She touched her glass to his and thought he was certainly that and more. She’d had no expectations for their date, but here she was, having a nice time. So far Adam was funny and charming. There had even been hints of his being genuinely nice. She knew better than to get her hopes up, but the evening was turning out better than she’d anticipated.
“Tell me about the family that doesn’t let you get away with anything,” she said.
“I’m one of five kids and I could practically walk to four of their houses from here. Same with my parents.” He shrugged. “My youngest brother is back east, but then he’s always felt he had something to prove.”
She stared at him. “You’re one of five?”
“I know. I told my dad they figured out what causes pregnancy, but he said he and Mom always wanted a big family. I have to say it was a fun way to grow up.”
“And loud,” she murmured.
“Yeah, there was noise.”
“How many boys and girls?”
“Three boys, two girls, and we alternate. I’m in the middle. My older brother was never interested in the family business. He’s a graphic designer. Very talented. My older sister always wanted to be a veterinarian, so by the time I was six or seven, Dad was starting to get nervous that no one was going to go into the business. Fortunately my idea of a good time was building things. I got my first job at the company when I was fourteen.”
He took a piece of cheese. “I know. Not very exciting.”
“Exciting is highly overrated,” she murmured. All this and stable, too. So what was the flaw? Emotional unavailability? A secret life as a serial killer? There had to be something, because to be honest, her luck simply wasn’t that good.
“Where did you grow up?” he asked.
“Riverside. I’m an only child, so I can’t relate to your noise. My house was always quiet.”
“Were you the smartest girl in the class?”
“Sometimes. I liked math, which made me unacceptable to most groups. But I wasn’t brilliant enough to major in it. Finance seemed like an interesting way to spend my days.”
His brown eyes crinkled with amusement. “If I had nickel for every time I looked forward to spending time working on the company’s financial records…”
“You wouldn’t have a nickel?”
“Something like that.”
She smiled. “Your profile said you’re divorced?”
He nodded. “Nearly a year now. We were separated before that.” He shrugged. “It wasn’t anything dramatic. We were married young and over the past few years realized we didn’t like spending time with each other.”
There was something about the way he spoke that had her leaning forward. As if there was more to the story.
“That’s no fun,” she said quietly.
“Tell me about it.” He looked at her, then swore softly. “Hell. Okay, she cheated. I don’t like to say that because it makes me look like an idiot. I didn’t know. She came to me one day and said she’d been having an affair and that she’d fallen in love with the guy. She didn’t want to marry him or anything, but she’d realized that if she could be in love with someone else, she wasn’t in love with me anymore.”
He moved his glass back and forth on the table. Tension pulled at his mouth. “I was shocked and hurt and didn’t know what to do. I grabbed some stuff and moved out that night. About a month later, when my pride and ego weren’t so much in the way, I realized we’d been growing apart for a long time.”
“That must have been hard,” she said, thinking that if he was telling the truth, then she was liking him more by the second.
“It was. We have two kids. Charlotte is nearly nine and Oliver is six. We share them. One week on, one week off. Tabitha and I live about two blocks away from each other. Slightly awkward for us, but easy for the kids.” Humor returned to his eyes. “Of course, my parents and three of my siblings live in the neighborhood, too, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s way more awkward for her than for me.”
“And you?” he prompted.
Yes, the inevitable questions. “No kids, no ex-husband. I was engaged twice, but never quite made it down the aisle.”
“Who made the decision?”
“One time him, one time me.”
She also had a long-term on again, off again relationship with a music producer, who’d been very bad for her, but there was no reason to mention him. At least not on the first date.
“What do you do for fun?” Adam asked.
“I love to travel. Take two or three weeks and go somewhere I’ve never been.”
She smiled. “I’ve been on every continent except Antarctica. I was thinking of taking one of those ships there, but after one got stuck a couple of years ago and made headlines, I changed my mind.”
“What’s your next trip?”
She laughed. “You’re going to be shocked.”
“I doubt that.”
“Okay. Machu Picchu.”
His eyes widened slightly. “Remind me to listen to you next time. That’s Peru, right?”
“Yes. I’m going with a girlfriend and it’s going to be great. We’ll be hiking the Inca Trail. The ruins are at seven thousand feet above sea level so I’m a little worried about my athletic ability. I’m—”
A familiar ringtone drifted from her purse. She reached for her bag.
“Sorry,” she said as she pulled her phone out of its pocket and glanced at the screen. “It’s work. I need to take this.”
She was already standing and heading out of the restaurant. When she stepped onto the sidewalk, she pushed talk.
“This is Shannon.”
“Len Howard in the Seoul office. Sorry to bother you but we have a problem with the South Korean finance minister. He’s insisting on speaking with you.”
Shannon glanced back at the bar and saw Adam glancing her way. Adam, who appeared to be pretty darned close to perfect.
“Based on my other conversations with him, I’m guessing he wants me to phone him in the next few minutes.”
Because he was a man of power and she needed his help with some banking regulations. Nolan, her boss, wanted their Asian headquarters in Seoul, which meant Shannon had to make nice with the finance minister.
“Please tell him I’ll call him back in fifteen minutes,” she said. “From my office.”
Text Copyright © 2015 by Susan Macias RedmondPermission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.
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New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has won the hearts of millions of readers around the world with books described as “immensely entertaining, intensely emotional” (RT Book Reviews), “hilarious” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram), and “heartwarming” (Publishers Weekly). One major retailer recently described her as “the queen of romantic fiction.” While she deeply appreciates the accolades of critics and booksellers, Mallery is even more honored by the enthusiasm of her readers and the word-of-mouth that catapults her toward the top of the bestsellers lists time and again.
Mallery lives in not-so-sunny Seattle with her husband and a toy poodle who makes her laugh every day and who’s not even a little bit impressed by her growing fame.
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