The guy chuckled. “I wish I had a pretty girl that eager to see me. Any advice for a dateless guy?”
“Um,” she said, racking her brain for foolproof ways to land a date. “Learn to play guitar?”
Sole Regret’s music wasn’t the reason she’d fallen for Adam, but his talent hadn’t hindered her attraction, and she knew the thousands of women who lusted after the man were completely seduced by his skill on the guitar. Madison was looking forward to seeing him play live that night. Couldn’t wait. Of course, given a choice, she’d rather spend every moment alone with him, but she had to admit watching him play live was a potent aphrodisiac.
“I tried that,” the guy said. “It didn’t work out so well for me. What about trumpet? Any babe-magnet qualities in that instrument?”
She chuckled. “In New Orleans? Yeah, there just might be. Do you play jazz?”
“The Star-Spangled Banner mostly.”
“Maybe some extraordinarily patriotic woman will find that irresistible,” she said with a laugh.
The guy gave her the twice-over. “And would you consider yourself extraordinarily patriotic?”
Madison realized that the guy was flirting. She really could be clueless about those things. Sometimes she wondered if she’d have ever figured out that Adam was attracted to her if he hadn’t spelled it out so clearly by stealing that first kiss as she was showing him out of her office one evening. After months of counseling sessions, she’d still had no idea that his teasing was actually flirting. She’d wanted him, even though she’d known it was inappropriate to fantasize about a client, but she’d never thought for a fraction of a second that he reciprocated her desire until he’d pushed her up against the back of her office door and showed her otherwise.
“Not especially patriotic, no.” She focused her gaze on the aisle, wishing the hopeful trumpeter would take a hint and let her out. She didn’t want to flirt with the guy and was pretty sure he’d gotten the wrong idea just because she’d talked to him. For the duration of the flight, she’d been engrossed in a mystery novel. Okay, that was a lie. She’d reread every sentence dozens of times because she couldn’t stop thinking about Adam. When she’d managed to draw her thoughts from the man, they immediately shifted to the bombshell her boss had dropped on her hours ago. But pretending to read had kept the stranger next to her from engaging her in conversation. It hadn’t kept him from staring though. She’d caught him watching her every time she glanced his way.
When her row mate didn’t budge despite her intense staring at the line of passengers shuffling past, she said, “Can you let me out, please?”
“If you tell me your name.”
She sighed, figuring she’d get what she wanted more quickly if she just played along. “It’s Madison.”
“That’s cute,” he said, stepping into the aisle at last. “Just like you.”
She scrambled in front of him, and he trailed after her.
“I’m Chris. Are you from here? I could really use someone to help me find my way around.”
“No, I’ve never been to New Orleans before. I’m meeting someone. My boyfriend,” she clarified, smiling as she used the word. He really was her boyfriend now, though it sounded so seventh grade to call him that. Yet significant other sounded so cold and lover too risqué. So boyfriend would have to do.
“So that hot date comment wasn’t in jest?”
“I’m afraid not.”
As she exited the plane, Madison smiled at the friendly flight attendant and then hurried down the ramp toward the terminal.
“So what hotel are you staying in?” Chris asked, rushing forward to fall into step beside her.
“Not sure,” she said, hoping she didn’t have to get rude with the guy, but he couldn’t seem to take a string of very large hints that she had no interest in talking to him. She didn’t want to be mean, but he was starting to make her uncomfortable. “My boyfriend arranged everything. He said he wants to surprise me.”
She was sure all of Adam’s surprises would be exceptional. They always were. They were also guaranteed to take her mind off her troubles. All of them. Even the big one she was pretending to ignore. How could she have been fired? Her parents would be so disappointed in her. And she’d never live down the I told you so from her sister.
“I came to NOLA to unwind,” Chris said. “I just graduated with my bachelor’s degree and landed my first job. I figured I should blow off some steam before I have to play at being a real adult.”