Terri Mallory glimpsed Connor Cody, as he stood up from where he’d been sitting across from her. If he was going into the kitchen, Terri would come up with an excuse to follow him. She’d been trying to maneuver a moment alone with him all evening. The vibe she’d been picking up between the two of them was driving her crazy. She had to find out somehow if her son Robbie’s best friend was hitting on her, or whether it was just her overactive imagination taking over again like it did every time she was in his company. Instead of him heading for the kitchen, she heard him say, “Anybody remember what I did with my jacket?”
“Where are you going?” Robbie asked, looking up from the engrossed attentions he was paying his fiancé Gretchen.
“Home,” Connor said. “Look at the time. The last bus for the night comes in ten minutes.”
“It’s that late?” Robbie asked.
“Yes, it’s that late. You and Gretchen were too busy swapping spit to notice the time.”
Terri watched her son smile haughtily while his fiancée blushed crimson. Then she saw Connor turn to her, clasping his hand over his mouth. “I’m so sorry, Mrs. Mallory. I didn’t mean to say it that way. It just blurted out of me.”
“That’s all right,” Terri replied. “That is what the two of them were doing.” She shot her son a look of mock indignation. “And I thought we all agreed I would go by Terri?”
Connor nodded, bowing formally. “Yes, you’re right. I apologize, Terri.” A thought flashed through Terri’s mind that Connor’s faux gallant bow was a signal of some kind, something personable, or perhaps even personal, in a familiar, if not intimate way. The thought both excited and made her feel silly at the same time.
“No need, but accepted,” Terri said and smiled warmly. Before she could consider any implications, she added, “Look, why don’t you let me drive you to the bus stop. That way you won’t run the risk of missing it.”
“Oh, no. I couldn’t let you do that. I can hoof it a little if I need to.”
“Let her drive you,” Robbie chimed in.
Terri cast her son a disparaging glance. Without taking her glance off Robbie, she said, “Yes. I think my son wants to get me out of the house.”
Gretchen buried her face into Robbie’s chest. “Aw, ma,” Robbie complained. “Now you’ve embarrassed Gretchen.”
“I’m sorry, Gretch, but I know my son.” Then turning to Connor, she added. “Come on. I’ll get your jacket. I hung it up in the closet.”