"You would have to know my grandma to appreciate this, but apparently there is a shortage of older men who can still get it up."
Shane choked on his coffee over the unexpected words. When he had stopped coughing, he stared at Riley. "I might not be what she refers to as older, but I assure you, I still can."
"I'm not a sex-crazed pervert, regardless of how I acted the other day."
"That's too bad, Shane. I had all these ideas in my head that included you," she replied.
"I think it's time to leave." He pulled out some bills and handed them to their server who appeared as soon as Shane stood.
"Yes, I agree."
Holding hands, they walked out to his car. Shane wanted to take her home and spend the evening exploring her entire body. He longed to taste her. But reality reminded him they didn't know much about each other yet.
"Will you take me to your place?"
"Riley, you have to know the answer to that. I want to feel you under me so bad. But I want more than tonight," he said, brushing his knuckles over her cheek.
His dark eyes turned even blacker when she placed his hand on her naked thigh. "I do too."
He didn't remember driving home. Riley was all he saw when he should have been paying attention to the road. Parking in the garage, he realized his hands were shaking.
"Shane? I've never acted this way with anyone else."
Nodding, he pulled the key out of the ignition and opened his door. Then he went to her side and helped her out.
"I'm not going to kiss you out here, even though I want to."
Once inside the house, he pulled her close and groaned. Swaying against his body, she pressed her pelvis into him.
Her hands covered his, placing the ends of her belt in them. "Do it."
He wanted to go slow, pulling the bow as if in slow motion. He gasped when her dress parted and he saw she was naked underneath. Backing up, Riley opened her dress all the way, making him forget what he was saying. His hungry mouth latched onto a rosy nipple. But soon it wasn't enough. She ran her fingers through his hair, holding him tight to her.
"The bedroom," he said, licking her skin. "Condoms are there."
Before either moved, the annoying ringing of Shane's phone intruded. He pulled it from his pocket with the intention of turning it off.
"Go ahead and take it," she whispered, brushing one tight nipple against his arm.
Riley ducked under his arm and wandered down the hall in search of the bedroom to give him more privacy. When he joined her a few minutes later, she knew something was wrong.
"My mom's on the way to the hospital. The neighbor found her lying outside but couldn't wake her so he called 911."
Slipping off the bed, she grabbed the sheet and faced him.
"Go take care of your mom and don't worry about me."
"How will you get home?"
"I'll figure something out."
"Next time we start something, we will finish," he whispered, pulling her close for a quick hug.
"Yes, we will."
"I need a ride home, Aunt Janet."
"What's wrong and where are you?"
"I'll tell you everything when you get here, okay? But I'm fine, honest. The address is 6464 Freedom Lane."
"Look for me in around ten minutes. My friend Lucy lives on the same street so I know where you are."
With the phone buzzing in her ear, Riley grinned. Her aunt sounded stern and uncompromising, but was really a free spirit who loved life and helping others. Fully dressed and waiting on the over-stuffed sofa, she envisioned Shane lounging there with her. The sound of a car horn brought her back to reality and to her feet.
"I want every detail. From the beginning," Janet said as soon as Riley got into her car and shut the door.
"Can I at least put my seat belt on, you think?"
"Don't be smart with me, young lady. I might be old, but I can still see you're dressed to arouse a man."
"Grandma picked it out," Riley replied, grinning.
"She always did have good taste. Now talk."
Riley told her aunt about the air conditioner going out, adding how Shane happened to be the repairman. From there she skipped over to their date and mentioned the emergency call, not giving Janet time to question her. By the time her aunt stopped in front of the old farmhouse Riley called home, she had covered the basics of her date.
"Aunt Janet, I'm sorry for the inconvenience," Riley said before opening the door. "Thanks for the ride though."
"I enjoyed it. Now get inside and wait for that man to call you again."
Riley ran up the sidewalk and onto the porch. Muted lighting behind the gauzy curtains gave the old farmhouse an inviting look despite the faded and peeling paint. Janet waited until the brunette disappeared inside before backing out of the driveway. Thoughts of her niece finding someone to make her happy kept the smile on her face the entire way home. By the time she slipped into bed, the couple was married and having babies.
Stretching before untangling the sheet from her legs, Riley sat on the edge of the bed and grinned. That she awoke ready to begin her day instead of lying back amongst the pillows for several minutes showed her lingering excitement from her date the previous night. Then she thought about the call telling him about his mother.
"Why didn't I hear my phone? What if he called? Riley Dixson, you are so forgetful some days."
Deciding to shower later, she slipped into a pair of shorts and a tank top. Then she scrounged through her purse until she found her bright red phone. But pressing the key to check for messages had her frowning.
"Damn it! The battery is dead."
"Riley, you have somebody in there? Did you bring someone home with you? I hope you have that sexy repairman with you . . ."
With her phone and charger in hand, Riley left her room, shaking her head at her grandmother.
"Grandma, you really think I was going to sleep with him on our first date?"
"If sleeping is what comes to your mind when you see that man, then you're in sad shape, girl."
Bessie went into the kitchen while Riley found a convenient plug for the phone in the dining room.
"Shane left to be with his mom at the hospital. I was hoping to hear from him," she said, shoving the cord into the outlet. "How long will this take? I can't believe I left it unplugged."
"Come in here and eat something and it should be ready to use by the time you're done. How did you get home?"
"Maybe some juice. I called Aunt Janet since I know you don't drive at night."
