Say You Love Me (Pine Valley Book 3)(10)

By: Heather B. Moore


Dawson had slept more poorly than usual last night, waking up several times with his thoughts on Clara, so he’d spent time this morning googling her name and checking out her social media profiles.

He’d made a couple of deductions from all his searching. It looked like she and her former boyfriend were history, and she used to live in Sacramento with her grandma. Her profile said she used to work at an elementary school, but he didn’t know if she was a teacher or maybe an office manager.

He decided that if she didn’t have a boyfriend, and if Jeff’s assessment that she wasn’t dating anyone was correct, then Dawson would take the plunge. He’d ask her to the symphony and fill the tickets his mom had told him about. A double date with his parents probably wasn’t the ideal first date, but it would certainly test Clara’s possible interest.

Since Clara hadn’t said anything for a moment, he said, “If you don’t like classical music, you won’t offend me. I was just wondering.”

She took a breath, and Dawson kept his focus on her eyes—which were the exact shade of her blue sweater.

“I—I guess I’ve never really thought about it,” Clara said. “I mean, I just listen to whatever’s on the radio. In college I took a humanities class, and we studied classical music.”

Dawson nodded. He was glad she’d lost the deer-in-the-headlights look. “So, what did you think? Any favorite composers? Vivaldi? Schubert? Mendelssohn?”

She took a step back and leaned against the desk behind her. “Um, not really. I can barely remember any of their names.”

“But you weren’t averse to them?”

“Averse?”

“You didn’t hate the music?”

She straightened and folded her arms. “I know what averse means, Mr. Harris.”

Dawson lifted his hands. He hadn’t meant to make her defensive. “Okay, look,” he said, deciding to get right to the point. “My mom has four tickets to the symphony tomorrow night. She and my dad are going, and they invited me. Told me to bring a date. I thought I’d invite you to come along . . . as my date.”

Clara’s mouth fell open. Her defensiveness melted away, and she stared at him, a pink blush on her cheeks. “You’re . . .” Her voice trailed off.

“And maybe you can call me Dawson?” he said, smiling.

Clara bit her lip, and Dawson’s smile dropped. She was going to turn him down. He knew it. Jeff had known it. He’d warned Dawson. Once Jeff heard about this, he’d have a good laugh.

“Dawson, I don’t really know you,” she said in a hesitant voice. “I think you’re a . . .” She unfolded her arms and waved her hand.

What did the hand wave mean?

“You’re a . . .” She was biting her lip again.

Now, Dawson felt like an idiot. He’d never been rejected to his face, and his ex-wife didn’t count. Maybe he should have called Clara instead. Was she going to tell him to get out of the office? To never speak to her again? He knew without a doubt that Jeff would totally take her side.

“I’m what?” Dawson finally prompted.

“Sort of . . .” She took a step forward, her chin lifted. “I don’t mean to offend you, Mr. Harris, but you’re sort of overwhelming. And I’m not interested in dating anyone, so please don’t take offense.”

Dawson exhaled. “I’m not offended that you’re not interested in dating, but I’m not sure what you mean by ‘overwhelming.’”

She released a half-laugh that wasn’t really joyful. “You’re the top lawyer in Pine Valley, you’re charismatic, sophisticated, and you’re a good-looking guy. You wear ties on the weekend. You walk into a yoga class and are better than everyone who’s been there for months. You go to symphonies. You know the difference between classical music composers. On my days off, I’m more likely to go on a hike, have a peanut butter sandwich while reading a cheesy romance novel. My dates are more along the lines of pizza and Netflix.”

Dawson wanted to laugh about the picnic and cheesy romance novel, but he was pretty sure she was dead serious. “You think I’m good-looking?”