Read DAC_II_GenVers_Sept2013 Online

Authors: Donna McDonald

Tags: #Romance and Humor

DAC_II_GenVers_Sept2013 (5 page)

BOOK: DAC_II_GenVers_Sept2013
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Yet this second date—at least in her mind—was mostly to level the playing field between them. She felt no deepening connection, no desire to have him touch her again. Sadly, Kenneth Adams was not going to be climbing into her bed tonight either, no matter how attractive his face or teeth, or even how well he kissed.

The chemistry just wasn’t there. Not only was there a big
on the attraction, she felt nothing at all. Her lack of interest in Kenneth defied the introspection she had perfected since her divorce.
wasn’t she interested in him that way? Now that was the important question that had made her agree to tonight. Hidden in the answer might be the reason she hadn’t been able to find a decent man since her ex-husband.

Jane frowned as she pondered all possible answers. Maybe her libido was in the process of dying. She heard that sometimes happened after a woman turned a certain age. Maybe she needed to consult her OB-GYN.

Or maybe she had just forgotten how to be interested.

Or maybe it was just that she hadn’t dated a sufficient quantity of men for her mental discernment to feel natural in her body. That had to be it. She was just out of practice in recognizing quality in men.

“Hello, Jane. You’re looking beautiful tonight,” Walter said, stopping at the table while his group moved on around him to leave.

His date for the evening rolled her eyes at the delay, excused herself and strode off rapidly toward the exit. Relief really was a physical thing, Walter decided, breathing out and relaxing for the first time that evening as he watched her get further and further away.

Hi. What are you doing here?” Jane asked as breezily as possible, gripping the fabric of her skirt to keep from extending a hand to stroke the sleeve of his sport coat.
Wow. He looked really good. Better than usual, if that was possible.
Walter’s suit tonight looked even better than the one he had worn to the North Winds closing.

“Be there in a minute,” Walter said in answer to his friend squeezing his shoulder in warning. He watched Daniel and Amanda walk away with their heads intimately leaning toward each other. . .no doubt snickering about him. His envy of their closeness had been the thing that prompted him to set up the double date tonight. Now the same envy had him stopping at Jane’s table, which seemed no less hopeless to him than his miserable date.

When he looked away from his friends and back to the source of his obsession, it was just in time to see Jane’s sharp, assessing gaze narrow on his date’s hips. The short, full skirt the woman had worn was now swinging with her stride in towering four inch heels. He tried really hard to prevent his grin, but lost the battle. Oh, if only Jane Fox was truly jealous. Still, what harm could it do to wish that was the reason for her glare?

“Don’t look now Walter, but I think your date is upset with you,” Jane said. She frowned as she made herself look away from the younger woman’s tight-skirted rear and back to Walter’s friendly smile. “I’m glad to see you’re finally taking my advice though. Good for you.”

Stalling so he wouldn’t blurt out a confession about the lousiness of his evening so far, Walter stuck out a hand to the man observing their exchange with growing interest. “Hello. Sorry to interrupt your meal. Walter Graham. . .I’m a friend of Jane’s. She used to run the assisted living facility where my grandfather lives.”

“Hello. Kenneth Adams. Nice to meet you.” Kenneth nodded and shook hands. Eyebrows raised in surprise, he turned his attention to Jane. “You ran an old folks’ home, Jane?”

“No. Not exactly,” Jane replied, frowning over the unflattering description of North Winds.

“Jane flips businesses,” Walter explained, thinking it strange that any man interested in Jane Fox didn’t already know how smart and successful she was. “She fixes them financially, and then sells them to someone who will take care of them.”

Kenneth smiled and eyed Jane with more interest. “No kidding. That’s very impressive, Jane.”

Jane shrugged, but it had been very nice to listen to Walter’s almost proud-sounding description. You’d have thought he had helped her. Maybe he had. . .indirectly.

“What I do is only half as impressive as the MBA student who bought North Winds from me. Walter’s planning to take the facility partially off the energy grid in order to make it more affordable for seniors.”

Walter stuck his hand in a pocket, smiling genuinely for the first time that evening. Jane’s praise made him want to hug her, and he wished like hell he could. “You should come by tomorrow and see what’s going on. The eco architects are going to be testing the grounds for where to install the geo thermal pools.”

