They’re in their fifties. Grief-stricken (her) and battle scarred (him) from their previous loves, they don’t want to risk more heartbreak, ever. They’ll have to take it slow, talk it through, test the waters carefully. Can they make it happen at this speed, get it done in a short story, and reap the benefits of sizzling sex at their age? Why not?
Sitting at the restaurant table, Carol Hawkins looked up to see her best friend tap her cell for a message. Carol tried not to grimace as she glanced at Cliff Rutgers, the new man Sue Harper had decided to introduce to her—as if she was in the market for yet another man. Did he have any clue what Sue was up to? For sure Sue’s message would be urgent, and Sue would have to rush off to put out a fire of some sort, leaving Carol and Cliff to their own devices.
She loved Sue—they’d been through so much together, starting in college. Sue had been a rock when Carol’s husband died eight years ago. But Sue could have a one-track mind. Ever since the sixth anniversary of Harry’s death, Sue had decided it was time for Carol to step out and date again. Carol had heard the refrains over and over. Fifty is hardly old…Harry would want you to move on and continue living.
It wasn’t exactly like she’d stopped living. She had a career, two kids, and so many volunteer activities she sometimes wondered how she could fit everything in. There wasn’t room for a man. She did miss the intimacy she and Harry shared—she missed it a lot. She just didn’t think it could ever be replicated.
Cliff Rutgers would be the eighth attempt Sue had made to set her up with a new exciting adventure. The other seven adventures failed miserably. She didn’t think number eight would fare any better.
“Damn!” Sue looked at Carol, then at Cliff. “Sorry, I have to run. There’s a crisis at work that apparently only I can solve. Enjoy your lunch. My treat.”
Carol shook her head as Sue scurried off, thrust a handful of bills at the cashier, and exited the restaurant.
Cliff’s soft chuckle redirected her attention.
His short salt and pepper beard framed an inquisitive smile. “I’m surprised Sue stayed as long as she did. You’ve known her much longer than I have. Is she always so obvious?”
“That’s Sue.” Carol absently brushed hair away from her eye. “What you see is what you get. A big heart, and too often more than a bit pushy. But the truest, dearest friend I’ve ever had.”
Cliff nodded. “That’s special. She left before the waiter came back to take our orders. Wonder how much she paid them! Do you want to stay? I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry.” He gave her a sheepish smile. “Besides, sharing a meal that’s already been paid for with an attractive woman who seems as skeptical about this process as me might be an opportunity not to be missed.”
Carol’s breath caught—but she didn’t want to look that interested. She shrugged. “Why not? So you don’t do the so-called blind date adventure often?”
“Never. Until Sue twisted my arm so hard I thought it would break. By the way, I should add, I’m not disappointed I came. You do seem intriguing, and what is there to lose? We have a free meal to share, and who knows what we might discover.
“Sure. We can always walk away and say nice meeting you, have a good day.”
“Or perhaps we’ll want to take another small step to see where Sue’s scheming will lead us.”
“Perhaps.” Carol opened the menu, signaling her willingness to stay for lunch. She wasn’t at all convinced there’d be additional steps, though unlike the previous seven men Sue had set her up with, she admitted Number Eight might have potential. He wasn’t so blatantly into himself, nor did he seem likely to presume she’d immediately strip her clothes off the moment they were alone. Probably safe, at least.