“You didn’t eat much. I thought you weren’t scared to eat on a date.”

She shrugs again. “Nervous stomach, you could say.”

“If you’re finished, you want to get out of here?”

We leave through the same revolving doors we used the previous night, but under very different circumstances. We stand on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant and Daniel pulls to the curb from across the street where he’s been waiting. He gets out to open the door, but I don’t have a clue where I’d have him drive us since I’m unfamiliar with Wagga Wagga. “It’s a beautiful night. Do you feel like walking?”

I tell Daniel, “I’ll call when we’re ready to be picked up.”

He shuts the door. “Of course, sir.”

She glances in both directions and shrugs as she points to her right. “Always go right and you’ll never go wrong.”

We start walking and I remember the shoes she’s wearing. She looks great in them, but there is no way they will be comfortable for walking. “Those heels are sexy as hell but don’t they hurt your feet?”

She laughs. “I’m used to wearing high heels. I’ll be okay. But it’s very considerate of you to think of my feet.”

I’m not sure if she’s being honest. “I wouldn’t want you to be uncomfortable, so please tell me if they hurt and I will call Daniel to pick us up.”

“I will.” She surprises me by looping her arm through mine. “Thank you for the beautiful flowers and breakfast you sent. Addison and I were almost drunk by ten o’clock. It was great.”

Flowers and breakfast were nothing compared to what I would give her if she agreed to be with me. “You’re welcome. I’m glad you liked the champagne. What about Australia? Are you enjoying it?”

“I like it very much, but I can’t get use to the idea of Christmas during summer.”

I had forgotten December is winter in the US. “I’ve never thought of it being any other way.”

“Will you spend Christmas with your family outside of Sydney?”

Her questions aren’t identifying, but they still make me uncomfortable. “Yes. Everyone gathers at my parents’ on Christmas Eve and we spend Christmas Day together. It makes for an interesting night with my brother’s kids waiting for Santa to come since the oldest is three now.”

I can tell she’s an only child. “It is fun for about two minutes, and then everyone is sick of each other.”

She stops dead in her tracks and places her palms against the glass window of a store. “Look at that. I think it’s a Martin D-45.”

I inspect the guitar on the stand in the window and see nothing special about it. It just looks like any other to me. “I take it that’s good?”

I think she might be amused by my question when I see her grin. “Yes, that’s very good. I’ve dreamed of having one forever.”

She gazes into the window and reminds me of a child wishing for a toy at Christmas. “Because a D-45 costs about twelve grand.”

“Shouldn’t you have one if you’re going to be a successful musician?”

“Sure, I need one, but that doesn’t mean I can afford it. I have my mom’s guitar to get me by until I can afford one. It’s older than I am, but it’s still good.” Her hands are still splayed against the storefront glass. “She’s never told me so, but I think the sperm donor gave it to her. Sometimes I catch her playing it and she looks like she’s been crying.”

She wasn’t kidding about having daddy issues.

“I’ll have a Martin one day,” she sighs as she steps away from the storefront.

We continue our walk until we come to the next street and I see the sign for Stout Avenue. “The Blues Club shouldn’t be far from here. You want to swing by and see what’s happening?”

“Sure. Which way do you think it is?”

“One way to find out.” I pull out my phone and use an app to find it several blocks to the north. “It’s six blocks that way.”

She lifts her foot from one of her shoes and inspects it. “I don’t know if I can walk six blocks. My heels are starting to rub.”

“You said you would tell me if they hurt. I don’t want you to be in pain. I’ll call Daniel.”

She lifts the other foot and inspects it. “Would you think I was weak if I let you?”

“I don’t think for one minute there’s anything weak about you.” I spot a bench on the sidewalk. “We’ll wait for him here.”

While awaiting Daniel’s arrival, we sit on the bench and I reach for her feet. “Let me see what we’ve got going on here.”

She resists as I try to pull her feet into my lap. “What are you doing?”

