Chapter 6- Second Date
Jax’s hands covered my eyes as he led me inside but I already knew. I could hear the barking and smell the scent of dogs and grass. “You brought me to puppies didn’t you?” I asked giddily. Jax’s hands slid down to my shoulders, then down my arms, coming to rest on my waist.
“I brought you to puppies,” he whispered in my ear.
My eyes widened as I took in the yard full of puppies. My heart felt fit to burst as I watched them run, jump, and wrestle. I instantly crouched down and picked up a ball. Seeing a golden retriever puppy nearby sitting watching with his head cocked to the side I walked over to him. “Hey there pup, wanna play?” I showed him the ball in one hand as I reached out to stroke his head with the other. He continued watching me while I petted his head. “Come on,” I said patting my leg and throwing the ball a couple feet away. He bounded after it, legs flying and I laughed watching him.
I glanced up to see Jax leaning against the doorway, arms crossed over his chest, a big grin plastered on his face. I smiled back brightly before grabbing the ball from the retriever and throwing it again. I made my way from dog to dog, petting and playing to my hearts content. Jax was playing with some puppies too but I was so caught up in the balls of fur I payed little attention to him. When the pups seamed all played out I looked around seeing Jax come toward me with a glass of lemondade.
“Oh thank goodness I’m so thirsty!” I downed the glass in a few gulps. “This has been amazing! Your like the king of dates.” Jax smirked and I saw his cute right cheek dimple and I felt my breath catch.
“The shelter always need volunteers to come play with the dogs.”
“I’ll have to come more often. Being with dogs reminds me of growing up.” Jax inclined his bead toward a picnic table under a big shade tree. I followed him in that direction.
“Have a lot of animals growing up?”
I shook my head. “None. 5 big brothers.” I swear I saw Jax’s face go ashen.
“Sadly...yes. My parents always wanted a big family but my mom mostly wanted a girl. 6th times the charm I guess.”
“So what was it like growing up with them?”
“Loud. Crazy. Overbearing. I didn’t have a real boyfriend until I moved out at 18. I learned lot too though. I try not to let myself be drowned out anymore. I also learned it’s best to go with the flow.”
“Where do these brothers live?” I laughed at the nervousness in his voice.
“They all live back in California. I moved here years ago. I wanted to break away from my family. Start my own bakery and live a life outside of their shadow if that makes sense.
Jax nodded. “I get what you mean. I only have 1 brother, Link. He’s older than me and much more...uptight.” I smiled and squeezed his arm.
“So glad I got the lazy one.”
Jax pretended to be offended. “I’m beginning to think these are not flirty jokes but barely hidden critism.” The day was beautiful, sunny and warm with just the hint of a breeze. I closed my eyes and tilted my head back enjoying the feel of it. I felt fur rubbing against my leg and I looked down to see the golden retriever. I bent down to pet his head. His eyes closed in contentment.
“Ugh, I just want to take you home with me,” I said to the puppy. Jax laughed softly.
“Why don’t you?”
“According to my landlord I can only have one dog. I’ve had Rex for years. He’s my buddy. Even though I think he’d enjoy some other canine company. Maybe one day when I was my own home and a huge yard for them to roam I’ll get 5 dogs!” I smiled as Jax as he laughed again.
“You really love animals huh?”
I nodded. “And people. And baking. And yoga. I told you, I’m the master of many things.” Jax’s phone dinged and he looked down at it. “Important? I can go play some more and give you a minute?” He shook his head.
“No it’s not urgent. Want to snag lunch?” He asked standing up and holding out his hand. I took it and he led me through the sea of puppies back through the building and out the front door.
“I’ll definitely be back,” I mumbled.
We walked a few blocks until Jax spotted a food truck. “They make the best tacos! That ok.” I nodded eagerly. Who could say no to tacos? We made our way over and Jax ordered his then turned to me. “And the lady would like...” I filled in my order and we stood there for a few minutes waiting. When our food was done we sat on a bench about a block away. I devoured my tacos quickly and Jax did the same.
“Who knew playing with dogs could make you work up such an appetite?” I joked. Jax took a drink of his water.
“They really get you up and moving that’s for sure. But really those are seriously the best tacos in town.” I rubbed my full belly, sitting back on the bench. We sat in companionable silence soaking up the beautiful day.
