When people began emerging from the gate, I stood and walked over so I could watch for Jada. Hank had only given me a general description of Jada, stating she was a pretty black woman with light skin, brown eyes, and curly hair. But nothing could have prepared me for the real Jada.
I knew her as soon as she walked through the gate, her carry-on bag slung over her shoulder. Hank hadn’t done her any justice in his description because the woman I saw walk through the gate was absolutely breathtaking.
Jada had smooth, light brown skin and shoulder-length golden-brown hair. She was tall, at least five feet, nine inches tall. The skinny jeans she had on emphasized her long legs that were tucked into brown ankle boots. Briefly, I wondered if this woman moonlighted as a model when she wasn’t off rescuing Las Vegas’ cat and dog population.
Her curls bounced around her face as she walked forward, her dark brown eyes scanning the room. She was probably looking for Hank, so I quickly stepped forward.
As I got closer to Jada, I saw that she had adorable freckles across the bridge of her nose. My weakness.
“Jada?” I asked when I was a few feet away.
Her eyes snapped to me. “Hi?” she asked in an unsure voice.
“I’m with Break-Ridge Ranch,” I said quickly, hoping to put her at ease.
“Oh, hi!” she said, sticking her free hand out to me.
I shook it, noting the calluses on her hands that were the result of hard work. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Seki Paulson.”
“It’s great to meet you, Seki,” she replied, smiling. God, her smile was glorious, so vibrant that it lit up her entire face. “I’m Jada Hartville.” She frowned and then laughed. “But you already know that, don’t you?”
I chuckled and then pointed at her bag. “Let me get that for you.”
She looked surprised. “Oh, wow, thank you, Seki. But I think I’ll keep it for now. You can help carry my suitcase if that’s alright with you. It’s heavy and you look like a strong guy.”
I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face. “Fair enough,” I said. “Besides, I like a self-sufficient woman.”
“Huh,” she said, a small smile gracing her lips. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
We began walking toward the baggage claim to grab her suitcase.
Worry filled me as we walked, and I hoped Jada didn’t think I was a total creep. I didn’t mean to flirt with her the way I had, but it was like verbal vomit, just spilling from my mouth. While she seemed receptive to it, I sincerely hoped she hadn’t felt the need to flirt back out of necessity.
I was going to have to cool it if I was going to work with her. Hank would kill me if she went screaming back to Las Vegas because I’d made her uncomfortable, which wasn’t something I ever wanted to do to a woman.
Ugh, I was probably just overthinking everything.
As we waited for Jada’s luggage to appear, I told her, “The reason Hank sent me to pick you up is that he got caught up in doing paperwork.”
“I’m guessing it never ends when you own a ranch, huh?” she joked.
“You have no idea. Just wait until we get there and I will show you around our clinic. There’s a surprising amount of paperwork that comes with being a vet on a ranch.”
Jada’s face lit up. “Oh! So you’re the other vet? Hank mentioned the ranch had a part-time one.”
A little embarrassed, I nodded.
“Looks like we’ll be spending a lot of time together,” Jada said.
And, if I wasn’t mistaken, she had a twinkle in her eye.
After we found Jada’s luggage, I led her out to the van. We chatted along the way, mostly just talking shop because it was the one thing we definitely had in common.
When we got to the utility van Break-Ridge Ranch proudly emblazoned along the sides, I opened the trunk and put her things inside. Then I walked around to the passenger side door and opened it for Jada.
She stopped short. “That’s the second nice thing you’ve done for me since we met,” Jada said with a chuckle.
“Oh?” I asked, again worrying I was perhaps overstepping.
She gave me a shy smile. “I’m just surprised, that’s all.”
I frowned in confusion. “You aren’t used to people doing nice things for you?” I asked.
She shook her head, her curls bouncing beautifully. I couldn’t help but imagine other things, sexier things, that would make those curls bounce too.
“You may not know this about Vegas, but chivalry isn’t just dead, it’s a freaking fossil.”
I was unable to prevent the bark of laughter that escaped my lips. Jada was funny. I liked that about her. It would make working with her all the better.
As we left the airport, Jada must have sensed that I was tense. She didn’t say anything until we got down the road and I let out a sigh. “I really don’t like airports,” I said.