“Come with you where?”
“Come shopping with me. Not clothes or fancy stuff either. There’s a supermarket not far from where I live. Come on. It will be a lot of fun.”
“I’ve not shopped for groceries since I was a little boy.”
She rolled her eyes. “And I bet your mother is ashamed of that. Come on, hot shot. Let’s get you out in the big old wide world.” She moved toward his desk, and he laughed as she closed down his computer, grabbed his cell phone and keys, heading toward the elevator.
“You’re kidnapping me?”
“For a good cause.” They went down toward his car, and she climbed behind the wheel.
“That’s not happening.”
“What’s the matter, you don’t want me to drive your precious car?” she asked, strapping in.
“Do you think you can handle a car? I’ve not seen you drive.”
“Get in, Hunter. You probably don’t even know what a supermarket looks like.” She gripped the steering wheel, and he closed the door, rounding the vehicle and climbing inside.
“I do not like this. I do know what a supermarket is like.” This was the strangest date he’d been on.
Wait, it wasn’t a date. Nothing was a date unless it had fancy clothes, and sex guaranteed at the end.
“Buckle up,” she said, already pulling out of his parking space, and heading off into some unknown direction.
He didn’t like being in the passenger seat.
“Your car is so nice and smooth,” she said. “You’ve got a thing for leather.”
“It came custom with the car.” He folded his arms.
“I’ve told you about my parents and my lack of a relationship with them. Tell me about your parents,” she said. “Do you still talk with them?”
“Yes, I do. We’re still close. They still live in the home they raised me in, and they visit me from time to time. The corporate world was never for them. All my life they encouraged me to be what I wanted to be.” He loved his parents, and glancing over at Payton, he knew they would love her as well. “My mom was a stay-at-home mom, always taking care of her family. I was an only child. My parents couldn’t have any more children. I know they wanted more, and they want grandkids as well.”
“Do you think you’ll ever be a father?”
“Do you think you’ll ever be a mother?”
She laughed. “I asked first, but you want to be difficult, fine, I will. Yes, I see myself as a mother. I never thought I’d be a model if I’m being honest. I’ve heard some bad horror stories. Women having to make the choice between their career and motherhood. Being super slim has its advantages and disadvantages.” She patted the steering wheel. “I like the thought of being a mom. I can imagine taking her out to the park, or standing baking cookies together.”
As she spoke about it, he imagined her in a large country style house with a kitchen that was homey. Flour all over the place, including all over her. A little girl standing on a stool, rolling out dough looking as messy as the work surface.
He rubbed at his chest as his heart seemed to tighten.
“I would love to be a mother. I’d call my first daughter Bethany. Your turn.”
“I honestly don’t know. Being a father isn’t something I’ve thought all that much about to be honest. It has always been work, and one new venture after another. I want to make my parents proud.”
“I don’t think you need to be a dad to make them proud. I bet they already are.”
“I know they are. I also know that they don’t want to see me grow old and lonely. I think that is their biggest fear. I’ll spend all this time working, and not enough time building a family.”
“Family is really important. I think so anyway. I know I’ve got a messed-up relationship with my parents, but one day soon I want to settle down, have a family. I don’t imagine being in front of the camera all my life. It’s not what I want to do.”
They pulled up into a very busy parking lot. She found a space, pulled into it, and he cringed as she seemed to be close to other cars.
“You are such a wuss,” she said, laughing. “It’s a car, not a newborn baby.”
She climbed out of the car, and he followed behind her.
“Do you cook for Rick often?” he asked.
“No. If we’re running behind schedule and have some stuff to go over, he’ll stay for dinner. I told you, we’re friends.”
“I know. Just making conversation.”
She nodded. “Here, push this. You look totally out of your depth.”
“Does the suit give it away?”
“No. You look pale. Don’t worry. No one will think you’re going soft.” She patted his chest, and away they went, heading into the supermarket.
He hadn’t stepped foot inside one of these places ever since he’s made his first million. Shopping for himself had never been important. He watched Payton as she gathered fresh ingredients, and she seemed totally happy and relaxed.