The Barter System

The Barter System by Shayne McClendon Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: The Barter System by Shayne McClendon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Shayne McClendon
the living room to dry her hair and
dash on some lipstick.  She left her hair loose, with two tiny braids pulling
the hair back from her face.  There was a beautiful amber bead necklace that
fell delicately into her cleavage, picking up the color of the tiny beads on
the bodice of the dress.  A matching clutch would hold her ID and emergency
items.  By the time she was finished, she heard Sean’s footsteps in the
kitchen.  Suddenly shy, she practically tiptoed from the bathroom and turned
off the light. 
     
    They caught sight of one
another at the same time.  He was wearing black slacks, a cream button-down
shirt, and black dress shoes.  There wasn’t a woman alive who could help being
impressed.  In return, he simply stared for a moment before coming over to take
her hand and twirling her in a circle as he stood still watching.
     
    “You look positively
stunning, Riya.”  His sincerity was obvious and so good for her ego.  “Does
everything fit comfortably?”  At her nod, he added, “You’re almost the same
size as my little sister.  I hoped…I’m glad it fit.”  They smiled at one
another.  “Tonight, I’m wining and dining you.”
     
    Riya laughed, “You really
don’t have to go to so much trouble.  Honestly.  I feel like I’ve completely
disrupted things for you.  Also, I don’t usually leave the house without Tawny
holding me at knifepoint.  I’d love to say I’m kidding about that but if you
met her, you’d understand.”
     
    He answered solemnly, “I
take my position as host seriously.  Besides, I’m enjoying myself much more
than I anticipated.  It floors me that you rarely go out, don’t date, and
haven’t had sex in three years…do you have mirrors in your place?”  She laughed
and didn’t bother to answer any of it.
     
    They left the kitchen and
entered Sean’s garage.  Sitting in the dim light from the kitchen door, Riya
laid eyes on the most stunning black 1964 Corvette Stingray she’d ever seen. 
She stepped closer and peered at the more distinguished interior details of
this model as well as the split rear window.  “I can’t believe you have the
’64.  Most people prefer the later 60’s but this year is my favorite.  How long
have you had her?”
     
    Sean was watching her,
surprise on his face.  He said, “Well, this is definitely a surprise.  Are you
a Corvette enthusiast or classic cars in general?”
     
    “I love all the classic
muscle cars thanks to my dad, but have a special place in my heart for the ’64
Vette and ’69 Camaro SS.”  She glanced longingly at the car behind her, “Please
tell me you’re driving to dinner in this.”
     
    He burst out laughing and
stepped forward to open her door.  “If I hadn’t planned to, the look on your
face would have changed my mind.”
     
    The garage doors lifted
quietly and Sean turned the key.  The sound of the engine revving gave Riya
goose bumps.  He reversed onto his street and smiled at her reaction, driving
around aimlessly for longer than it would have taken them to get to the restaurant,
listening in amazement at the questions his passenger posed about the car, the
engine, and the restoration. 
     
    When they eventually arrived
at the restaurant, Sean came around to open her door, offering his hand to help
Riya out.  He handed the keys and a healthy tip to the valet with a quiet plea
to be careful.
     
    Their reservations ensured
them a quiet table looking out on another Orlando lake.  Candlelight flickered
between them as they drank their iced teas.  Both of them chose steaks and
settled back into conversation the moment the waiter turned away. 
     
    They talked about their
childhoods and families, never hitting the awkward silence both had expected. 
When the food arrived they continued talking between bites.  Sean ate a lot and
happily finished the rest of the steak she couldn’t manage. 
     
    It was as if they’d known
one another for years.  They laughed and

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