“Already? Wow. That was really fast,” Jane said, blinking up in surprise.

Walter shrugged. “I hired someone to handle the office and resident needs. So now I can pretty much devote myself to the eco projects when I’m not at the station. It’s taken several hundred phone calls, but seems like things are finally starting to happen.”

Jane glanced at the puzzled look on Kenneth’s face, quickly judging that he was not following the conversation. “Not only is Walter converting North Winds to using green energy, but he also volunteers as a firefighter. I don’t know how he manages to do everything he does.”

Hearing Jane describe all his work in the same reverent tone of voice she always did made his dinner date’s lack of interest even more disappointing. While Jane was speaking to Kenneth Adams, Walter tried to keep his gaze limited to the top of her head, but it kept dropping to the open cleavage of her blouse. He could feel ripples of awareness in just about every cell of his body.

“That is very impressive,” Kenneth said sincerely, looking first at Jane, and then at Walter Graham. “I’m not sure that buying an old folks’ home was a great first investment, but new entrepreneurs have to start somewhere. I admire your optimism.”

Walter shrugged off Adams’ veiled criticism. “I’m happy with what I’ve done.”

He looked between Jane and the man before finally resting his gaze on Jane’s date. Mostly it was safer. He didn’t dare look at her cleavage again. His fingers were twitchy and wanted to go exploring. He hoped the desire to do so wasn’t showing on his face.

“Guess I better join the group I came with tonight. Have a good evening,” Walter said, nodding at the man again before he walked away.

Hands in pockets and thinking hard, Walter forced his legs to follow the exit path his friends had taken. Jane’s date was a little condescending, but other than that the man seemed okay. It still surprised him that the guy hadn’t known what Jane did for a living.

Why wasn’t she telling him about herself?


Kenneth watched Jane’s gaze shift away from his to follow the boy as he left. He couldn’t quite gauge what her interest was in him. “Nice kid,” he said finally.

“Walter’s not exactly a kid.” Jane answered automatically, catching herself and the questioning look in Kenneth’s gaze as it met hers. She sighed before offering an explanation. “Walter bought the assisted living facility because he’s taking care of his grandfather who lives there. He even moved into one of the apartments so he could stay close by.”

Kenneth nodded, relieved to think Jane probably felt a motherly concern toward the younger man. “Well I wouldn’t worry about him too much. He’ll probably lose money on this first business, but I suppose he won’t care since he’s being altruistic with his investments.”

“Actually, I think Walter will make his project more successful than he’s planning. I predict he’ll be in the papers for his environmental efforts soon. Who knows? It could lead to him getting offers to do the same for other businesses in Falls Church,” Jane said, folding the menu and setting it aside.

Kenneth seemed pensive and didn’t answer for a while. Jane fought another sigh, trying not to wonder if Walter was going home with the woman who’d walked off in a huff.
Why did she even care? She shouldn’t care. She had no right to care. Did Walter care? He hadn’t seemed to be very concerned about it.

Jane frowned at the thought of Walter not caring. That bothered her as much as thinking he was driving the woman home right now. Was that her fault?

She watched Kenneth studying the ceiling, dreading to hear what he probably was thinking. Did she embarrass herself? She hadn’t flirted with Walter—had she?

“Graham. Graham. Wait—I got it. That boy was Leland Graham’s son, wasn’t it? I
he looked familiar,” Kenneth said on a chuckle, folding his menu in his excitement to have figured it out. “I actually know that kid. His father is a physicist who works in DC. If the kid is into investments instead of science, I’m guessing Leland didn’t pass along that genius brain of his to his son.”

Jane bit her lip to keep from defending Walter further. It wasn’t her place, and it wasn’t right. She was out on a date. But why were she and Harrison the only two people who saw how amazing Walter was?

“And that damn
Harrison Graham
. . .of course. That’s why the kid looked so familiar to me. Walter looks just like his grandfather used to look. Is Harrison still a live wire? Let’s see. . .Harrison was a lot younger than his wife, but. . . I guess that would still put him in his eighties these days. Right?”

“Harrison is eighty-two,” Jane said tightly, looking up at the waiter when he arrived. She placed her order quickly, adding a bottle of red wine to it. She wasn’t driving. And after seeing Walter dressed up in a suit, she definitely needed a drink to keep from thinking what he would look like not wearing it.

