“Did the meeting just get out?” she asked.
“It’s been a few minutes. I stopped in to look over the new billiard room.”
“I’m sure you’d prefer no changes to this room, just as you prefer no changes to the original billiard room.”
“You’re wrong there. The room is antiquated and we’ll have a new billiard room. I have nothing against little children. You don’t know me half as well as you think you do. But now we can begin to remedy that. I’d like to hear all about this California job you have and why California is so much greater than Texas.”
“One more big difference between us. I’ll be happy to tell you why California is so great—one thing is I can be independent and on my own. That’s a little difficult to do here in Royal with my dad constantly present everywhere I go.”
“If that’s the problem, I can take you someplace where we can enjoy the shade and your dad won’t be anywhere around. We can discuss that in the bar or outside on the patio where the mist makers are keeping everyone cool. It’s late in the afternoon and it’s nice outside if you’re in the right place. Come have a drink with me and then I’ll take you to dinner. Or even more private, I can take you to my place and I’ll guarantee no one will disturb you.”
“Except you, Sam. You’re disturbing enough,” she said, and his insides tightened and heated. Her eyes sparkled and eagerness made him smile.
“Darlin’, you take my breath away. You look great, Lila,” he said, gazing into thickly lashed green eyes that he could look at endlessly.
“Thank you, Sam.”
“C’mon. Let’s get that drink. What are we waiting for?”
He could tell the moment the wall came up between them. Her expression changed only slightly, but the sparkle left her eyes and she looked as if she were on the other side of a glass wall. She shook her head.
“That’s a tempting offer, Sam, but I need to head home.”
As she started to move away, he touched her arm lightly. “I promise. Stay and you’ll have more fun. I can take you home later if you want and bring you back tomorrow to get your car.”
“Sorry, Sam. Thank you, but I need to get home. I’ve promised to make suggestions regarding the center for Shannon. I’ll see you around,” she said briskly. He dropped his hand as she gathered her things and left the room.
Puzzled, he watched her walk away. Why was she avoiding him? There were moments she had been responsive and then she had closed off as if he were a stranger. What was bothering her and what had changed between them since that weekend they had been together? Switching off the lights in the billiard room, he stepped into the hall and slowly followed, still watching her walk away.
They had a big difference in their attitudes about the club and the child center, but he didn’t think that was what was holding her back.
At a loss, he watched her go out through the front doors. Was it something he had done? Was it because she was scared to be attracted to someone from Royal and get involved when she lived in California? Not for one second did he think she had to go home to study child-care centers for Shannon. There was something else that had caused the rift.
He couldn’t think of a reason. One more puzzle in his life, only this one was personal. While he wanted to get to know her better, she had made it obvious she wasn’t going to let him. The only reason he persisted was that she still responded to him some of the time.
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