Something Wonderful Page 31

“Why do you look so concerned?” Matthew gave a quick sideways glance again. “Don’t worry; I’m taking you to the Santa Monica pier.” He paused, grinning with a purpose, that smile that said ‘I’m going to tease you.’ “Oh wait a minute. You thought my idea of having fun was something kinky, didn’t you? Get your mind out of the gutter, Becca.”

“What?!” I stammered. “I…I wasn’t…I didn’t mean…stop putting words into my mouth,” I laughed out loud, but my mind was in the gutter with him. “Oh my god!” I started to smack his shoulder lightly.

“You’re so lucky I’m driving right now.” Matthew was laughing while he raised his hand to block me, then he grabbed a hold of my hand. He held it so tightly, I couldn’t let go. It actually felt nice to have my hand held that way, sending warmth and comfort to my core.

“You won,” I said, expecting he would let go if I surrendered.

“Okay,” he repeated, but kept my hand in his.

Stunned that he hadn’t let go, I looked at him. His expression was stoic and he remained silent. My decision? I let it be.

Feeling nervous that he was holding my hand that long, I looked out the window to distract myself. One of the best parts of living in Los Angeles was the weather. The sun always let you know it was there even during the winter. Today, it shone brightly, breaking through the puffy, thick, dreamy clouds. I hadn’t realized we were at our destination until Matthew finally let go of my hand.

After he parked the car, we got out, and walked side by side down the boardwalk. Since it was a Monday, it wasn’t as crowded as it would have been during the weekend. Though the weather was perfect, not too cold and not too hot. The cool breeze gave me the shivers.

“Are you hungry?” Matthew asked.

Skipping breakfast so I could sleep in, I was starving. “I could eat.”

“Good, me too. Feel like anything in particular?”

“I’m good with anything.”

Following Matthew, we walked into a restaurant I’d never tried before. We agreed to share a bucket full of steamed seafood and he ordered us each a beer. Casually looking around, I noted that people were eating with their fingers; there were no utensils. I’m glad I was observant or I would have felt like a dork asking for some. I also noticed everyone wearing plastic bibs.

After the waitress brought our food, we put the bibs on and dug in. Both of us reached in at the same time and our hands collided. “I was going to be a gentleman and put some on your plate,” he said. Reaching into the bucket, he did just as he’d said.

“Thank you,” I smiled, taking a bite of the delicious shrimp dipped in warm garlic-butter sauce.

“I’m going to assume that you’ve never been here before,” Matthew said in between chewing a small potato.

“How did you know?” My face turned red, though I had nothing to be embarrassed about.

“I didn’t. I guessed and you just answered,” he grinned. “So when do I get to meet your boyfriend? The one who gave you those puny flowers.”

The beer I was just about to swallow squirted out of my mouth like rain. Choking, I coughed and couldn’t stop. Shit! This was the second time I did this with him. How embarrassing!

Matthew swung around and started to pat my back. “Water, please,” he hollered. “Here, drink.”

After taking a few sips between coughing, I finally settled and Matthew sat back down. I had forgotten he thought I had a boyfriend. This really was just two friends having lunch together and there was nothing wrong with that. So why did I feel a twinge of disappointment?

“How long have you dated this guy?” Matthew started with his questions. I hoped he had forgotten, but he was persistent.

I was usually pretty good at making things up if I needed to, but with Matthew, I had a difficult time lying to his face. Not knowing what to do, I stalled as long as I could by taking my time peeling the shell of my crab. “Not that long,” I finally said, unable to make eye contact.

“I’m going to assume he’s okay with our friendship since you’re here.”

That made me look up. “Oh…yeah…sure.” That was a dumb thing to say, but I didn’t know how to answer.

“Here, let me. Looks like you’re having a hard time with that.”

I looked up again and saw Matthew’s fingers in front of my mouth. He had peeled the shell off his crab and offered to feed me. Without thinking, I opened my mouth and bit down on nothing but air. I glared at him as I heard him snicker.

“Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. Here.”

Slowly, I opened my mouth again and allowed Matthew to place the whole piece of crabmeat in. “Thanks,” I said, still chewing. It was not ladylike, but what did I care at this point? It was sweet of him to peel the rest of my crab for me.

When the bill came, I reached for it, but he grabbed hold of the other end. Tugging back and forth, I didn’t stand a chance. With his strength, it was out of my hands.

“Matthew, let me pay it. You bought lunch last time,” I insisted.

“That was nothing, and besides, I’m the one that asked you out. You can pay next time,” he winked.

Then I remembered my Christmas present. “You have to let me pay for it since I didn’t get you anything for Christmas. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but you shouldn’t have. I mean…I’m thankful, but it wasn’t necessary.”

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