excerpt from Love on a Spoon
"I'm never dating again!" Jane wailed into the phone.
Gerald chuckled. "You don't mean that."
"I do," Jane insisted. "He said he thought there was too much commuting time in our relationship. Have you ever heard a more lame excuse? I'm going to drown my sorrows in chocolate. God, I don't even have a bottle of red wine!"
"I've got some cognac," Gerald said, inspiration suddenly hitting. "Come over. I'll get a fire going. You can rant and curse his name. It will be perfect."
"Oh, no, I look a mess: raccoon eyes, ladders in my tights, and I think my heel's getting loose."
Despite her light tone, he could tell Jane was feeling truly rotten. "You need to come out tonight. You need to be pampered. I insist. Besides—I have Nutella!"
Her laugh was genuine. "All right, you're on. Be there in half an hour."
Gerald closed the phone and smiled to himself. For once the timing was going to be right. Four years ago when they first met, he was with Sarah and she was with…hmmm? Was it Frank? Soon to be followed by Clark, Mark, and David, while he remained in the torturous on-again-off-again with Sarah. When he finally gave that up as a bad job six months ago, he found himself waiting while Jane juggled three different guys, none of whom was worth a damn as far as he was concerned.
But he waited, because Gerald finally realized that Jane was worth it.
Sure, she tended to think of him as a brotherly confidante, but maybe he could use that tonight to start changing her mind. As he laid the wood for the fire, Gerald could picture the hurricane of motion that was Jane blowing up on his steps and the way her bright eyes darted. He thought of her in that favorite soft grey sweater that clung to her breasts and enhanced her generous cleavage. How he would like to bury his face in it! No, no, not yet, he scolded himself. Don't overwhelm her.
Gerald got the brandy snifters down from the top shelf, setting them and the bottle down on the hearth to warm. He grabbed his grandmother's quilt off the bed and draped it over the easy chair. He was just putting the Nutella on the coffee table with a couple of spoons when the bell rang.
"Oh my god, I nearly hit a cat on the way over here," Jane announced as she rustled through the door, throwing her bag to the side and shucking off her coat. "I'm a disaster! Everything I touch!"
Gerald laughed and steered her into the easy chair, where she collapsed sighing dramatically. He couldn't help grinning at her utter surrender to dejection. "Oh, it can't be that bad, now."
"I might as well be a leper," Janet said waving away his comforting gesture. "Clearly there is no way I can attract any man and I'm a danger to everyone else on the planet. I must have a bulls-eye on the top of my head. See if I don't!"
"You just need to relax," Gerald said, stepping over to the iPod deck. "Schubert or Tori?"
"Oh, Schubert. I think Tori would just make me want to wail right now." Jane sighed and sank deeper into the chair. "Where's my ottoman! I need to put my feet up."
Gerald chuckled and pushed the ottoman over with his foot. Then he tutted, "Oh, no, this won't do. No tights! You can't relax in tights. Off, off, off!" He gestured impatiently and she hopped up to reach under her skirt and start the downward movement. Gerald felt himself flush with desire at the thought of her naked thighs and made excuses. "I'll go get you some nice warm socks." He padded down to his bedroom and rifled through the sock drawer for his best fluffy wool socks, smiling to himself in the mirror. Things were going well. He hoped they would continue to do so.
When he came back into the room, Jane already looked more relaxed. Gerald bent down and slipped a sock onto each foot, Jane obediently lifting each foot even as her eyes remained closed. Gerald felt a welcome charge of electricity as his hands slipped up her calves. Jane had great legs.
Gerald turned to pick up the cognac and pour it into the nicely warmed glasses. The pale liquor glowed in the firelight and he inhaled the aroma with pleasure.
"Here," he said, handing one of the snifters to Jane, who opened her eyes with a smile. "To better days."