Nicole knew she should say no. She didn’t know anything about the guy. Why would she have lunch with him?
But his relationship with her daughter concerned her. Why was Makayla drawn to him? Was he some kind of pervert?
To put her mind at ease about him, Nicole agreed to lunch. The grin on his face was not only bright enough to sting, but genuine. His eyes lit up and her skin prickled with matched excitement. There was something about him that attracted her, and it wasn’t just his looks.
Since neither of them had anything in their carts yet, they returned the empty carts to the front of the store then walked together to the deli on the far side of the store. “What are you ladies interested in?” Roger asked as they approached the mouth watering displays set out. Pizza, sandwiches, chicken fingers, salad, and three lanes of serve-yourself goodies stretched out before them. Nicole rarely let Makayla talk her into eating there because it was too easy to overdo it, but she had to admit, it was hard to pass it up.
“I want pizza and cookies,” Makayla said definitively.
“Hmm, pizza. I could go for pizza. How about you, Nicole?”
The sound of her name on his lips did things to her that she couldn’t allow in front of her daughter. She shook her head and glanced around. Pizza didn’t sound that appealing, but neither did buying too many lunches. She would deal with it. “Pizza is fine.”
Roger looked at her as though he could read her mind. It disturbed her in ways she didn’t want to think about. “You don’t really want pizza though, do you? What do you want? It’s my treat. Go crazy.”
Nicole shook her head. “No. You can’t buy us lunch. I won’t let you do that.”
“Why not? I invited you. If it weren’t for me you’d be half done with your shopping and getting ready to leave soon. I insist. But only if you get what you really want.”
Nicole chewed on her lip. She knew exactly what she wanted. It made her uneasy that he figured her out so quickly. But if she was there to find out how he knew her daughter, she had to eat. “Okay, fine. I’ll get my sandwich, you go grab a pizza, and we’ll meet you back here in a few minutes.”
Roger nodded as though agreeing then focused on Makayla. Nicole worried he was going to try to take her daughter with him, and that was not going to happen. Instead he leaning down and asked, “What’s your favorite kind of pizza? The one your mom never lets you get because she doesn’t like it?”
Makayla looked up at Nicole and bit her lip. When she looked back at Roger, Nicole saw the sparkle in her eyes. “I like sausage and pepperoni and ham and red peppers. Mom says it’s too much meat though.”
Roger grinned at her and nodded. “That sounds delicious to me. Can I share it with you?”
Makayla nodded enthusiastically. “Really? We can get that?”
“Definitely. I’ll be right back. No running away on me,” he added, holding Nicole’s eyes.
She was afraid she couldn’t run from him even if she wanted to. She was also afraid she didn’t want to.