By Sunday evening I was a nervous wreck. I paced in front of my living room window, wondering what he had planned. I was wearing the dress I’d discussed with Dani and Jess—a full-skirted, sedate frock in black wool jersey with long sleeves and a modest sweetheart neckline. It was suited for an office or a funeral more than an evening on the town, but I didn’t own much in the way of evening wear. My black leather boots had moderate heels and came to just below my knee, meaning the dress fell below the boots. Boldly, I decided to wear a garter belt and thigh-high stockings instead of pantyhose, and a matching black demi-cup bra. It was the only sexy underwear I owned, a gift one year from Dani, who was always trying to liven me up. Feeling even naughtier, I stuffed the matching thong back in the drawer. I wore the pearls I’d bought myself with one of my first big checks—a double strand and a pair of really nice drop earrings. My hair was caught in a messy knot at the nape of my neck and I’d bought a brand-new, bright red lipstick at the all-night drug store. I was as ready as I was ever going to be.
Jack’s pickup pulled into the driveway of my townhouse almost exactly at dusk. Shamelessly, I watched through the window as he approached the house. He wore a charcoal gray suit with a pale blue shirt and a striped tie, but his shoulder-length hair and shiny black biker boots hinted at the wildness I knew lurked within the upscale packaging. He carried a bottle of wine and a bouquet of flowers in one arm as he loped up my front steps two at a time. I was at the door, pulling it open, even while his hand was reaching for the doorbell. He paused, hand extended, and smiled at me.
“Hello, beautiful.” His expression was pure, bottled sex appeal. “Can I come in?”
“Of course.” I couldn’t believe I’d just stood there, frozen, staring at him. I stepped aside to let him in the door.
“Our reservations aren’t until nine so I thought we could have a drink first.” He held up the bottle of wine.
Since it was barely seven, I nodded and led him back through the living room to the kitchen. He looked around at my pale yellow walls, comfy furniture and eclectic blend of antique and modern art pieces and grinned his approval. “Nice mix. Feminine without being cloyingly girly.”
“Thanks. I was lucky enough to have invested most of my early earnings so this time I could do what I wanted.” The kitchen was the same sunny yellow with cherry wood cupboards that matched the floors and speckled granite countertops. I ducked around the island counter that separated the kitchen from the dining area and handed him a corkscrew while I got down a couple of glasses, checking surreptitiously for dust. I didn’t use my stemware very often—maybe with my girlfriends last Christmas.
“Lucky? I don’t think so.” He poured out two modest glasses of the Proseco—a sparkling white wine—and handed me one. Raising his glass, he continued. “I’d say smart. As smart as the heroine in that book you had on your e-reader the other night.”
I stared, horrified, with my glass half raised to his. “You—you read Lady Lust? But it’s only available as an e-book. It’s not even in print yet!” And it was a very explicit erotic romance—not something many men would ever admit to reading.
He chuckled. “I’m not technologically challenged even if I am an antique. I don’t have an e-reader—yet—but I do have a laptop. I downloaded it Saturday morning after I brought you home. It was,” he waggled his eyebrows, “very educational.”
“Uhh…wow.” I didn’t say anything else, but my mind was whirling. He leaned over the counter and clinked my glass with his, and I had just enough presence of mind left to sip the crisp, fruity wine. I hadn’t tried this variety before and the tiny bubbles—much softer than champagne—tickled the inside of my mouth.
“So what are we doing tonight?” All he’d told me so far was to wear the dress. Since I’d never had a real date—a sheltered Greek girl in New York in the ’20s was certainly not allowed to do any such thing, and I hadn’t much wanted to since splitting from Frederic—I had no idea what to expect.
“Ah, now that would spoil the surprise,” he told me with a wicked grin. “Let’s just say it should be a night that Holly Covington would enjoy.”
My breath caught at the mention of Holly, the heroine of the erotic novel he’d seen and downloaded. Holly had been into some wild and crazy stuff. What the heck did Jack have planned after reading that book? I had no idea, but if I’d been wearing panties they’d have been damp by now. Feeling the moisture between my legs with no underwear to absorb it had me clenching my thighs together under my dress.
The roses he’d brought me were bicolored, a deep red on the outside of each petal but snowy white on the inside. Innocence and sin—the symbolism wasn’t lost on me. I’d been sheltered for far too long, now it was time for me to take charge of my own life, my own pleasure. I lifted them to my nose, inhaling the rich, heady perfume and sighed.
“They’re perfect, Jack. Thank you.”
“I thought you’d like them. That particular blend—it’s unexpectedly attractive, isn’t it?” He wasn’t looking at the flowers. Those deep brown eyes were staring straight into my blue ones.
“I’m glad you think so,” I answered simply, ducking my head. I licked my lips and pointed at a shelf above his head. “Can you get me down that vase?”