The Billionaire and the Matchmake(10)

By: Lacy Andersen

It was Emily’s turn to throw her head back and laugh. A thrill went through him as he watched her flash her white teeth. She had a lovely laugh.

“In all seriousness, though,” he took the napkin from the table and twisted in his hands, “finding love isn’t easy no matter who you are or what you do. Not in an age where commitment is considered scary and people lose interest faster than they flip through TV channels. We all need a little help sometimes.”

He looked up to see Emily studying him, her lips forming a firm line. Just as he was wondering if he’d said too much, she leaned closer to the table and exhaled slowly.

“Want to get out of here?”

He raised an eyebrow. That was the last thing he’d expected her to say. He wasn’t sure how to respond to such a forward request.

“I didn’t mean...” She seemed to pick up on what he was thinking and as a result, her face turned bright red. “I didn’t mean how that sounded. But, how about we take a stroll in the park just down the street? Take off some of the pressure of this blind date situation. I think it could help us both shake off some nerves.”

His lips curled into a relieved smile. “I’ve never heard a better idea.”


She bit her bottom lip and his gaze went straight to her shapely mouth, sending a jolt of warmth through him. She twisted in her seat and spotted Lorenzo weaving through the tables. Flagging him down, she gave him a bashful smile and glanced quickly at Michael.

“Lorenzo, can we change our order to-go?”

“Ah.” His small dark eyes darted toward Michael and back to her face. He grinned, winking salaciously. “The date is that good, huh? Can’t even make it through the meal?”

Bright red splotches formed on Emily’s face. Her mouth opened to speak, but it seemed her voice had left her.

“We’re going to stroll in the park,” Michael said, coming to her rescue. He was desperately trying not to laugh at her contorted facial expressions. “It’s a beautiful evening. We don’t want to waste it.”

“Very good, very good.” Lorenzo patted him heavily on the shoulder. “I’ll have it bagged and throw in a slice of raspberry cheesecake for the lovers. My treat.”

“Lorenzo...” Emily held up her hand in protest.

“No, no, no.” He began to walk away. “This is a special occasion. My restaurant, my rules. And we Italians love nothing better than to celebrate love.”

Chapter Five

Emily led them across the street toward a small park filled with tall, leafy trees and sprawling green grass. A live five-piece band played music from the quaint white-washed gazebo in the middle. A crowd had gathered to watch, so Emily and Michael joined in, standing silently side-by-side.

This was much more comfortable than staring across a table at a stranger, no matter how good looking he might be. She could feel the tension leaving her shoulders. Eventually, she began to sway along with the beat, closing her eyes to listen to the expert plucking of the guitar.

A dozen or so couples began to dance in front of the gazebo as the band struck up a slow song. Michael shifted, the bag of carry-out swinging in his hand, and dropped it to the ground.

“Dance with me.”

Her eyes snapped opened and she stared up at him, a jolt of panic going through her chest. It had been ages since she’d danced with a man. She’d probably tread all over his fancy shiny shoes. But he stared at her with such expectation that, despite her worries, her hand found its way into his. He led her confidently out onto the dance floor, swinging her into his arms.

As it turned out, there wasn’t much to worry about in Michael Knight’s embrace. He had no problem leading her through the steps, his left hand firmly grasping hers and his other splayed across her lower back. She gulped at the sudden closeness, feeling his muscular chest against hers, and inhaling the slight tang of his aftershave.

She looked up at her date, feeling nervous once again. He was staring over her shoulder, his expression brooding. From this distance, she could see the tiniest scar in the middle of his forehead. It made her wonder what his story was.

“I think we need to start over,” she said, pursing her lips. “I was such a mess in there. Do you mind?”

He glanced down at her, the corner of his mouth twitching as he expertly spun her around. “Sure. How do you propose we manage that?”

She chewed on her bottom lip, thinking for a moment. “How about an elevator pitch of each of our lives? Quick and dirty.”

“Elevator pitch, huh?” He pulled her closer, a teasing glint in his eyes. “Are you sure this isn’t a business meeting?”