Eight years after her divorce, Sophie Lane still wasn't very good at dating. She supposed she only had herself to blame—if she really "put herself out there," as her cousin Kristine was always saying, she could find someone.
From Sophie's point of view, there were multiple problems with that statement. First, Kristine had married her high school sweetheart after graduation and had been happily married for the past sixteen years. She wasn't exactly someone who should be giving dating advice. Second, Sophie didn't have a lot of time to "put herself out there." She was busy—she owned a company and she loved her company and all the hard work that went into keeping it successful. To be honest, her business was way more interesting than any man, which might be a big part of the dating problem. That and, well, the actual dating.
Getting dressed up, meeting for dinner, listening to a man talk about himself for three hours wasn't exactly how she wanted to spend a lone evening when she wasn't dealing with some crisis at the office. Plus, she never quite understood all the rules.
She was pretty sure it was supposed to be sex after three dates, but that didn't work for her. If she liked a guy and wanted to have sex with him, why did she have to wait? She was busy. If she had the interest and the time on the first date, then her feeling was, why not just do it, clear her head, so to speak, and happily get on with her life? Because if she didn't want to do it on date one, there was no way she was interested on date three. By then the guy had probably annoyed her fifty-seven ways to Bakersfield.
Which explained why, on date two with Bradley Kaspersky, she was 100 percent convinced saying yes had been a massive mistake. Not that his sixty-minute explanation of how laser sightings worked hadn't been fascinating their first evening together. Under normal circumstances she would have ended things when the check—split at her request—came, explaining he wasn't for her, and while she appreciated meeting him, there was no moving forward. And no, he shouldn't bother calling, texting or emailing.
She would have except... She was lonely. CK was gone, and she still couldn't believe it. Going home to her empty condo was physically painful.
She'd taken to sleeping on the sofa in her office to avoid all the memories, but then she had to go home to shower and the second she walked in the door, she wanted to cry.
Because of all that, she hadn't given Bradley the brush-off and now here she was, at dinner two, listening to the practical applications for calibrated laser sighting. Or was it sightings? Regardless, she was stuck and to be honest, maybe she should just suck it up and go back to her place and let the pain wash over her. Because CK deserved to be mourned and she had a feeling her therapist would tell her she'd been putting off those feelings for a little too long. Assuming she had a therapist. Which she didn't. Although more than one person had told her she needed one. Usually an employee she'd fired, or who had quit. As they walked out, the parting shot, often yelled across the company's open foyer, was something along the lines of, "You're impossible. You think you can do everything. Well, you can't. You're not superhuman. You only think you're better than everyone else. You have a serious problem, Sophie, and you should get help." About half the time, the B word was tossed around.
"Your phone is ringing."
"Oh. Sorry. I forgot to turn off the sound."
She looked down at the phone she'd placed next to her wineglass and realized it was indeed ringing and buzzing and dancing on the table. She was about to send the call to her voice mail when she read the caller ID info.
"It's my alarm company," she said. "I just need to take this."
She grabbed her phone and her handbag and started for the front of the restaurant.
"Sophie Lane," she said crisply. "Do you need my authentication code?"
She gave the code, then asked, "What's the problem?"
"We have notified the local fire department that several fire alarms have gone off at the location. Our sensors indicated that there is a fire, Ms. Lane. This is not a false alarm. CK Industries is on fire."