He covered his mouth with one hand and squeezed his face, his thumb pressing his inner cheek against the sharp edge of his teeth. Why the fuck was he letting his old man’s drug-withdrawal-induced ravings get to him anyway? It wasn’t as if the guy was a paradigm of sage fatherly advice. He’d never even met Madison. So how could he know that she was too good for his son?
Probably because he and his father were too much alike for comfort.
“Are you interested in gold chains?” the clerk asked.
Adam started and lifted his gaze to focus on her uneasy but still smiling face.
She had released her grip on the panic button and had come to stand on the opposite side of the case from him. She lifted a hand toward his chest and inclined her head. He glanced down at the collection of chains hanging around his neck and grinned.
“Actually, no,” he said. “I have a friend who thinks I’m hard to buy for, so he gets me a new chain every year for Christmas. I was . . .” He glanced at the display window. “ . . . thinking of . . .” He tore his gaze from the direction of the ring to meet the woman’s brown eyes. “You see, there’s this woman. And maybe I’m moving too fast, I don’t know, but I saw the ring in the window and . . .” He shrugged, mildly embarrassed by his flustered rambling.
“Oh!” the clerk said, suddenly coming alive with eagerness. “I thought—”
“That I was going to rob the place?”
“No! Of course not,” she said, much too quickly. “You just seemed more nervous than most guys who come in the store, and we aren’t supposed to open display cases unless another employee is watching. But I can tell you about the ring. Which one are you interested in?”
“The one in the window.” He jabbed a thumb toward the window display that had caught his eye.
She headed in that direction, and Adam followed. He had to crane his neck to look into the display case from behind and figure out which of the pieces was the one he wanted.
“The gold one second from the right end. The one with the huge square rock.” He pointed at it as if she could tell what he was pointing at.
The clerk’s head jerked around, and she gaped at him with wide eyes. “Are you sure? That’s probably out of your price range. We have less expensive rings in the case over there.” She nodded to the far side of the room.
Adam bit his tongue so he didn’t unleash upon Little Miss Bigot. Had he arrived in an Armani suit, she wouldn’t have been fingering the alarm button or assuming that he couldn’t afford something outlandishly expensive for Madison.
“Can I speak to another person who works here?” he asked.
“Margaret went to the bathroom, but she should be back any minute. I can show you whatever ever you want to look at.”
“No, you can’t.”
Her brow furrowed. “Why not?”
“Because I don’t want you to earn the commission on this sale.”
And because of the clerk’s rudeness, there was no way in hell he was leaving without that ring, even if it did nothing more than sit in his pocket for the next thirty years waiting for him to find the courage to offer it to one special lady from Dallas, Texas.
Madison clung to the armrests as the plane touched down with a harsh thud followed by several bounces. She was not a fan of flying and if not for the promise of seeing Adam, she wouldn’t have gotten on the plane in the first place. The man was a strong motivating force in her life. She couldn’t deny it.
Deceleration pressed the back of her head against the seat, but as soon as they were taxiing slowly toward their gate, she peered out the window, half expecting Adam to be waiting for her on the tarmac. Which was silly. She couldn’t imagine his desire to see her was half as strong as her need to be with him. The past week had been a true exercise in restraint. The man hadn’t been far from her thoughts for more than a minute at a time. When she wasn’t wondering what he was doing, she was thinking of all the things she wanted to say to him—and do to him—this weekend.
And after the terrible morning she’d had, she couldn’t imagine anything better than getting lost in him forever.
When the plane drew to a halt, Madison was the first on her feet. She yanked her purse out from beneath the seat and slung it over one shoulder. The college-aged man seated to her left looked up at her in surprise. He hadn’t even unfastened his seat belt yet.
“Got a hot date or something?” he asked, tugging open the clasp of the belt and fishing under the seat in front of him for his backpack.
Madison flushed and licked her lips self-consciously. Was she that obvious? “Yeah, actually, I do.”