He grabbed his suitcase and held the classroom door open for her. He drove them to the same café where she’d eaten with Jane, and he did most of the talking. He was thrity-four, had been working at the college for seven years, loved The Da Vinci Code, etc. She ordered a mocha and let Aaron pay for it. He got a coffee.
“Wow, $3.75?” he commented, looking at how much a mocha was on the menu. “You’re an expensive date.”
He was only teasing, and Lana smiled a little to humor him. Or was she really smiling? She couldn’t tell. They chose a table in the corner of the small dining area.
“So,” he began casually. “What are you angry about?”
Lana raised her eyebrows, unimpressed by the personal question. She took a sip of her drink, and replied just as casually, “I suppose I’m angry about my ex.”
He seemed surprised. “But you can’t be more than, what, twenty-five?”
“Twenty-three,” she corrected with a wry smile. “Got married right out of college, and it only took a year his dick to decide it needed some excitement outside of the marriage.”
Aaron didn’t seem fazed by this new piece of information, only thoughtful as he took a sip of coffee. But Lana was not ready for her messed up marriage to be their topic of conversation.
“Look,” she began after a moment. “This is a date, right?”
“I was hoping,” he replied.
“Then this isn’t something we should be discussing. I may have been out of the dating loop for a couple years, but I know exes aren’t a great topic for the first date.”
He took the hint and changed the subject.
“I like you,” he told her matter-of-factly, making eye contact both to express his sincerity and to gauge her reaction.
Lana wasn’t sure she liked this topic any better than the last one. But a blush rose to her cheeks and she felt flattered in spite of herself.
“You don’t even know me,” was all she could think to say.
“Yes I do,” he replied with a cocky grin.
She remained silent, daring him to continue.
“I know your name is Lana Monroe,” he said in a low voice, so only she could hear. “You’re twenty-three and jaded—”
“I just told you that,” she pointed out. “It doesn’t count.”
He smiled, once again finding her cynicism amusing, but otherwise continued as if she hadn’t spoken.
“You have perfect pink lips that frown too much and adorable freckles on your nose. You have auburn hair,” he reached out to touch it, and she let him, her defenses failing, “soft auburn hair, and gorgeous green eyes that, lucky for me, tell me everything you’re feeling.”
Lana could think of nothing to say. The fact he’d studied her so carefully and gotten to know her so well in just four days made her uncomfortable yet strangely happy. She took a sip of her mocha, and another butterfly was resurrected.