“What are you doing?”
“Having dinner with you.”
Len drops a coffee in front of me. “The special?”
“The special,” I affirm.
“You may not have noticed, but I’m sitting here,” Khloe tells me when Len leaves to put my order in.
“The special looks good today,” I say peeking at her dish. “Len makes the noodles by hand.”
“It is good, but that’s not the issue.” She leans over the table. “You’re at my table.”
“Technically this is my table.”
A line in her forehead appears. “What do you mean this is your table?”
“It’s the table I sit at every night for dinner. I’d planned on bringing you here, but you must’ve read my mind and came over on your own accord. I like that.” I grin at her. “Since our minds are working in the same direction, we won’t have many misunderstandings.”
“Mis-misunderstanding?” she sputters. “I’m having dinner. Alone.”
I tilt my head. “You’re not alone. You’re with me.
Her jaw drops and I feel like it’s good timing because Len is back with my plate of rib tips and noodles. He replaces the old gravy boat that Khloe had used with a fresh one. “Want a second helping?” he asks her.
“No. I don’t, but I’d like this man to be seated at a different table,” she replies.
Len looks at me and I give him a small shake of my head.
“Wait. This is my table. Shouldn’t you be asking me?”
“This is Chief’s table and he asked me to put you here. Said he was meeting you later.” Len’s confused.
“It’s all good, Len. Thanks, and tell Candace the food looks awesome.” I pick up my fork and dig in while Khloe sorts through it all.
“How did you know I would come here?”
“There aren’t many dinner options. It’s either this place or the bar on the edge of town. Jeannie serves a good steak, but the crowd can get rowdy. I gave her a call to let her know that you’d be better off at Len’s, but you chose Len anyway.” I give her a thumbs-up, which causes her pretty mouth to tighten.
“And my broken microphone?
“I stopped by your place to pick you up and when it was empty, I entered to make sure you weren’t hurt.”
“You cannot just go into my house whenever you feel like it.”
As Chief, sometimes you have to know when to shut up, like when a witness is on the verge of remembering some important detail or a criminal is about to confess or when the person across from you says something obviously wrong, but her hand is clenched around her water glass. So I don’t tell her that I can enter her house whenever I feel like it, but shove some food into my mouth and let her temporarily believe that she can lock me out.
“And I already ordered a new mic.”
“Then you’ll have two.”
“You’re paying for it.”
“Sure? Sure is all you have to say for breaking and entering my house, snooping in all my things, and then having your diner friend sit me at ‘your’ table?”
I wipe my mouth with a napkin, take a drink of my coffee, and then move the water glass out of her reach. “Welcome to my town, baby.”
I stare across the table at the most infuriating man that I’ve ever met. He continues to nonchalantly eat his dinner as though he didn’t barge in on my dinner. Why does he have to look so handsome in his uniform? I want to smack the smug look right off his face. He makes me madder than my ex, and that loser cheated on me.
“Hey, sweetheart. Brought you a root beer float.” The waitress sets a giant frosted mug in front of me. “The ice cream is homemade. It’s on the house,” the woman with soft brown wavy hair says. “It’s our specialty.” So much for slipping out of here while Dane ate. Now I have to stay and eat all of this creamy ice cream. I can’t leave it; that would be rude. I also can’t remember the last time I’ve had a root beer float.
“Thank you.” I give her a smile. I see Dane watching me out of the corner of my eyes.
“I’m Candace if you need anything.” She winks at Dane, who gives her a half smile. It’s then that it hits me. They set this up so I’d have to stay. That seems to be going on a lot tonight. Dane has gone to a lot of trouble to make sure he got to spend time with me. The only thing I can’t figure out is why. I resign myself to enjoying my root beer float. I pull out my phone and begin playing with it. Dane snatches it from my hand.
“Give it back.” I hold my hand out.
“Tell me three things about you and I will.” Somehow I know it will be easier to do what he’s asking than fight with him. I still can’t believe he tricked me right into dinner with him. This man is crafty. I’ll give him that. I’m going to have to step up my game. No wonder he has that smug look on his face. I think it’s the same one I had when I thought I’d gotten away this afternoon. I was so sure that I’d given him the slip.