"Thank you, Stanley, for a wonderful dinner," Abigail said softly. They stood at the front door, Abby ready to leave.
"My pleasure, Abigail." As they stood looking into each other's eyes, it seemed natural to Stan to lean down and kiss...
"Well, goodnite," Abbby broke the spell and fled down the steps to her car.
Abby looked up from her paperwork when the door of her shop flew open. Stanley stormed in.
"Holly! Sweetheart! Are you here?" Abby could hear panic in his voice and see it on his face. A glance at the clock showed 5:30.
"Stanley, I'm so sorry," Abby began. He ignored her, heading to the reading nook.
"Holly! Where are you?" he shouted.
Abby grabbed his arm. "Stanley! Calm down! She's here, you don't need to worry."
He whirled on her, "Don't tell me to calm down! You have no idea what you're talking about, Abigail!" He spat her name out like it was a bad taste in his mouth. Abby took a step back. Nether adult noticed Holly come around the corner, her eyes wide.
"I'm sorry, Stanley. I wasn't watching the time." Hazel eyes glared at her. "But that doesn't give you the right to yell at me."
"Holly, let's go." He took his daughter's hand and left without saying a word to Abby. She wasn't quite sure why that hurt so much, but it did. Abby thought
they had started a friendship, but obviously she was wrong.
A week went by without so much as a word from either Holly or Stanley. Abby sat at her computer, swearing at it. Nothing seemed to be going right lately. She missed Holly, and if she was honest with herself, she missed Stanley too.
"Damn you, you stupid machine!" Abby slammed her hand on the desk. To top it all off, her computer was giving her fits.
"It's usually the user's fault," she heard a familiar voice say.
"Stanley!" He watched the happiness on her face turn to wariness. "Why are you here? If you're going to yell at me, you can just turn around and leave."
"I came to apologize." He folded his lanky frame into the chair across from her. "I'm sorry for the way I acted. There are things, bad things, in our past and I'm a little over protective of Holly. I wanted to let you know that it really didn't have
anything to do with you."
Stan was glad to see her smile reappear. "If you want, Abigail, I can take a look at your machine."
Abby was more than thrilled. "Have at it. The crazy thing seems to hate me." She gladly switched places with him.
Stan settled himself at the keyboard. "What's the problem?"
"It won't let me into my inventory system and when I bring up my accounting program, it's all a mess, then it just locks up."
"Ok. Let's see what's going on." Abby watched as Stan's fingers danced over the keys. She had never noticed how big his hands were, or how capable they
looked. A loud clap shocked Abby out of her reverie. "I found it," Stan said with a grin. After a few more minutes, he motioned Abby to join him. "You picked up a virus that attacked the system. I took care of it."
Abby had leaned over to look at the screen, but was distracted by a whiff of Stanley's cologne.
"Huh?" she answered absently.
"Abigail, your computer's fine now."
"Oh! Ok, thanks," she said, startled out of her musing. "You seem to know a lot about computers."
"Yeah, It's what I do," Stan answered. "Listen, if you have any more problems, call me, ok?" Abby nodded. "I'll see you later."
"Bye!" Abby called as he exited the shop.
That night as Abby lay sleepless in her bed, she couldn't get Stanley out of her mind. She had come to know him as a good father, but today...today she had
seen him differently. Today, he hadn't been Holly's father; he'd been an incredibly sexy guy who had helped her. She relived the afternoon in her head. Had he always smelled so good, that slightly spicy, masculine fragrance that had filled her senses? And did his shirts always fit that way, stretched over broad shoulders and wide chest, hugging muscled biceps? What about his jeans? They had never fit like that, had they? Denim worn soft, encasing strong thighs and a tight ass?
When had his face become dear to her? Hazel eyes that sparkled when he smiled, the little lines that appeared around his twinkling eyes, chiseled jaw,
sculpted nose, and lips that she wanted to trace with her fingertip. All topped by tousled chestnut hair that glinted with gold.
She wondered as she lay in the darkness, why now? What was it that made him so... desirable? She had thought he was good looking when they first met, but
not like this. So what was it? She searched her memory and found the answer.
His hands. For the first time today, she had consciously noticed his hands. They seemed to contain strength, but she knew they could be tender too. She
had seen it every time he smoothed Holly's hair, touched her cheek, or took her hand. And suddenly, Abby wanted those big, strong hands on her; his long,
sensitive fingers sliding through her hair and touching her where no man had touched her in a long time.
'What am I going to do?' she thought. 'Nothing. I'm going to do nothing. I will act as I always have. Stan must never know; it would be too embarrassing. There's no way he'd ever see me as anything but a friend. And that's just what I'll be.'