Not long after, our waiter comes back to drop off a basket of warm bread and take our orders. Leah tells him that we’d like the shrimp cocktail before dinner, and I order a beer, because regardless of how great the maître d’ made the wine sound, I know I won’t enjoy it.

After the waiter walks away and we’re served wine, Leah leans toward me. “Are you excited about seeing your parents?”

I start to tell her how things might go when she meets my parents—especially my mother—but stop when a shadow falls over our table. I look up to see who’s joined us, and my hackles rise.

“Leah.” Her name leaving her ex’s mouth sets my teeth on edge, and I fight back a curse. I swear, if he says anything to ruin our night, I’m going to lose my mind.

“Chris,” Leah replies, and there’s no missing the edge of annoyance in her tone. The woman at Chris’s side nervously looks between Leah and me and moves to stand slightly behind her man.

“Sorry for interrupting your evening,” Chris says, looking at me uncertainly before focusing on Leah. “I just wanted to come over and introduce you to my fiancée, Darcy.”

“What?” Leah looks at the woman hiding behind him.

“After our conversation, I thought about what you said, and, well, you were right. Thank you.”

“What conversation?” Darcy asks, looking up at Chris and frowning slightly.

“I’ll explain it later, honey.” He gently looks down at her with a soft expression.

Leah looks stunned by this news. I grab her hand and attention, and she looks at me for a moment before shaking her head. “Um, that’s great. Congratulations, you two.”

“Thank you.” Chris nods, then places his arm around Darcy’s shoulders. “We’ll let you get back to dinner—have a nice evening.” He walks off without another word, and I wonder if maybe Leah laying into him woke him up. I hope it did, for his sake and his fiancée’s.

“Well, that was odd,” Leah mutters, bringing my attention to her. She shakes her head slowly, then mumbles, “Did you see how he looked at her?”

“I saw.”

She nods and studies me, then smiles brightly before grabbing a piece of bread and swiping it through the butter in a ceramic dish. “I think he loves her. I really do hope that things work out for them.”

I’m not surprised by her statement; she seems to want everyone to be happy, however that happiness comes about.

“Maybe you’ll get an invitation to the wedding,” I joke, and the sound of her laughter makes my chest feel warm and light.

“If I do, you’re coming as my plus-one,” she says sassily, and I smile just as the waiter appears with the shrimp cocktail and my beer. I take a drink while Leah picks up one of the shrimp, dunks it in the cocktail sauce, takes a bite, and groans. “You have to have one—they’re awesome,” she instructs me after she chews and swallows. I grab one and follow her lead.

She’s right, they are awesome, but not as awesome as my prime rib or her pepper steak and cheesy rice, which is so delicious I’m tempted to ask the chef for the recipe myself. After we finish our meals, we order a slice of chocolate fudge cake to go, and I pay before leading Leah back out of the restaurant.

“Drunk?” I ask her as I lift her into my truck.

“No,” she lies. Her eyes are glassy, and she has a silly smile on her face. She drank almost the entire bottle of wine by herself, because I could only stomach a sip.

“Don’t pass out on me. You have cake to eat, and I’m curious about what you’ve got on under this dress.” I run my hand across her stomach as I buckle her in.

“I’m not going to pass out,” she replies breathlessly.

“Good.” I lean in and kiss her because I can’t help myself and pull away only when her fingers tighten in my hair and she moans against my tongue. I feel her heated stare as I shut her door and head around to the driver’s side. When I get in, I start the engine and back out of the parking space.

Her hand lands on my thigh, and I grab it and lace our fingers together. “Thank you for dinner. Tonight was perfect—a perfect first date,” she says.

“Anytime, baby.” I give her fingers a squeeze. I might have to disagree with her about it being the perfect first date. I’ll never forget waking her up after a fucked-up night, only to find she’d made it her mission to rectify the evening by setting her kitchen table and serving up Chinese food by candlelight. “It was a good night.”

“The best.” She leans over and rests her head against my shoulder.

As I drive us home, her weight settles against me, and I know she’s fallen asleep. After I park in her driveway, I carry her up the walk and manage to get her inside. I place her in bed and smile when her lashes don’t even flutter, and I pull the quilt over her. I take Bruce out, and when I get back inside, I give Mouse a couple more treats before going back to the bedroom, where Leah is still passed out. I take off her shoes, dress, and lacy bra and leave her in her lace panties. As disappointed as I am, I have to admit she’s adorable, even though she’s passed out. After I remove my own clothes, I get into bed and tuck her against my chest and wrap my hand around her hip. I listen to her breathing and fall asleep with her right where she belongs.