Maybe it was the drink she’d just finished that had her feeling so flushed and eager to do something…anything that would require touching Carver.
“Do you do this often? Go out on dates, I mean?” he asked.
Was this a date? They’d had a nice meal together. But Carver used to be her best friend. Until that night he’d touched her and she’d sworn she felt something friendlier. Just like she was feeling now.
“I’m very focused on my job.” She pushed the empty martini glass away, hoping that would discourage her from ordering another. She’d obviously had enough.
He lifted his glass to his lips and drank but kept his eyes on her. It was that look that had her tempted. His eyes seemed warmer now than they had before dinner.
“Life’s not all about work, Lina,” he said when he’d finished his drink. “You should take time to enjoy yourself or none of the hard work and big paychecks are worth it.”
She’d been watching his mouth as he spoke, wondering how it would feel against her skin. She forced herself to focus.
“I’m happy doing what I do.” It was a crisp response she knew, but whatever was going on here needed to stop. Carver was an old friend, not a new flame. And even if there was something brewing between them, it could never be. Her job took up most of the hours in her day, and she didn’t have time to cultivate a relationship. Plus, he lived in another state, and they’d always had different ideas of what their futures would look like.
She signaled the waiter and requested the check.
Fifteen minutes later, they were walking in Central Park just after sunset. In the spirit of showing him around the city, she’d agreed when he’d suggested the walk.
“What are you doing in New York? You said you’d never come here.” She’d never forgotten those words. The last night they’d sat on his back porch before the prom, she’d told him about the internship the Golds had offered her while she attended NYU. She’d been brimming with excitement while he’d stared at her with his predictable stoic calm.
“My cousin Grant, you remember him? He and his sister used to come down for a couple weeks out of the summer.”
She nodded. “Yeah, and the both of you used to dunk us in the lake like you didn’t think we could swim.”
He chuckled. “We knew you could swim, but you both always screamed so loud like you couldn’t. It was hilarious.”
“It was cruel.” And some of her best memories of living in that small, backward town. All her best memories included Carver. He’d been such an important person to her back then.
They walked side by side, close enough to hold hands but refraining.
It wouldn’t be a good idea to touch him, no matter the confusing feelings running rampant inside her. Remaining friends was for the best. It was smart to put her career first and save the personal for later.
“Anyway, RGF was his gig, but his wife went into preterm labor two days ago, so he called me to fill in,” he said.
“Oh no. Is she all right? How’s the baby?”
“I talked to him this morning and he said Janell and baby Lauren are doing really well.”
She didn’t know Janell or the baby, but a sudden rush of relief washed over. “Oh, that’s good. Wow, Grant’s married.”
Glancing over at Carver, she saw him nod. “For three years now… He said it was the best decision he’d ever made.”
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