His job sucked.
Grant sat back in his chair. Okay, that wasn’t exactly true. He loved his job. Several of his friends were envious of his job. After all, he traveled to amazing places on the company’s dime. It’s just that what he’d once considered a fringe benefit had become nothing more than a fringe pain in the butt.
The reality of all this travel was that life was passing him by while he was thirty thousand feet in the air. While his buddies were getting married and having kids, he was sitting in business class gazing out a window smaller than his laptop case. He’d started thinking of every cloud he’d flown through as a missed opportunity.
Or, like now, he was sitting in a hotel coffee shop killing time between checkout and flight out. Feeling sorry for himself.
Was it time to make some major changes in his life? Was this what he really wanted? Unfortunately, the answer to the second question was yes. At least to some extent. He couldn’t imagine doing another job. But the flip side was he wanted more. He wanted a wife. Kids. But none of the women he’d dated up to now were willing to go the distance with a guy that was gone half the month. And, okay, he could understand that. However, the truth was he’d probably arrange to be at home more often if he had a family. The way things stood right now, he had no reason to go home, so he actually travelled a bit more than necessary and had become the company’s wunderkind.
He sighed and started at the bottom of his empty coffee cup. That’s how his life felt-empty. At this rate, he’d never get the chance to be a wunderdad.
“Excuse me. Do you mind sharing a table? There aren’t any free.”
Pulling his morose thoughts-not to mention his eyes-from the depths of his cup, he looked up.
It took a moment for Grant to place her, but he soon realized he’d seen her in here a few times before. But in the past, nothing about her had ever made an impact. That was because he’d never seen her eyes this close.
She had the most amazing eyes. Personally, he’d never seen the big deal about blue eyes. Probably because most blue eyes were a pale, washed out, blah kind of blue. Not hers. They were the bluest blue eyes he’d ever seen. A deep royal blue. Or-what did they call that colour? Oh, yeah. Azure. That was it.
They made an otherwise unremarkable face-truly remarkable.
Snapping out of an almost trancelike spell, Grant realized he was staring. Dumbfound. He hadn’t even answered her. Yeah, he was Mr Smooth.
His eyes left hers and darted around the restaurant. What? Like he needed confirmation she was telling the truth about the lack of an empty table? Who cared if it just some lame pickup line?
With what he hoped was an easy grin-and not the near leer he was afraid his face might form-he said, “Sure. Have a seat.”
As he moved his newspaper and PDA out of her way, she aimed a polite smile at him, then put her tray down on the table and sat down. Pulled a book out of her purse, then sat her purse down on the floor at her feet. All of her movements confident, fluid, composed. Obviously, in no way embarrassed about having to share a table.
Grant found himself impressed even more. He admired self-assurance.
Then she picked up her book and her coffee and carried on as if he wasn’t there.
Well, he admired self-assurance, but he wasn’t a huge fan of being treated as if he was invisible.
He sighed. Told himself to get a grip. After all, what did he expect? She’d asked to share his table, not his life. Just because he was sitting here feeling sorry for himself didn’t mean she cared. And besides, he had a flight out in less than an hour. Why even bother trying to strike up a conversation in the hopes that it could lead somewhere?
He thought of her eyes. If it were true that the eyes were the windows to the soul, he wanted to know her. That’s why. He wasn’t in the air watching clouds-opportunities-pass him by. His feet were firmly planted on the ground and an opportunity was sitting across from him.
She jumped. Great, Markham. Scare her. She’d obviously been so absorbed she’d forgotten he was there.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
She grinned at him. “It’s okay.”
“I’ve seen you in here before. You always have your head buried in a book. Do you work here at the hotel?”
“No. I don’t live far from here. I love to read and I need to read, but if I stay home, it won’t get done. So, I come here instead.”
The more he thought about that, the less sense it made.
He had to ask. “Too many distractions at home? Kids?”
She shook her head. “No kids. Nobody at all. Just my computer.”
Huh. What? She was addicted to her computer? Was she some kind of gamer or something? Maybe a cyber stalker. Or maybe she was into chat rooms. He knew people that spent hours in chat rooms. Personally, he’d rather communicate with real, live people.
Oh well, he’d taken a chance, but it looked like chances were she was a weirdo.
She must have read his expression. With a laugh, she said, “I guess I need to explain that.”
He didn’t say anything, just raised he brows.
She continued. “I work from home. I’m a writer. Sometimes-most of the time actually-it’s hard for me to drag myself away from the computer. I’m one of the lucky ones. My muse flows freely. If I don’t pace myself, I’d be at it twenty-four seven. And a writer must read. This writer,” she pointed to herself, “must have coffee as well. My need for caffeine is more powerful than my desire to keep writing. So, I make sure I have at least one cup of coffee a day away from home. Since I’m away from the computer, I use the time wisely and read.”
Okay. She wasn’t a weirdo. That made perfect sense.
“Sounds like your lifestyle must be rough on your social life.”
A look of grim acceptance passed across her face. “What social life? Oh, I’m not totally pathetic. I do have friends, and we do get together regularly, but that’s about it. My writing-my obsession-is somewhat tough on long-term relationships.”
Those blue eyes suddenly widened, and she shook her head, obviously chagrined. “Would you listen to me? Apparently I don’t talk to my friends often enough, or I wouldn’t be spilling my guts to a complete stranger.”
He smiled. “It’s okay. You must have sensed a kindred spirit. I totally understand where you’re coming from. I travel a lot for work, and it’s cost me a few relationships. They didn’t like me leaving them alone for long stretches. By the way, my name is Grant Markham.”
Smiling, she grasped his outstretched hand. “Karen Saunderson.”
After letting go of her hand, Grant looked at his watch and suppressed a groan. Talk about bad timing. He had to head for the airport.
“Listen, I need to catch a flight out. But I’m back in town in three weeks, and I always stay at this hotel. If you’d like, how about calling reception and getting my number? We could spend your coffee break together.”
Her incredible eyes gleamed. “I’d like that. I really would.”