“Do you mind if I sit here? You look lonely.”
Jessica glanced up into the most capturing face she had ever seen. She glanced around, as if not really believing this man was talking to her, and yes, here were the sparks. They could not be mistaken. She couldn’t have experienced any more electricity if she had stuck her fingers in a light socket. Every nerve in her body screamed, her tongue wouldn’t work, and her lips could only mumble. She only stared back at him. He obviously was used to this kind of reaction when meeting the opposite gender, because he laughed.
“Yes, I am talking to you.”
Jessica, finally managing to find her tongue, muttered, “Sorry, I was just looking for a dragon.”
“Never mind.” She waved him off. “It’s a family joke.”
Standing above her, was a man with eyes the color of chestnuts, hair the color of straw, and a body so lean and tall, that Jessica had to strain her neck to see the top of his head. He was strong looking and had a rugged, cowboy look to him; yet, he appeared sophisticated at the same time. His skin was tanned from the sun. His voice was deep and authoritative. He was every bit masculine, and Jessica’s heart melted. It seemed an eternity before she could catch her breath.
“Your eyes are an interesting color,” she finally managed to say.
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“It was meant to be.”
“Do you mind if I sit with you?”
“Well, actually, I am here with my friends.” She gestured toward the dance floor. Neither Amy, nor Randy, appeared to be in the least bit of a hurry to return to the table. Jessica blushed.
“He was supposed to be my escort for the evening,” she said, frowning.
“I see,” he chuckled. “Well, his loss is my gain. Nevertheless, it doesn’t look as if your friends will be returning too soon. Is it okay if I keep you company for a while?”
She hesitated for all of two seconds. As tall and handsome as he was, she would be nuts not to encourage his pursuit. Besides, she was lonely and felt like an idiot sitting there all alone. Throwing caution aside, she motioned for him to take a seat beside her.
“Can I buy you a drink?” he offered.
“Thank you. I’ll have a glass of white wine. Tim serves an excellent house wine.”
He motioned for the server, and to Jessica’s surprise, he ordered two white wines.
“You’re a wine drinker? I thought men usually drank something a little more,” she paused, pondering the right word, “rugged,” she finally settled on.
This statement brought a burst of laughter from the man.
“You mean something like, I’ll have a beer? No, thanks. I suppose some men do like the ‘harsher’ stuff, but I prefer things that are soft and gentle.”
He smiled suggestively at her. She blushed at his open flirtation. She didn’t consider herself a beautiful woman, but she knew she was attractive. Suddenly she wished her height were a little taller than her five-foot-five inches, and her waist a little narrower than its twenty-two inches. She had always hated her hair. She wished its dirty brown look could have a little more gold in it. It was a strange color, not brown, but not blonde, either. All throughout her teenaged years, her mother had told her she was beautiful, and she was lucky to have such a unique hair color. Several people had commented on it, but she felt it was more out of curiosity and less out of admiration.
“My name is Brandon Phillips,” the stranger stated, extending his hand in greeting.
She smiled at him, offering hers in return. He had a firm grip. “I’m Jessica, but most of my friends call me Jessie.”
“I’m pleased to meet you, Jessie. It’s a lovely name.” Her face reddened. “Do you live around here? Or are you just visiting?”
“Actually, right now I’m visiting. My mother and I grew up here. I went to school with Tim, he’s the owner, and probably half the patrons in this fine establishment.” He laughed and Jessica realized the oddity of what she had said. “What I meant is; I grew up here with my mother. Now I live in the city. I’m visiting her for the weekend. What about you?”
“I’m here on business.”
It was her turn to laugh. “What on earth kind of business would bring you to this hole-in-the-wall town?”
He smiled. He had such a radiant smile. He seemed to light up the table with it.
“Actually, I was passing through on business. My family owns a ranch about three hundred miles south of here. I was on my way to New York to meet with some of our distributors when the water pump went out in my truck. So I’m stuck here overnight.”
“So, you met Jason, then. He’s the best mechanic on the entire East Coast. I can assure you that you couldn’t have picked a nicer town in which to breakdown. The people here are incredibly nice, and quite hospitable.”
“So I’m finding out.”
She blushed as he stared hard at her. She didn’t know why she felt so pleased that he had asked to sit at her table, but she did. She picked up her wine glass. “Well, then let’s have a toast to strangers in broken pickup trucks.”
They touched their glasses together and their eyes locked.
“So, tell me, what kind of business are you in? Or do you mind me asking?”
“Don’t be silly. There isn’t anything Jessie likes to talk about more than her work.”
They were so involved in their conversation that they hadn’t noticed Amy and Randy approach the table. She looked up into Amy’s eyes, and blushed when she noticed the way she was smiling at her. She introduced her friends to Brandon.
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