By Aubrey Wynne
Jojo shook her head. “I have too much work today. I need to get an article finished by tomorrow. And… And I’m meeting Lara tonight for dinner.”
She gazed down at her boots as the excuse came to her.
“Lara? The redhead from high school?” He rubbed his chin. “I vaguely remember a Lara O’Brien—tall, lean, on the track team. Pretty but no filter.”
She laughed and dared a glance up. Big mistake, his penetrating gaze locked onto her. It was hard to lie when he stared through her like that. “Yep, that would be her.”
“Where are you going? I’ll meet you both.” His hands rubbed up and down her arms and she could feel his heat through the thick leather.
“We were, uh… We were having a girl’s night out.” Really?
He tipped her chin up and she thought he might kiss her again. “I’ll stop in, buy you both a drink, and when you want me to go just say so.”
“Say what? It’s time for you to leave?” Please god, let Lara be available tonight.
“No arguments, no persuading you to change your mind.”
She bit her lip and dug her fists deeper into her pockets. “Okay. Seven o’clock at BLVD. It’s the old Boulevard Bistro on Lennox at 122nd. Look for us in a back booth.” What will she do if her bestie skips out on her? Or has plans? The tangled webs we weave…
Shawn tried to walk her back to the train; it had taken some quick thinking to get rid of him. She sat next to an old woman holding a shiny black vinyl purse and a crinkled, paper shopping bag. Her lips moved as she mumbled to herself and rocked slightly with the rhythm of the train as it hummed along the tracks. Jojo wondered if that would be her someday if she didn’t get over the past.
Her therapist said she’d made excellent progress. It was typical for victims of an attack to be leery of a relationship. Joanne had been lucky. A cop had scared the guy away just before the actual deed had ben committed. The officer had found her half naked, beaten, and hysterical. The cuts and bruised healed in a few weeks. But she still struggled emotionally.
Shawn had been the first man to touch her without her soul going cold. His kiss had swathed her with a warmth that had been missing for over a year. Move at your own speed. You’ll know when you are ready. Don’t be afraid of intimacy and it will happen. Great advice but not so easy to follow.
She knew from Shawn’s kiss that he would want more. What if she broke down? Would he look at her as if she were a freak? Most guys didn’t want to deal with baggage and she certainly carried a big suitcase.
Fumbling for her cell, she tapped her foot and waited for the reassuring sound of Lara’s voice.
“You almost blew off Shawn Davis for me? Are you crazy?” Yep, that’s what she needed to hear. “Of course I’ll be there. Tell me he’s just as gorgeous.”
“He’s just as gorgeous.” Better. The years had added a sensual maturity to him. A man with confidence who knew what he wanted.
“Ask him to bring a friend. Guys like that don’t have ugly friends.” Lara had many qualities but chastity was not one of them. “I’m in the middle of a dry spell.”
“Um, no, and did I tell you we are exchanging Christmas presents?” Jojo held the phone away from her ear.
“And I’m supposed to buy you something? You owe me,” she ranted. “I’ll come by around 6:00 and make sure you look presentable. No turtlenecks or I go home. It’s time, my friend, it’s time.”