“Can we go tomorrow?”
“Sure. Andre is working tomorrow night. It’s a good thing we carpooled today. You don’t have to worry about your car.”
“I appreciate your flexibility, Ms. Morris,” Terrence said.
“Call me Karen.”
“Okay, and you can call me Terrence.”
“You kids have fun. I’ll see you tomorrow, Janae.”
Janae went to her desk. “I have a couple of things to do, and then we can leave.”
“Take your time. I’m not going anywhere.”
“By the way, what did you tell them in the office? They don’t usually allow people to visit during school hours, unless it’s a parent.”
He shrugged. “I told her I wanted to observe, and she assumed I had a child with special needs. Karen happened to come in and helped me out.”
Janae shook her head and laughed. After several minutes, she locked her desk and stood. “I’m done. Let’s go. You’ll have to stop by the office, sign out and return the badge.”
After taking care of that, Terrence seated Janae in his rental, hung his jacket over the backseat and got in on the driver’s side. “It’s still a little early for dinner, so what do you want to do for the next hour and a half or so?”
“Where are we going for dinner?”
“I looked up restaurants on Google on the way here and saw that Morton’s is not far, so I made reservations for five-thirty.”
“You were that sure I’d go to dinner with you?”
“Since the restaurant is downtown, we can go to a nearby park, if you like.”
“Sounds good. Lead me there.”
Following her directions, they arrived at the park twenty minutes later.
“I can’t believe you found a parking space across the street from the park. I never get that lucky,” Janae complained as he pulled into a vacant spot.
Terrence chuckled and helped her out of the vehicle. He grasped her hand. “Shall we?”
They strolled along the path in silence. A slight breeze kicked up.
“The temperature here is similar to L.A.,” Terrence said.
“That’s one of the reasons I decided to stay here. We don’t get too many extremes in temperature. So is your hand okay from the...you know...?”
He flexed his hand. “Yep. Good as new. Any more problems?”
“Did you tell your brother?”
“Absolutely not. I don’t have any money to bail Devin out of jail when he kills Lawrence, so let it go.”
Terrence sighed deeply. “Janae—”
She stopped walking and pulled her hand from his. “Drop it, Terrence.”
He stared at her for a long moment before nodding. Wrapping his arms around her, he kissed the top of her head. “I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
Janae buried her face in his chest. “I’ll be fine. My brothers taught me how to protect myself, and if I think I’m being threatened, I won’t hesitate to call someone.”
“Okay.” They continued walking for a while, then came to a bench. “Let’s sit.” Once seated, he pulled her close and placed his arm around her shoulder.
“You’re leaving tomorrow?”
“Yeah. I’m going to spend a few days in Dallas. I have an interview at one of the radio stations. There’ll be a small studio audience, and I’ll sing a few songs and answer questions.”
“That’s pretty cool. How many people are usually in the audience?”
“Maybe thirty or forty. It gives me a chance to connect in a more intimate setting. I’ll also be visiting another musician friend. He and I are going to collaborate on two songs for his upcoming project.”
“You’re going to sing?”
“No. I’m writing with him.”
“What’s his name?”
“Michael B? Ooh, I love his music. But not more than yours, of course,” she amended sweetly. “Now that I have the hookup, I can’t mess up getting advance copies of your upcoming projects.”
He looked down at her and burst out laughing. “Oh, so that’s the only reason you’re hanging out with me.”
She patted his cheek. “Hey, you’re nice enough, but I love the music.”
“Wow,” he said, laughing. “You’re rough on a brother.”
Janae tried to keep a straight face, but failed. She laughed until tears ran down her face. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist.”
“Seriously, though. I think you’re a really, really nice guy.”
He stroked a finger down her cheek. “And I think you are the most amazing woman I have ever met.”