Daniel smiled. “I have a few ideas.”
“Lay them on me,” Angela said, leaving the patio and coming back indoors. She headed straight for the coffeepot to warm up her coffee. “Would you like a cup?” she asked, when she turned and found he’d followed her inside.
She poured him coffee into the mug she’d left sitting beside the pot and handed it to him. As he sipped, she watched him with avid interest. He looked as if he’d just walked off a GQ spread instead of standing there wearing only the briefs he’d slept in.
“If you’re up for it and don’t mind a little exercise, I thought we could bike up to Old Town, look at the nineteenth-century architecture, visit the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum with its beautiful garden, then maybe trek our way up to the lighthouse and get a bird’s-eye view of the entire island and then finish our hard work with a picnic lunch on the beach. How does that sound?”
Angela leaned across the countertop and felt Daniel’s forehead with the back of her hand. “Are you feeling all right, because I could swear you’re getting into playing tourist?”
He grinned. “Only because I’m with you,” he responded. “You’ve never been before and I thought you might like to know some of the history. I saw you browsing through my collection of books at my penthouse the other day.”
“Who would have known you were a closet history buff?”
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me,” Daniel replied, cheekily. But as he said it, Angela knew it was true. They’d barely delved beneath the surface with each other. And it gave Angela pause. Should she continue down this path when the future was so uncertain?
“Angela,” Daniel said, cutting into her thoughts. As if reading her mind he said, “Whatever you want to know, you can ask.”
“Really?” She rubbed her chin. “Hmm… Let me think about it.”
And for the next half hour, they did a speed round of getting to know each other. Angela learned he lost his virginity at sixteen with his eighteen-year-old neighbor in the back of his first car, a Nissan 200SX. She found out he hated cooking as much as she did, but equally enjoyed eating out. She also learned he hated brussels sprouts, but adored macaroni and cheese. His favorite movie was Legends of the Fall because Brad Pitt was an antihero and he liked his bravery in taking care of his brother. She even discovered that he was terribly afraid of frogs after an incident when one leaped into his mouth as a teenager, but generally loved all other animals.
What he was close-lipped about was his love life. When Angela asked if he’d ever been in love, he quickly changed the subject, rushing off into the shower to get ready for the day. She stared at his retreating form. She’d touched a nerve. And it made her wonder. Who was the woman who’d hurt him so badly that he kept women at arm’s length?
Angela determined in that moment that he wouldn’t do the same to her. Slowly but surely she’d work her way into his life and perhaps into his heart.
* * *
Daniel couldn’t believe how much fun he was having with Angela. If anyone had told him that he’d break his cardinal rule and sleep with a coworker, he would have called them a bold-faced liar, but Angela wasn’t just any woman. She was special. And the more time he spent with her, the more he was seeing how kind and caring she was.
He’d watched as she stopped her bike to help an old lady across the road as they made their way to Hemingway’s house. And later he’d seen her explain the history of the lighthouse to a young girl who couldn’t have been more than seven or eight years old. She had a natural, easy way with people that made them relax in her company, including him.
He would never have suggested this sort of date with any other woman he’d dated. They would have wanted to sit by the pool or be pampered in the spa, but not Angela. He loved seeing her blond-streaked waves blow in the wind as she let her hair down because he’d liked it that way. And he’d enjoyed seeing her tush hug on that bike. Several times, he’d wished she was riding him back at the cottage.
And she would later.
But for now, he would content himself with the time spent in her company. They were getting to know each other, and he hoped that their speed-dating session earlier at the house had helped alleviate some of her fears. He’d seen a strange look cross her face when he’d said she didn’t know him.