As Finn waited for the elevator on the tenth floor, he checked his watch—2:30 p.m. He ran a hand through his blonde curls, sighed, and tapped his toe. He had to be across town in just thirty minutes. The elevator door opened and a stack of books stepped out—a stack of books with very shapely legs and a milk chocolate brown eye peeking around the books. The corners of his mouth twitched.
“Here, let me help you.” He reached to take the top eight books from the stack, revealing a young woman’s face with olive skin, glistening red, bow-shaped lips, and not one, but two of those milk chocolate brown eyes. Her crowning glory, the waves of chestnut brown hair cascading to her shoulders.
She smiled and let out a little puff of air. “Thank you. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to my office before all these books fell.”
“Yeah. C’mon, follow me.” She stepped past him and he followed her down the hall, through another office doorway, down another hall, and through a door into an office with wall-to-wall bookshelves, a paper-scattered desk with padded black leather chair behind it. There were two overstuffed chairs in front of the desk. A nameplate on the desk read “Bernadine McMillan”.
The woman set her stack of books on the desk and turned toward him. “You can set those next to these.”
As he placed the books on the desk, he noted the title of the top book, To Kill a Mockingbird, one of his all-time favorites.
“Thanks for your help.” Her words pulled his attention back to her.
“Have you read all of these?” He should be going. He was going to be late, but something inside him didn’t want to leave this beautiful woman.
She smiled and nodded. “It’s necessary for my sanity. After reading the manuscripts of wannabe authors, I need to read some well-written books to remember what good writing is.”
“The manuscripts are that bad, huh?”
“Oh, I do find a rare pearl among them from time to time. That’s the best part … finding the ones worth publishing and getting out into the world.” Her eyes sparkled as she spoke of finding worthy manuscripts.
“So, you are a publisher?” He raised an eyebrow.
“Actually, I’m the head of the acquisitions department for Bradley Publishing. My name’s Bernadine McMillan, and you are?” She reached a hand toward him.
He took her hand, lowered his head, and placed a kiss on the back of it. He really wanted to kiss her glistening lips. He straightened and met her gaze. “I’m Finn. Finn Johnson, lawyer. Listen, I’m late for an appointment, but could I see you again … take you to dinner?”
“I’d like that. Any evening after five.”
“How about tomorrow, say, six-thirty?” He backed toward the door, unwilling to break eye contact with Bernadine.
She nodded, grabbed something off the desk. “Here’s my card, so you can contact me.”
She smiled, and his heart skipped a beat. He turned and practically ran out the door of her office before he lost his head, grabbed her, and kissed her.
The next evening he knocked on her apartment door five minutes early. When she opened the door, his mouth went dry and his palms began to sweat, as he took in every curve in her clinging red dress and the hint of cleavage revealed by a v-shaped neckline. Again, her lips glistened red. Her hair was pinned up in a French twist, with a few wavy tendrils framing her face. The style revealed her slender neck, and Finn found himself longing to kiss the tender spot at the base of each side of her neck.
“I thought you might be late.” She grinned at him.
He chuckled at her teasing and offered her his arm.
They talked all through dinner of their careers and their childhoods. Finn didn’t want the evening to end. As they stood outside her apartment door, he held one of her hands, and with his free hand ran the backs of his fingers down the side of her face.
“I’ve never felt such a connection to any woman before.”
“I know what you mean.” Her voice, nearly a whisper.
“You feel it too?”
He lowered his face and placed his lips on hers. As he deepened the kiss, he pulled her into his arms, and she moved her hands up around his neck.
When they broke the kiss, Finn ran his hands from her elbows up to her shoulders. “Bernadine, this is going to sound crazy.”
She didn’t respond but continued to gaze into his eyes.
“Bernadine, will you marry me?”
“I’d love to.”
Finn’s heart leaped in his chest, then they were kissing again.
©Kelly F. Barr 2019