Standing in the doorway, seeing Riley checking the phone twice in less than a minute, Bessie stomped her foot.
"Stop it! You're draining the little juice it just stored. Now get in here."
Riley knew her grandmother was right. She filled a glass with orange juice and sat at the table before standing up a minute later.
"I can't just sit here, Grandma."
"You go shower and I'll listen for your phone. When he calls you'll be ready for whatever plans you two make."
"If anyone else calls, tell them—"
"I'll think of something. Now go on. You're wasting time."
She took the stairs two at a time just as she had when she was younger. Bessie watched her granddaughter and smiled. The girl was in love if she knew it or not.
The humming of the air conditioner reminded Riley of Shane. Each time her phone chirped she thought it would be him. And every car she heard she hoped would be him. At the end of the day she fell asleep still waiting to hear from him.
"Why don't you go to the hospital and check?" Bessie asked the next morning.
"No, he said he would call. If he wanted me there, he would have said that. Besides, it was our first date. That would be rather awkward for me to show up and have his family ask who I was."
"You could go to his house. Maybe he lost your number."
"Grandma, he can get my number from work, you know. Besides, I wrote it on his calendar before Aunt Janet picked me up," she said, thinking again of that night.
"The month changed yesterday, Riley."
"I wrote it on every month."
"That's my girl."
Bessie grinned at the thought of the young man changing his calendar and finding Riley's number each month. Sitting in her rocker, she dozed while Riley checked e-mail messages, ignoring the laundry and other housework. But a series of crashes from the living room sent her running in that direction.
"Grandma! Oh my god, what happened? Are you all right?"
"Don't move me, Riley. Just call for an ambulance and sit with me, girl. I'll be all right, you hear?"
"I need my phone, it's at the computer. I—"
"Go get it, honey, I'm okay."
Seeing the paleness in her grandmother's face, Riley didn't argue. She struggled to dial the simple three numbers for help, only managing after taking a deep breath. Giving the dispatcher all the information seemed to take forever. But a first responder knocked at her door minutes after she hung up.
Soon she felt in the way. Paramedics surrounded Bessie to check vitals and begin an IV. Suspicions of a hip fracture sent Riley to the sofa in tears. But then they had the stretcher in the ambulance and she was in the front seat and there wasn't time to cry. And once at the hospital she had to fill out forms and talk to doctors. A quick call brought her Aunt Janet to sit with her during the surgery to insert pins into the broken bone.
In the same hospital, on another floor, Shane sat with his father in a small room waiting for the doctor. He was exhausted and wasn't even sure what time it was anymore. His mother's initial diagnosis had been a massive stroke. He looked up to see the surgeon who operated on her enter the room. He explained they removed a blood clot from her brain, relieving pressure in an attempt to save her life. After they talked, the young doctor stood to leave, shaking their hands on the way out.
"I'm going to the cafeteria for coffee, Dad. Will you be okay for a little while?" Shane asked.
"Go ahead, you need a break."
"I won't be long." Riley needed to walk. "I'm going to get some tea, okay Aunt Janet?"
"Go ahead. I'll wait here. The nurses said it would be another hour at least anyway."
"Do you need anything?"
"I'll be fine. You go on."
Wandering the halls of the big hospital, she found the cafeteria and got in line.
"Riley, what are you doing here?" he asked, stepping forward and taking her hand. "I meant to call but—"
"My grandma fell—"
"My mom had brain surgery last night—"
Realizing they were talking over each other, they both stopped.
"Can you sit with me so I can explain?" he asked.
"Yes, but not long."
They went to an empty table near a window. Shane told her about the strokes and brain surgery, ending with his mom's poor prognosis. Riley talked about her grandmother's fall and surgery. Because of their conditions, Riley's grandmother was on a different floor as Shane's mother.
"I should get back. Grandma's surgery should be done soon and I need to be there to talk to the doctor," she said, knowing the hospital wasn't the time for what she really wanted to say.
"Dad's waiting alone, so I should go, too. The doctor thinks my mom could go soon and I want to be with my dad."
"You should be. We can talk another time."
Both stood and walked into the hall together. He pushed the up button as she nodded and began walking away. Shane stepped into the elevator and turned to face the hall. The total emptiness matched that in his heart as he realized she was gone.
Riley stopped around the corner and cried. Hot tears fell for Shane and his family. Her heart felt empty as she made her way back to the waiting room. Seeing her aunt sitting alone, Riley wiped her tears and joined her. The surgeon followed her into the small room and smiled. Giving a brief report, he shook her hand and left.
"We're lucky, aren't we?" Seeing the confused look on her aunt's face, she hurried to clarify the words. "Grandma will need a lot of physical therapy, but she'll be okay. Others here . . ."
"Yes, we are. Is everything all right?
"You should take a break. We can't see grandma for a while anyway."
"I'll be fine. Go on."
Three floors away, Shane saw the doctor standing outside his mother's room and knew. He slid to the floor and wept. Several minutes later, after talking to his father, he left. He needed Riley. She was in the waiting room, standing next to the window.
He pulled her close and held her. "I love you. I know it's crazy because we don't know each other yet but I need you in my life."
Riley tried to answer but the words stuck in her throat.
"I want you at my side. Riley, say something. Please."
"Shane, I love you and have from the moment you felt me up in that closet."
"That's not what happened."
"Close enough," she whispered.