DATING A SILVER FOX
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It really is never too late to fall in love.
Widowed and over sixty might not sound like the perfect life to some people, but Lydia intends to remain single. Book 4 of this humorous romantic comedy saga finds the dashing and sexy Morrison Fox trying to woo the reluctant and sassy Lydia McCarthy. The results are as funny as they are surprising.
Lydia McCarthy didn’t want any man in her life, much less an incorrigible old flirt like Morrison Fox. Widowed since her forties, being single has suited her. She truly can’t see any sane reason to risk her peaceful existence for someone who says he wants to make wine out of her one minute and then embarrasses her the next. Does it matter at her age that Morrie might be her last chance to find true love?
Later, Lydia promised herself, she was going to go back over every moment of the afternoon and figure out precisely where she had gone wrong. She had said no, distinctly remembered saying no. So why was she now sitting in her favorite Italian restaurant listening to Morrison Fox humming as he read the menu?
“I like shrimp. How’s the seafood here?” Morrie asked, ignoring his mouth wanting to twitch at Lydia arranging and rearranging the items on the table between them.
They needed wine, he thought. Either Lydia was nervous about being with him or she had a severe OCD problem. Lifting a hand to their smiling server, Morrie gave her a wink and smile as the girl hurried over.
“Red or white, Lydia?” Morrie asked, watching her sit back and make a sterling effort not to fidget in her seat. His mouth twitched again, but he held strong.
“Just water is fine,” Lydia answered tightly.
He looked at the nervous young woman waiting on his order. “Water for both of us, but also bring two glasses of your best house white.”
“Ms. McCarthy typically has red, sir. We have her preferred wine in stock,” the server said softly.
“Really? So Lydia’s a regular here. Wonderful. Two glasses of her preferred red then. I like trying new things,” Morrie said, winking at the young woman again when Lydia sat straighter and glared.
“I don’t need wine,” Lydia said sharply.
“Lydia, your stress level is the reason wine exists. One glass. It will help you relax,” Morrie said.
“I am not stressed,” Lydia denied firmly, leaning on the table.
“Nervous then?” Morrie asked, leaning on the table to mirror her.
When she pulled back and sank as far into her seat as possible, his laughter broke free at last.
“I swear on all that is holy I do not intend to bite you,” Morrie protested. “At least, not tonight. Not until you ask me to. Now will you relax?”
“Why am I here with you?” Lydia demanded, appalled that the question was so close to a wail. “I don’t want to be here. I want to go home.”
The sommelier appeared to pour their drinks. The server appeared with fragrant bread that made her mouth water. When the server mixed the oil and seasonings for dipping, Lydia’s stomach decided to betray her by growling loudly.
“My God, I don’t believe this. Embarrassment is a permanent condition around you,” she said, putting her face in her hand. When she could bear to lift her gaze again, the server was gone and she was met with another knowing smile—sans laughter thankfully. But the smile was accompanied by a chunk of bread being pressed towards her mouth.
“Here. You didn’t need to go home to a lonely house and dinner for one. I wasn’t looking forward to it myself,” Morrie said. “Look, we’re just two friends doing volunteer work together having dinner. What’s the big deal?”
When Lydia didn’t take the bread immediately, Morrie reached over and picked up her hand, which felt really right in his. Instead of putting food in it as he’d originally planned, Morrie used it to tug her body over the table far enough to p ress the bread he still held in the other hand to her mouth. “One bite. One sip of wine. If you still want to go home then, I’ll have the server pack our dinners to go. I want to feed you. Let me.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Lydia said, sighing and opening her mouth in defeat. She wasn’t trying to be completely rude. Morrison just brought out the worst in her. Lord knew, she’d suffered through many worse social occasions.
Lydia bit into the mouthwatering warm bread, moaned and sighed as she chewed. With her free hand, she took the rest of the bread from his fingers, trying her best to ignore the knot of tension his touch had caused again. A ragged breath of relief escaped when he finally turned loose of her hand. She tried to cover her reaction up by giving voice to some of the questions making her brain hurt.
“Why are you doing this, Morrison? Why are you putting moves on me you know I don’t want? There are plenty of women at North Winds who are interested in trading places with me right now. I know damn well you know it. I bet there are plenty of women in others places who would too. I’m almost seventy. What the hell are you thinking? I could die tomorrow. Go flirt with a fifty-year-old,” she ordered.
Morrie leaned back, getting comfortable in his chair again.
