“Hey, Faith.” Brandon came up behind her and placed a kiss on her cheek.
Faith whirled around. “Brandon. Hey.”
He took her hand and started for the café entrance, then stopped. “Wait. Let me take care of the parking validation first, so I don’t forget.” He held out his hand. “Do you have it with you?”
“Yes.” She removed it from her purse and handed it to him.
He took it over to the information desk for the receptionist to stamp it, came back and gave it to Faith, then escorted her into the restaurant. As he suspected, the lunch rush had passed and it only took them a minute to be seated and give their orders.
“This is nice,” Faith said.
“And the food is good. Before the new owner took over, the only thing I came in for was coffee.”
She laughed. “That bad, huh?”
Brandon loved her laugh. It always did something to him. “That bad.”
“How long has the new owner been here?”
“Somewhere close to two years, I think.” They continued to make small talk until the food arrived.
Faith picked up her grilled chicken sandwich. “Okay, let’s see how good this is.”
He watched as she took a bite of the selection he had suggested and chewed. He smiled when her eyes lit up and she groaned. “Told you.”
“Most times the chicken breast is dry and tastes like somebody forgot the salt. But this one is juicy and seasoned perfectly.”
Brandon bit into his own chicken sandwich. For a few minutes they ate in silence. “Are things still going well with your father?”
“Yes. I’ll miss him when I leave, but I told him I’d be back later in the year. He’s also said he’ll visit me.”
The fact that she would be back gave him hope their relationship could grow. “I’m sure he’s happy about that.” Silence rose between them as they continued to eat. When she finished, he asked, “Do you like LA?”
She took a sip of her water. “Yes. Aside from all this traffic,” she added with a smile.
He laughed. “Yeah, well, can’t argue with you there. Besides that, do you like it well enough to consider staying?”
“I can’t stay,” she said quietly with something like regret in her eyes.
He reached across the table for her hand. “Why not? You said that you could do your job anywhere as long as you had a laptop.”
“Brandon, we agreed to see each other until I leave. And I am leaving. I’ll never forget what we shared, but there’s no use in continuing something that won’t last. You and I both know that this is only physical.”
“You don’t believe that any more than I do,” Brandon said with irritation. Her eyebrow lifted. He drew in a calming breath and reminded himself he was supposed to be using a softer approach. “What I’m trying to say is that I realize what we shared started out as nothing more than physical attraction, but it’s become more. And we both know it.”
Faith withdrew her hand and shook her head. “It’ll never work, Brandon.”
“It will, if we want it to. And I do. You can’t tell me you don’t feel what’s happening between us.” For a moment, she said nothing and he wondered if he had been wrong—that she didn’t feel the same way. She stared at him for what seemed like forever before answering.
He reached for her hand again. “We’re good together, and I’m not just talking about in the bedroom. Neither of us expected this, but I know we can make it work.”
“It won’t. The first time I don’t agree with you we’ll have another episode like last week and I don’t want to have to spend time worrying whether what I say is going to set you off.”
It was all Brandon could do to curb the smart-aleck response poised on the tip of his tongue. What he started to say would guarantee an argument and prove her point. He’d been working hard to tone it down, both personally and professionally and at this point, it was turning out to be one of the most difficult undertakings of his life. “I’ve readily acknowledged that shortcoming, but I also promised to work on it and I am.”