Twenty minutes later, walking into the sitting room, Eric turned and said, “You ready to go Anna?”
Anna nodded even as she took in the sight of a man in her home. Even though Mark knew where she lived, she’d never had him over, much less inside.
She felt her heart speed up as she began to worry that perhaps she was getting too close too fast. Yet, she couldn’t seem to help herself. It took her back to when she’d first met Gary and how he’d tried to sweet talk her. They’d met at a mutual friend’s party and Gary had flirted outrageously all night with her. Yet none of that flirting caused her heart flutter the way one smile from Eric did.
Like the slightly crooked smile, he was giving her before saying, “Let’s go then.”
“Okay, but I want to ask you a question first. How is it you were in my bed with me?”
He laughed as he moved toward her. “You don’t remember?”
Anna shook her head.
“I woke up to you crying out,” he explained as he gently took her hand. “You had a nightmare Anna, and afterward you asked me not to leave you.”
Anna swallowed hard as she looked down at her hand in his. Slowly, the foggy remnants of her dream flashed in her mind. Her lips trembled and tears flooded her eyes.
“Hey, hey, now,” Eric murmured as he then pulled her into his arms. “Don’t let it tug you down, be strong.”
“He seemed like such a nice guy Eric. I though… I thought he was my friend and that he was okay with being just that.”
“Maybe he was, at first. Regardless, he shouldn’t have done what he did Anna.”
“I know,” She said, in total agreement with him.
Dropping a kiss on her head, he pulled back and took her hand once more. “Come on, let’s go eat.”
All morning Eric thought about what Anna had told him about Mark. It bothered him how fast Mark had gone from nice guy to crazed. That niggle of worry had him calling Alpha Pete while Anna was in the shower. His alpha gave him the go ahead to check the man out. So, he’d spend the weekend with Anna, keeping her happy. Then, on Monday morning he’d find out just who Mark Aker was.
Once they were seated inside the ‘Breakfast Nook’, their breakfast ordered, Eric sat back and looked at the beauty in front of him.
“What?” Anna asked, a puzzled look on her face.
“Just taking in the view.”
“Don’t be a flirt,” she countered as her face turning pink.
“I’m not, I’m being honest with you. I think you’re beautiful,” Eric told her as he leaned forward. “How about we get to know each other a bit? I’ll even start.”
“My name is Eric Hollington, I turned twenty-eight December second, never married…” he paused, trying to think what all he should tell her. “Oh, and I’m head of security for Tanner Construction.”
“My name is Anna Burkley, I turned twenty-seven November twenty-fourth. I was married for five years and I’ve been divorced now for two. Also, I’m the assistant manager at Morris Outfitters.”
Eric’s wolf whined within as she mentioned being married. It felt like a kick in the gut that a man who wasn’t him had loved his mate first. He quickly pushed that feeling aside because it didn’t matter, she was his now.
“Siblings?” He asked as the waitress put their plates in front of them.
“Two. Rayna, who’s older, and Mary who’s younger. You?”
“One brother, Thomas. He was my parent’s ‘late in life’ baby and still lives with them,” Eric told her as he picked up his fork.
Anna nodded as she swallowed a bit of her pancake. “My parents live in the same town as Mary, but Rayna went off to college met the man of her dreams, and decided to stay. She has twin girls who are two now. I need to go see them soon.”
“I hope you don’t mind my asking but…”
“Why did I get divorced?”
Eric gave a nod.
She ate a few bites, as did he, as he waited for her answer.
Anna took a drink then before saying, “I though Gary and I had a good life, not perfect, but good. The only thing bad was that we both wanted children, yet I couldn’t seem to conceive. I found out the hard way, however, that not having children was the least of my worries.”
She looked across the table at him and Eric saw the sadness in her eyes.
“I came home early from visiting my sister and found Gary in bed with another woman. I realized from their conversation it had been going on for quite some time. It also woke me up to signs I’d blindly ignored. The same signs I saw in Mark and wanted no part of. That’s why I just wanted friendship with him.”
Eric reached over and took her hand, gently kissing the back of it. “I’m sorry that happened to you. I’m also sorry you couldn’t have the babies you wanted.”
Anna managed to smile at him, even though her eyes were full of tears. “I’m over Gary, have been for a while now, but the ache for children remains. I suppose it’s just as well we didn’t have any though because divorce is rough on adults, but it can be devastating for children.”
“I know. I had a good friend who went through it when we were ten. It almost broke him when his mom left. Thankfully, his dad’s sister stepped in and showed him that not all women are cold and heartless,” Eric revealed, thinking of his friend from long ago.
They continued to eat and make a bit of small talk until finished. When they had finished, Eric paid, and they headed back to his truck.
“I’d like to spend the weekend with you, Anna. Just the two of us, hanging out and getting to know each other,” Eric said and waited patiently for her answer.
Anna stared out the windshield debating on whether it was a good idea or not. She was already beginning to feel so comfortable with him, almost like a couple, but feared another heartbreak.
The thought of him dropping her off at home though and leaving… it made her feel so sad inside. But she also worried a little about how she’d already come to depend on him so much in just this short time.
Anna glanced at him, saw the hopeful look on his face as he waited for her answer. And just as she had before, she became lost in his eyes. Those eyes pulled Anna in, made her feel safe. They had her dreaming once more of a man in her life, a feeling Mark never given her. They reminded her of how lonely she’d felt lately and how she still longed for a forever love.
Could Eric give her that if she were to give him a chance? Something in those mossy green eyes made her believe he would and made her want to give him the chance to prove her right.
So, throwing caution to the wind, she said, “I’d like that.”
He flashed that crooked smile, and after throwing his truck in drive, they took off down the road.
“It’s a beautiful day to go to the fair that’s in town,” Eric told her. “How about we go and check it out.”
Anna smiled and hoped she was doing the right thing in trusting Eric. Taking a deep breath, she pushed all her doubts out of her mind, determined to live in the moment.
“Sounds like a lovely idea. I haven’t been to a fair in years.”
Turning then to watch the scenery pass as he drove, Anna let the wind blow through her hair from the open window.
Here’s to the start of, hopefully, something good.