“Yeah, I’ve been dating a lot these last couple of years. I miss being married, miss having a wife. After a few years of being a lonely widower, I realized my grief wasn’t going to bring my wife back. Maybe I do press hard when a woman appeals to me. I’m aggressive. I know this about myself—just as much as I know that I’m happy to be sitting across from you right now. How well do you know what you want and don’t want?”
Lydia finished her bread and reached for a second piece. This was her chance. He wasn’t joking, wasn’t teasing, and wasn’t using words to irritate her. Instinct told her if she asked him to leave her alone right now, Morrison Fox would do it. His mood was sincere.
She dipped a piece of bread in the herb enriched oil and brought it to her mouth, much too aware of his half-lidded gaze following every movement. Yes he made her nervous, but she’d take it to her grave if she could rather than admit it to him.
Okay. Maybe on some level it was nice to think a man like him might find her appealing—faked or not, she wasn’t totally sure—but it had been a long time since anyone had pursued her at all. And it had been decades, literally decades, since she’d even cared if a man noticed her. Now Morrison was doing it unprompted. If he stopped tomorrow, she’d feel the loss. So yes, she was confused. And she was conflicted. It wasn’t often she felt that way and she knew she wasn’t handling it well. The simple truth was that Morrison Fox was likely the last chance she might ever have in her life to experience what he was suggesting, offering, threatening—whatever.
The thought of his mouth on hers, and kissing her with passion, made her want to wretch in panic, though she was bravely fighting it. She couldn’t even remember the last time any man had kissed her. Years. Yes, it had been years.
But the thought that Morrison might decide she was too much trouble was actually worse than those fears. It would be like the final validation in her life that her husband had been right, not to mention the laughing women in the bathroom. Lydia sighed, not wanting her life to have been one bad bathroom revelation after another. There had to be a little more than that to her. Wasn’t JD’s love for her proof?
There was no solution without risking the kind of entanglement that Lydia had tried most her life to avoid. So she was going to stay and have dinner. She was going to find a way to make conversation. It was stalling of course, but it was necessary until she could sort out her own scrambled mind about Morrison Fox. Tomorrow she would decide how to handle things. That would just have to be soon enough.
“I don’t think I understand your question,” Lydia said quietly, carefully keeping her attention focused on the bread. How long had she been silent? His patient gaze said he still was waiting on her.
“More wine, Ms. McCarthy?” the server at her elbow asked, startling her from her thoughts.
“Yes. Thank you, Andrea,” Lydia said softly, looking up to see the girl’s eyes widen in surprise at hearing her name said so sweetly. “Morrison and I are enjoying the food tonight. Could you bring some more bread as well?”
“Right away,” Andrea stammered, hurrying away.
After she’d scurried off nervously, Lydia’s gaze collided with the man’s across the table. She watched Morrison grin as he leaned his head to the side until his ear almost touched his shoulder.
“You know the servers by name? How often do you come here, Lydia?” Morrie asked.
“Twice a week for dinner. Tuesday and Thursday—usually,” she said sharply, dropping her gaze from his curious one to her bread again.
“And I’ve brought you here on a Wednesday. Now I’ve thrown off your entire routine and messed up your week. Shorry, Lydia.” Shaking his head sorrowfully from side to side, Morrie stuck his bottom lip out as he lifted a hand in apology. He felt his eyes crinkling hard with his efforts to keep a straight face.
The laugh at his silliness bubbled up and out of Lydia, filling the air around the table before she could constrain it. She bit the end of the bread off that she was currently eating and threw the rest of the piece at Morrison, who caught it deftly and shoved it in his mouth in one bite. His childish action had her laughing even harder. God, how was he able to do this to her? She didn’t even like him. Did she?
Morrie calmly lifted his wine glass and took a sip, feeling everything but calm after making Lydia laugh again. He could easily see himself making her laugh many times a day, which meant he was already learning her. Not good, he thought. Definitely not good to move this fast.
He set his wine back down with a sigh. “Do you ever miss being married?”
“I’ve been a widow now for almost as many years as I was married,” Lydia said.
“That’s not answering my question. Do you ever miss your husband? My guess would be yes since you never remarried,” he said lightly.
“Well your guess would be absolutely wrong in my case,” Lydia stated flatly, shocked to realize she didn’t want to give Morrison the same polite lie she’d used most of her life. For some reason, she either wanted Morrison to like her or hate her. She didn’t want mere politeness.
“I had an arranged marriage, separate bedrooms, and a husband who kept several mistresses. I was lucky one of them didn’t talk him into divorcing me before he died. I was lucky none of them got pregnant with his child. Lauren was probably the only reason he stayed married to me.”
