Tis The Season_.For Romance(10)

By: Brenda Jackson

“I’m ready.”

He glanced back up at the stairway and watched as Barbara walked back down the stairs. There was such a gracefulness in every step she took and when her feet touched the bottom stair, he couldn’t help asking. “Were you ever a model?” She certainly had the looks, height, body and refinement for one.

She smiled. “No, but my mother felt Peggy and I should endure years and years of a finishing school for young ladies.”

He wasn’t surprised in hearing that. “I can tell.”

She tilted her head and met his gaze. “I get asked that a lot so I guess all those years paid off.”

“Yes, they certainly did.”

Moments later they were walking out her front door. Although it was a few minutes past five, it was already dark outside due to Daylight Savings Time. He stood on her porch as she switched on her security alarm and then he walked her over to his car. He usually drove his SUV but tonight he decided to play with his toy – a Corvette he’d purchased and restored a few years ago.

“Nice car,” Barbara said and he could hear the admiration in her voice.

“Thanks. I’m going to have to show you pictures of how it looked when I bought it four years ago. The prior owner didn’t do a good job of taking care of it,” he said, opening the passenger door so she could get in. He thought there was even a gracefulness in the way she slid into the seat.

“Then I’m glad it now belongs to you, Rick. I think you’re a man who takes very good care of anything that’s his.”

Barbara swallowed, darting her gaze away from him while wishing she could bite off her tongue. What had possessed her to say such a flippant remark? Although it was true, she had no right to say such a thing.


The deep huskiness in his voice drew her gaze back to his. He was leaning against the open car door, one arm propped on the roof of the car and staring down at her. “Yes?”

“You’re absolutely right. I am a man who takes care of what’s his. And I’m also a man who recognizes and appreciates anything of value and beauty when he sees it.”

Then without saying anything else, he closed the door and walked around the front of the car to get in on the other side.


Rick tried keeping his eyes on the road, but against his will whenever he slowed his car down or came to a traffic light, he would gaze over at Barbara. She was staring ahead, straight out the windshield; however, she had to be aware each and every time he glanced over at her.

He wondered if he was making her nervous, which was not his intent. He wanted her to feel comfortable with him, mainly because he was hoping they saw a lot of each other in the coming months.

Thinking the silence between them had stretched long enough, when the car came to a stop at a traffic light, he said. “I meant to tell you earlier that I like your home.”

She glanced over at him and smiled. “Do you like it enough to buy it?”

He lifted a brow. “You’re selling your house?”

“Yes. I made the decision last night and I haven’t told anyone, not even Courtney or Ron. Courtney could care less what I do as long as I’m happy, but I’m sure Ron will have something to say.”

“Does it matter?”

She shook her head. “No, it doesn’t matter.”

Rick turned to look straight ahead when the traffic light changed. She probably had figured out by now that her ex wasn’t one of his favorite people. And the more he’d learned about the man’s infidelity, not just with that stunt he’d pulled in Hawaii, but all those others involving women younger than his own daughter. They were women who thought being sexually promiscuous was something to be proud of.

He glanced back over at her and said, “I sold my house a couple of years after Gail died. Antron had made his home in Atlanta and for a while I thought of moving there. Relocating here to Orlando was Gail’s idea. My first choice was a piece of oceanfront property in Savannah. I let her change my mind.”

And there had been so many days and nights that he’d regretted doing so. So many times he’d been plagued with what ifs. What if they had moved to Savannah instead of Orlando? Would she still be alive? It had taken him a long time to accept that no matter where they’d lived, it had been Gail’s time to go.

She gazed over at him. “But in the end you moved here.” He knew it was neither a question nor a statement, but an observation.

“Yes, I moved here.”

Then as if she’d figured he would want to change the subject, she said. “So how do you spend your free time now that you’ve retired?”

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