Marry. Ha. That was a joke. She couldn’t even score a second date.
“Did he scratch you?” she asked.
“Nope.” He showed her both sides of his hand. He had good hands. Strong, like he did more than sit at a desk. And until tonight, she’d only seen him in body-hiding business suits. He looked pretty buff in his T-shirt and jeans, which made those earlier images from before Gandy’s ambush come flickering back through her brain. How would his chest feel? His hair? His mouth… Stop!
“So, do you have a girlfriend?” Aw, shit. That was stupid. His dating status was none of her business because it didn’t affect her. At all. Like, not even a little. Yet, for some reason she found herself holding her breath for his answer.
He repositioned on the couch to face her a little more. “No.”
That shouldn’t have been such a relief. It didn’t matter. Lawyers equaled hard no, she reminded herself; this one in particular. They worked at the same firm, for God’s sake.
“No time for it.”
“Well, that explains why you were free to drop by on short notice on a Friday night.”
“It’s a work night for me.”
“That’s not healthy, you know. Everyone needs time off.” She’d learned that the hard way when she got sick after pulling a string of eighty-plus-hour work weeks that didn’t get her ahead of the game even a little bit. She’d moved to a rigid eight a.m. to eight p.m. weekday schedule—well, sometimes as late as ten p.m. if she had a trial—and she always took weekends off now.
“You’re a fine one to talk. You work as late as I do.”
She shook her head. “Not on Fridays or weekends.”
“I have to. I’m up for junior partner.”
“So am I.”
He scowled at the TV like a petulant child, and he was so cute she wanted to ruffle his tidy, well-combed hair. How had she not gotten to know Eric before this? She’d seen him around and walked by his open office door multiple times a day. It had just never crossed her mind to pop in and say hi. Maybe that’s what was wrong with her. Being social just didn’t come naturally.
She took a deep breath and wished she were more like James Bond, who seemed equally comfortable engaged in hand-to-hand combat or in a prolonged make-out session like the one filling her TV screen right now.
Jane had no trouble dealing with people in a business capacity in the courtroom or at the deposition table. She found it hard to relate to people in a personal way—always getting tongue tied or causing a huge disaster. She didn’t have trouble talking to Eric, though. Maybe that was because he was a lawyer and therefore out of the dating pool. Not that it really mattered. He’d said he was out of the dating game anyway, which was logical if he was gunning to move up fast in the firm.
She peeked over at him again and found him staring. The edges of his mouth turned up in a smile, and she smiled back. If only it had been this easy with Alastair tonight. Instead of feeling at ease, like she was now, she’d pulled her usual awkward routine and punted the candle with an out of control hand gesture.
Gandy jumped back up on the sofa and head-butted her shoulder, purring. “Oh yeah. Be a jerk and then act all sweet. Typical male.”
When she looked over again, he seemed entranced with the ending of the movie. Maybe her statement was unfair. She’d become jaded. Her brothers were obnoxious and for some reason, she was a dating disaster. Surely there was a guy out there who would be easy to talk to and fun to be around.
“So, wanna come over again for a movie and popcorn next Friday?” she said as the end credits on the film rolled.
“Yeah. Sounds good.”
“Great we’ll meet up after my date. Got another hot friend like Alastair?”
For some reason, he stiffened. Not much, but she was an expert at reading people from all her time with clients. Maybe he didn’t really like Alastair. Or maybe he couldn’t think of another friend to set her up with.
He stood and placed the popcorn bowl on the coffee table. “I’ve got someone in mind.”
Or maybe she’d misread him. “You’re the best.”
“You said that before.”
“And I’ll probably say it again.”
“I hope so.” He reached out, and her heart kicked into high speed. For a moment, she thought he was going to touch her, but instead he stroked the cat who was perched on the back of the sofa behind her shoulder…and Gandy, who hated everyone, allowed it. Which begged the question, if Eric had touched her, would she have allowed it? Nope. Not going there. All lawyers were off limits. Every single one.
Eric’s office door was closed on Monday and again on Tuesday and Wednesday. It shouldn’t have bothered Jane. Wait. No. It didn’t bother her. Nope. Not at all.
He finally texted Thursday, telling her to expect a call from some guy named Brody, a friend from his CrossFit gym. Well, that explained why Eric looked so good in a T-shirt. She’d thought about doing CrossFit herself after reading an article about it, but when she peeked in the open door of a gym near her apartment, it had been full of sweaty men and women who seemed way too serious about their workouts for her taste. She preferred the elliptical in the air-conditioned workout room in her apartment basement, where it was peaceful and very rarely was anyone there to see her butt jiggle.
She’d texted Eric back with a thank you and how are you, but he hadn’t responded yet. It had only been twenty minutes, according to her office clock. He was probably in the middle of something and hadn’t checked his phone since she’d sent it.
Absently, she flipped the Zimmerman divorce file open on her desk. Kim Zimmerman was due in her office in less than thirty minutes and she hadn’t read the latest demands from the husband’s lawyer, a prominent, very hostile attorney in Brooklyn. God, she was sick of grumpy people and their hostile lawyers. She flipped another page, not even seeing the words.
Her dad had been grumpy at their Sunday night family dinner, grouching about the IRS and the Anderson deal. Maybe that’s why Eric had been invisible this week; he was trying to make that deal work before his annual review at the end of the month.
For the third time that day, she wandered down the hall to visit with the receptionist and check for any mail. She’d stopped telling herself it was an errand and admitted what it was: she wanted to see Eric. Something about him made her smile. Maybe it was the way he tilted his head slightly when she talked. Maybe it was the way his mouth hitched up on the ends before he broke out in a smile. Or the way he smelled. Or the way he filled out a T-shirt…