Their walk was uneventful and quiet as they concentrated more on escaping the cold than on conversing. The only awkward moment came when they both grabbed the door handle to the café at the same time. Quinn was amused by Anna’s obvious dismay over relinquishing the right to hold the door for him, but he was careful not to smirk at her displeasure. The moment was soon forgotten as Anna inhaled the roasted coffee aroma and excitedly guided them to two empty leather chairs directly by the fireplace.
“You’re not opposed to wood smoke, are you?” she asked with genuine concern as she turned to him for approval for their seats. Quinn gently slipped Anna’s coat from her shoulders while taking the opportunity to lean into her and assure her, “This is absolutely perfect!”
Quinn again found himself at an unfamiliar loss for words as Anna’s enthusiasm poured from her amber eyes and made her freckled cheeks adoringly flushed. The sight was so refreshing in its purity and sincerity, Quinn was immediately enamored by it. Anna placed her hand upon his and he wasn’t even surprised by the electric warmth he felt in her fingers, although her skin should have been frigid after their walk over.
“Please protect our seats while I place our order. An espresso was it?”
“A doppio, please,” Quinn intoned instinctively. He was contemplating Anna’s spicy perfume as he placed their coats on his chair before he realized he had been manipulated into letting her pay for their coffee.
Anna soon returned and took obvious enjoyment in their proximity to the fire as she settled into the oversized, leather chair.
“A handsome companion, a sweet latte and a roaring fire,” she purred, “The only thing better would be my great-grandma’s handmade quilt in my lap.”
As the drinks were delivered to their tableside, Quinn inquired, “Is that quilt considered your security blanket?”
Savoring the caramel liquid heat for a moment, Anna carefully considered her response. “Not really. Although that quilt does connect me to a childhood I don’t much remember, I just think I’d look silly in this setting with the soft fleece baby blankets that I love to touch so much.” Anna boldly looked Quinn over, scrupulously observing every detail of his expensive suit but also noting the lack of laugh lines for a man that seemed to live well and be in his forties. “I do think it is safe to say that you will not be admitting to any security blankets,” she teased.
The banter continued between them for another two hours, with coffee cups left forgotten as they discussed books, music, cities traveled and fantasy trips left unfulfilled. The clatter of the staff preparing for the café’s close brought them out of their reverie. Quinn stared into the fireplace embers before turning back to Anna. “I’m at a true loss here, Anna. Typically, at this point of being with a beautiful woman, I would not hesitate to direct how the night progresses. But something tells me that if I invite you back to my apartment for more, I will lose a piece of you that I will never be able to retrieve.”
His eyes captured every nuance of emotion that flashed through Anna’s eyes. He sought out every ripple of tension in her facial muscles as she was very careful to mask any rejection she felt to his abrupt end to their time together. Quinn was about to throw out his instinct and choose bodily pleasure over a very uncertain future with this alluring woman when Anna’s wounded voice cut him, “Do I not get a say in the matter? Was this to be a chance encounter in which you determine all the rules regardless of my feelings? I may not be the cultured jewel of a woman you are most acquainted with, Quinn, but I do have opinions, values and even desires that deserve due consideration and respect.” Anna flashed his business card at him before she tucked it in her coat pocket. “I know how to reach you if I desire your company again.”
Anna was at the door in a blur of dejected motion before Quinn reached her and defiantly grabbed her hand, pulling her solidly against his muscled frame. “I don’t mind letting you have the last word. And I certainly don’t mind waiting for your phone call, which I do expect. But I will not let you leave here with any doubt in your brilliant but terrified brain of my attraction to you and my need to see you again.”
Without giving the stunned brunette a chance to deny him, Quinn pressed his lips to hers. Much akin to the speed of light, sexual attraction roared through their bodies. When Quinn felt Anna’s body sway into his, he deepened the kiss to the point of indecency before pulling back. He stared down into eyes that flared with emerald lust. Quinn opened the door and murmured in her silken tresses, “Call me soon.”