Bella sat across the table from Boone at Anchor Annie’s. He wanted her to sit next to him, but that would have been weird since they sat at a booth instead of a table. A few men, who knew Boone back before he retired, stopped by the table wanting to talk and Bella was a good sport. She smiled somewhere between her genuine smile he loved to see and the fake one she used for most everyone she didn’t consider a friend. He was coming to fear the fake one because it meant he had fucked things up.
Dinner ended up being amazing. Once the men he hadn’t seen in months stopped dropping by, they fell into the same fun banter they had during that first conversation at the Dirty Whistle. Plus, she looked sexy as fuck in a tight pink v-neck sweater and jeans. She made him laugh with her jokes and comments and when Boone teased her, she teased him right back.
They were having fun.
She barely finished her burger and didn’t ask him if he wanted it, just put it on his plate. “You’re a big man, Boone, you need more than I do.”
He wanted to be polite. The reason for asking her to dinner wasn’t to eat her food, but she hadn’t touched half the burger and most of the fries were still in the basket. “You’re sure?”
There was that smile again. Sweet with a hint of sexy hiding underneath. “I put it on your plate, Boone.”
He didn’t hesitate. He bit into her burger and asked again. “Positive?”
“I’m sure.” She leaned across the table and wiped a napkin over the corner of his mouth. “Ketchup.”
Boone picked up his beer and stared across the table at her. “Before anything else happens, Bella, I want you to know how sorry I am about what happened last night. With General Jessup.”
Her back stiffened, and the walls came crashing back into place.
The last thing he wanted was to upset her, but he had to make sure that whatever they were starting didn’t start with any misunderstandings. Plus, she deserved more than a semi-drunk apology from the night before.
“I mean it, Bella. You heard a conversation that never should have happened. If I could go back in time, I would have walked away from the General and told him to mind his own fucking business.”
Distant Bella was back with a vengeance. “You said that, and I know.”
“You were hurt and upset and I’d been drinking some of Mac’s moonshine and now you aren’t upset and I haven’t had any moonshine, so I want to make sure you hear what I need to say. You are beautiful, Bella. I don’t think you aren’t pretty or aren’t attractive. I think you are fucking gorgeous. I like where this is going. I don’t want to be your friend, I want more.” Mostly what he’d said the night before, except now it was different. “This isn’t a game, Bella. Not with you.”
She looked at him and the walls crumbled. He could tell because of the slight lift of her lips when she smiled and the tilt of her head. It’s the way her big blue eyes got bigger as she considered his words. “I like where this is going too, Boone.”
He wanted to pull her into his arms, but then he’d want to fuck her and fucking her in the middle of Anchor Annie’s wasn’t the right place. He reached across the table and picked up her hand.
“You’re amazing, Bella.” He couldn’t help the words from spilling out. “And beautiful.”
A flush crept across her cheeks, and she glanced down at the top of the table, but she didn’t pull her hand away. “So are you.”