Authors: J. S. Scott
"How about the usual. On the house of course." Her tone was light but her heart was still racing.
His lips curled into a wicked smile. "I guess that will do...for now."
Maggie was loading a plate with pralines and one of her specialty gigantic cream puffs when he commented. "Hey...what's that?"
He was pointing at one of her new truffles. "It's my newest creation." She added two to the plate. "You have to try them."
He reached over the counter and snagged one off of the plate, popping the entire chocolate into his mouth. His eyes closed as he savored the confection, a look of ecstasy on his face. When he finished he groaned, "Oh God, Maggie. Marry me."
Her heart danced a jig and her core clenched. She knew it was just his usual expression of delight over her creations, but even those comments made her hot. "You'd only be marrying me for my chocolates," she told him with a mock scold.
"I could think of other good reasons." He gave her a wolfish grin and took the plate she was offering. His big hand slid over hers, caressing her fingers as he accepted the plate slowly.
She turned her back to him so that he couldn't see her flushed face. "Coffee?," she shot over her shoulder.
"Yes, please." He had already downed the second truffle and sat at a small table with his heavily laden plate.
She poured him a cup and took it to his table. As she set the cup down she told him earnestly. "Thanks for the door repair, Jake. Seriously, I appreciate it."
"I'm being well compensated, Maggie. It was really no big deal. I think I made out better on the deal than you did," he answered as he dug into his cream puff.
She highly doubted a few confections were worth even a few minutes of his time. Jake was the best contractor in the city, but it was one of the thoughtful things he did that was so much a part of his kind personality. It was one of the things she really liked about him.
"Can you sit with me for a while?" His eyes swept up to her face with a coaxing look as he indicated the chair across from him.
Her butt plopped into the chair. She had a hard time refusing him when he really looked like he wanted her company.
They talked while he ate. They never seemed to run out of things to say. In last year they had probably learned more about each other than most people that had dated just as long. Professional, personal, superficial. Their conversations were always different, but never boring.
She had to pop up occasionally to help a customer, but she always returned. Jake attracted her like a magnet and time flew by whenever he was around.
"Oh, crap. Look at the time!" She jumped up suddenly when she realized it was already close to four o'clock.
He stood and tossed his empty paper plate in the trash. "You have a hot date?" He teased her softly.
"A favor for a friend. I have to close early today." She gave him a anxious look.
"Doesn't look like it's something enjoyable,” he commented casually.
"It's a nightmare. But I have to do it." Maggie rushed around turning off appliances. She still had to finish closing. Since she wasn't open on the weekends she could come in tomorrow to finish cleaning up.
"Thanks, Maggie. Everything was extraordinary as usual." Jake grinned as he finished his coffee and dropped the paper cup in the garbage. "Do you need help?"
She turned to him gratefully. "Nope. But thanks for asking, Jake. And thanks again for the door."
"Any time, Maggie. All you have to do is ask." He flashed her a smile as he opened the door. "See ya Monday." The door click closed quietly behind him.
She ran around the counter and flipped her sign to the "closed" side and turned the lock on the door.
Monday. Weekends were always the longest. Two days without seeing Jake.
Maggie hustled to close her shop and get home to get ready for the ball with a heavy heart.
Jake Rawlins untied the bow tie of his tuxedo with a curse. He started to redo it carefully.
He was going to the charity ball and he knew Maggie would be there. Lisa had told him that she would be. Jake knew he should probably be ashamed of himself for pressuring Lisa so hard, but he was too desperate to feel any remorse.
He felt like a teenager going on his first date just because he knew that Maggie would be at the ball. He hadn't been on an actual date in over a year. His fierce desire and affection for Maggie made it impossible for him to even consider seeing any other woman. It didn't seem to matter that she turned him down flat. He kept going back like a lovesick puppy. The woman was pure hell on a man’s ego.
He wished she would put him out of his misery and just go out with him. He knew there wasn't a special guy in her life. He had made it a point to find out soon after he had met her.
Jake could rarely let a day go by without stopping at her shop. He was addicted to her smile and he hated the weekends. It meant two days without seeing her beautiful, smiling face.
He had a severe case of lust and a whole lot of adoration for a woman that would hardly acknowledge his advances. Under her sometimes defensive exterior was a woman with a heart of gold and he wished he could figure out what held her back and made her defensive. Did she really think he was joking when he asked her out or was it her polite way of telling him she wasn’t interested? Hell...he had never been more serious. He'd love to show her exactly how earnest he was….if only she'd just give him a shot.
He left her shop every day with a hard cock and a determination to get over her. By the next day…he was back, eating more sweets than he should and wanting her more than he had the day before.
