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|Beat of the Heart(Runaway Train #2) by Katie Ashley|
Daddy cleared his throat. “You know what Mama Sofia would say about this?”
“What?” AJ asked.
“She would say it was truly meant to be because fate and destiny decided to intercede.” Daddy took my hand to plant a kiss on it. “I think I would have to agree, mia cara.”
“We’ll have to see about that,” I replied, nervously shifting on my feet. My head spun in a dizzying flurry at the mere fact that AJ and my dad not only knew each other, but apparently liked each other. A lot. It had taken Daddy weeks to come around about Dev. Now he seemed like he was practically ready to marry AJ and me off. Of course, his words about Mama Sofia and fate sent me tail-spinning even further.
Eyeing our table, Daddy said, “You weren’t about to leave, were you?”
“Not until we finish our wine.”
“I’ll send over another bottle along with some dessert.”
“No, you don’t need to do that.”
Daddy smiled. “Of course, I do.” He turned to AJ. “Have you ever sampled some of Mia’s Mousse?”
I held my breath, hoping to God and all that was holy that AJ would refrain from making any smart ass innuendo remarks or getting that sexy little smirk on his face.
Thankfully, he behaved. “I’ve had some of the gelato and the tiramisu, but not any of the mousse.” A look of revelation flickered on his face. “Wait, is that the one spelled like the animal, moose, on the menu?”
With a chuckle, Daddy replied, “My father named it for Mia. She loved being in the kitchen with my parents when they were cooking. One day when my mother mentioned using a new recipe for the chocolate mousse, Mia got all excited because she thought there was going to be a real moose in the kitchen. Pop and Ma loved it, so they introduced the new mousse as ‘Mia’s Moose’, and it’s been that way on the menu ever since.”
Warmth flooded my cheeks. “Thanks for the embarrassing story, Daddy. Why don’t you take AJ back to your office and show him some of my baby pictures next?”
AJ nudged me playfully. “I loved that story. And I bet you were a real cutie when you were little.”
Daddy grinned. “She could certainly be a precocious little handful.”
“I don’t think that has changed,” AJ teased.
Reaching over, Daddy cupped my cheek. “But most of all, she’s been the greatest achievement and blessing of my life.”
I swallowed the lump that formed in my throat at his words. Willingly myself not to cry, I wrapped my arms around him again. “Thank you. I love you so very, very much.”
He kissed my cheek. “Go on and have a seat. I’ll get Pauley to bring out the wine and dessert.”
“Thanks, Duke,” AJ replied, thrusting out his hand to shake Daddy’s again.
“You take care of my little girl now,” Daddy replied.
“Would you stop? I am twenty-eight, not twelve.”
AJ winked at me. “It’ll be my pleasure taking care of her.”
I narrowed my eyes at his innuendo while Daddy reached over to give him another hug. “I’m happy to hear that.” He then glanced over at me. “See you Sunday night?”
As I watched my dad’s form retreat down the hallway to his office, AJ motioned for me to have a seat. Instead of sitting across from me, AJ slid in next to me in the booth. “Nothing like having you and my dad sharing the same air for a few minutes on a first date,” I groaned, as I smoothed down my dress.
“Hey, you should be thrilled that he likes me so much.”
“Yeah, I’m not so sure if that’s a good thing or not.”
We were interrupted by Pauley returning with the wine and mousse. As he set down the plates, he smirked at AJ and me. “Gay friend my ass.”
I grimaced. “Sorry, but I was trying to keep you guys off my back.”
“Then next time try not to make-out on the dance floor. We’re running late on dinner plates because half of the kitchen and wait-staff were watching you two.”
“Oh God,” I muttered, cupping my head in my hands.
“Quit your bitching, cuz. You looked good out there.” When I peeked at him through my fingers, he was smiling genuinely at me. “It’s been a long time since we saw you looking so happy.”
After Pauley left us, AJ eyed the mousse before smirking at me. “Hmm, can’t wait to get a taste of Mia’s Moose.”
“You’re an ass,” I replied.
“If I remember correctly from earlier this evening, it was mighty tasty.”
I smacked his arm. Hard. As he grimaced, I replied, “Just shut up and eat.”
On my command, AJ took a hearty spoonful. “It’s kinda rich,” I warned, but he shoved it in his mouth anyway.
He closed his eyes in exaggerated bliss. “Damn, that’s good.” He grinned at me. “Orgasmically good.”
“Whatever,” I mused. After such a big bite, he had a glob stuck on the corner of his mouth. Using my thumb, I reached over and swiped it off. Before I could get my napkin, AJ grabbed my hand and brought it closer to his mouth. With his eyes locked on mine, his tongue reached out and licked my thumb. I held my breath as he sucked my whole thumb into his mouth, suctioning off the chocolate. I instantly had a heated flashback of what that tongue had felt like on me earlier in the limo. Blood rushed to both my cheeks and lower half.