and...well, this isn’t like going to the movies, but it is a date.” “You’re not going to give in, right?” She laughed. “Right.” He held out his hand. She looked at him and continued to laugh. “I have to carry my box.” She picked it up in both hands and stood. He tried to take it away from her, but she said no. She could carry them just fine. They got into his Jeep and Kate sat with the box on her lap. She watched him from the corner of her eye. He stopped by the sidewalk in front of the house and pulled the brake on. He turned to her and put his hand on her cheek. She felt warmth come from his palm and covered his hand with hers. She closed her eyes. “You are a mystery, Kate Beck. Will you skate with me again, soon?” “Maybe.” She opened her eyes. “Can I give you a good night kiss?” She nodded and closed her eyes again. His lips brushed over hers lightly and she felt his tongue trace the line in her lips. She opened and his tongue swept over her teeth and touched the roof of her mouth. She put her hand on his cheek and ran her fingers through his hair. He sucked on her tongue and lips and then pulled her into a hug. He nuzzled against her neck and she felt his warm mouth kiss up to her ear. He lightly bit at her ear lobe. “I have to go in, Jay.” She backed up and put her hands against his chest. “I’ll see you tomorrow or later today, I guess. There’s a class at eleven o’clock.” She nodded, but didn’t answer him. “Good night.” She grabbed her box and opened the door. After she got into her apartment and locked the door, she slid down to the floor. She’d wanted to ask him in, but what did she have to offer? She didn’t even own a coffee maker. Her throat started to tighten and she felt tears well in her eyes. This was her life and whether she liked it or not - and right now she didn’t like it a whole lot - she’d have to accept this was the way it would be. If she started to tell him about her past and then just up and left, she’d be more broken than she’d ever been. Jay was such a nice man and she didn’t think he carried any mean bones in his body. She set her box with the skates on the floor and brought her knees up under her chin. As much as she’d like to try a relationship, she couldn’t do it to him. She’d just have to stay away from the rink and not see him anymore.
When Kate didn’t show up at the rink the next morning, Jay did some work and then got into his Jeep. It was Sunday and his employees could handle the rink for the day. He drove over to the house where Kate lived and parked along the road. He went up to the front door and rang the bell. An older lady answered and said Kate lived in the basement. Her door was at the back of the house. He went down the driveway, found the door and knocked. When it opened, he smiled. She wore a pair of gray sweatpants and a navy blue hoodie. Her hair was in a pile on top of her head and she held a book in her hand. As far as he was concerned she looked great. “Hi,” he said. “Hi.” He stared at her and looked at her beautiful blue eyes. “Do you wear contacts?” “Ah, no.” She stared back at him. He saw a questioning look form on her face. “Sorry, I just wondered if you’d like to go zip-lining? The park we were at yesterday has a whole bunch of lines and I called. They have a ton of openings today and I didn’t have to make a reservation.” “I don’t think so. I’m a bit chicken about doing that kind of stuff. I’m not a risk-taker, but thanks.” “How about a movie or something?” He realized he sounded desperate and wanted to kick himself around the block. “Look, I’m sorry. I said I wouldn’t be pushy. Let’s just pretend I didn’t show up at your door.” He turned and started up the drive. “Jay?” He stopped and turned back. She stood barefoot on the mat outside her door. “Jay?” she said again. He saw her look into the apartment