“I’m sorry,” Morrie said sincerely. “I had a great relationship. Not perfect, but better than most I knew. Evelyn died in her sleep from something medical I still can’t pronounce. For a long time, I had to sleep sitting up in a chair or on the couch. I was afraid of the bed—even the new one I bought after she was gone. I was afraid of closing my eyes.”
Lydia put down the bread she was eating and picked up her now full glass of wine again. She rubbed the center of her chest to ease the tightness there. Maybe he was giving her heartburn. Or maybe he really loved his wife. Her head hurt as she tried to figure it out. Maybe the man across from her really was better than he seemed.
“You loved her,” Lydia stated finally, swallowing and br inging her gaze to his. “Yes, you loved her. I hear it in your voice and can see it in your eyes. And if she was anything like Jane is now, I’m guessing she’d have seriously hurt you for even flirting with other women, much less sleeping with them. So I imagine you were a great husband to her. That’s a good thing—and rare.”
“Actually, my wife was more like Elijah than Jane. Elijah’s my son. Got his heart broken and turned celibate because of it. I suppose it could be worse. He could be gay, and my name would definitely die with him then,” Morrie said, eyes twinkling with his exaggeration. “Okay. I guess I wouldn’t really care if he was gay. I just hate to see him unhappy.”
Lydia snorted into her glass. “He’s your son. Of course you care about whether or not he’s happy. Now if you try and tell me your wife was celibate, I will call you a liar. Or did you just cut loose with strange women after she was gone?”
Morrie grinned. “No, my wife wasn’t celibate. Evelyn was a lovely, warm woman who loved me with all of herself. I was a lucky man. But I think she might have ruined me by being both friend and lover. I’ve been dating solid for two years now, been in therapy for the same time, and I still haven’t been able to genuinely connect with another woman.”
Lydia waved a hand in the air. “Skip the therapy and save yourself the money. You’ll be fine. It just takes a while. I’ve seen lots of men go through your phase of starting over. You’re good-looking, in good shape, and can make people laugh. Keep dating. I’m sure the right woman will come along.”
“I think she may already have,” Morrie said, lifting his glass and smiling at Lydia as he sipped.
“Then why are you wasting your time having dinner with me?” Lydia asked, smirking at his teasing. The man never stopped. “I have all the men in my life I need, Mr. Fox. I don’t need any more.”
“Fair enough. I am curious though. Do you at least make your lovers coffee in the morning before kicking them out the door?” Morrie demanded. “Seriously, I’ve never figured out the proper etiquette for extrication the morning after.”
Lydia laughed loudly then, drawing most of the attention in the restaurant to her. “What has Harrison Graham told you about me? That old fart is the biggest gossip in Falls Church.”
Harrison had actually taunted him into finding out Lydia’s secrets for himself—the old coot. Since he was pretty much already obsessed, Morrie was finding it a small jump to become a fool trying.
“Nothing much. I couldn’t afford his extortion fees,” Morrie said casually, sipping his wine and watching Lydia sip hers around a very secretive grin. He found himself wishing he could kiss her and taste the wine on her lips.
“Well, whatever Harrison did say, I can assure you it’s all true. I don’t date. I don’t sleep with men. And I like my life that way. I will die an old maid—happy to have had complete control of my life,” Lydia declared.
“No one has that,” Morrie denied, shaking his head. “You don’t have control, honey. You’re just afraid. Maybe I’m guilty of a little wishful thinking, but I think you’re just as interested in me as I am in you.”
Their pasta arrived then, steam lifting from the noodles and sauce, creating a white mist between them. Lydia sighed as she held Morrison’s knowing gaze, keeping silent until Andrea left them alone again.
“I might eventually become your friend Morrison Fox, but you’re never warming my bed. I like it cold,” Lydia said flatly.
“Only because you’ve never had a real man warming it up. And we’re already friends,” Morrie said, twirling a small bite of the delicate angel hair pasta around his fork and spearing a shrimp on the end. “Here. Open up and try this. I bet you get the same damn thing every time you come here. Try something different.”
“I do not always get the same thing,” Lydia denied. “I have three things I order, and I rotate them.”
Morrie rolled his eyes and shoved the fork closer. “Here, have the first bite. Hurry it up—I’m starving.”
Rolling her eyes in return, Lydia opened her mouth and let him feed her because it was easier than arguing. Her teeth clamped across the tines and slid the succulent food off the end into her mouth. His gaze dropped to that half-lidded expression again. And she distinctly heard him sigh.
There was a loud crash from the wait area and dishes came flying out from behind the privacy screen across the floor. Lydia chewed thoughtfully as she watched three wait people rush to gather them up, their faces red as they looked guiltily in the direction of her and Morrison’s table.