“What does it look like? I’m going to rub your feet while we wait for Daniel.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“I know I don’t have to. I want to.”

She gives in and twists on the bench to put her feet in my lap. I slip off her shoes and begin rubbing the first foot. “If you say yes, I will pamper you everyday like a princess.”

She laughs, clearly not realizing how serious I am. “That certainly sweetens the offer and makes it more tempting.”

I slide my palm from her foot up her calf. “I don’t want my offer to be tempting. I want it to be irresistible, so tell me what it will take for you to say yes.”

She studies me and grins. “I need time, and I need to know you better.”

She’s always guarded, but I’m impatient, so the time she needs for getting to know me is the one thing I don’t want to give her. Doesn’t she understand we can do that after she agrees?

In a fine example of Daniel’s impeccably wrong timing, he pulls up as I am trying to warm Paige to the idea of us. I slip her shoes back onto her feet. When she stands, I scoop her in my arms and carry her to the car where Daniel is waiting with the opened door.

Her arms are around my neck and she gives me a disapproving look. “I think this is a little over the top.”

“I tend to be that way, and you’d do well to remember that. I meant it when I said I didn’t want you in pain and I’d pamper you like a princess.”

She giggles again like that seventeen-year-old girl she pretended to be earlier. “I think I could’ve managed the few steps it would’ve taken me to get to the car.”

We slide across the backseat. “This is me trying to persuade you to say yes, Paige.”

“I thank you, but it’s quite unnecessary. And I hope you don’t think you’re carrying me from the car into the club because that’s not happening.”

Daniel stops on the street in front of The Blues Club. “I’m not getting out unless I’m walking on my own. No sneaking to scoop me up again. Got it, Jack?”

I whirl around before I get out of the car. She has called me Jack for a second time. “Yes, ma’am.”

I get out of the car and offer my hand. “Thank you.”

She’s standing in front of me and I can’t resist asking, “Why do you call me Jack?”

“I don’t know. It’s something my mom has always said, so I say it too. Sort of like when I asked you if you wanted to dance when we were trying to dodge around each other.”

We walk into the club and sit at a table close to the stage. There is a full band tonight and I recognize “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.

Paige pecks the tabletop with her fingertips to the beat and a waitress comes to our table. We’re sitting right next to the speakers, so she yells out over the music, “What can I get for you?”

Paige smiles and winks at me when she places her order. “I’ll have a screaming orgasm, please.” Hell, yeah. She’ll have plenty of those over the next few months if I have anything to do with it.

Interesting drink choice. Interesting enough that I think I might need to try one. I stare at Paige as I call out my order. “I’ll have a screaming orgasm also.”

I slip out of my jacket and toss it across the empty chair next to me. “Do you always wear a suit?”

“I do when I have business meetings.”

“It was a brief one.” She watches as I loosen the knot of my tie and unfasten the top button of my shirt. I unbutton my sleeves and roll them up on my forearms. “You don’t like the suit?”

“I like it very much, but I’m curious to see what else you wear.”

“Then I guess you’ll have to see me again so you can find out.”

Our waitress returns with our drinks and I pass her my card to start a tab. “I’ll be suitless for the next few days. Would you like to come out to the estate where I’m staying for a visit tomorrow? I’d love to give you a tour of the vineyard.”

She takes a drink of her screaming orgasm as she watches me over the rim of her glass. “Okay.”

Another yes. It isn’t the one I want, but it’s a start and could lead to the one I’m desperate to hear. “Perfect. If I pick you up around ten, that will give us time to drive back for lunch. Does that work for you?”

One-on-one time is what I need to persuade her to accept, so tomorrow I will get the yes I so desire.

Four screaming orgasms later, which is two more than I usually have, Lachlan and I slide into the backseat of his car. I only make it to the middle of the seat as I glide across, so our legs are touching when he gets in beside me. The only thing separating our skin is the fabric of his trousers, but his touch sends a thrill of excitement throughout my body.