night, newly forty-year-old Marie would either have summoned her courage to confess her feelings to Quinn, or decided there was no point and it was time to move on. Hanging on like this was only going to get harder and harder.
“And then you’ll, what, sign up with a competitor’s dating website?”
“I…guess so.” She smiled at him, sick to her toes. How could she even think about dating anyone else feeling this way about Quinn? Obvious answer: she’d have to. “Or I’ll ask friends if they know of anyone. Do you know of anyone?”
He did drink this time, a substantial gulp. “As a matter of fact, yes.”
“Tell me about him.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Well, is he handsome?” She didn’t care. This was torture.
“Hmm. I’m not the one to ask about that, Marie. He’s not my type.”
“Fun to be with?”
“Yeah, I’d say he’s pretty fun.”
Somehow she kept smiling with a mouth that felt weighted. “Intelligent?”
“In decent shape?”
“Revoltingly wealthy, I hope?” Like she cared…
“As a matter of fact, yes.”
Marie scowled comically. “There must be something horribly wrong with him.”
“Huh?” He gave her a sidelong look. “Why do you say that?”
“Well, obviously, if he’s that perfect and not seeing anyone there’s some ghastly defect you haven’t figured out yet.”
Quinn chuckled without humor. “Oh, you cynic.”
“Me? I’m not the one dating a parade of women young enough to be my daughters.” She meant to tease, but bitterness showed through. A lot of bitterness. Bitterness that belonged to her ex-husband and his child-bride, not to Quinn, who’d suffered through a betrayal of his own when his wife left him for another man.
Quinn’s face darkened. “I gave up that chase, I told you.”
Marie gathered herself together. Enough. This was horrible, and getting them nowhere.
“Quinn, something isn’t right tonight. We seem unable to do anything but bicker.”
He straightened his broad shoulders, rubbing the back of his neck. “You’re right. Sorry. I’m on edge tonight.”
“Work?” She wondered if something was going wrong with one of the companies he’d invested in. Though he didn’t strike her as the type who’d risk more than he could comfortably afford to lose.
“Sort of.” He frowned, staring into his gin. “There’s a situation I’ve been counting on working out, and I’m starting to wonder if I’ve been reading it wrong. It’s not like me.”
“I’ve invested a lot. Time, energy, emotion.”
“Quinn.” She leaned toward him, heart melting at his distress, put her hand on his forearm and squeezed the strong muscle reassuringly. “Is there anything I can do?”
“Yes, actually.” He took another too-large sip of his martini. “Come to dinner with me at Dream Dance Steakhouse.”
Marie’s jaw dropped. The restaurant was one of Milwaukee’s finest, and one of its most expensive. Not exactly a buddy date. “Wow. That’s…a little out of my—”
“I’m inviting you. My treat. We can go dancing afterward.”
League was how she’d been going to finish her sentence. Now she wasn’t sure she was hearing correctly. “Dancing.”
“Swing dancing at the Jazz House. If you’d enjoy that.”
If? Was she dreaming? Quinn Peters, god among men, was inviting peasant-stock Marie on what sounded like a real man-woman date? She ducked her head to avoid showing her blush and took a solid breath so her voice would come out casually. “That sounds fun. When were you thinking of going?”
“Next Friday? Our regular night?”
“Sure.” She was dreaming. If an operator like Quinn wanted her, he would have made that clear on their first meeting. Right? God, this was confusing. She reached instinctively for her drink, suddenly as thirsty for alcohol as he seemed to have been all night, took a big clumsy slug and started coughing.
“You all right?” He thumped