Tis The Season_.For Romance(5)

By: Brenda Jackson

He figured this was not the time to add that she was the first woman to draw his interest since losing his wife and that he’d thought of her often over the past few months.

“You’re attracted to me?” she said as if to verify what he’d said…as if such a thing was next to impossible.

“Yes, very.” And before she could ask, he said, “From the first, but I had to take care of business and put my personal interest aside. Besides, at the time you were a married woman.”

What he didn’t have to say was that he now knew she was single. He had kept up with her since the investigation. He’d known when she’d filed for a divorce and when that divorce had become final. He had been tempted to call her as soon as she had become a free woman but had held back, knowing she needed time to adjust to the idea of being single again. During his investigation he’d discovered she had married Ronald Andrews while in college after becoming pregnant. Since then she had dedicated her life and given her love to a man who hadn’t been worthy of it for over thirty years. Putting the past behind her and moving on wouldn’t be easy. He of all people knew that. Gail had been so much a part of his life he could start a sentence and she could finish it for him. They’d shared a close relationship and when he’d lost her he thought his life had ended. The only reason he’d had to go on was to put the men responsible behind bars.

After that it was his work that drove him from day to day. Working became an obsession. His son had worried about him. But it was either him working or him dying because each and every time he slowed down, the memories of Gail and how they were to spend their retirement years together nearly destroyed him.

“I married Ron young and have never dated another man since,” she finally managed to get out.

He held tight to her gaze. “But you’re no longer married to Ronald Andrews.” He hadn’t wanted to remind her but she’d given him no choice. “You are free to date.”

“Yes,” she said, nibbling on her lips again as if such a thing hadn’t crossed her mind. “I don’t know what to say.”

His mouth tilted into a smile. “If you can’t give me a yes, what you can say is that you will think about it. There’s a new Tyler Perry movie hitting the theaters this weekend. I prefer going the first night and would love for you to join me. We can do dinner first.”

No matter how he tried, he couldn’t fight the sliver of desire he felt for her at that moment. He had dated other women since Gail’s death. Most had been blind dates his coworkers had fixed up or single ladies he’d met at church. But none had attracted him this intensely and a part of him knew it wasn’t just sexual. Barbara Andrews was a woman worthy of a man’s love and devotion. For some reason she had gotten short-changed.

“Thanks for asking me out but I do need to think about it,” she said interrupting his thoughts.

He nodded as he stood to his feet. At least she hadn’t turned him down flat. “All right. These are the numbers where I can be reached,” he said, and then waited while she grabbed a pen and paper before rattling off several numbers to her.

“Once in a while I fly to Virginia to teach a class or two at the FBI Academy.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“It is. I’d like to tell you about it sometime,” he said holding her gaze. “I hope to hear from you soon.”

She stood to her feet and gave him an assuring smile. “You will.”

He returned her smile. “Good. I’ll look forward to it. I hope you have a nice week.”

“I wish for you the same.”

He nodded again before he turned and walked out of her office.

* * *

The moment her door closed behind Rick, Barbara covered her face with her hands. A handsome man wanted to take her out and she hadn’t had the nerve to say yes.

She sank back in her chair. She wouldn’t know how to act on a date. It wasn’t as if she was a woman in her twenties or thirties. She would be celebrating her fifty-first birthday in the spring.

Since her divorce a few men around the office had given her interested looks, but none had actually hit on her. Mainly because she was well aware behind her back many were taking bets that divorce or no divorce, she would be going back to her ex-husband. Hadn’t that been her routine? No matter what Ron had done to her in the past, even to the point where she had caught him in bed with another woman, she’d eventually taken him back. All he had to do was call and tell her how sorry he was, swear that he wouldn’t mess around with another woman again and ask for her forgiveness, and she would weaken and fall for his lie.

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