“Whatever,” she states. “Are you ready?”

“Almost.” I pick up the flowers she hasn’t noticed, and her eyes light up.

“You got me flowers?”

“This wouldn’t be a date if I didn’t.”

She smiles and takes them from me, then holds the soft pink petals to her nose. “Thank you. They’re beautiful.”

I kiss her forehead. “Glad you like them.”

“I love them. I’ll put them in a vase when we get home.” She looks up at me. “We should go before someone shows up or you get a phone call and have to leave,” she teases.

“Let’s go before that happens.” I laugh, which is something I do all the time now that I’m around her. I take the flowers from her and set them on the counter before leading her to the living room and helping her with her coat.

On the way to the restaurant, we talk, and like always, conversation comes easy. Really, everything with her is easy. She’s not the kind of woman who plays games to get what she wants or the kind of woman who says what she thinks I want to hear. She’s the opposite of the women I’ve dated in the past. She’s just Leah—she tells it like it is, even when she’s not completely comfortable with a certain topic.

“I love this place,” she says excitedly, sitting forward in her seat when we reach the steak house. “They have the best pepper steak, and they serve it with this cheesy rice that I’ve never been able to replicate at home.”

“Maybe you can ask for the recipe tonight?” I joke while parking.

She snorts. “I’ve tried that, but the chef is tight lipped. He said it’s an old family recipe, and only his son will get it, when he’s on his deathbed.”

“Only you would actually try to get a recipe from the chef.”

She shrugs. “It’s delicious, and you’ll understand why I want it when you taste it for yourself.” She unhooks her belt as I get out and meet her at her car door. I take her hand. As soon as we walk into the restaurant, I give my name to the maître d’, and we’re escorted to our table. I help Leah with her coat and then into her seat before taking my own across from her. We order a bottle of house white from the maître d’ just as our waiter shows up to introduce himself. While pouring our water, he tells us the dinner specials and lets us know that he’ll be back after we’ve had time to look over our menus. Finally alone with Leah, I look across the table and notice her eyes focused on something across the room. I follow her gaze to a good-looking man and woman sitting a few tables away.

“Do you know them?” At my question her head flies my way, and she presses her lips together tightly. Reading her annoyed expression, I ask, “Who are they?”

“My ex . . .” She shakes her head. “Chris, the guy I told you about running into the other day.”

I glance across the room at him quickly. “The guy who can’t commit.”

“Exactly,” she mumbles, picking up her napkin and placing it on her lap with jerky movements.

Jealousy curls in the pit of my stomach, and I growl without thinking, “Do you still have feelings for him?”

At my question she laughs hard, tossing her head back, then looks me in the eye. “You can’t be serious,” she says, still laughing. “I feel only regret when it comes to him.” She wipes under her eyes as she gets her laughter under control. “I just wish I had the courage to go over to their table and tell his new girlfriend exactly the kind of man she’s sitting with.”

My jealous feelings gone, I reach across the table and nab her hand. “I’d rather you not do that, at least not tonight,” I say softly.

“I won’t, even if I want to,” she replies just as softly, looking into my eyes. “She might deserve a heads-up, but I’m not messing up our first date. Not even for the sisterhood.”

Smiling, I bring her fingers to my lips and kiss them. “Good. Though this is far from our first date, according to my calculations.”

“True.” Her fingers tighten around mine. “That said, we should probably check out the menu.”

“I thought you were set on having the pepper steak?”

“I am, but you haven’t figured out what you’re having, and I still need to check out the appetizers. I’m starving and need something to snack on before dinner.”

“Let me know what looks good, baby.” I release her hand and watch her heated eyes roam over me. “I’m a sure thing, beautiful.” I wink. “And you’re gonna need energy for what I have planned for you tonight.” I nod at the menu. “Figure out what you’re having so we can eat and get to that part of our night.” Without another word, she drops her eyes from mine with a smile on her lips and starts to look over the menu.

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