“Hey, beautiful,” Ty whispers as he kisses my forehead. I pry my eyes open to find him smiling down at me.
“Hey, yourself,” I murmur. “Time is it?”
“It’s early. I have to go home and get ready for work, but I didn’t want to leave without saying good-bye.”
I push up to my knees and wrap my arms around his neck, bury my nose against his warm cheek, and squeeze him. “Thank you for last night. I had a great time.”
“I’m glad.” He pulls back and kisses my forehead and then my lips. “If I don’t leave now, I won’t leave at all.”
“Okay, stay.” I smile.
“You’re too tempting.” He chuckles. “But I only have to work half the day today. You’ll hear from me later.”
“Looking forward to it,” I murmur.
He settles me back onto the bed and waves as he leaves the room. “Go back to bed, and don’t forget to eat today.”
“Yes, sir!” I call after him.
I hear him laugh as he descends the stairs.
When my doorbell rings at noon, I’ve finished writing two chapters, caught up on my e-mail, and signed five hundred books for my publisher.
Apparently, a good night’s sleep helps productivity.
When I open the door, a huge bouquet of red roses with pink Stargazer lilies greets me, along with Mr. Feldman from the flower shop.
“I have a delivery for you, Lauren.” He grins and passes the large vase with the heavy blooms over to me. “Have a nice day.” He tips his hat and skips down to his van as I take the fragrant bouquet to the kitchen and pull the card from its plastic holder buried in the blooms.
Last night was amazing. The gala was fun too. Meet me at Frontier Park, north side of the bridge, at 5:00.—Ty
What does that man have up his sleeve? Aside from that sexy-as-hell tattoo?
With a quick check of the clock, I realize I have plenty of time to take a quick shower and drive to the courthouse to file the order of protection against Jack before walking over to the park. It’s not far from my house.
The process at the courthouse is quick and smooth, and Susan, the court clerk, doesn’t even bat an eye when she hands me the appropriate paperwork to fill out and submit to the judge. Relieved that it’s over, and a bit nervous about what Jack’s reaction is going to be, I return to the house, park, and set off on foot for my date with Ty.
It’s a beautiful day again today. I wonder how long we’ll continue getting these sunny fall days before Mother Nature decides the gig is up and gives us cold and rain instead.
The walk to the park is short. It borders my property at the edge of town and sits next to a small river. A large stone footbridge arches gracefully over the water. I love this bridge. I came here often as a teenager to sit and watch the water, read a book, or just think.
As I pass over the top of the arch, I move to the side of the bridge and look over to watch the water move quickly below, then I continue down the other side. This park has no playground equipment for kids. It’s full of meandering paved paths for runners and cyclists, tall trees, and picnic tables sprinkled here and there.
I turn a corner and see Ty sitting at a picnic table, his head bowed as he types away on his phone. He’s spread out a red cloth on the table, and a large brown paper bag is sitting on top.
He doesn’t see me as I approach so I take a moment to watch him. His brow is creased in concentration, his gray eyes narrowed on the device in his strong, lean hands. He’s changed out of his work clothes into jeans and a plain, black T-shirt. A hoodie lies on the bench beside him.
I’ve never seen anyone else as handsome as he is.
“Mind if I join you?” I ask with a smile.
His head whips up and he smiles widely as he rises from the bench and crosses to me, pulling me in for a big hug.
I’m quickly becoming addicted to Ty’s hugs.
“I’m happy to see you,” he murmurs against my hair.
“Thank you for the ridiculously gorgeous flowers.” I grin as I pull away. “And for this.” I gesture to the table.
He smiles shyly. “Who knows how many more pretty days we’ll have?” he asks, mirroring my thoughts from just a few moments ago. “Might as well take advantage of it. I hope you’re hungry.”
“I’m always hungry.” I laugh and sit on the bench next to him.
“Well, I didn’t have time to throw something together, but I brought Mexican.”
“How did you know that I have an addiction to guacamole?” I ask with wide eyes, teasing him.
“How do you know I have guacamole?” He raises a brow as he unloads the bag.
“Mexican without guacamole is just . . . wrong.”
He laughs as he sets aside the bag and begins to pull the tops off the styrofoam containers. “You’re in luck. We have the guac, along with carne asada, pico de gallo, and all the trimmings.”
“Where’s yours?” I dig in with gusto, not at all shy about eating in front of him.
“You’re funny.” He laughs and joins me, piling his plate with delicious food. “How was your day?”
“I had a good day. I filed the order of protection.” I shrug and bite into a chip with dip and sigh in pleasure. “So good.”
“Here.” He touches his index finger to the corner of my mouth, coming away with a dab of guacamole. With my eyes on his, I grip his wrist in my hand and pull his finger into my mouth, licking it clean.
His eyes darken and narrow. “Lauren,” he whispers.
“Eat your dinner.” He turns away and digs into his plate and I grin at him. “You should have called me. I would have gone to the courthouse with you.”
“It was easy.” I wave him off and shake my head. “The hard part will be when Jack is served. That won’t go over well.”
“It doesn’t matter what his reaction is, Lo. I’m relieved that you filed. I still would have liked to be there with you.”
“I’m fine. How was your day?” Ty holds a forkful of Spanish rice to my mouth. “Mm . . . good.”
“It was pretty good. I left at around one.” He takes a bite of his steak. “Oh! Here.” He pulls a thermos from under the table and fills two red Solo cups. “We can’t have Mexican without margaritas.”
“I didn’t realize they let you take liquor to go,” I reply dryly.
“They don’t, smart-ass.”