Heavenly Angel:Divine Creek Ranch 3(6)

By: Heather Rainier

“I’d planned on taking you out to O’Reilley’s and buying you a steak dinner. We could still do that, if you’d like, but I have another idea. Rudy’s is open for supper, and by now his early crowd will have been served. We could go over to his place, have dinner, and talk. It’ll be quiet, and nobody will bother us. Would you rather do that?”

He asked because he knew O’Reilley’s would be busy right now. They were well known for their excellent food and service, but it was also the place where people went to be seen, and he knew a lot of people in Divine. It was practically guaranteed that people he knew would see him out with a new woman and want to stop at his table and say hello. He wouldn’t mind that at all but doubted Teresa wanted to do that on their first date. If he was lucky, this was only the first of many.

Teresa looked up at him and smiled sweetly because she understood what he was offering. He could practically feel the relief rolling off of her in waves.

“We could get dessert and coffee, too, and just talk. I promise not to keep you out late.” He hoped that by telling her this he would convey to her that he had not made any assumptions.

She squeezed his hand and replied, “Rudy’s sounds wonderful. Thank you, Angel. I’m not sure I’m up to all the excitement at O’Reilley’s.” Angel remembered the “excitement” Grace had to endure when she was out with Jack, Adam, and him at O’Reilley’s the night of the shooting. Her engagement to Jack had been broadcast by a well-meaning friend of his to the entire restaurant and had drawn an unfriendly response from one nosey individual. He understood completely how Teresa would feel being under scrutiny, even if it was friendly. Many of Patricia’s friends lived in Divine. He couldn’t necessarily guarantee it would be all friendly.

“Then that’s what we’ll do.”

They sat in the corner booth at Rudy’s, and true to his prediction, the restaurant was quiet with only a trickle of customers coming and going. When she asked, he told her about his work and how he’d come to know Jack and the others. She told him about Michael and her work. When he asked about where she came from, he could sense her reluctance to talk about her past, and she spoke in broader terms. He backed off to safer topics and gave her a chance to get comfortable again, which she did.

He noticed it was difficult for her to make steady eye contact with him. Angel had always looked upon that as a weakness in someone’s character, as if they had something to hide. He didn’t feel that was the case with Teresa, and he didn’t become impatient with her for being that way. It was one more question whose answer would have to wait until she trusted him more. He’d earn her trust, and then she’d feel comfortable looking into his eyes. Her eyes were a deep chocolate brown, and he was willing to bet they were almost black when she was angry or aroused. Not that he could picture her angry, but he’d love to test his theory with his lips and hands to see if he was right. If he earned her trust, maybe he’d have that chance.

The only facts she parted with were that her parents were elderly and that she was born to them late in life. She was raised by loving but strict old-world parents. That might explain why she habitually averted her eyes.

Blushing, she told him when he asked that she’d never been allowed to date as a teenager. Right about the time she’d looked forward to a little more freedom and possibly attending college, both her parents’ health had taken a downturn, and they’d needed her to stay home and help them. This had allowed no time at all for socialization with men her age, and he wondered secretly if maybe they’d preferred it that way so they would always have someone to care for them. If they were as old world as she let on, it would be a natural assumption to make.

When Angel asked about Michael’s father, she shut down on him. She hadn’t even blushed at the question but had paled a little and changed the subject. Angel got the message and backed off again. He hoped one day she would feel comfortable enough to confide in him, to trust him with whatever it was that weighed so heavily on her that she paled at the thought.

“Michael’s father is not in the picture, nor will he ever be.” Teresa glanced nervously at her watch. “It’s nine. I think it’s time I got back home. I have to work in the morning,” she said a little tersely.

Whoa, he’d gone and done it. He’d pushed too far. “I’m sorry Teresa. Yes, I—can take you home,” he answered contritely.

He slipped from the booth and held out a hand to help her rise from the seat. She took his hand and gracefully rose, making momentary eye contact with him. He wanted to kick himself because he caught a glimpse of pain there. His line of questions must have stirred distressing memories. The last thing he wanted to do was upset her. He didn’t release her hand as they walked to the cashier’s stand and paid the bill.