(3 book romance bundle).., p.10
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       (3 Book Romance Bundle) "The Cowboy's Love" & "Sex with the Billionaire" & "Loving the White Billionaire", p.10

           Julie Allen, Carla Davis, & Monica Brooks

  Chapter Seven

  "Hey, Jonathan? This is Star. I think I’ll take you up on the whole going out for dinner thing," I said nervously. He probably thought I was crazy. Or worse, he had already eaten or was comfortable at home with some other woman and now I called.

  "Oh, alright. I'll be right back over there to pick you up as soon as I get ready," he answered quickly. I could hear him shuffling around like he was already preparing to come pick me up. Was I really going to ride in a Mercedes with a handsome man to go out to eat?

  "Okay, I'll go get ready too." I hung up the phone and instantly panicked. I had never been on a real date before; if that's even what it was I was doing with Jonathan. I mean, I'd had a beer with a guy, seen a movie or hung out in his dorm room. But I had never been on a real adult date where it was more about chivalry and romanticism and less about making out and staring at each other’s' bets features if you catch my drift. I didn't have anything super nice to wear that was on par with the kind of things I imagined Jonathan wore on dates; like tuxes. But what I had was going to have to be good enough for wherever he was taking me.

  I just went with a white dress with blue flowers on it that landed above my knee and a pair of boots that weren't completely torn up. In fact, they had blue rhinestones on them that almost matched the blue flowers on the dress. But I did leave my hair down the way I liked it.

  It wasn't too long before a knock came at the door signaling that Jonathan had come to pick me up. At first I found myself leaping across the room towards the door before I decided to slow it down as not to seem strange or desperate. Then, I opened the door to see that he was dressed rather casually too, still in what seemed to be his signature jeans and a polo. Though, it was a red polo this time.

  "Hi," I said as he led me out to his car. "I don't think I've ever been in a car like that before," I admitted as he closed the door behind me like a gentleman.

  "Really?" he asked, looking at me sideways before taking off out of the driveway. I had to hang on for dear life as the acceleration plastered my head to the headrest.

  "Really," I squeaked out before we both broke into a laugh.

  "Sorry about that. I'm usually driving alone," Jonathan explained as he shifted gears. "I guess you really are a country girl."

  I nodded. "What about you? You said you moved a bunch of places." I looked to him for an answer, very curious to know more about him.

  "Well, like I said I spent the most years in Ohio, though we moved a couple times there too. At the age of 12 is when the moving really started. I lived in Georgia for a year and then went back up north, living in Connecticut for three years and then Michigan for another two. We came to stay in Texas with some family over the summer after I graduated high school, and my mother insisted on staying. I went to college in Dallas and then just stuck around. I liked it better by the beach."

  He was becoming more and more like a real person by the minute. I smiled at him as we pulled up to a bar and grill. It seemed to be like a pretty hip and casual; environment. We walked in and found a booth in the dark lighting. The menu had everything from fancy pasts dishes paired with wine down to bar food and beer.

  I let Jonathan just order whatever for us so that we had a table full of things like onion rings, fries and wings as well as a bottle of wine. He spent the first little bit telling me jokes and things that made me laugh like the fact that he was a clumsy child with acne. I couldn't even imagine that. "I bet you had guys falling all over you from day one and that you were the sweet shy girl," he said, trying to guess what I was like. I laughed again at exactly how wrong he was.

  "You are so far off!" I squealed, gasping for air in between giggles. I'm the resident party girl here in Guerra. I gave my parents so much crap staying out at the beach for hours deep into the night and stumbling in with my guy friends or my friend Rachel way past curfew and possibly drunk. It was a regular routine, especially in the summer. I even got my friends to go skinny dipping in the ocean once. In fact, that's how I spent my 24th birthday; partying on the beach. It was like old times coming in that house again with my best friend Miles carrying me and my mother shaking her head."

  Jonathan made a face, scrunching up his features in a totally cute yet unattractive way. "Something about that just doesn't seem right. I mean, I'm sure you looked great doing it, but I wouldn't want all those germs and fish swimming around certain areas," he admitted with a chuckle. "I like the way the ocean looks but the idea of critters does freak me out."

  "A big guy like you?" I asked, wondering if he was playing games with me. "I guess I just don't get it. I mean, my father used to have me catch little fish with my hands and even took me crabbing once. But then again, I've touched udders so after that I guess there's not much else to be grossed out by." As we talked, I realized that for the first time since their passing, I was able to talk about my parents and memories I had with them without breaking down. Jonathan was having a positive effect on me. I wanted to cling to him for dear life even though I’d just met him.

  "You're definitely different, Star. Which reminds me, where did you get the name? It's very unusual." I took a sip from my wine glass and a bite from another onion ring before answering him. The food was so good and for some reason, I suddenly felt like I hadn’t eaten a decent meal in a long time.

  "Star actually isn't my given name; Samantha is. But when I was about eight or nine helping my father on the ranch he decided to start calling me Star. So, from then on it just stuck. That's what people have called me ever since." The look on his face was that of confusion, and I broke out in laughter once again. "Around here, everyone has some kind of nickname which is generally more popular than their given name."

