She shivered, and not from the cool air circulating through the room. The anticipation, the excitement, the miniscule amount of dread, all caused her to tremble. But nothing had prepared her for the man sitting at the only table there, situated in front of the enormous bay window. When he spotted them, he stood and smiled, looking her up and down with a beautiful mahogany stare. The maître d’ dipped his head and left.

“Ty,” she said. One word took every bit of her concentration. He’d dressed in a way she defined as rock-star chic. White shirt, black tie, black blazer with sleeves that stopped at his muscular forearms, tight-fitting dress trousers, and a black-and-white checkered fedora with a black band. On any other person, it probably would have looked ridiculous, but on him? Just right.

“Claire. A pleasure to meet you.” He planted a small kiss on her knuckles. Then he walked around her and pulled a chair out. “You look beautiful.”


Dear, sweet baby Jesus. Forming coherent sentences would be the least of her challenges that night. “Thank you. You look....” As a thousand adjectives tumbled through her overstimulated brain, he simply smiled. She wondered if the look on her face said what her mouth couldn’t.

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