“You’re something in the moonlight,” he murmured.
She moved up the sidewalk next to him, running her tongue over her lower lip, tasting him there and slowing her pace.
“Don’t do that,” he said.
She cocked an eyebrow at him.
“I’m only human and if you do that again…I don’t know, I might have to marry you.”
She burst out laughing and he pulled her into an embrace, seizing the opportunity to kiss her again, more deeply. She melted against him.
“It might take a long time to get you home at this pace,” he said.
“Ask me if I care,” she said, staring into his eyes.
Case took her hand and they walked along in silence for a while.
"Do you work?"
"I'm an artist."
"I'll bet that pays the bills," he said, laughing.
"How'd you guess? How about you?"
"I'm a lawyer."
Bingo! Case might make mom happy.
"Don't confuse me with the rich, successful lawyer types. I work for mostly non-profit organizations."
"You're a poor lawyer?" She said, laughing.
"Not poor exactly, but far from rich."
They walked across 59th Street, stopping to pet one of the horses attached to an open-air carriage.
"There's a nice path through the park that parallels Central Park West. I think it's safe, even at this hour. Want to take a chance?"
"Sure, let's live dangerously."
At Columbus Circle, Case tugged on her hand and led her into the park, which was dark and shadowy as the leaves rustled in the light summer breeze, playing peekaboo with the moonlight.
Sunny looked at Case's profile. His strong jaw and longer nose gave him a decidedly masculine look. He drew her closer and put his arm around her shoulders. She saw several horse-drawn carriages clip-clop on the street that wound through the park. There were couples making out or families looking out in the black or white carriages passing by.
Case pulled her into the shadow of a tree and kissed her again. She felt uncomfortable as his kiss grew more urgent. He angled his mouth over hers to deepen the kiss, his arms vice-like around her.
She tried to move away but he tightened his grip. A feeling of panic rose in her chest. A mistake, coming into the park at night alone with...with...a man I don't know!
Fear rose in her mind as his hand moved up over her breast. She pushed it down and shoved against him with all her might. He let go and stepped back.
"Let go of me!" She shouted.
Case looked at her with surprise on his face.
"What? What's wrong?"
"What's wrong? You were attacking me!"
"Attacking? Is that what you call it when a man throws some moves on a chick who consents to walk through the dark park with him. Why do you think I brought you here? For a stroll?"
"You are pretty naive. How old are you?"
"Old enough to know better than to come into the park after dark with a man I hardly know," she said.
"That's right. You came in here willingly. I thought you wanted to make love. Guess I was wrong. I'm sorry," he said, stepping closer to Sunny.
She jumped back, feeling a tremble of fear go through her.
"Aw, come on. I'm not going to attack you. This is ridiculous."
She moved closer to him, he took her hand.
"Let's get you home, little girl," he said.
She walked next to him, relaxing as his warm, dry hand held hers firmly but safely. Her breathing slowed down and she relaxed.
"Do you often make love in the park after a charity function."
"Not unless I get lucky. And you were giving me all the right signals."
"I liked you..."
"After someone won't let me go, I tend to move him into the dislike category."
"Ooh. Sarcastic and immature. What a combination!"
"Okay, okay. Sorry. That was pretty nasty. You're a beautiful woman, can't blame a guy for being mad...getting 'no'."
"When he thought he already had 'yes', eh?"
"I suppose I should apologize for being naive, not reading your mind, but I'm not. I took you at your word about a nice stroll through the park in the moonlight."
"Well...maybe. I said I was sorry."
"Yeah, sorry I'm not going to sleep with you."
"That...and sorry if I upset you. Now I've ruined my chances, haven't I?"
"You could say that."
"Crap. Do I still get a kiss goodnight?"
They walked up through the park in silence. Sunny felt foolish she didn't know what he had in mind and annoyed at him for being so...insistent. When they got to her door, she could see the light was still on in her apartment. She turned to say goodnight.
Case took her in his arms and gave her a gentle kiss. She let him, then moved away.
"Any chance I can see you again?"
"Why would you want to date such a...a...child?"
"Maybe because she's the most beautiful child I've ever seen."
"Trust issues, Case. I have trust issues with you."
"Okay. Give me your number and I promise to take you somewhere with lots of people...so that you'll feel safe."
She wavered. He was nice looking and fun up until the park.
"Okay. One more chance."
He kissed her hand, wrote down her number and left her to go inside.
"No, Ma, I'm not engaged to a rich man yet," she called out as she entered the apartment. Not raped by one, either, thank God.