“Ms. Summers, if you’ll follow me, please.” She holds out her hand in the direction I should go, and I realize this must be the way to Henry.
I follow her through the lobby and around the south entrance of the building. It’s not my usual way of entering for work, so I don’t come out this way much. It’s close to Central Park, but my mom’s place is in the opposite direction. So even though it’s a much more beautiful walk out this way, I never get to enjoy it.
When I step outside, the security guard nods to me and smiles, then goes back inside the building. It’s a warm night out, but there’s a breeze and the sun is beginning to set. I look around and see a large fountain straight ahead, and there’s Henry standing in front of it.
I put my hand over my mouth to muffle my gasp when I see him surrounded by candles and flowers. It’s then I notice the whole place is free of people, and it’s just him and me in this gigantic space.
I walk over, and he comes to meet me halfway. The smile on his face is from ear to ear and it’s infectious. A giggle forms in my throat and the hollow place in my chest warms. Suddenly I’m a teenager again and I’m head over heels for a man I don’t even know. I always thought it was a silly schoolgirl crush, but even now, after all this time has passed, my light for him never dimmed.
He leans in and I think he’s going to kiss me again, but instead he wraps his arms around me in a hug and just holds my body to his. God, his warmth wrapped around me makes me want to cry. How I’ve ached for this embrace.
He places a kiss on the top of my head then moves his lips to my ear. “I think I may have gone a touch overboard.”
I laugh and lean back to look up at him. “You think?”
Once again, I look over to his display of candles and flowers, and I’m awed by the gesture. I can’t believe he did all this.
“Are we eating here?” I ask, as he takes my hand and leads me over to the fountain.
“I wanted a quiet place to talk,” he says, and his words are heavy. I know what he wants to talk about, but I don’t know that I’m ready to visit that subject just yet.
“Henry—” I try to step away from him but he stops my movement. I shouldn’t even be here after what he did to me at prom, but I finally want to know why he did what he did all those years ago.
He shushes me softly. “You promised me dinner, and I’m holding you to it. Come with me.”
He leads me to the edge of Central Park, where there’s a dock with rows of small boats. A man is there to greet Henry, and he takes us over to one of the boats. They are big enough for a couple of people and the one he takes us to is set up with candles and a picnic basket. It’s so over-the-top romantic, and the girly part of me is squealing with excitement.
Henry speaks to the man before stepping into the boat and then holds out his hand to help me board. I hesitate for only a second, and before I know what’s happening, his hands come to my lower waist and he lifts me, placing me inside it with him.
I laugh and shake my head as I take a seat across from him, and he grips the oars. He begins rowing us out onto the lake, and I look around at the fairy lights lining the trees and twinkling across the water.
“You did all this?” I ask, feeling like Ariel in The Little Mermaid.
“I wanted to make sure you couldn’t run from me.” He shrugs and winks at me.
His chiseled jaw and day-old stubble make him look even sexier in the shadows. I should probably be angry he got me in the middle of a lake in order to talk to me, but I kind of like that he’s willing to do this to keep me.
“I’m a great swimmer,” I say, leaning back in my seat, trying to seem in control, like he doesn’t have the upper hand here.
I watch as he stops rowing to remove his jacket and roll up his sleeves. When he reaches up to pull his tie loose, every female part of my body goes on high alert at the skin exposed on his body. Suddenly I’m just as hot as he is out here, and it’s only getting warmer.
“Like what you see?” He wiggles his eyebrows playfully, and I roll my eyes.
“Have you gotten cocky in your old age?”