She didn’t know what to do with the flowers in her arms either. Since Lucas had handed her the beautifully arranged bouquet – the biggest she’d ever received, she’d been at a loss. Romance hadn’t been top on her agenda for a long while. Neither had dating, or even ‘hanging out’ with anyone from the opposite sex. In fact, anyone who showed an interest in her got her running the other way. Now Lucas showed up giving her flowers. Suddenly she felt so silly agonizing over them that she found herself smiling.
Lucas caught the small tilt of her lips and the tension seemed to ease from him, his own smile warm and bringing those handsome crinkles to the corner of his eyes.
“I wasn’t sure what you liked so I had the florist put in a bit of every kind,” he said, indicating the bunch of flowers.
“They’re lovely,” Abae said, turning and with quick, nervous movements, set the flowers in the only available vase and filled it with water from the tap. They brightened the kitchen instantly. She spun to face Lucas again and this time her smile was much wider. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” He pushed his hands in his pants pocket. “It’s also actually part of my bid to apologize for…yesterday. At the park. The last thing I’d want is for Jonnie to notice any negative emotions hovering around us. I promised to make this easy for you both and I’d like to think that in the past few weeks, I’ve succeeded.”
Abae drew in a shaky breath. Yesterday had really thrown her. She’d known that asking Lucas along to walk with her and Jonnie through the park had been a bad idea at the least. It was too romantic, too much of the…idyll. To make matters worse, there’d been that gorgeous sunset. So the moment Lucas had taken her hand and pulled her to him while Jonnie had run in front chasing a butterfly, she’d frozen in instant awareness. Lucas had taken her stiffness for revulsion and she couldn’t blame him for flaring the way he had.
“Jonnie didn’t notice a thing,” she assured him. “He was too busy having fun with both of us around. I’m not blind; I can tell he’s happy for the attention and the perfect little picture it all makes. He’s young..but kids sense these things. They can’t help but want to be surrounded by as much love as possible. He always used to stare at pictures of kids with their moms and dads but could never really express what he wished for. Somehow…I can tell he’s satisfied with the present situation.”
“Good,” Lucas said. “The question now is…are you?”
Abae let out a shaky laugh. “Seriously Lucas, I can do without your probing. I already told you how well I can see this is working. I’m not totally heartless that I’d want to do anything to jeopardize what seems to be a very healthy development for my – our son.”
“So you want to make this work? You think you’re ready?”
Abae chewed on her bottom lip. Trust the lawyer in him; Lucas would never back down till he had the answers he sought.
Drawing in a bracing breath and then exhaling, she began carefully, “We’re always going to have issues, Lucas. Our history cannot simply be wiped clean no matter how much we wish it. But…I can’t keep holding on to past mistakes. This is my chance to redeem myself. I’m winning my faith back in a lot of things – in myself, in people, and in life. Negativity is definitely the last thing I wish to cling to; it will only pull me down like the worst kind of gravity. In short, Lucas…” She squared her shoulders and met his piercing gaze, “I think we should finally put the past behind us and…begin again.”
The shadows seemed to retreat from Lucas’s handsome face and he smiled with such tenderness it curled her toes and swirled like a heated pool in her belly.
“My sentiments exactly,” Lucas said deeply, and to his credit Abae detected no hint of smugness in his tone.
“So how do we begin?” he mused, rubbing on his chin as if deeply pondering even as Abae rolled her eyes comically. She felt like a teen again and Lucas wasn’t making it any easier. Suddenly, he snapped his fingers and then with a grin, asked, “How does dinner tomorrow evening sound?”
“Doable,” Abae said drily. His enthusiasm shone through his jovial demeanour and she couldn’t keep the smile from dancing at the corner of her lips.
“Great. So I know somewhere that the food’s fantastic and the music’s the best. Also, we’ll be surrounded by perfect ambience while having the place all to ourselves.”
Abae shook her head in confusion and wonder. “Is there such a venue?”
Lucas gave a rakish chuckle and his deep eyes gleamed warmly as he said, “My place, where else?”
“You can cook?” Abae asked incredulously, not wanting to think about the part where she’d have to dine with Lucas alone in his home for the first time.
“It’s my number one hobby – cooking that is. I’ve got a few Italian recipes I’ve tried and can’t wait to prepare for someone other than myself. In other words, I’d love to cook for you. Anything particular you like? I make great pasta – or if you prefer some home-made pizza…”
Abae waved her hands in the air. “I don’t know. Surprise me. So long as you don’t serve grilled baby octopus or anything like that, I’m good.”
Lucas laughed deeply and the sound sent a thrill down her spine. Funny how spending all this time around him in the past few weeks had her noticing every single detail about him. His smile, the dark flecks in his deep brown eyes; the masculine hint of musk in his expensive cologne…Okay; she really, really needed to analyse how much things had changed and how far she was willing to take this. Was she ready for the full headlong plunge?
“Okay; got it,” he said, his smile slowly fading as he held her shy gaze. “And remember; all you need to bring along is a healthy appetite and of course, your beautiful, sexy self.”
Abae’s chest tightened as her heart began to pound at those smoky sounding words. Was a seduction in the cards? Should she be on her guard? She looked up to meet his eyes and told herself – what the heck. Keep an open mind even if your heart remains well locked away. She could do baby-steps, take it minute by minute. She wouldn’t let a few flirty words scare her off. She’d made the conscious effort to stop fighting Lucas, at least for Jonnie’s sake. Maybe if she gave them one chance to see where things went, she could finally come to a solid decision…