“So it sounds like sports reporting has become something you want to do now,” Summer said, the menu blocking her beautiful blues from his.
“The better I get, the more I like it. Maybe ESPN will come knocking soon and I’ll be off to New Yorkor wherever their studio is.”
The menu she was using as a shield tipped down just enough for her eyes to meet his. “Is that so?”
He shook his head, grinning. “Like you said, there’s nothing wrong with working here in Abilene.”
“Great. I’m never going to get my thirty seconds back. I’m not sure I’ll survive.”
“You’ll survive.” Travis loved that she didn’t shy away from teasing him. The waitress arrived with their waters and took their orders. When they were alone and she had no menu to hide behind, Travis continued, with his dimples in full effect. “I think you’ve finally stopped hating me.”
“I never hated you. I tried to hate you, but you’re too likable.” He liked that answer. He liked that answer a lot. “I am, am I?” “Less and less by the minute.”
He wasn’t buying it. “Admit it. You like me.”
“I don’t know. You never return the things you borrow, you drive a pretentious car. The list of reasons not to like you goes on and on.”
“Your umbrella is sitting right by my front door. I never remember it because it hasn’t rained in weeks.”
“Don’t make me come get it,” she warned.
He laughed. “You aren’t as scary as you used to be, Weather Girl.”
Poor Summer looked so flustered he half expected to hear all about typhoons or the average number of lightning strikes in a Texas thunderstorm. Summer managed to keep the weather facts at bay.
“Country-fried steak with mashed potatoes, pork chops with the vegetable medley and an extra side of french fries,” the waitress said as she set the plates in front of Travis. “And the half turkey sandwich on sourdough and a chicken noodle soup for the lady. Is there anything else I can get you?”
“Is there anything left back there?” Summer asked, staring wide-eyed at her dinner companion, who was already shoveling in a mouthful.
“What?” he mumbled around a bite of his pork.
“How is it humanly possible for one man to eat all of that?”
“I work hard, I play hard, I have an appetite. You should have seen me when I played ball. I could eat twice this much.”
Her giggle was better than the food. Travis finished off one plate and started on the other.
“You’re going to be five hundred pounds soon if you aren’t careful,” she said, shaking her head.
“You offering to help me work it off?”
Summer set her sandwich down. “If I remember correctly, the last time I took you running, you nearly passed out.” “I remember watching you get drenched by the sprinklers, loving every second of it. Like you were dancing in the rain. You looked beautiful.” Seeing her like that had stirred feelings he wasn’t ready to deal with then, but he was prepared to try now.
“Stop. What’s gotten into you tonight?” The corner of her mouth twitched, dying to give in to a smile.
“You say stop, but you don’t mean it,” he said before popping a giant piece of broccoli into his mouth.
“I do. I mean it,” she asserted, keeping her eyes everywhere but on him.
Travis set down his fork and slid out of his seat. Summer’s brow furrowed until he planted himself next to her. He pushed some hair back so he could see her face. “Tell me there’s nothing I can do to make something happen between me and you.”
Summer’s breathing changed, almost stopped. Her spoon fell into her soup. “There’s nothing you can do,” she said, her voice wavering.
Something was already happening. She could lie to herself, but not to him. Travis leaned in, his nose almost touching the shell of her ear as he brought his mouth closer. “Nothing? You haven’t once wondered what it would be like to kiss me?”
He could feel the heat coming off her now. Her skin turned red. She swallowed hard and her teeth bit into her bottom lip. “Don’t kiss me.” It came out like a desperate plea. As if kissing her would break her in two.
“I won’t. I promise.” He sat back, giving her a reprieve, then went back to his own side. She watched him pick up his fork and fill his mouth with some french fries. Summer grabbed her water and drank until the ice cubes were all that was left.
She was going to kiss him. Not today, not tomorrow. But she was going to kiss him. Travis had no doubt. “I’ll wait for you to kiss me. Someday soon, Summer Raines, you’re going to want to kiss me.”