“Jane…” Jack stumbled over his own words as he closed the door to his supervisor’s office. “I wanted to talk to you.”

Her wary green eyes had shadows beneath them. Today she was wearing a cool lavender suit. Appreciative male eyes lingered on her legs forcing Jack to move closer. Someone had to protect her from all the perverts they worked with. “What did you want to talk to me about?”

“Just stuff. You want to go out to eat or something?”

“I have a class tonight but I’d be free after seven. You could come over for spaghetti.” Jack had been in Jane’s apartment twice before. The first time he hadn’t made it past the doorway. She had striped towels in the guest bathroom and the plant behind her couch was taller than she was. Her bathroom smelled like she did, soft, warm and feminine.

“You can come over to my place.” Inspiration struck him as he remembered the magazine article he had seen on her desk. “I’ll make Greek peppers.”

“Okay. Is there something I could bring?”

“Just bring your appetite.” Mentally he kicked himself. Wasn’t there anything he could say that didn’t sound overtly sexual?

“Why don’t I bring dessert? You do the main course. I’ll bring drinks and dessert.”

Trust Jane to have the perfect solution. “That works for me.”

“What time should I be there?”

“When does your class get out?”

“I’m done at six but I need to shower and get ready after that.” Jack wasn’t going to let himself think of a bare arm reaching for a thick white towel. “What kind of a class are you going to?”

“A friend of mine is training for a triathlon. I’m one of her partners.”

“That sounds like fun. When’s the triathlon?”

“Not until June.” Two more steps had them facing her office. Jack's outstretched hand beat her to the door. “Thanks.”

Nonchalantly he pulled out a chair. His hands were cold and sweaty against his knees. “I want to apologize Jane. For everything.”

“It was my fault Jack. I told Tom that I was the one who persuaded you to take me back.”

“I fucked up the code. Somehow two lines were switched around.”

“It’s not your fault Jack. Work isn’t the place to talk about it either. Are we still on for tonight?”

“That’d be good. Wear whatever you want. You know I will.” An image of his dark brown eyes closing flashed through her mind. Nervously she straightened a stack of papers on her desk. A studio perfect picture of stuffed peppers jumped out at her. “You read my magazine didn’t you?”

Irritation ran through him as he looked at her copy of the recipe she had given him. “You were laying on top of it Jane. Is it some sort of crime to see what someone else is reading when they pass out on top of a magazine? Jeez.”

“You didn’t have to snoop in my office.”

“I wasn’t snooping.”

“Like hell you weren’t. I suppose you just happened to have a recipe for Greek peppers lying around.”

“You said I could have a copy. Remember?” Her brow furrowed as she thought back. Events from that night were hazy in her mind. What she remembered most was wanting to kiss him when he asked if he could drive her home. There was a sore spot on the inside of her lip. Intentionally she bit down on it. Jack was cutest when he was antagonizing someone. Why did it always have to be her? “I don’t remember that.”

“I said I liked stuffed peppers and you showed me your new magazine. I never knew they made magazines that showed you what you could stuff peppers with. I guess my horizons need broadening.”

“Did Tom tell you that I am not pregnant?”

“He told me.”

“I want to thank you for that. I didn’t know what I was going to do or how to tell my parents. I owe you one.” His shoulders straightened as he sat up in his chair. Bringing up what had happened in Chianti was tricky. “Maybe we should go out to eat.”

“I’m really not in the mood to get dressed up and be polite. We need to talk and we might as well do it over dinner. What are your plans for the weekend?”

“I was going to go home and see my parents. My grandma just had her hip replaced so my parents are putting her into an assisted living place. I could bring her peppers. She needs meals.”

“What are you doing Friday night?”

“Not much. Packing probably.”

“I told my parents I would take them out to eat. Do you want to come?”

“I guess. Where are we going?”

“I haven’t decided. I haven’t decided what I’m going to tell them either. I told them I was bringing a friend.”

“A boyfriend or a regular friend?”

“All I said was I was bringing a friend.”

“Could I have some time to think about it?”

“Take your time. I’ll see you at seven.”

“Right. Thanks Jane.” She nodded and turned to her computer. Three minutes later Jack was whistling as he walked down the hall. Later that same evening Jane’s cell phone rang as she was reaching for her gym bag. “Hello?”

“Jane, it’s Jack. Where are you?”

I just got out of the shower. Where are you?”

”I’m at home and my damn can opener just broke. Would you mind picking one up or should I?”

“I knew you would screw something up. We should have eaten at my place.”

“Nothing of yours would ever break I’m sure. Just forget it. I’ll see you later.”

“Jack, wait. I’m sorry. I had a bad day and…”

“What’s the matter?”

“My ass hurts from sitting on a bike for an hour, okay?”

“Okay. Sorry I asked.” Jack could picture Jane riding a bike. Her hair would be blowing in the breeze and she would be…, “What?”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“Oh, yeah. Right. I could come over if that works better for you.”

”I’ll pick up a can opener. What kind do you want?”

“I didn’t know there were different kinds.”

“How much do you want to spend?”

“How much do new can openers cost?”

“I don’t know Jack. Can’t you just come over to my place?”

“I said I would.”

“Good. Pick up dessert on the way over would you?”

“Maybe we should reschedule this.”

“You were the one who wanted to get together..., ow.”

“What’s the matter?”

“I’m having problems getting dressed and talking on the phone. I have to go. I’ll talk to you later, actually I’ll see you later. Forget about dessert. We’ll have spaghetti and skip dessert. I’m leaving as soon as my hair is dry so give me ten minutes or so.”

“Cool. I’ll be there. Drive safe.”

“You too. See you in a few.” Warm air cascaded over her neck and shoulders. It was a heat source she would lose when she stepped outside. Jack felt as if the carpeting beneath his feet would wear out before he saw Jane coming up the stairs to her apartment. Their hands touched as he took her bag of groceries. Her face was flushed, her hair was back, she looked utterly kissable. Quickly he stepped back to let her open the door. Their coats went into her closet. A receipt fell from her brown paper bag. His mouth felt dry as he watched her bend over to retrieve the scrap of paper. The hem of her shirt separated from the waistline of her navy blue yoga pants. His eyes traveled over a winter white patch of skin. No lines marked the pants she wore. Her bedroom was dark as they fumbled their way down the hall. It wasn’t until Jane's alarm rang the next morning that Jack found the lacy white panties he had pulled off the night before. Jack put his arm over his face and groaned when he heard his phone ringing. That ring meant someone from work was calling.

To be continued, time and resources permitting.


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