  "Really? I guess since I’m from up north mostly, I just don't get it. We didn't do that up there." I burst out laughing, and he followed. There was a slight chance that I'd had a few too many drinks. I never had been a very heavy drinker. I could work on the ranch with the best of them, but drinking for me was like for any typical woman of my size. In other words, I got tipsy pretty quickly. And the food, no matter how good it was, wasn't helping as much as it should have. Luckily, Jonathan seemed to be tolerating the alcohol pretty well.

  "I imagine that if I were ever to go up north there would be a lot of things I didn't understand, so don't feel too bad. I’ve heard people say it’s almost like leaving the country entirely to come down here. Actually, my mom always said that. She didn’t always live in a small town like Guerra. She was a city girl through and through." Thinking about my mother was threatening to ruin the good feeling. I really did miss her. "I miss her," I admitted with a sigh. There was no use in keeping it all in.

  "I'm sure you do, and I'm sure even wherever she is she misses being with you as well." It was such a sweet thing to say, I almost reached out to hold his hand. He always seemed to have the right words at the right time. "But tell me about that. Why did she move if she was a city girl?"

  I smiled at the memory of them telling me their love story. I made them a book about it on their 15th anniversary. "Her and my father just clicked right away, and they just weren't going to be without each other. But my father already knew he wanted to live out here and be a rancher. There was no other option for him. So, she got her Phoenix-like decorations; the ones that are still at the house now, and he got the ranch in Guerra." It made so much sense. Did everyone have a great story like that? I hoped I would one day.

  "They always did seem to be very much in love even after all that time. Well, I think it may be time to pay the check and get out of here. We've been tying up their booth for two hours now," Jonathan announced, raising his hand to get the waiter over. Instead of waiting for the check, Jonathan just handed over his credit card. Were rich people really like that, not caring about the money they spent?

  I looked at the clock and confirmed what he said. "It doesn't feel like it's been two hours," I told, him, feeling a bit of wonderment at how good he had been able to distract me. It probab
ly helped that he was rather charming. For the first time I noticed that we had ended up somewhere scooting closer to each other, or at least I had scooted closer to him over the course of the evening.

  Once the waiter brought his credit card back to him, he took my arm and helped me out to the car. I was pretty sobered up by then, but I figured he was trying to be a gentleman and do the right thing. As he climbed in and shut the door, I began to feel that loneliness threatening to creep back in again knowing that he was about to drop me back off at that empty house. I wanted to know how long it was going to be before I felt okay with that or got used to it. My biggest fear was that it would never happen.

  By the time we pulled up in the driveway and I looked out the car window, I was feeling uneasy. I looked over at Jonathan who was getting out of the car so he could come around and let me out. He was a very good looking guy, and he had been so nice to me the whole day. I knew there were things I didn’t know or understand about him and how he knew my parents, but all suspicions aside, I felt like I needed his company.

  He began walking me up to the door almost voluntarily. I felt a little bit like I was on my way to the gallows or something. Just as he was about to say goodbye and leave for the evening, I decided to just try and make him stay. I gave my best smile. "Jonathan, would you like to come in for a little while? We can have another glass of wine. I know there are a few older bottles in there that should be really good and aged by now. My grandfather really loved wine." I met my eyes with his and blushed trying to focus on getting him to agree.

  "Sure, I'd like that. Show me that wine?" He smiled and displayed his dimples as we walked inside together. He shut the door behind us, and I went to get the wine and glasses. There were two cabinets in our large kitchen that held racks of wine and six or seven bottles of various ages. I grabbed what looked like a good red and brought it out with two glasses.

  "So, what do you think? I asked, passing it to him.

  "This is a good brand and a good age. Let's open it." He used his keys to pop the cork, making a loud noise that filled the house. It was worth it just to get rid of the silence as he poured me a full glass and passed it to me, sniffing his like it was a flower.

  I sat on the arm of the couch next to him as I took not so tiny sips from my wine. As Jonathan went to rest his arm on the couch he ended up brushing up against the bare skin of my leg. Suddenly, there was an awful lot of tension in the room. I was pretty sure I could have cut through it.

  "So," I said, clearing my throat. "Do you have some significant other at home? Though, I probably should have asked before I drank with you," I teased, reprising his question to me earlier in the day.

  He chuckled and knocked back the rest of his wine like a pro. It was kind of sexy.

  "No. I've always been more of a loner and a business man. Of course, it doesn't help that sometimes I still see myself as that awkward young boy who no one wanted to sit next to at lunch. I often get advances but always seem like I don't know what to do with them." I threw back the rest of my wine as well and ended up going too far back so that he had to hang onto my leg and help catch me. But his hand lingered there afterward during a moment of intense silence as we looked at each other.

  "More wine?" he asked my after a second, and I held out my glass to him as he reach over with the bottle. But as he poured, I lost my balance, slipping down the arm onto the catch. I landed awkwardly halfway on top of him and halfway stuck in the tiny space between him and the edge of the couch.

  “Sorry,” I whispered, struggling to get up, but all I succeeded in doing was putting myself farther up into his lap. I was about to stand up, but his hand slipped around my waste. I had a decision to make. Was the night going to end in an awkward PG goodbye or was I going to make a move? I was just tipsy enough that I thought I just might do the ladder.


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