Say You Love Me (Pine Valley Book 3)(6)

By: Heather B. Moore

When Jeff regained control of his delight, he said, “Clara? I dare you to ask her out, but don’t come crying to me with your hurt ego after.”

“Why? What’s up with her?” Dawson said. “Is she into other women, or something?”

“Is that the only reason you can fathom that a single woman would turn you down?”

“No,” Dawson was quick to say, but he hadn’t missed the laughter still in Jeff’s voice. “Look, tonight was the first time I met her in person. We seem to get along great over the phone, but I never really . . . Well, let’s just say I wasn’t all that curious until I met her in person.”

Jeff was quiet for so long that Dawson wondered if the call had been dropped.

“Hello?” he said as he pulled into the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. He got into line behind a few other cars.

“Okay, I’ll give you the scoop, but just because I don’t really see the two of you together anyway,” Jeff said. “I mean, you’re a great guy, Dawson, and you’re very gregarious—if you know what I mean—and it’s perfect for the courtroom. But Clara is . . . she actually keeps to herself a lot and is a private person. She’s great with clients though. On the phone she’s perfectly charming.”

Dread pooled in Dawson’s stomach. Maybe the good feelings he had toward Clara were only because he was being sweet-talked as well.

“But there’s another side to her,” Jeff continued. “One I haven’t figured out yet. I think she’s battling some heavy stuff. Whenever I ask about her past, she shuts right up. I finally put a couple of things together and realized that she moved to Pine Valley on a fluke. Like packed and moved in one night. Stayed at a hotel until I hired her, and then she found an apartment to rent.”

“Interesting,” Dawson said. “Do you think she’s running from someone? Maybe her name’s not really Clara?”

“Nothing like that,” Jeff said. “I saw her driver’s license when we did the hiring paperwork. But whatever happened, she’s very private about it.”

“Hang on,” Dawson said. It was his turn to order at the drive-thru. He put in his order, then said, “So, bottom line, she’s not dating anyone, but she’s not interested either?”

“I’ve heard her turn down plenty of dates,” Jeff said. “But none of them were a tenacious lawyer who can talk a judge and jury into seeing his side of a case.”

Dawson chuckled. “Perhaps I do have something going for me.”

“You’re free to try,” Jeff said. “Like I said, don’t come crying to me when she turns you down.”

“As long as you don’t have an issue with me asking her out.”

“Go for it,” Jeff said. “It will be entertaining on my behalf. If I was a betting man, I’d make some money.”

“Keep your money,” Dawson said. “But you’re going to owe me dinner.” After he hung up with Jeff and paid for his meal at the drive-thru window, Dawson drove the rest of the way home, wondering if Clara liked symphony music.

Clara loved Saturday mornings at the real estate office. It was strange, because she never thought she’d want to work on a Saturday. But there was something different about the day, and she always felt revitalized.

Since Saturday was one of their busiest days of the week, as far as Jeff showing clients and answering phone calls, Clara made sure to get to the office early. As usual, she had the coffee pot going by eight. And by nine, she’d already drilled through quite a few inquiries that had come in overnight. It seemed that Friday night was a popular time to browse real estate listings.

By ten, she was pouring her second cup of coffee and debating if she should make a run to the Main Street Café and bring in muffins. A potential client, Mr. and Mrs. Tuttle, said they’d be stopping by the office to meet with Jeff.

Clara sent a text to Jeff about the appointment, and then she grabbed her purse. She’d leave the office open, since she’d only be gone a few minutes.

The café was a half block away, and the cool March morning felt good against her skin. She stifled a yawn and wished she had slept better last night. In fact, she was surprised she hadn’t. Usually on yoga nights, she slept longer and more deeply.