– 2  –

Paul enjoyed baseball and the Red Sox, but Rob was one of those fanatical fans for whom Red Sox Nation was created.

Akina twisted the three cups into a cardboard carrier and asked the woman, “Will there be anything else today?”

“Whatever you’re giving away for free,” she said with a grin as she reached into her purse.

Paul was about to answer Rob, but instead whipped his head around and blurted out, “Hey, that’s my line.”

Her eyes met his when she turned to see who had shouted in her ear. “Excuse me?”

Paul could only stare, captivated by her dark brown eyes, the smoothness of her skin, the gentle slope of her nose, the whiteness of her teeth, and the way her lips seemed to make him ache. He sensed the color rising in his cheeks and felt his heart quicken, unsure if it was his embarrassment or her amazing eyes making him feel suddenly very strange and self-conscious.

Finally he managed, “I ah, I’m ah, sorry. I said, ‘that’s my line.’ I almost always say that when someone asks if I want anything else.”

The woman’s skeptical frown was followed by first one, then the other eyebrow arching to accentuate her disbelief. “You say ‘that’s my line’ whenever someone asks if you want anything else?”

“No, no.” He was so rattled he didn’t realize she was joking. “I mean I always say that, what you said, when someone asks if I want anything else.”

Her simple, “Really!” made it obvious she didn’t believe him. He turned to Rob in desperation. “Tell her. Don’t I always say that?”

Crap. That sounds so lame she must think I’m an idiot.

There was no longer any doubt his face burned from making a fool of himself.

Rob rolled his eyes and nodded as he turned to face the girl. “Yah, he does. He says that all the time.”

The girl added a wrinkled brow.

Are these two working on a new pickup line or are they simply demented?

“See.” Paul tried to look hopeful.

Akina cleared her throat. “That will be nine dollars and twenty-one cents please.”

The woman turned back, removed a ten from her red leather wallet and handed it over. “Keep the change.”

She dropped the wallet in her purse, picked up the tray, turned her head to smile briefly but dismissively at Paul and Rob, and headed for the door.

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