Western Pleasure: A Novella
— The Texas Two-Step Series, Prequel, Book 0
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Jim Turner has always loved Ellen Murphy. But Ellen was already happily married.
Following the death of Ellen’s husband, Jim was right by her side, helping her. Now, more than friendly support and business advice seems possible, but what will her friends and family think?
While Jim works to find the courage to step out of the ‘friend zone,’ Ellen worries she’s about to lose a friendship of a lifetime.
Excerpt from Western Pleasure
Jim set his glass on the small table between their recliners. “Now this is the life.”
“You can’t convince me you don’t settle down at night to watch a little TV before bed.”
“Oh, I do. But your home is a lot more comfortable than my downtown loft. And a lot less lonely.”
“Tell me about lonely. It’s really quiet here in the evenings, so sometimes I turn on the TV even when I have no intention of actually watching it.” Ellen shrugged.
“I didn’t know anyone else did that, but I do it, too. My loft is like a great big canyon and the sound of silence bounces off the four walls.” He grew silent. “Maybe we should do this more often, Ellen?”
Her heart thumped in her chest. What was he asking? Surely he didn’t mean anything more by it than what he said, that he was lonely sometimes and so was she. “That’s a great idea, but only if you continue helping with the dishes.”
“Done. Especially if you throw in one of your famous red velvet cupcakes.”
He knew her too well. She definitely had dessert ready and waiting for them. “You’ve got it.”
Just because she agreed to more dinners together, didn’t mean either he or she really meant it. There was nothing here to make her believe he had anything on his mind except food and company. Nothing here to make her read anything more into his statement than companionship.
The saying about the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach apparently wasn’t an old wives tale. Ellen wasn’t sure about Jim’s heart per se, but he certainly was interested in her cooking. Would he be so complimentary if he knew she had begun thinking of him romantically? Heaven knew, if he were romantically interested in her, he’d had plenty of time and plenty of years to let her know. It was foolish of her to think otherwise. She knew he was never at a loss for a date. Back when Ben had been alive, they’d been on plenty of double dates with Jim. Clearly he knew how to ask a woman out if he were so inclined, and he’d never asked her out.
Perhaps they had too much history. Perhaps he wanted to honor her husband’s memory. Perhaps he wasn’t in the least bit attracted to her.
As the self-doubt settled in, Ellen reassessed the situation. Maybe she’d be better off concentrating her efforts on finding a man who would be interested in dating her. “Speaking of cupcakes, are you ready for one while you go over the lease?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” Jim lifted the paperwork from the end table and began reading.
Two cupcakes and a land lease later, Ellen said, “Thank you so much for all of your help.”
“Is there anything else you need my help with before I go?” Jim asked.
She did need help with one thing—and Jim would know exactly what she should do. “As a matter of fact, I’m interested in buying a new laptop computer. I thought maybe one of those fruity ones, but I wasn’t sure. Do you know anything about them?”
“Fruity ones? You mean an Apple?”
“That’s it.” Ellen bit her lip. “The laptop I’ve been using is ancient and can’t do more than email.”
“Why don’t we go to the store tomorrow? I’d be happy to help you pick one out.”
“That’s kind of you, Jim. Thanks.” Asking him for help probably wasn’t her best idea. But he was the sort of man who knew something about almost everything. It’s why he’d been such an incredible help after Ben’s passing.
Once she got her new computer up and running, she’d set up online dating. Then her crush on Jim would soon be a thing of the past.