Say You Love Me (Pine Valley Book 3)(13)

By: Heather B. Moore

“That’s pretty crazy,” Clara said, her thoughts spinning.

“Anyway, thought you’d get a kick out of that,” Jeff said. “I guess everyone has strange quirks. Hey, did he ever call you?”

“No. No, he didn’t,” Clara said quickly. It seemed that Dawson Harris hadn’t told Jeff that he’d asked her out, so she decided she’d keep it to herself. Dawson hadn’t called her either, so it wasn’t like she was lying to her boss.

Jeff cleared his throat. “Okay, I’d better go. I think my mom’s here with that soup. Thanks, Clara.”

She hung up with Jeff and stared out the office windows. The rain was coming down hard. Maybe Dawson had bought the romance novels for his mom or someone else. But she had a feeling that he’d bought them because of their argument on Saturday. She shook her head—was he really going to read romances?

She wondered which ones he’d bought, and then she found herself smiling about it. Dawson Harris was a pretty stubborn guy. That probably served him well in court.

The sound of a cat meowing distracted Clara. She fed a stray cat occasionally in the parking lot behind the building, but the cat meowing at the door was an entirely new thing.

She went to the back door and cracked it open.

Sure enough, there was the scruffy calico cat, huddled underneath the awning. “Hang on,” Clara said with a laugh. “I’ll get you something to eat.”

But then the cat came through the doorway and headed straight for the door to the storage room. Clara opened that, too, and scooped out a bowl of from the cat food bag she kept there. She suspected Jeff had also fed the cat from time to time. Had he let it inside before? She set the bowl on the ground to let the cat eat, then left the storage room door open.

The office phone started to ring, so she went to answer it. She answered the questions from a potential client as best she could, but she was no Jeff Finch. So in the end, she said she’d have Jeff Finch call the lady back when he was feeling better.

After the phone call, Clara went to check the cat. It had curled up on top of a closed box of brochures and was asleep.

“Okay, then,” Clara whispered. “When it stops raining, you’re going back outside.” She felt sorry for the poor thing, but she couldn’t take it home because her apartment had a no-pet rule.

The driving rain was keeping walk-in customers out, and within the next hour, Clara had caught up on all the emails that had come in over the weekend. Curious, she pulled up the spreadsheet of Jeff’s contacts and found Dawson’s numbers. Both an office number and cell number were listed.

Clara knew that if she reached out to Dawson Harris, she’d be changing up everything she’d told him. Yet, it wasn’t as if she was asking him on a date, right? Maybe she could just tease him a little . . . he had bought romance novels.

She put his cell number into her own cell phone. Then, after debating another ten minutes, she finally texted him: Jeff told me about your eclectic reading choices. I was surprised. She hit SEND, then held her breath. Good thing she didn’t hold her breath for long, because Dawson didn’t reply.

In fact, two more hours passed, and with each passing minute, Clara felt smaller and smaller. And dumb. And silly. He was probably really busy. Maybe even in court. She was the one who had turned him down flat for a date. A man like Dawson Harris likely didn’t give second chances. Was she playing games? No. Just as she’d told him, they were different. Very different. But maybe he’d really listened to her, and that’s why he’d bought the books, and maybe . . .

Her phone rang, and her heart nearly stopped when she saw Dawson Harris appear on the incoming call. He hadn’t texted her back . . . He was calling her.

Clara let it ring once, then twice . . . her pulse was now racing like crazy . . . third ring. She answered, hoping she sounded cool.

“Was it a good surprise or bad surprise?” he said with no preamble.

The tones of his low voice coming through the phone seemed to melt into her. “Depends on the books,” she said.

Dawson laughed. It was a nice laugh. One that reached to her toes.

“Oh really?” he said. “All right. For your information, although it’s technically none of your business, since you don’t want to hang out with me, I got The Pursuit of Lady Harriett by Rachael Anderson, and The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon.”