“So I have a question and don’t bite my head off. But really, how are you still single?” I asked turning to look at him. His brows furrowed and he began twiddling his thumbs resting in his lap.
“I just...don’t do well with relationships.”
I could tell he was uncomfortable but I needed some answers. He was a guy I could really see being with. “What do you mean?”
He heaved a sigh. “I was married once. It didn’t end well. We...we hurt each other more than we should have. I find it’s better to just keep things casual. There’s less pressure this way. And then when it’s time to split it’s a much more clean break.” I watched him for a moment before nodding my head.
“Ok that makes sense. I’m sorry you had a bad divorce. I’ve never experienced it but I heard it can be hell.”
He ran his hands up through his hair. “That’s one way to put it.” He glanced at his watch. “Hey is it ok if we wrap this up? I’ve got an event I’m going to tonight.” I smiled kindly.
“Of course, thanks for the fun date.” We stood and he pulled me into a comfortable hug. I took a deep breath, breathing in his scent. My eyes closed as I snuggled my head into his shoulder. We stood holding each other for a moment. When we finally parted he cupped my chin and dropped a sweet kiss on my lips.
“See you soon.” He smiled and walked away heading back to his car. As I meandered back to my car I began to think back on our conversation. I’d given him a chance to tell me he was seeing others and he didn’t. And he felt that not classifying something as a relationship kept it more casual? I reached my car and drove home still thinking about Jax. I wondered how he would feel if he knew I was dating around.
When I got inside an idea hit me. I pulled out my cell. “Hey Sof,” came Spencer’s laid back voice across the phone.
“Do you own a tux?”
“Umm...yes? I have one from my brothers wedding.” I smiled widely.
“Suit up. We have a concert to go to.”
I hung up and ran upstairs. Jax wanted to keep it casual. Let’s see how he felt about seeing a girl he’s dating on a date with someone else. I threw my closet open and began rifling through my dresses. A grin crossed my face as I found exactly was I was looking for. I threw the dress on my bed and headed for the shower.
After primping and prepping for over the rest of the afternoon I slid into my dress. I admired my efforts in the mirror when I heard the bell ring. I ran to get the door and there stood Spencer, all cleaned up. “Now why do I...” Spencer’s eyes went wide as he took in my appearance. “Holy hell.” I smiled brightly. I’d spent hours curling and pinning up my hair so it cascaded down my back just right. I’d found an old midnight blue dress that had a deep v in the front exposing my pushed up cleavage. The back was low cut, barely skimming above my butt. I’d put on some diamonds I had and some silver high heels. I spun in a slow sultry circle.
“What do you think?” Spencer gulped.
“I think we need to get you a shawl or something.” I laughed lightly. He frowned gently. “But really where are we going? Cause where ever it is all eyes will be on you.” My smile brightened.
“That’s what I’m going for.” Spencer looked even more confused. I realized I’d been watching his expression I hadn’t taken in his appearance. Spencer had on a perfectly tailored black suit. The white accents were perfect along with his crisp black tie. His blonde surfer hair was geled back. “You look quite dapper.”
He grinned and did a small turn of his own. “Good enough for whatever this is you’ve got planned?” I nodded gently.
“You’re just my arm candy tonight. Go with the flow.” Threading my arm through his we left my house and headed to his car. He opened the door for me and I slipped inside. Spencer came around to his side and sat behind the wheel.
“Where are we going?”
“The convention center.”
He started the car and headed into traffic. “Does this have something to do with your mystery fellow?” I grinned looking up through my lashes at him.
“Maybe. Liv might have mentioned they have a date there tonight.”
“And why are you crashing their date?”
“I’m not crashing. I’m just showing Jax that I’m casually dating around too.”
“So your making him jealous.”
“I mean if he happens to see me, looking like this, with you and decide that he doesn’t like it and wants a relationship where’s the harm in that?” Spencer chuckled lightly shaking his head.
“So devious Sof. Where did my sweet friend go?” I shrugged my shoulders gently. I stared out the window for a minute.
“What’s wrong with going after what I want?”
“It’s just not like you. Usually your laid back and kind. I find it hard to believe that this guy has inspired you to go to extreme lengths like this.” I looked at Spencer, my eyes sparkling and my hand slid onto his leg.
“Should we turn around?” He looked at my hand then back out the window.
“What the hell, could be fun.”