At her car, her good mood took a back seat to frustration. The fob on her key chain was dying, which meant it didn’t always let her in right away. After four or five clicks, she finally gave a grr of annoyance and opened the door with the key.
No mistaking the deep voice of the man from the parking lot. No way could he be talking to her, though, so she went to get in.
He is talking to me.
Surprise tinged with more delight than she’d let herself acknowledge had her pausing to look over her shoulder. “How did you know my name?” she called as he jogged down the last few steps.
He waved back up at the slope. “That man called your name earlier.”
And he’d paid attention? Wow. A blush warmed the skin of her cheeks, making the sting of the cold air against her bite more. “Listen, I’m flattered and everything, but I’m running late.”
He paused on a word, mouth open, then his eyes crinkled as he grinned. “I’m not asking you out.”
Oh. Disappointment dropped over her like snow falling off branches on her head. Kerfloop. Followed swiftly by embarrassment. The heat crept back up her cheeks, but for a much less fun reason. “Okay . . . What can I help you with?”
“Actually, I’m here to help you.”
Help her? With what? She raised her eyebrows in question.
“I believe you’ve picked up a small passenger in your purse.”
“My—” Realization rushed in with all the subtlety of a blizzard, and she closed her eyes in resigned horror. “There’s a kitten in my purse. Isn’t there?”
She opened her eyes in time to catch the full impact of her stranger’s full-bodied laugh, his eyes alight with humor. “Does this happen to you often?” he asked.
“Only since this one arrived on our doorstep.” More gently than she’d been handling it until now, she swung her purse around and opened it wide. Sure enough, two blue eyes stared back at her with all the innocence of angels.
“Snowball. You’ve got to stop this,” she admonished as she lifted the small kitten out. Cuddling the ball of fluff against her chest, she lifted her gaze to her helpful stranger. Right in time to see him with a camera up to his eye. A soft click sounded as he snapped a picture.
“Uh— No, thanks.” She lifted a hand to block any more.
“I’m only getting the cat in the shot. I promise.”
Zero for two. First, he wasn’t chasing her down because he was interested, and now he only wanted pictures of the cat. My ego is going to need some chocolate therapy if this keeps up.