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Within moments, it seemed, they were standing just inside the entrance of a beautiful restaurant high atop an elegant hotel in downtown Dallas. The palatial yet intimate setting was exquisite. She’d never seen anything like it—or smelled such tempting aromas.


Thomas took off his jacket, his muscles rippling seductively under a form-fitting red silk shirt. He adjusted his tie and insisted she leave her jacket as well as her suitcase and purse with the coat clerk. “The employees at this place are so trustworthy they’re bonded. Your belongings are probably safer with them than with yourself.” He laughed at his joke as if it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard.


Was he laughing at her? Did he know she’d done time for theft?


She could barely understand the menu let alone recognize the food her escort ordered for her, but it was tasty. Delicate flaky pastries melted in her mouth. A savory sauce topped incredibly tender meat. And the buttery vegetables were steamed to perfection. She couldn’t begin to imagine what the dessert options might be.


Although she asked for iced tea, Thomas insisted she try the house specialty, a grand mimosa with raspberries. “You’ll love it. That’s what I always order for my guests.”


“I can’t go to the job interview with alcohol on my breath.”


“You seem tense. A drink would help you relax.”


She didn’t feel tense. Scrutinizing his flawless features and staring into his beautiful eyes banished all concern. If she could, she’d sit there all afternoon just ogling his perfect body. She lowered her gaze and speared a broccoli floweret—and hoped she used the right fork.


The waiter set their drinks in front of them.


Thomas stirred his and then reached over to stir hers. The tattoo undulated with the movement.


Amy stared out the window at the wide expanse of city below. Why did such a gorgeous man have to ruin his body with a snake head?


“This restaurant’s mimosas are perfect,” Thomas was saying, “except I always think they need a couple more swirls to blend in the liqueur just right.”


She nodded her gratitude and slowly chewed a bite of meat, relishing the flavor. Thomas watched her eat, but she wasn’t about to hurry. No matter how much money they paid her, she had a feeling it would be a long time before she could afford anything this expensive. She swallowed. “What?”


“What do you mean, what?”


“I get the feeling you’re waiting for me to choke or something.”


“No, not at all. Do you like what I ordered for you?”


“Everything tastes fabulous, wonderful, scrumptious. Even if I can’t pronounce the names. Thank you for bringing me here. I’ve never been to such an exotic restaurant. The view from this place is incredible.”


“Don’t thank me. It’s on the company, even the drinks.”


“You really think it’s okay for me to drink alcohol before the interview?”


He leaned forward, rested his elbows on the table and tented his long fingers. “If it’ll make you feel better, just take a couple sips. You’ll love it.”


Amy reached for the drink. “You have a much better idea of what is expected of me today than I do.”


His eyebrows rose. “You’d better believe it, baby. I’m looking forward to it.”


What was that supposed to mean?


She tilted the delicate champagne flute, sipping from the rim. It was good. She took another, longer drink and smiled at her host. “Mmm. Very nice.”


Gourmet meal number one. Two to go. She could get used to this lifestyle.


He lowered his eyelids and loosened his tie.


She set the drink down. The mimosa was delicious, but she couldn’t risk ruining the interview of a lifetime.



© 2024 Rebecca Carey Lyles, All Rights Reserved