He heard her blow out a breath slowly. He hoped she said yes. He hoped she said no.
“You really don’t have to,” she finally sighed.
He knew that sound. It was one where the other person was saying, ‘I’d love the help, but I don’t want to ask for it.’
Wordlessly, Mac reached around her and lifted two bags from the cart into her trunk. She grabbed another bag and set it beside his. He grabbed two more, and before he knew it her trunk was full and her cart empty.
“Thanks,” she said, somewhat reluctantly. She held her head high but never actually looked at him. He knew he hurt her when he froze, but he hadn’t been on a date in years, and dating a single mom was a whole different ball game than dating any other woman.
“Hey, uh, about earlier…” he started.
“What? When I asked you out and you froze like a deer in headlights?”
He chuckled at her bluntness. She wasn’t someone who was going to back down, even if it had embarrassed her. She was strong. He could tell that easily. No one was going to push her around.
“Yeah, about that. I’m sorry I didn’t say anything. I guess I was a little shocked.”
Shocked didn’t even begin to describe what he was feeling, but he wasn’t going to elaborate with her. If he did she’d speed off and never look back.
Did he want her to look back?
He didn’t know, but he didn’t want her to think his hesitation had anything to do with her. That wasn’t fair.
“You looked like you were going to throw up,” she said, a hint of teasing in her sweet voice. Mac finally managed to look at her again and saw a glimmer of amusement in her eyes. Amusement at him. He was the one who rejected her, or it seemed that way, but she was laughing at him.
“Yeah, well, it’s not every day a beautiful woman asks me out. Usually they’re asking where the St. Patrick’s Day decorations are.”
She laughed at his lame joke, just like he’d hoped she would. Her eyes lit up with her laughter, sparkling in the late afternoon sun. He couldn’t stop his attraction to her, and if he was honest, he didn’t want to. It had been a long time since he’d spent any time with a woman, for any reason, and by some miracle, that one wanted to see him again.
He extended his hand to her. “I’m Mac.”
Her laughter died on her lips as she looked down at his hand as though any minute he might slap her instead of shake her hand. The longer she stood staring at his hand, the more he realized how ridiculous she must have felt when he didn’t respond to her request for dinner.