When she pulled her gaze back to his after several beats, she realized her mistake. She knew what it was like on the other side of stares. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” he said, turning his body back to the table.
“No. It’s not. I just…” She wasn’t sure why it was such a shock. She didn’t know him, though she’d seen him several times. Did he always wear long pants? “I never noticed and…it’s nice. I like it.” Maybe a stupid thing to say about someone’s prosthetic leg, but it was true.
“Thanks,” he said, his expression kind, like her comment wasn’t stupid at all. “Does your daughter have a prosthesis?”
“Yes. She has one, but she doesn’t always wear it. It’s been bothering her lately. It probably just needs an adjustment.”
He sat back against the booth, his eyes on hers, arms crossed over his broad chest. “I work in prosthetics, mostly bionics and artificial intelligence, but I could take a look at it. If you wanted.”
He was back to offer to help Casey? She was still wrapping her mind around the fact that he wore a prosthesis and made prosthetics.
“Order up! Chick fried!”
Somewhere it registered that this was not the first call. “I, um…” She shot a glance at Mac. “I’ll be right back.”
Paige hurried across the diner and behind the counter. She grabbed the plates from the pass, delivered them, then went for his tea on autopilot. Because he’d ordered it, and because she needed a minute.
“Told you he was interested,” Jenny said, sliding up beside her. “So? What’s the deal? Navy SEAL? Pro athlete? Chippendale dancer?”
“No. And he’s still not interested.” Though he was becoming more and more interesting. “He has an amputation almost the same as Casey’s.”
“You’re kidding. I’ve never noticed,” Jenny said, automatically turning her head in his direction. Not that she could see anything from here.
“No. I’m not,” she said, filling his glass. “And he makes prosthetics or something, and he asked if Casey had one and then offered to look at it when I said it was bothering her.” Her mouth dropped at the end of her recitation, and she stared at her cousin like Jenny was the great wizard of Oz. She needed some help here.
Jenny’s eyes bugged. “My God, he’s melting my eyeballs and he wants to be your hero.”
Not a very Oz-like answer.
“If I didn’t love you so much, I’d kill you,” Jenny said. “Go. Your shift ended ten minutes ago.”
Jenny gave her a not-so-gentle nudge in his direction and followed her over. “Hello, hotness. Paige here has to eat before she goes to her next job. Sit,” she said to Paige. “And order something or I’ll do it for you.” She added her familiar disapproving look at Paige’s all-work, no-play schedule.
Paige set his glass on the table, then sat down across from him. “I’m not that hungry,” she told Jenny.
“Brussels sprouts it is.” Jenny pretended to write on her pad.
“Okay. Grilled cheese. To go. I’ll eat it in the car.”
“She’s single by the way,” Jenny added, before leaving them. “I am too, just in case you want to store that info away for another day.”
Paige rolled her eyes at her cousin’s back. “I’m sorry. She’s…”
“Outgoing?” he asked with a lift of his brow and a slow, playful smile that brought a smile of her own.
“I was going to say something else, but she’s also my cousin.”
“Maybe I should have started with this. My name’s Jake. McKinney.” He held out his hand.
“Paige Roberts.” His fingers were warm and strong, and her small hand was swallowed up in his palm. It might have looked like a simple handshake, but when a man who could melt your eyeballs took your hand, stared into your eyes with his own deep brown ones, it felt like a lot more. There was a warm and unexpected quiver deep in her belly.
He let go and she tucked her hand in her lap. “So, you make prosthetics?”
He didn’t look like a kook, more like a really sexy underwear ad, but this was her daughter they were talking about. “She has an appointment at Shriners Children’s Hospital coming up.”
“That’s three hours away.”
“I know, but it’s free and…” And it was difficult to schedule appointments, miss work. In fact, her next appointment was over a month away. She wasn’t sure what was wrong, but it would be better to get it looked at before Casey started school.