The Red Hat Society's Acting Their Age

Free The Red Hat Society's Acting Their Age by Regina Hale Sutherland

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Authors: Regina Hale Sutherland
Tags: FIC027000
from the light in her eyes as she leaned against the doorframe and watched him.
    A radio or stereo played inside. The music thumped with bass. “Can I come in, Mia?”
    “It’s late.” Tensing, she took the staple gun from him. “I’m in the middle of a project. Reupholstering an old dining room chair.”
    “I’ve reupholstered a chair or two in my day. I could help.”
    “Thanks, but I don’t need any more—” She cut the sentence short. “I don’t need any help, Cade. I’m about to call it a night.”
    Any
more help
. That’s what she’d started to say. Meaning someone was already in there helping her. He
knew
it. “I realize you’ve turned me down the last couple of times I’ve asked. I should take the hint, but I guess I’m either determined or a sucker for punishment.” He cleared his throat. “Why don’t we go out for some supper tomorrow night?”
    “Cade . . .” She averted her gaze. “I’m sorry. I’d better not.”
    “So much for my smooth reputation with the ladies.” He smiled and rubbed his chin between his fingers. “Guess I can’t complain. It served me well until I got out of college and married Jill. Then,
poof
, it disappeared. Just like that.”
    “It’s not you. I’m just not ready to date. Not anybody. I’ve told you that.”
    He narrowed his eyes. “You mean to say if Brad Pitt or that Clooney character asked, you wouldn’t jump at the chance?”
    “
Well
. . .” She pursed her lips, as if pondering the question. “That would be a tempting offer, but I’m sure those two wouldn’t give me a second look.”
    “Then they’d be fools.”
    She watched him a minute then said, “You know what I think?”
    “I wish I did.”
    “I think this sudden impulse of yours to date me might have something to do with the fact that I’m the only unattached woman in town over the age of nineteen and under seventy.”
    “That’s not true. What about Janice Dubinsky?” he asked, referring to the middle school girls’ P.E. teacher.
    Mia smirked. “Janice isn’t interested in men.”
    Cade feigned surprise. “Nobody ever told me that.”
    “They won’t, either. But everyone knows it’s true. Even you.”
    When a crash sounded somewhere in the house, he peeked around her shoulder, trying to see in. “You got a packrat here, too?”
    She jerked, leaning to block his view. “My cat. She’s always jumping up on the furniture and knocking stuff off. Picture frames, vases, you name it.”
    “I didn’t know you had a cat.”
    Mia looked flustered. “Got it for Christmas. It’s a kitten, really. From Aggie. Her cat had a litter.” She blurted a short laugh. “Not something I’d planned on, but what could I say? Aggie’s always afraid I get lonely.”
    “Do you?” When her eyes flicked away from his, he wished he hadn’t asked such a personal question.
    “Sometimes.” She shivered. “I’m still not used to living alone.”
    “It gets easier with time. Did for me, anyway.” When another rattle sounded behind her, he said, “You sure I can’t come in? Maybe put that CD on and see if it has the same effect on women it had on sixteen-year-old girls back in the day?”
    “Nice try, Cade.” She smiled. “Maybe another time.”
    “Now we’re getting somewhere.” He put on his hat, shrugged. “Another time is better than never.” Turning, he started down the walkway. “Goodnight, Mia.”
    “Cade?”
    Pausing, he looked back at her.
    She held up the CD. “Thanks.”
    Cade grinned. “I should be the one thanking you.”
    “Oh,
really
.” She propped a fist on one hip. “I suppose a lot of women from Muddy Creek High’s class of ’72 would be thanking me, too, if they knew I was the one who loaned it to you.”
    “Not so many.” His gaze lingered on her silhouette in the doorway and, for the first time in a long while, Cade felt lonely, too. And more determined than ever. “Besides, I want to listen to the music with
you
now, not them.”
    Mia’s

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