“Since you seem to like it so much, it’s yours.”
That brought him around. “What did you say?” She repeated it. “I can’t take this. It’s—”
“Please. I insist. I’d like for you to have it. If you don’t want to take it on the plane, I can wrap it and ship it to you.”
Terrence couldn’t stop staring at her. Janae had offered to give him a piece of artwork that he knew would sell for thousands of dollars. No other woman had ever given him a gift of any kind. Well, Audrey had, but she didn’t count. She was practically his sister.
“That’s not it. Outside of my father and grandparents, I’ve never been given such a precious gift. It’s no problem getting it home. I took the corporate jet.” He carefully returned the painting , then brought her into the circle of his arms. “Thank you. I’ll cherish it always.”
She wrapped her arms around his waist. “You’re welcome.”
When he released her, she crossed the room, opened a drawer and removed a roll of glassine paper, bubble wrap and a roll of tape. She carefully wrapped the painting then placed it against the wall.
“Do see another one you’d like to have before I put away the wrapping supplies?”
Terrence’s eyebrows shot up. “I don’t think so, sweetheart. This one is more than enough. I may want to buy some of your pieces for gifts, though.” He took another glance around. There had to be close to thirty finished pieces. “You really should see about having these in a gallery. They would fly off the shelves.” He held a spectacular snowcapped mountain scene in his hands. The scene looked so real that he gently touched the snow, expecting to feel the cold.
She started putting the supplies away.
He replaced the painting then came up behind her and put his hand on her shoulders. “What is it? You seem uncomfortable.”
“I’ve secretly thought about it, but don’t want all the attention that might follow. I don’t like being in the spotlight.”
“Neither do I, but you get used to it because you’re doing something you love.”
She turned around. “You look like a natural when you’re onstage, like you enjoy it.”
“I enjoy singing and playing music.” He shrugged. “I’d rather be away from the limelight most of the time, but I’ve gotten used to it. You have a true gift, one that should be shared with the world. Think about it.”
“Good. Now, is there somewhere we can go to hang out for a little while?”
“I thought that’s what we’re doing.”
“Yeah,” he said slowly. “Remember the incident on the couch?” he asked with deliberate emphasis. “It might be safer if we got out of the house for a while.”
Color rose in her cheeks, and she lowered her head. “Oh.”
Terrence lifted her chin and smiled tenderly. “As much as I want to make love to you, and I do...badly, I don’t want you to think that I came here for that. I’d like us to get to know each other better. You’re a special woman, and I would never treat you like you’re a booty call. There’s something happening between us, and I won’t lie—it scares the hell out of me. But I still want to see what that something is. Is that okay with you?”
“Yes, and...thank you.”
His brows knitted in confusion. “For?”
“For what you said about me...not...”
“Being a booty call?” he asked laughingly.
“Yeah, that.” She smiled.
He groaned and held her tightly to him, thinking how comfortable he felt with her. “So, where’s a good spot?”
“Well...there’s a nice coffeehouse not too far from here. They serve other drinks and light snacks, and have great background music. Does that sound okay?”
“Sounds perfect. Let’s go.”
“I need to change clothes first,” she said as they left the studio. “I’ll be right out.”
* * *
Janae changed her clothes, brushed her hair and redid her ponytail. She thought about what had happened on the couch. She felt as if she were coming out of her skin and was two seconds away from begging him to make love to her—something she would never do with a man she had just met. When he called her special, she could see the sincerity reflected in his eyes. She could see herself falling for him, and falling fast. But she couldn’t afford to let herself succumb to his charms.
Despite what she heard about him not being a playa in the traditional sense, she couldn’t take any chances. He said he didn’t mistreat women, but he clearly wasn’t the settling-down type, either. The man was a popular musician and fine enough to have a woman in all fifty states and abroad. She really needed to show him the door and tell him not to contact her again. But somehow, she couldn’t force herself to say the words. She stood there a few minutes more, took a deep breath, then went out front.