“All right. Let me move the car, and then we can go,” Donovan said.
By design or just coincidence, somehow they’d paired off—Karen with Donovan and she with Monte. They were content to follow the flow of foot traffic without conversing, but every time she glanced Monte’s way, she found him staring at her.
“So, Monte,” Janae started.
“Terrence,” he corrected.
“My name. I’d like for you to call me Terrence. Monte is the name I use for business, but my family and close friends call me Terrence.”
“Um, okay...Terrence. But I’m not a close friend.”
“Not yet.” He smiled. “So, what were you about to say?”
“What?” Her brows knitted in confusion. His smile knocked her thoughts right out of her head.
“You started to say something before we talked about my name.”
“Is Monte a name you made up?”
“No. It’s actually my middle name.” He paused. “I’ll tell you the story behind it another time.”
Another time? She nodded, then remembered her original question. “How long are you staying in San Francisco?”
“Until sometime tomorrow probably. Why? Tired of my company already?” he asked teasingly.
She smiled softly. “No. Just asking.”
“Good, because I want to spend as much time with you as I can.”
Terrence reached down and entwined their hands. She stiffened. She felt those same sparks.
He rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand and bent close to her ear. “It’s all right. I feel it, too.”
After lunch, they checked out several stores lining the wharf. She had a great time and, strangely enough, felt more relaxed with him than she had with any other man.
“I’ll be right back,” he whispered.
“I’ll be right here.” Her eyes followed him as he walked toward the front of the store, where Donovan had gestured for him. Karen came up behind her moments later.
“So, are you having a good time with Monte?”
“I didn’t think I would, but yeah, I am. He’s...I don’t know...different.” She leaned her head to one side thoughtfully. “You know, he doesn’t act like a superstar. It’s like he’s this regular guy.” She released a deep sigh.
“Nothing. Just thinking I’ll probably never see him after this weekend. He seems like a great guy.”
“Why would you think that?”
“Hel-lo, I live in San Jose and he lives in Los Angeles, not to mention he’s a celebrity. You know, concerts, touring...”
Karen lifted an eyebrow, then folded her arms across her chest. “And that means what? Even celebrities need that special someone.”
Before Janae could respond, she heard her name being called. “Over here, Terrence.”
“I’ll explain later. Come on.” They met Terrence and Donovan halfway.
“Did you see something you like, Janae?” Terrence asked.
“Sure, lots of things. But I can’t afford them all.”
Terrence grabbed her hand, pulling her back in the direction she’d come from. “Show me. I’ll buy them for you.”
She snatched her hand from his. “What? No.”
“Is there a problem?”
Janae noticed a few people staring and lowered her voice. “Yes. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. You can’t go around spending your money like that.”
He paused a beat. “Point taken. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t need to apologize, Terrence.” She rubbed a hand over her forehead, trying to find the right words to make him understand. “Remember when I told you that I wasn’t a groupie?”
“Yes. And do you remember I told you I don’t have groupies, and you could never be one? Just so you know, I’ve never bought anything for another woman except my grandmother. Are you ready to head out? It’s almost time for the sunset cruise.”
Janae opened her mouth to say something else, but nodded instead. He’s never bought anything for another woman? She followed him out, trying to process his statement. He didn’t talk during the walk, and she sensed she’d hurt his feelings.
They boarded the ship, opting for seats inside. Although the sun shone, the late spring temperatures had cooled considerably with the approach of dusk. Once the boat left the dock, Terrence excused himself to go stand on the deck. Her eyes never left him as he stood against the rail with his hands in his pockets, head bowed. Maybe this had been a bad idea. Doubt crept in again, making her have second thoughts about this excursion. But she did owe him an apology for the way she’d snapped at him in the store.