He had actually had to add another mile to his daily run to burn the calories he ingested every day at her store. Jake grinned at himself in the mirror, knowing it was worth the extra pain. He had a taste for sweets and hers were the best he had ever had. Now…if she would just let him nibble on her. He'd gladly give up her truffles for a taste of her bare skin. He wanted to uncover and taste every bare inch of her body.
His cock was standing at attention from visualizing that scenario and he grimaced. He knew taking care of his own needs made a poor substitute for Maggie. He had tried it.
But he still burned for Maggie.
It was way past time he settled this once and for all. He was going to give it his best shot tonight when he saw her. He thought he had earned her trust...but he wasn't quite sure. They had been doing a dance around the issue of dating for almost a year. He needed to know if he had any chance at all. No jokes. No excuses.
Jake swept up his keys and headed for the door, hoping the evening turned out the way he wanted it to. He didn't want to think about any other outcome.
Maggie yanked on the underskirt of the black formal that Lisa had purchased wanting to murder her friend. The dress probably would have looked great...on a size eight woman. Maggie felt like a stuffed sausage. The dress was her size, but definitely not her style. The underdress was form fitted and hugged her body to just above the knee. The overlay was a transparent black that did nothing to hide the body that was underneath the clinging, body hugging dress. What she was wearing next to her skin nearly made her blush. The barely-there panties and bra were black silk and lace and the sheer stockings were trimmed with lace and light black to contrast with her outfit.
And then there were the damned shoes. Maggie wasn't used to three inch heels. What if the guy was short? She would tower over him like a giant.
Maggie sighed. What choice did she have? It wasn't as if she had another dress to wear in her closet. She pulled up the spaghetti straps on the gown as she locked her car. The cleavage was low and she found herself constantly trying to tug it up. She hated leaving her rounded arms bare so she had added a light black shawl to the ensemble.
Maggie had tried to sweep her hair up in a sophisticated style, letting the tendrils curl around her face. Her mother's black and white cameo necklace and matching earrings had come out of their dusty box for the occasion.
Her keys were dropped into the little black bag she was carrying as she proceeded cautiously in her don’t-break-your-ankle heels toward the hotel entrance where the ball was being held.
Shit. She had never felt so self conscious in her life and she knew it showed. Her face was burning and she knew without looking the mirror that it was bright pink. Why had she bothered to put on make up for the occasion when she would end up naturally flushed the whole damn night?
The dining room was elegant and filled with well dressed singles. Her heart was racing, wondering how she would find the man with a matching number.
Please let him be an eighty year old bald man that won't mind my company.
Her eyes darted around the room looking for someone to fit that description, but she didn't see anyone that looked over the age of forty.
So much for that thought.
Just as she was stepping tentatively further into the room, her eye caught a man moving toward her that forced her breath to catch. He was the most handsome man in the room...and she knew him.
Jake approached her with a huge smile on his face.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
He made her heart race in jeans and a t-shirt. In a formal black tux he nearly made her have a full-blown heart attack.
"Maggie," he greeted her cheerfully as he reached her side. "You look incredibly beautiful."
The smell of his masculine scent and light cologne made her slightly dizzy. "I didn't know you were going to be here, Jake." Her voice cracked as she looked up at him. Three inch heels and she still had to tilt her head slightly.
"It's one of my favorite charities." He looked at her perplexed. "You were dreading this? Why?"
"I feel ridiculous," she admitted with a sigh.
"You look gorgeous, Maggie." His eyes were intense as they swept her body. "You take my breath away."
"Oh, please, Jake. Don't tell me that you would be thrilled if our numbers matched." She rolled her eyes.
"I would be thrilled. I'd be completely ecstatic," he answered enthusiastically. "What's your number?"
Maggie dug in her little clutch purse and pulled out her invitation and turned it toward him. "Fifty-One."
His eyes danced as he pulled his out of his pocket. She glanced at it quickly, a horrified expression on her face. "Oh, God. We do have the same number."
"Is it really that bad to be my date, Maggie?" He looked hurt and dejected.
She hated the fact that she had insulted him. "Bad for you. I'm sorry, Jake. Maybe you can trade cards with someone."
He grabbed her hand and pulled her toward a door. She felt the light summer breeze lifting her curls as they entered a large balcony. It was unoccupied.
When she turned to face him...he actually looked…angry. Had she ever seen Jake’s temper? She hadn’t even known he had one. He was such an upbeat, happy guy that his displeasure surprised her.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Maggie? Am I really that distasteful to you that you don't want to spend the evening with me." He took her by the shoulders lightly, but his eyes were spitting fire.
Tears filled her eyes. Did she have to explain it? "I would love to be with you Jake, but that would mean that you would have to be with me."