“Yeah—I used to like him too,” she teased.
“It’s a little late for lunch, don’t you think?” she asked.
Ryder shrugged and held open the door for her. “Sure,” he agreed. “So, we’ll just make it a dinner date. I’m betting you’re more likely to order dessert after dinner, Tatum,” he breathed.
She smiled up at him and shook her head. “Not going to happen, Ryd,” she promised. She was lying. Tatum wanted to order the fucking dessert more than she ever wanted to in her whole life. She wanted Ryder and if she had to eat an entire cheesecake to get him, she would—calories be damned.
* * *
She satacross the table from Ryder and God, she felt nervous. She had seen this man all but naked, slept in his bed when he had a concussion from his fall and had helped take care of him—for better or worse, she knew him.
Their waiter came and took their order and when he left, she fidgeted with her silverware. Ryder reached across the table and covered her hand with his own. “You okay, Honey?” he questioned.
She wanted to tell him that she wasn’t. That she was a nervous wreck and wanted to go home but he wouldn’t let her hide. “I’d love to tell you that I’m fine but I’m nervous,” she admitted.
He rubbed his hand over hers, “It’s just me, Tatum,” he whispered. “You don’t need to be nervous around me, Baby.” He was wrong because everything about him made her nervous since she admitted to him that she was a virgin. He said he wanted her and if she was being completely honest, she’d admit that she wanted him too. Her denying her feelings for Ryder had so much more to do with him being capable of breaking her heart. He had that power over her and that scared the hell out of her.
She pulled her hand free from his and he sighed and sat back in his chair. “Why do you keep pushing me away, Tatum? You agreed to go out with me and then dodged me for the last two weeks. I thought we were connecting—you told me personal stuff I’m betting you don’t tell everyone.”
“No,” she breathed. “I don’t share that with anyone.” She told him that she was a virgin knowing that he wouldn’t want her anymore after he knew. She wanted to be on the up and up with him and let him know who she was from the start. But instead of telling her that he wanted nothing to do with her, he completely surprised her and asked her out.
“I can’t let you hurt me,” she whispered.
“I won’t,” he promised.
“Ryder, you can’t make me that promise,” she said. “You said it yourself, the last woman to run you down with her car wanted you for more than just a quick fuck and you turned her down,” she whispered.
Ryder leaned across the table, “I also told you that I want more, Tatum. You’re talking about ancient history. When that happened with my commander’s daughter, I was a young, stupid asshole. I’ve changed and I was being completely honest with you when I said that I want to find the right woman to settle down with. I want kids and a home, Tatum. I want a family.” Hearing the big, badass biker admit that did crazy things to her heart. She wanted to believe him so much that she nearly threw herself across the table at him.
The waiter brought their food, effectively stalling their conversation, and she nervously ate her dinner. Ryder watched her almost like he was waiting her out to say or do something. Instead, she quietly ate her meal, just wanting to get their “date” over with. Then, she could go home and spend the next few hours before bed scouring the internet, looking for a place to rent.
Ideally, she’d love to find a place that she could rent on her own but she knew that was going to be nearly impossible. Apartments around the area rented for more than what she made monthly. That was why she had to find a roommate to sublease a room from, and how she ended up with an asshole roommate like Hugh. Tatum was determined not to rent from someone like him ever again but she knew she might not have a choice in the matter.
“You’re awfully quiet,” Ryder said.
“I’m just not sure what to talk about, Ryd,” she admitted.
“I saw your brother today,” he said. “Hart said he’s been trying to call you but you won’t answer. What’s that about?” he asked.
She shrugged and pushed her empty plate back from in front of her. “I don’t have anything to say to him, Ryder. He forbade me from moving in with you,” she reminded. Her brother liked to tell her what she could and couldn’t do but that wasn’t his place anymore.
“And you did what you wanted, so what’s the problem?” he asked. “He just wants to talk to you, Honey,” he said. “He’s worried about you.” Sure her brother was worried that she was being corrupted by the big bad biker sitting across the table from her. Jackson didn’t want them together, not that it mattered since they weren’t—not like the way her brother thought they were. It was still so frustrating to have Jackson bossing her around like when she was just a kid.
“I’d love to know what you’re thinking, Tatum,” he whispered. “I can see your mind racing. Just think about giving him another chance,” Ryder said. “Everyone deserves a second chance in life, Tatum. Including me.”
“I’ll think about giving Jackson a second chance, but I’m making no promises,” she said.
“How about me, Tatum?” Ryder asked. “Will you give me a second chance?”
“A second chance at what?” she asked.
“At you,” he whispered. The waiter came back to their table and took the dirty dishes.
“Will either of you be having dessert tonight?” he asked. Ryder smiled over at her and she giggled. He looked so hopeful; she knew her answer even before it as even out of her mouth.
“Yes,” she said. “I’d love some dessert.” The waiter took her order and when she told him to wrap it up to go, she looked at Ryder and winked. “How’s that for a second chance?” she whispered across the table when the waiter walked away and for the first time all night, Ryder was speechless.