Tis The Season_.For Romance(9)

By: Brenda Jackson

“So tell me about her,” Antron said, leaning against the bedpost. “I want to know all about the woman who finally got my father interested in dating again.”

Rick rolled his eyes as he moved from the bedroom toward the kitchen. He could hear the happiness in his son’s voice to know how pleased he was in hearing about the fact he was taking a woman out. “I’ve gone on dates before,” he said over his shoulder.

“Yes, but I wasn’t here to see it and you would rarely mention them afterwards. But since I arrived this morning, that’s all you seem to talk about. I know her name is Barbara, but that’s all I know.”

Rick sat down at the kitchen table and so did Antron and for the next half-hour Rick shared information about Barbara with his son; especially the part of how they had met.

“Her husband didn’t deserve her,” Antron said, echoing every thought Rick had ever had about Ronald Andrews.

“No, he didn’t. I think I was drawn to her because she’s really a nice woman. A graceful and refined woman. And a very loyal and beautiful woman.”

“Sounds a lot like Mom.”

Rick met his son’s gaze. He knew what his son was hinting at. He was concerned he’d been drawn to Barbara because she possessed so many of his late wife’s qualities. Qualities he had admired. “A part of me will always love your mother, Tron, but I’ve moved on and I think you know that. I will admit there are things about Barbara that remind me of your mother, but that’s not why I asked her out. I genuinely like her and want to get to know her better.”

“And then?”

Rick shrugged. “Who knows? We’ll see what happens.” He glanced at the clock on the stove. “I need to be leaving,” he said standing. “Will you be here when I get back?”

Antron smiled. “Yes, I’ll be here. I plan to stay until some time tomorrow. So go out and have a good time. Stay as late as you want. You deserve it.”

Rick returned his son’s smile. “Thanks.”

* * *

Barbara swallowed deeply when she heard the sound of her doorbell and after taking a few steps she stopped and paused for breath. She nervously glanced down at herself, hoping she had dressed appropriately in her beige linen slacks and chocolate colored blouse that had ruffles at the bottom. She had liked it the moment she’d seen it in the store a few months ago.

The last few times she’d gone to a movie had been with Peggy, Sonya or Courtney or in some cases, all three. Rarely had Ron taken her out and wouldn’t hesitate to encourage her to go with others. Now she knew why. But she refused to accept that his actions had ruined her chances of enjoying the companionship of other men.

Putting one foot in front of the other, she moved again and when she reached the door she glanced out the peephole and saw Rick standing beneath the porch light. As if he knew she was looking at him, he stared back and smiled. At that moment a warm glow flowed through her. The sharp angles of his handsome features made her blink, they were so powerful. And the gorgeous dark eyes staring at her swept all kinds of sensations through her.

She broke eye contact and glanced down at her floor to get her bearings before placing a smile on her face as she opened the door. “Rick,” she greeted warmly. “Come on in. I just need to grab my purse and wrap.”

“All right,” he said, crossing over the threshold and closing the door behind him. “You look nice.”

“Thanks.” She glanced down at herself and then met his gaze again. “I know you mentioned dinner before the movie and I wasn’t sure how I should dress.”

“Your outfit is perfect and like I said earlier, you look nice.”

His words were kind and she felt they were also genuine. “Thanks. Excuse me, I’ll be back.” And then she quickly strode up the stairs to her bedroom.

* * *

Heat swelled through Rick’s body in blatant male appreciation as he watched Barbara go up the stairs. He couldn’t help staring at how the material of her slacks curved around a nice looking backside. He knew from the information he’d gathered while investigating the attempt on her husband’s life that she was fifty. In that case, he thought she carried her age well. She didn’t look a day over forty.

Standing in the middle of her living room he glanced around, admiring the decor of her home. He could see her special touch in every item that caught his eyes. It was hard to believe this was the home she had once shared with Ron Andrews. For some reason it was hard to picture the man spending any amount of time here with her, and from all his extramarital activities that had been exposed, it seemed in essence that he hadn’t. But still, it had to be hard for her. He of all people knew how memories – good or bad – could grip you when you least expected it.

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