“What do you have in mind?”
“I need to celebrate. I just sold a house to a couple that I thought I’d never find the right house for. I want to take you out to dinner.”
“I’ll take you out for dinner. Do I have to wear a monkey suit?” I hear the smile in his voice.
“You’ll look hot in your monkey suit.” I chuckle and pull into the parking lot of my office. “I have some paperwork to take care of this afternoon and then I’m heading home.”
“I’ll pick you up at six.”
“Great. See you soon.”
After adjusting my boobs in my push-up bra, I check my lipstick and grin when I hear the doorbell, then Zack coming inside. I love that he feels comfortable enough to make himself at home here.
“I’m almost ready!” I call out and stuff my lipstick, phone, and debit card in a small clutch bag then smooth my hands down my long, black fitted dress. It falls to my feet, but is strapless, so I added a simple necklace and earrings. My hair is held on my head with about fifty pins.
“Jesus Christ, Jilly.” I turn to find Zack leaning against the door frame, his arms crossed over his chest, as his eyes take me in from head to toe. He’s delicious in a dark gray suit and royal-blue tie. He’s clean-shaven and his hair has been tamed, begging for my fingers to mess it up.
“You look fantastic.” I cross the room to him and reach up to adjust his tie, although it doesn’t need to be adjusted at all. I just want to touch him.
“You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” He cradles my face gently in his hands and lowers his face to mine, tenderly sweeping his lips back and forth, barely touching them, and it drives me crazy. My thighs clench and I grab onto his tie, pulling him in closer.
“Say stuff like that and we won’t leave my house,” I whisper.
“I’m okay with that,” he replies with a wolfish smile.
“I have lots to celebrate,” I reply and pull away.
He holds my black peacoat up for me and then lifts me in his arms and carries me out to his truck so I don’t have to trudge through the snow in heels.
“You’re very chivalrous,” I comment and plant a kiss on his cheek.
“No need to get your fancy shoes wet.” He sets me in the truck and drives us to a restaurant that sits on the lake. It’s one of the more expensive places in town, with white tablecloths and excellent food.
“Swanky.” I wink at him as he leads me inside.
“I’m in a tie, sugar. And you’re celebrating.” The hostess guides us to a table in the corner, looking out on the lake. It’s dark now, but the lights from the houses along the shoreline reflect in the water.
After taking our wine order, the waitress leaves us to read over the menu.
“So what, exactly, are we celebrating? I’ve been in suspense all day.”
“Do you know Bryan and Whitney Peterson?” I ask. Zack frowns and moves his head side to side, thinking.
“I don’t think so.”
“They moved to town about a year ago, and started looking for a house to buy last summer. I’ve shown them fifteen houses, and they didn’t like any of them. I think all of us had given up hope that we’d ever find the right one. Then, this morning, I saw a house that was just put on the market today, and I had a gut feeling.”
“So you showed it to them . . .”
“And they bought it!” I announce and clap my hands. “They loved it. Jumped right on it. I’m so happy for them.”
“Well done, baby.” He smiles widely and clinks his wine glass to mine. “I’m proud of you.”
“Thank you.” I feel my cheeks heat as the waitress returns to take our order.
“So what happens now?” Zack asks and takes my hand in his.
“Well, I already sent over their offer. There will be an inspection, and if all goes well, they should be proud new homeowners soon.”
“Talk to me about your job.”
I cock my head to the side and think about his request. “What do you want to know?”
“Everything. Why you chose it. What you enjoy about it.”
“I got into it because I like looking at houses. Always have. Maybe I’m just naturally nosy.” I wrinkle my brow as I think about it. “So it seemed natural to sell houses. It’s a puzzle.”
I lean in, getting excited as I describe my job to Zack.
“Finding the perfect home for a family or couple is fun. Everyone has different expectations. Different needs. So, I enjoy talking with those I’m working for, get a feel for what they want, and find the perfect home for them.”
“So it’s about the people you work with.”
“It really is.” I nod as I think about it from that perspective. “When I’m working with a client, I speak with them frequently. Whitney Peterson and I email back and forth at least once a day. I develop a relationship with these people. Of course,” I add and sip my wine, “some people are weird. Those I don’t speak to as frequently.”
“Your eyes light up when you talk about your job,” he murmurs. “I love you, sugar.”
I feel my eyes grow wide as I stare at this dear man before me and feel the floor drop out from under me.
Did he just say what I think he did?
He blinks, as though coming out of a trance, and begins to look embarrassed, but before he can apologize or say anything else, I lean way out over the top of the table to plant my lips on his. He grips my wrists, as though grounding us both, and kisses me back with all of the passion and love that were just in his eyes. I pull back just an inch and stare into his deep chocolate gaze.
“Say it again.”
“I love you so much it hurts.” He raises a hand and brushes his fingertips down my cheek to my jaw. “You are the most amazing person I’ve ever met, sugar.”
“I love you too,” I whisper. “And it scares the shit out of me.”
He kisses me again and suddenly I hear someone clearing their throat from beside us.
“Your ass is in the air. You know that, right?” Zack asks.
I pull away and glance around the busy restaurant, which has now gone quiet. Everyone is watching us raptly.
“He just said he loves me!” I announce with a wide smile. There are smiles and cheers and applause. Zack laughs and stands to guide me back to my chair. From across the room, I can see my eighth-grade history teacher. “Hi, Mrs. Anderson!”