This time Lydia was the one who sighed. Morrison Fox was already in the process of ruining her reputation. She looked around to see if anyone else she knew was having dinner there, breathing another sigh of relief at the negative answer. The last thing she needed was rumors flying around. It had taken her a lifetime to live down the ones her husband had caused.
“Different is not always good. Sometimes what you know for sure is very comforting,” she said.
“Sometimes it can be boring,” Morrie challenged. “You can get too comfortable.”
“No—a pleasant routine gives you ease,” she argued, digging into her pasta. “I like ease.”
“Ease as in you like living a boring life?” Morrie argued back, spearing a shrimp and sliding it into his mouth as he watched Lydia eat with unrestrained enthusiasm.
Two years of dating had taught him that the way a woman treated food said a lot about her. In Lydia’s case, she ate every meal like she was practically starving to death. Which she undoubtedly was based on what he knew of her, Morrie thought. Watching her eat, he was envious of her pasta and shocked at himself for it. He wanted nothing more passionately in his life than to make sure Lydia never went hungry again.
What was it about the woman?
Along with the hunger to have her in the normal ways, Lydia McCarthy also brought out the strangest protective tendencies in him. Sighing again, he reached into the breadbasket, chose a piece, and held it out to her.
“Here. Take this,” Morrie ordered.
“What for? I try not to over-indulge in carbs,” Lydia said tightly, taking it from his fingers just to move past the awkward moment.
“It’s not to eat. It’s to throw,” Morrie told her with a grin. “You might want to break it into pieces. I have a feeling you might need it after what I’ve decided to confess to you.”
Lydia narrowed her eyes as she slid another bite off her fork and chewed. “If you’re determined to ruin my dinner, you might as well spit out your drivel. I already know there is no stopping you.”
“You are a hard woman, Lydia McCarthy. I’m sure that’s kept most males out of your life, but I’m not so easily discouraged. I like a challenge, and you are the most interesting woman I’ve met since Evelyn. I have decided not to let you wither and die on the vine, a lonely grape never getting a chance to become wine,” Morrie said dramatically.
“Do you have some sort of book you get those out of, Morrison?” Lydia said sharply, moving her whole attention to her food.
“Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. That’s James Joyce and I damn well agree with him,” Morrie said firmly. “And I live that way. You should too.”
“Good for you, but we can’t all be Morrison Fox. Or James Joyce for that matter,” Lydia said tightly, the next bite sliding down hard. She picked up the bread she’d taken from Morrie and started to eat it.
“Learn to live life with me Lydia. I could show you some amazing things. Let me turn you into wine so I can enjoy you,” Morrie said.
“Are you done? You’ve had your dramatic moment, now can I please enjoy my dinner?” Lydia asked, picking up seasonings and added a dash of cayenne to her pasta.
“You know, I bet if I kissed you after this meal, you’d taste spicy,” Morrie said, lifting his wine for a sip. “You going to let me kiss you later?”
“Not if I get to your kneecap first,” Lydia told him, rubbing her nervous stomach under the table. He was being preposterous. Ludicrous. A flirt with no moral boundaries.
“Bet you wonder what I would taste like too,” Morrie declared.
“I assure you I have never wondered that about a man in my life,” Lydia informed him, throwing down the tiny bit of the bread she hadn’t eaten in nervous panic.
Knowing full well she hated it, Morrie shrugged instead of answering, fighting the urge to laugh when she glared. “Well, if you ever get curious about how I taste, let me know,” he said, going back to his food and humming while he ate.
“Move on, Morrison. Nothing is going to happen,” Lydia said.
“We’ll see,” Morrie said lightly. “So what’s for dessert? Suddenly I’m craving lemon gelato. I guess I’m in the mood for something tart.”
Lydia shook her head and tried to put her attention back on her food. Bravery exhausted. Now all she wanted was the dinner to be over.
Sexy, single, and sixty. Oh my! Yes, you can be sexy well into your sixties and beyond. McDonald got it right in her mature woman romance DATING A SILVER FOX. ~ Katherine Lowry Logan, 62 year old widow and author of THE RUBY BROOCH.
SERIES: NEVER TOO LATE, BOOK FIVE
PUBLISHER: CREATESPACE PUBLISHING
FORMAT: TRADE PAPERBACK & EBOOK
LENGTH: 274 PAGES
RELEASE DATE (PRINT): JUNE 28, 2011
E-BOOK ISBN: 978-1-988358-24-7
PRINT ISBN-13: 978-1-466207-22-6