I raise my right hand. “I’m taking an oath. I’m not that cruel. But chocolate-covered kale is another story. Why don’t you try it?”
She takes a bite, considering. “What do you know? I don’t think that’s half bad.”
I pump a fist. “I knew I could convert you.”
She arches a brow. “I’m not totally converted. Now, in the future if you want to spoil me, chocolate and wine are the way to go.”
I pretend to type. “Filing that away.”
Leo strolls by, and I straighten. So does Ginny, almost as if we’ve done something wrong, and we don’t want the boss man to catch us.
I choose to take that as another good sign, so much that I drop off a square of chocolate on her desk before I leave. That night while I’m at the gym, she texts me.
Ginny: Now that was even better than the chocolate-covered kale.
Noah: Excellent. Did you finish all of it?
Ginny: I did finish it. I’m quite good at finishing.
Oh, that’s definitely a dirty euphemism.
Noah: I’m quite good at finishing too.
Ginny: What are you good at finishing?
Noah: Whatever I set my mind to. I have excellent stamina. I’ve finished marathons. I’ve finished races. I can finish whatever I need to finish.
Ginny: I love finishing.
And I’m on fire. Because she is almost certainly, most definitely, 100 percent all but sexting with me.
Noah: What are you going to finish right now?
Ginny: I’m having a soak in the tub.
Noah: You’re a mermaid, yowza. Do you have a bath bomb?
Ginny: I bow to the inventor of bath bombs.
Noah: Favorite kind?
Noah: Of course. And you smell like honeysuckle.
Ginny: You’ve been sniffing me?
No point lying now, so I tap out a reply as I climb the StairMaster.
Noah: Yes. You smell incredible. Your scent is the perfect finishing touch.
Ginny: All this talk of finishing reminds me that I ought to finish this bath.
Noah: And after that, will you finish other things?
Ginny: It seems possible.
I stare at the phone as I climb, sweat slinking down my brow. Holy shit. She’s a dirty girl.
We’ve jumped from electric toothbrushes to kale to wine to bath dirty talk, and I want to go over to her place right now and get in the tub with her, and I don’t even like baths. I mean, come on, baths are kind of dirty.
I’m a shower guy. But a bath with Ginny Perretti? Hell yeah.
The next day I bang my head against the desk.
Must. Stop. Flirting.
I absolutely must. What is wrong with me?
I can’t believe I got that bawdy last night. I can’t even blame the wine. Because I know better. I was supposed to focus on arguing with Noah, finding things I dislike, reasons we wouldn’t work, and instead I flirted with him yet again. I write my mantra down in my notebook.
Must. Stop. Flirting.
But I don’t follow my own commands.
I keep arguing with him, like when I see him in the break room over the next week, and we debate who the best Bond is.
I say Pierce Brosnan, he insists on Daniel Craig.
We discuss when mason jars became okay for pretty much everything, and then we talk about murses. I don’t mind them, but he says no man should ever carry one.
And he sends me more paper airplanes. Sometimes he writes funny words in them. Sometimes he’ll suggest a random topic he wants to debate the next day—why does honey belong in mustard but not ketchup?—and other times his paper airplanes are a little flirty.
Every day, though, I find myself looking forward to these moments, and at the same time, I remind myself that getting involved with a young guy from work would be a huge mistake, and I don’t have room to make any.
* * *
A few days later, I stop by my boss’s office before I leave for the day. “I’m all ready for the show this weekend. We’ll go searching for our star.”
In a split second, he closes his laptop. For a moment I wonder if he was looking at pictures of that woman again. He turns his gaze away from the machine, and Leo leans back in his chair. “I have my treasure map. I’m ready.”
I thrust a fist in the air. “We won’t leave until we track him or her down.”
“We will be victorious.”
“Of course we will.”
As luck would have it, we do find a promising prospect at the chocolate show, a lovely, friendly, wildly outgoing woman with crazy curly hair, bright blue shoes, and a big personality. I hit it off with her instantly then learn something extraordinary.
She extends a hand. “Lulu Diamond.”
That’s rather interesting.
She’s the woman from Leo’s past.
She’s the one I’d bet a lifetime of chocolate he still carries a torch for, even if he’d deny it under oath or severe tickling.
But requited or unrequited love isn’t for me to weigh in on.