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A Fiery Secret
By Diane Craver
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.Copyright © 2006 Diane Craver
All right reserved.
Chapter OneOn Friday morning, I sat at my desk, wearing my favorite pair of jeans with a raspberry colored, single-button shrug sweater and a white top underneath. The vibrant raspberry was enough to brighten anyone's work day. While leaving my apartment, I'd slipped on a comfortable pair of loafers and was happy to leave the stiletto heels at home. My feet needed a break from walking back and forth in high heels in front of Jake. I wondered if he'd miss me wearing a short skirt today.
I didn't have to wonder for long.
"Are you working on your romance article?" Jake said, standing next to me.
I turned away from the monitor screen to see him grinning at me. He wore jeans and a shirt with the Bengals' Tiger logo on it. I shook my head. "No, I'm finishing up the interview I did with Mr. Jansen last night about his new poetry book." My eyes widened as I gazed at Jake. "I guess the Bengals didn't sign you."
"Even if they could add me to their roster mid-season, I couldn't leave the newspaper and miss seeing you parade up and down the hallway to get your ater."
"I better get a water bottle so I don't distract you from your work."
"I like the distraction." He leaned closer. "And you look great in jeans and that ..." He stopped to take a better look at my shrug. "That little sweater and tight top."
Glancing down at my chest, I said, "It's not tight, just slightly fitted." "How's the absent Ricardo? Is he going to make an appearance at the Halloween party?"
It was time to tell Jake that a Spanish girl had taken Ricardo's love away from me. No, I couldn't say that. It wouldn't be wise to mention I was jilted for another woman. And actually I wasn't, since I broke up with Ricardo first, but still I hadn't anticipated him finding someone to take my place in his heart. This stretching the truth a little bit-okay, a lot-was making my life too stressful.
I looked Jake straight in the eye. "We broke up."
His eyebrows shot up in surprise. "I'm sorry."
"I don't like speaking Spanish anyway." "Doesn't he speak English?"
I nodded. "It was a joke. Ricardo speaks better English than I do. But his family talks in Spanish most of the time." I wondered if Anita realized what a great family she was marrying into. Probably not.
"You better still come to the party." That's all he had to say. What happened to hitting on me and asking me out for tonight? It was Friday, after all, and I was definitely free now. "I'll be there. Have you talked to Brian? Is everyone going to McFadden's tonight?"
He shrugged. "I haven't heard. But I'm leaving this weekend to cover the World Series."
This was why being a couple would never work for us. One of us would always have a story to cover, but still it was funny that he wasn't all over me. What happened to him trying to convince me to give him another chance? It couldn't just be because he was leaving for the World Series.
I mean, he could've mentioned going out for a drink before he left. That was it. We could go out for a nice drink after work, and it'd be fun to be the one to suggest it. "Let's go out for a drink tonight."
He shook his head. "I don't think that's wise."
I tapped my fingers on the desk. "What's going on here? You just said the other day how much you wanted to go out with me and I could even stand you up since I missed the prom. Then we'd move on. What gives?"
His expression grew serious. "I think the biggest mistake single women and men make is to bounce from one relationship to the next without evaluating what went wrong. I know you really don't want to use me to help you get over Ricardo. And I don't want you to date me on the rebound. That's unfair to both of us. My policy is to wait a month after a breakup before I date someone new."
"So you want to give me a month after my breakup with Ricardo before we date?"
Now that Jake knew I was available, he wanted to wait before going out with me. Unbelievable. When I decided to take a chance on him, he was indifferent. I thought there were sparks between us, so why was he pulling back?
He was only interested in the chase. That had to be it. That was what I'd feared.
Something wasn't right here and I thought for a moment, giving Jake a weak smile. Then it hit me how his words sounded so familiar. Shit, he was playing me. His whole rebounding theory was taken from my magazine article, "Catherine's Ten Simple Dating Rules".
I glared at him. "You read my dating article."
He grinned. "I thought you'd catch on. And a drink tonight sounds good."
It turned out to be more than a drink.
Excerpted from A Fiery Secret by Diane Craver Copyright © 2006 by Diane Craver. Excerpted by permission.
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