Her gaze roamed over the lobster, crab and asparagus over penne pasta. “Everything looks and smells so good, Terrence. Thank you.”
They blessed their food, and Janae immediately dug in. She moaned. “This is so good. Who taught you to cook?”
“Glad you like it. My grandmother taught me some things when I was younger, but I basically taught myself.”
She lifted her glass. “To the cook.”
He touched his glass to hers and inclined his head. “Sorry the bread isn’t homemade. I didn’t have enough time.”
“You can make homemade French bread?”
He nodded. “I’ll have to make it for you some other time.”
“I’m going to hold you to it.”
“When we were talking earlier, you mentioned that teachers were being cut because of budget reductions. Is there a chance your contract won’t be renewed?”
“Not so far. I have a good chance of keeping my position because it’s a specialty area.”
“What’s your degree in?”
She took a sip of her wine before answering. “My undergraduate degree is in child and adolescent development. I have a master’s in education, with a concentration in special education.”
“Seems like someone else is the brainiac,” he said with a smile.
“I don’t think so.” She laughed. “Unlike somebody else, I had to study my butt off.”
“Uh-huh. What was your GPA in college?”
Janae toyed with the remaining food on her plate. “Three point eight,” she mumbled.
“Magna cum laude. I knew it. Your family must be really proud of you.”
“They are. You should have seen my brothers. I thought they were excited when I got my undergrad degree, but they made so much noise when I crossed the stage to get my graduate degree that they were almost ejected from the ceremony. I was so embarrassed.”
“They love you a lot.”
“Yeah, and are a royal pain in the butt. Now, did you graduate summa cum laude?”
He stared at his plate before murmuring, “Yeah.”
“I rest my case, Mr. Brainiac.” She forked up another portion of pasta.
He shook his head and continued eating.
After cleaning her plate, Janae leaned back and sighed contentedly. “Thank you so much for dinner. Everything was delicious. You’ll have to give me the recipe.”
“My pleasure, sweetheart. I’ll make sure you get the recipe. I made enough for you to have leftovers. For some reason, it tastes better the second time around.”
“That’s great. I can have it for lunch on Monday. Since you cooked, I’ll clean the kitchen. Go make yourself comfortable. You can watch TV or listen to music. I’ll be done shortly.”
“If I help, we can get done quicker and both get comfortable.” He stood, stacked their plates and put them in the sink.
She picked up their wineglasses and followed him to the sink. “No. You’re my guest. You only get one guest pass, so I suggest you use it.” Janae pushed him in the direction of the door. “Out. I’ll be done in a few minutes.”
“All right, all right. I’m going.”
As Janae cleaned the kitchen, she started to rethink her offer to let Terrence spend the night. He was too fine, too sexually potent. And hadn’t she learned her lesson from Lawrence and Carter? But it would be rude to retract her offer now. She’d just have to keep her desire under wraps. Easy. No problem.
* * *
Terrence didn’t watch much TV, so he opted for music. Browsing her collection, he realized Janae’s musical taste was almost as eclectic as his. He selected a Brian Culbertson CD, kicked off his shoes and stretched out on the couch. In his mind, he went over his schedule for the next few weeks. He had to pull some long hours in the coming week since he would be out of his office for a couple of weeks touring. Then he had the CD release party for one of the label’s artists the following week. Maybe he could convince Janae to accompany him....
He sat up abruptly. He was making plans as if they were a couple, something he’d purposely stayed away from since becoming an adult. Like he had told Janae, he didn’t consider himself a playa—he was very selective about who he brought to his bed, and he didn’t sleep with every woman he met—but he never made plans beyond the first date. A woman could consider herself lucky to have been asked on more than one date. Meeting Janae had him thinking crazy thoughts about relationships and commitments. But all he had to do was remember his mother’s betrayal to get his head straight again.
He started to lie back down but sat up when Janae entered. Terrence extended his hand. “Come join me.” He read the uncertainty in her expression, as if she was remembering what had happened earlier on the couch. “We’ll be fine. I promise. I put on the music, but we can turn on the TV if you want.”