He’d seen her.
Not only had he seen her, but now he was walking toward her. Maybe he hadn’t recognized her. It wasn’t as if he’d ever seen her dressed as a fairy.
Oh, how she loved his deep, gravelly voice. It lulled her, and made her want things she had no business wanting. For a moment she imagined how it would be if they were here together, standing in that line to see Santa, enjoying Mia’s excitement. They’d indulge her, of course, but maybe they’d exchange a look or two, a silent promise that when they’d spent time with the child, they’d have time for each other.
Mia adored James and Roxy was grateful that her daughter had a man in her life, even if spending time with him made Roxy dreamy. Like now, for instance.
What was wrong with her? She never allowed herself to dream during daylight hours.
Daylight hours were for work and everything practical.
She wished he hadn’t seen her here, dressed in this embarrassing costume.
And now he was standing in front of her. Too tall. Too male. Too real.
She stared at him innocently. “There must be some mistake. I’m the Sugar Plum Fairy.”
His mouth flickered at the corners. “And I’m the Mouse King.”
She eyed his shoulders. “I have no idea who that is, but you look nothing like a mouse.”
“The Mouse King is a character from The Nutcracker.”
“Right.” She wasn’t surprised that he knew. James knew everything. He’d been a lawyer but he’d given it up to study landscape architecture and work outdoors. He was the smartest guy she’d ever met. Not that he had much competition. Her mother had once told her that her only talent was her ability to pick guys dumber than she was. “You like ballet?”
“Not really, but my sister loved to dance and my mother thought every kid should see the ballet at least once so I was dragged along. Part of my education.”
Every day she was reminded of their differences and it seemed today was no exception. “My mother thought education was something that stopped you getting out there and earning money.”
“Is that what you’re doing here?” He stepped closer. Lowered his voice. “Do you need money, Rox?” When he called her Rox, it just about melted her bones, but that was nothing compared to the heat of humiliation that came from him knowing that she was short of money.
“I don’t know who Rox is, but you have the wrong girl.”
It wasn’t a lie. She was definitely the wrong girl for him. And if a part of her, the fierce fighter part that had kept her walking when life had tried to crush her, told her that she was good enough for anyone, another part told her to get real. James wasn’t interested in her in that way. If he was, he would have had his hand up her skirt by now. That was what men did when they were interested, wasn’t it? She and James had a laugh. He was kind to her and her daughter. That was it. There was dreaming and then there were delusions.
She knew the difference.
But then she felt his hand close over her shoulder and suddenly the difference didn’t seem so clear.
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