Justin’s heart gave a little jump when Tareth walked out of the office, smiling at him like going to lunch with him was the best thing she’d done all week. She was so beautiful, and he was proud to be the one taking her to lunch. He couldn’t believe things were happening so quickly between them. He’d expected finding one’s mate to be like finding a girlfriend. Slow, taking time to get to know one another before anything physical happened. He knew that wasn’t the way things always went, but at seventy years old—though he looked only thirty thanks to shifter-slowed aging—he tended to be a little old-fashioned when it came to relationships.
He wasn’t a bit old-fashioned about sex. But that wasn’t the same thing.
“Where do you want to go?” he asked as they rode the elevator to the first floor.
“Wherever you want,” she replied hesitantly. “Honestly, I don’t eat out much. I mostly either brought my lunch to work before or picked up a burger and fries at a fast food place. So I wouldn’t even know what’s good around here.”
“I’ll take care of it, then.” When the elevator came to a spot on the first floor the small bump caused their fingers to brush. His heart gave another jump at the small touch. Even the tiny amount of physical contact with her sent sparks through him. He needed to tread very, very carefully with her to avoid another situation like the day before. That wouldn’t be easy.
He took her to a small seafood restaurant a few blocks from the office. As they walked in, it occurred to him that he should have asked whether she liked seafood. He’d just assumed she did because he did. The logic made absolutely no sense.
“I love seafood,” she said. “Great choice.”
“Good, I’m glad.” He breathed a sigh of relief and they took a table near the door.
As they waited to give their orders, for their drinks and food, they talked. Justin found himself giving Tareth more information about himself than he’d ever given anyone. He told her where he’d been born and then had to catch himself before he told her how long ago that had been. He doubted she would buy the “well-preserved” explanation for how he could be seventy years old. Not to mention that if she found out his true age, she would almost certainly decide he was too old for her.
He didn’t feel too old. Around her, he felt like a high school kid again. Only the fact that he was discussing a subject he knew quite a bit about kept him from becoming completely tongue-tied.