Eve looked up and met the blue depths of his eyes, but she was unprepared for the heat in them. Or the challenge. Whatever answer he had waiting for her was a loaded one, and she knew she shouldn’t ask.
“Are you ready to order?” the server asked, coming up alongside their table. She was a young African American woman with brightly colored string weaved into her intricate braids, and she looked weary.
“Actually, I need a few minutes,” Eve said, glancing at Oliver.
“I’ll just have a coke for now,” he said.
“Okay, I’ll come back in a few minutes,” the server said.
But before she could leave, Eve said, “I have to tell you, I love your hair.”
The server’s face brightened. “Thank you, I just got it done a few days ago.”
“Well, it’s fabulous, and I love the colors,” Eve said.
“Thank you.” As she walked away, Eve noticed a new skip in the woman’s step and couldn’t stop grinning as she looked at her menu.
“That was nice of you,” Oliver said.
Eve glanced up at him and raised her eyebrow. “What? Telling her I like her hair? I do.”
“I think it was more about making her feel good, though. Am I right?” Oliver said.
Eve shrugged. “She looked like she was having a bad day.”
Oliver laughed, and she glared at him suspiciously. “What?”
“Nothing, it’s just . . . You’re so nice,” he said.
“I’m just thinking you must have gotten it from your mother,” Oliver said.
Bristling, she slapped her menu down. “You don’t know my dad. You know the general, your boss.”
Oliver’s dark eyebrows rose, and his eyes danced with amusement. “Well, that’s something you got from him.”
“My ability to call it like I see it?”
“Actually, I was going to say your protectiveness of your family, which is just like him,” Oliver said.
For a moment, his answer stunned her, and she could feel the warmth of embarrassment staining her cheeks.
“Thank you,” she said quietly.
OLIVER COULD TELL he’d unsettled Eve, but the server’s return crushed whatever moment they’d been having. After asking if they were serving lunch yet, Eve ordered a burger and fries with a Coke. Oliver wondered what her story was. She wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, but that didn’t mean anything these days.
“And how about you?” the server asked.
“Hot roast beef sandwich with extra barbeque sauce and fries,” he said.
“All right, I’ll get these put in and have them out as soon as they’re ready.”
As she walked away, Oliver opened his mouth to ask Eve about herself, but she cut him off.