Rockin' the Rockies

Dante had never wanted to sleep with anyone as badly as he wanted to sleep with Sari Saunders. He put it down to being sex-starved for far too long. He’d always preferred ladies in skirts, but Sari was knocking it out of the ballpark in that pantsuit; the least expensive of all the clothes he’d bought her. He’d hated the way it looked on the rack; much too masculine, but loved it on her.
Sari was making short work of the salmon carpaccio she’d ordered. Dante’s eyes remained fixated on her face as she chewed slowly, savoring every mouthful. He loved her full lips and how expressive her facial features were. It was almost a sensual experience, watching her eat. She was clearly enjoying every morsel of that appetizer.
“So, tell me more about you?” he asked. “What are you passionate about?”
She thought for a moment. “Children. I hope one day to have three or four of my own.”
Dante almost choked on his antipasto. “Three or four kids? That’s a huge family, these days.”
“What, you don’t like kids? You have two of your own.”
“I like them fine. I just don’t want any more,” Dante said, spearing a tomato.
It was difficult to explain to someone who hadn’t gone through what he’d been through, why he was reluctant to add to his family. No one could possibly know what it was like to have two children, who, from the moment they were born, were in and out of the hospital, and who through no fault of their own had caused him to file bankruptcy.
Dante wasn’t blaming his divorce on the twins, but the financial stress, emotional toll and the attention that critically ill kids required, had all contributed to the breakdown of his marriage. He and Marisol had rarely had much alone time after the kids were born.
Sari didn’t ask him any questions. She must have sensed he had no desire to continue the conversation. She did not need to hear of the anguish-filled days and nights spent in the hospital, wondering if his children would live or die. Thankfully the conversation turned to other things.
“I’m curious. How did you end up working for Livingston?”
Lord, another uncomfortable question. He settled on a half-truth.
“I’d been a manager at Safeway for what seemed forever. L& L Markets is considered the gold standard, so when an opening came, I jumped ship.”
Dante omitted mentioning that his dream was to one day open a supermarket of his own. He’d always wanted to be his own boss, and not answer to anyone. While he no longer needed the money to support himself. He’d taken the L&L Markets job to see what his competitor didn’t offer.
“How long have you been with them?” Sari asked.
“A little under six months.”
“You’ve done well in a short space of time. I overheard Livingston congratulating you on your store being a money maker.”
“I’ve got a great team,” Dante said modestly. He was all about giving credit where credit was due. Considering he’d been the new manager, his crew had both embraced and supported him. “What made you become a teacher?”
“I’m an only child. I always wanted a brother or sister. I have a Master’s in Education, so the next best thing was working with children.”
And here they were back to the conversation he’d hoped to avoid. Children. She wanted them.