In Pursuit of His Wife(4)

By: Kristi Gold


Nasira covered her mouth to keep from laughing. “Oh, my. Can you handle that?”

He looked somewhat incensed over what he apparently considered an insult to his masculinity. “Of course I can handle it. I made it here, did I not?”

“All right,” she said, and then continued toward the monstrosity.

Once there, Sebastian opened the passenger door and held out his hand. “Your cowboy chariot, madam. Let me assist you.”

“I am almost six feet tall, Sebastian. I can manage climbing into a truck by myself.”

“Only trying to be a gentleman, Sira.”

The sound of his pet name for her stopped Nasira in her tracks. “Do you know how long it has been since you called me that?”

He winked. “Perhaps too long.”

She had no clue where all the charm and machismo had been hiding. Following the miscarriage, he had spent long hours at work and little time with her. Perhaps he had turned a corner that would lead to change. Only time would tell. In the interim, Nasira would remain cautiously optimistic.

* * *

As they sat in the red booth in the Royal Diner, Sebastian found his wife to be predictably cool. And as always, very beautiful. The white cotton dress fit her to perfection, contrasting with her long, dark hair draped over her slender shoulders. Since her departure, he’d spent many a night in their bed, longing for her company. Since the loss of their child, he’d spent most of his time avoiding her out of fear. Not fear of her. Fear of losing her. Yet that was exactly what he had done by pushing her away. A bloody self-fulfilling prophecy that he couldn’t explain without baring raw emotions.

Pushing the thoughts away, he turned his attention to the plastic-covered menu and scanned the unpalatable selections. “What do you recommend, Sira? The double cheeseburger or the fried catfish plate?”

That earned him her smile. “I realize this place isn’t exactly your cup of tea, but I find it charming.”

“I find it overly quaint and a heart attack waiting to happen.”

“They do have salads and I hear the grilled chicken is very good.”

He closed the menu and set it aside. “I will make do with the limited choices.”

“What are you having?”

A tremendous urge to kiss her. “I’m going to sample the steak. And you?”

She laid the red-checkered napkin in her lap. “Definitely a salad.”

“You should eat something a bit heartier. You’re too thin.”

“I am the same weight as I was before I left London.”

“I’m only concerned about you, Sira.”

She sent him a skeptical look. “Oh really? Where was all this concern over the past six months?”

He didn’t feel this was the time or the place to get into such a serious subject, and thankfully a waitress arrived to interrupt their conversation.

She patted her rather large blond hair, pulled a pencil from behind her ear and a notepad from the pocket of the red apron. “Howdy. I’m Darla. What can I get the two of you darlin’s to drink? Maybe some sweet tea?”

He couldn’t quite fathom these strange Texas customs. “I prefer to sweeten my tea myself. With sugar and milk.”

“She means cold tea,” Nasira said. “I will take a glass with lemon.”

He needed something much stronger to make it through this evening. “Bring me ale.”

The woman raised a painted eyebrow. “Ginger ale?”

Bloody hell. “Beer.”

“Sebastian, I cannot drive that truck,” Nasira said. “For that reason, I suggest you forego the ale.”

She did have a point and in accordance with his plan, he needed to prove himself worthy of her company. “Water will be fine.”

“With lemon?” Darla asked.

“Why not? If that is fine with my wife.”

Nasira frowned. “Of course it is. And I would like a salad with the dressing on the side.”

“She would also like the grilled chicken,” Sebastian added despite Nasira’s disapproving look. “I’ll have the rib eye. Make certain it’s cooked through.”

Darla looked somewhat appalled. “You mean well done?”

“Precisely.”

The waitress jotted down the order then gathered the menus. “You two aren’t from around here, are you?”

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