Pleased to have gotten to the reason for his unease, Kenneth gave his order absently before turning back to Jane. “Do you know the story of how Harrison tricked his wife into dating him? She was older, divorced, and dating all the single men in the country club. A lot of time has passed, but those two are still the biggest scandal there. Even Lauren McCarthy dating the very married James Gallagher comes in second place. Though I guess that worked out well in the end too, come to think of it.”

“Yes, I think I know the story. Harrison ran over her golf clubs, right?” Jane offered, trying to think of a way to change a conversation that was becoming increasingly uncomfortable for her. Jim had been married when he met Lauren? No. There must have been something screwy in that story. Jim adored Lauren and JD. She decided Kenneth Adams had listened to too much gossip. And after tonight, she would have too.

“Bet that old rascal told you himself, didn’t he? Harrison has always been as brazen as hell. . .very successful, but has few polite boundaries,” Kenneth reported.

“He’s not so bad. I actually like Harrison. I think he’s charming,” Jane said finally, her throat tight with the urge to tell her date to stop talking about her friends.

“Well of course you like him, Jane. You’re
,” Kenneth joked, his mind racing now that he knew who the kid was. “Walter’s father—Leland—was almost as bad as Harrison. He broke up April Lansing’s engagement and then married her himself six months later. April was a little older than Leland too. The younger Graham seems quite subdued compared to the other men in his family. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of any scandals involving young Walter.”

“I wouldn’t know. I haven’t met Walter’s mother and father.”
, Jane thought, but didn’t say it out loud to Kenneth. She had wanted to meet them. She had seen them at a distance. Somehow Walter had made sure it hadn’t happened yet.

“Actually, since I left North Winds, I’ve missed seeing Harrison. He used to stop by the office every day and tease me about having nice legs.”

Kenneth laughed, imagining the old man flirting with Jane. “He’s right. You do. So how well do you know the youngest Graham?”

His question made Jane instantly recall the hard abs and strong biceps under Walter’s shirt, and how her hands hadn’t made a dent in any of his muscles when she’d kissed him at the hospital.

“I sold North Winds to Walter, and we talk now and again about his plans for it. Walter and I are just good friends,” she said.

“Better hope good-looking Walter Graham agrees and thinks that way about your relationship too,” Kenneth warned, laughing at his own joke. “Those Graham men are unpredictable. You’re older, beautiful, and smart—prime ‘cougar’ material for a cub like him. You don’t want to wind up being fodder for the next round of Graham gossip in Falls Church.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I hear being a ‘
comes with some really good perks,” Jane said, then froze when she realized she had voiced her frustration over Kenneth’s gossip aloud. “Sorry. Tasteless joke. Walter’s obviously too young for me. Anyone can see that.”

“Hold that thought tightly, Jane. And never talk to Alexa Ranger. I dated her once. She’s married now to a man much younger than her. It’s all the rage these days,” Kenneth said, smiling as their food arrived.

“Don’t be silly. Walter is a nice guy, but I prefer dating men my age,” Jane said, the pronouncement sitting heavy in her gut. It was her rote spiel, but didn’t seem very logical at the moment.

Her imagination was busy coping with sickening images of Walter kissing the woman who had stalked away. His date probably wouldn’t stay mad at him long if he did. Walter kissed well too. He put everything he was into it.

“Terrific. You just made me glad to be over forty,” Kenneth said. He smiled and nodded at Jane’s entrée when it arrived. “Food looks good. I used to eat here a lot with someone I dated, but I stopped coming when we stopped seeing each other. I don’t know why. This restaurant makes the best pasta in town.”

Jane’s gaze dropped to her plate. Great. Kenneth assumed she was over forty. She probably looked over forty. The depressing thought took her appetite away.

And how was she supposed to eat when her mind was on what Walter was doing with that woman he was with tonight?

She looked at the man across from her and thought about how close Kenneth was to being the guy she thought she wanted, if you overlooked the occasional condescending remark. Attorneys were all like that though. She had unhappily dated several. But still . . . Kenneth Adams was a great find and probably would make a good husband. . . for someone someday. . .not her. . .but someone.

BOOK: DAC_II_GenVers_Sept2013
7.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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