Dakota Love

Dakota Love by Rose Ross Zediker Read Free Book Online

Book: Dakota Love by Rose Ross Zediker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rose Ross Zediker
from Caroline’s forehead dissipated. He didn’t think his comment insinuated that Caroline should use Mark on the basis of their friendship.
    “I meant, he believes in your work, so if a customer needs a service you provide, he’ll recommend you. Plus he displays your work in his shop.” Rodney hoped his explanation would ease her tension.
    “Oh, word of mouth.” Relief erased the worry from Caroline’s features. “Just like Mildred.”
    “Yes, just like Mildred. Her enthusiasm about your work is great advertising. The day I told her about Mother’s quilt, she almost marched me over to your house then and there.”
    “I wish I could share my mental picture of that.” Caroline giggled. “Her sweet-heartedness compensates for all of her shortcomings. You’re right; that is the best kind of advertising because it’s free. I could ask Mark if he’d place a sign by the display quilts, saying ‘Quilted or repaired by Caroline Baker.’ And”—Caroline lifted the tablet from her lap—“I should include photos of the quilts I’ve worked on for Mark on my website. I’ll ask Mark if he took pictures of the Nine Patch, Log Cabin, and Flying Geese.” Caroline clicked her pen and began writing again.
    Rodney shook his head.
Must be quilter’s language
.
    As the outskirts of the city came into view, Rodney glanced at the clock on the dashboard. He’d mentally formulated the itinerary of their day while doing his three-mile morning run on the treadmill. He hoped Caroline found his schedule agreeable. Although he wanted to consider this outing a date, several times during the week Caroline had stressed that this was a business trip.
    Rodney slowed his pickup at the speed limit sign, followed the highway around the curve that led to Sioux Falls, and prepared to stop as the first traffic light on the highway turned yellow. “Shall we grab some lunch, run my errands, and then stop by the quilt shop? That way we can take our time there and not be rushed.”
    The right corner of Caroline’s bottom lip disappeared under her white teeth as the line between her brows began to deepen. She seemed mesmerized by the taillights on the car stopped in front of them.
    My treat
popped into Rodney’s head, but thankfully God was with him because he thought twice before he said it. “Have you eaten lunch already?”
    Caroline’s expression held as she shook her head.
    “What is it then?”
    She turned her gaze to him and pursed her lips. He braced for another conversation about this not being a date.
    “Well, I don’t know how to say this.” Caroline actually began wringing her hands. “I don’t want to sound forward or insult you, but…”
    Her voice trailed off just as the light changed. Rodney focused on the traffic flow. This sounded like the start of a breakup speech. Although he hoped this would be a date, she didn’t. She’d made her stance on that clear. In the few seconds it took Caroline to clear her throat, doubt chipped away at the bravado of his meticulous planning. Tension pinched his shoulders as he flexed his biceps and tightened his grip on the steering wheel.
    “I guess I’ll just say it.” She turned farther in her seat and looked directly at him. “I don’t want to offend you in any way, but since you drove, I’d like to buy your lunch.” Caroline didn’t wait for his response. “I haven’t held up my end of the bargain. You’ve worked on my website for two weeks, and I haven’t cooked dinner for you yet. So I only thought it fair that—”
    “Okay.” Rodney relaxed his hold on the steering wheel. He preferred to pay, but Caroline’s broad smile showed him that this was important to her. “Did you have anywhere in mind?”
    “Your choice. Fast food, truck stop, wherever you’d like to go.”
    “Well, there’s a good soup and sandwich shop not far from here. How does that sound?”
    Surprise registered in Caroline’s expression. “Appropriate in this weather.”

    Caroline chose

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