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Copyright 2015, 2016 by Dawn M. Turner
June 21, 2002
I can’t believe I let Greg talk me into this. Standing on the sidewalk in the summer heat, Tammy Whitman stared at the entrance to the restaurant then glanced at her watch. Ten minutes early. Maybe he was already there. Greg had said the man was perpetually early for everything, so…. Good chance to at least get a look at the guy. Then again, it could be futile.
Two possibilities existed. One, the whole thing was a joke on Greg’s part, and he’d sent her there to meet nobody. Two, it was a joke he’d gotten one of his buddies in on. If one of his friends had agreed to such a prank, she’d have both of their heads. Cop or not, Greg wasn’t bullet-proof. No court in the land would convict her. At least, I’m pretty sure about that.
Then again, it could be totally legit. If so, Greg wouldn’t set one of his little sisters up with a psycho or jerk, so…. He’d given her only a first name—Jerry. Nothing more, except, “He’s not a cop, but I know him through work.” He’d known that would intrigue her. Setting aside the criminals he knew through work and fellow officers, who was left?
The door swung toward her, ejecting a family of four. The man held the door for her with a questioning smile.
I guess that’s my cue. She smiled weakly. “Thanks.” Icy air blasted her in the face when she stepped inside.
“Welcome!” The seating hostess smiled. “How many?”
“I’m supposed to meet someone. He might already be here.”
The young woman’s eyes narrowed in thought, and she shook her head. “No one’s arrived alone in the last little while.”
“Oh.” Great. She’d arrived before him.
“Would you like me to seat you? I can let him know you’re here when he arrives and show him to your table.”
“No. I… uh… think I’ll just wait here.” While I decide whether or not to run for it. Why did I let Greg talk me into this?
“No problem.” The greeting-smile returned, and she shifted her attention to a group coming in the door. “Welcome.”
Tammy scooted out of the way and sat on the edge of the padded bench running along the front windows. Her right leg bounced. Should she stay?
Why am I even entertaining this nonsense? She hopped to her feet, shoved the strap of her purse higher on her shoulder, and headed for the door. Only to barrel into one of the people standing there. “I’m so sorry. I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
“It’s okay.” A breath-taking smile etched laugh lines at the corners of eyes so blue they could’ve been artificial. Should’ve been, if there was any justice in the world. He reached for the door behind him as if to push it open. “Are you leaving?”
“I haven’t decided yet.”
His brows rose. The man managed to look confused and amused at the same time.
“Never mind the insane person.” She waved a hand dismissively and rolled her eyes.
A warm chuckle rumbled in his broad chest. “You know, insane people don’t know they’re insane.”
Tammy grinned. “Now, see, that’s a common mistake. Some of us are actually quite aware it’s happening. We’re just helpless to stop it.”
His laugh did funny things to her insides, making her want to hear it again.
“Are you ready to be seated?” The hostess had returned. Her gaze shifted from Tammy to the man beside her and back again.
“Oh, we’re not together.” Unfortunately.
“I’m meeting someone,” he said with a tinge of regret.
Her ego bolstered a smidge, she smiled. “I hope you have a wonderful meal with your wife.” No ring on his finger. “Or girlfriend.”
“Actually, I have neither of those.” His smile grew, brightening the color of his eyes even more.
Good Lord above, how could eyes be that blue?
“Oh, I should’ve realized….” Tammy shook her head at her own obtuseness. “You’re not… um….”
“What?” He frowned slightly then his eyes widened. “Oh, no. I’m not. I definitely like people of the female persuasion.”
That was a relief. Otherwise, horrible loss for some female of the species.
Then she realized the hostess was quietly observing their conversation. Humor lit her eyes, though her smile remained casual. Was the woman silently laughing at them?
“I think I’ll just go sit down and be quiet now. Let you get to dinner with your friend or whoever.”
“Actually, I’m here on a blind date.” Again, that bit of regret in his tone.
Her heart stopped. Just for a second. She was sure of it. Tammy groaned. “Oh, no….”
“What is it?”
“Are you Jerry?”
A warm smile pushed away the momentary gloom. “Tammy?”
“Yeah, that would be me.”
“Well, then I’m especially pleased to meet you.” He nodded to the hostess, who bit her lip, picked up menus, and turned to lead them to a table. Jerry motioned for Tammy to go ahead of him. “After you.”
“Are you sure you want to have dinner with a crazy person?”
“Absolutely.” His hand touched the small of her back. “At least I won’t be bored.” She needed to thank Greg profusely for his matchmaking genius. How did I ever doubt you, brother dear?