There was something vaguely familiar about him. Caroline Lomax's gaze was repeatedly drawn across the crowded room where the prospective jury members had been told to wait. He sat reading, oblivious to the people surrounding him. Some were playing cards, others chatting. A few were reading just as he was. It couldn't be Theodore Thomasson, Caroline mused, shaking her head so that the soft auburn curls bounced. Not "Tedious Ted," the childhood name she had ruthlessly given him because of his apparent perfection. The last time she'd seen him had been the summer he was fifteen and she was fourteen, just before her father's job had taken them to San Francisco. It wasn't him; it couldn't be. First off, Theodore Thomasson wouldn't be living on the West Coast and, second, she would have broken out in a prickly rash if he were. Never in her entire life had she disliked anyone more.
Determined to ignore the man completely, Caroline picked up a magazine and idly flipped through the dog-eared pages. If that was Theodore, which it obviously couldn't be, then he'd changed. She would never openly admit that he was handsome back then. Attractive, maybe, in an eclectic way. But this man
If it was Theodore, then his eyes were the same intense blue of his youth, but his ears no longer had the tendency to stick out. The neatly trimmed dark hair was more stylish than prudent, and if Tedious Ted was anything, he was sensible, levelheaded and circumspect. And rational. Rational to the point of making her crazy. Admittedly, her own father was known to be rational, practical, discriminating and at times even parsimonious. As the president of Lomax, Inc., the fastest growing computer company in the world, he had to be.
The thought of her stern-faced father produced an involuntary smile. What a thin veneer his rationality was, at least where she and her mother were concerned. He loved his daughter enough to allow her to be herself. Caroline realized that it was difficult for him to accept her offbeat lifestyle and her choice to go to culinary school with the intent of becoming a chef, not to mention that she'd opted for a lower standard of living than what she was accustomed to. She knew he would rather see her in law school. Regardless, he supported her and loved her, and she adored him for it.
A glance at the round clock on the drab beige wall confirmed that within another fifteen minutes the prospective jurors would be free to go. Her first day of jury duty had been a complete waste of time. This certainly wasn't turning out as she'd expected. Her mind had conjured up an exciting murder trial or at least a dramatic drug bust. Instead she'd spent the day sitting in a room full of strangers, looking for a way to occupy herself until her name was called for a panel.