the stairs and she looks amazing. She has on a skirt that comes to her knees and a white blouse. Her long blond hair is pulled up in a ponytail and it sways with each step she takes.

“Hey, Mike.” She purrs my name. Turning to her dad, she says, “I love you, Dad. I will be back…”

“Ha ha, Kitten. No worries. You are with Mr. Masters. I trust him to get you home safe.” He gives me a smile and matter-of-fact look over her head and all I can do is nod at him.

I help her into my SUV and when I get into the driver’s seat, I ask her, “So we are doing a work thing?”

She smiles at me with a sad smirk on her face. “Well, I didn’t think you would want people to know exactly what you are helping me with, so I thought that was the best thing to say. Which I hate, because I’ve never lied to my dad before. I feel sort of guilty.”

“You don’t have to lie. Just tell him we are dating, honey. It’s not a lie,” I assure her.

“But you don’t date,” she blurts out and then covers her mouth with her hands. Her eyes are wide, staring back at me.

“I don’t date. Usually. I guess I do now,” I announce to her and pull out into traffic.

My plans are to keep my hands to myself the whole evening. But I don’t know how long that will last. When I saw her walking down the steps, all I could imagine was lifting her skirt up over her head and showing her exactly what I want to do with her. I had to fight with myself to calm my erection. Imagine having to explain that to her dad. She’s right, I don’t date. But for her, I want to start.

I take her to a new Italian restaurant that opened a few weeks ago. I wanted to take her somewhere that she hadn’t been before. After we order, we talk about work until I ask her to tell me about her.

“You already know all about me,” she assures me.

“Well, tell me something I don’t know.” I reach over and hold her hand across the table.

She looks down at our hands and I interrupt her thoughts. “When you are on a date, a man is going to want to always be touching you. If you want them to, you let them. If you don’t, you pull your hand from theirs and tell them so.”

She smiles at me and her hand curls into mine. I release a breath I didn’t know I was holding.

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