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She pulled her hand away and took a step backwards. “I'd love to stay and chat with you, Jayden, but I'm the event planner tonight and this job is very important to me,” she said in an abrupt voice.

He took a step towards her and she sucked in a deep, steadying breath. He leaned down close to whisper in her ear, lending an air of intimacy to their interaction.

“Give yourself a fifteen-minute break. We can have a glass of champagne, go out on the terrace and catch up on old times.” He winked at her. “Since you’re on the clock, we can have sparkling cider if you’d rather.”

The smell of peaches drifted toward her from his lips and hovered sweetly in the air. For a wild moment she considered what it would feel like to be kissed by her childhood friend? She imagined it would be a heavenly experience.

Things were getting out of control, she realized. She was standing here dreaming about kissing Jayden when she had an event to focus on. For goodness sakes, focus. Enough with the daydreaming.

“I'm sorry, Jayden. I really can't,” she demurred.

“Of course you can,” he drawled, flashing her a smile that showcased his adorable dimples. “We'll be discreet. Your boss won't even notice.”

“I'm on duty. And it's my company, so I'm the boss. Imagine if someone asked you to leave the Superbowl when the game is in overtime with the score tied up. Would you do it?”

He placed his hand on his chin and gently stroked it, affecting a thinker's pose. “Hmmm. Let me think about this one. If I stay in the game and the Cougars win the Superbowl, I'd get one of those big Superbowl rings, a fat check from the NFL, more endorsements, more fans, more press. I might even get a trip to Disneyland.” He exhaled loudly. “On the other hand, if I spend some alone time with you, we'd probably get along like a house on fire. We'd become totally lost in one another. We might fall head over heels in love, get married, buy a house in the suburbs, fill it up with a bunch of kids and basically live happily ever after. Given those two fantastic choices...I'd choose you, Kit.”

She felt her mouth go slack, then widen till it was hanging open. Although she wasn't the type of woman to go all goo goo eyed and romantic, Jayden’s words went straight to her heart, touching a part of her that hadn't been touched in years. She felt her bones turning to mush and her pulse begin to quicken. The effect he had on her was tantamount to an ice cube being dunked into a warm, rich mug of hot chocolate. She was melting before his very eyes. And she had the feeling he knew it.

She sucked in cool air, then exhaled. “You're good. Really, really good. I can tell you know how to properly romance a woman. And if I wasn't up to my knees in work, I'd let you take me out to the terrace and we’d gaze at the moon until dawn. I'd love to catch up with you.” She let out a chuckle. “Who am I kidding? You’re a total charmer, Jayden. You’re the type of man who women fall for…hook, line and sinker.” She tried to squash the feelings of disappointment rising up within her. It had been such a long time since she'd allowed herself to get entranced by someone. But the timing was all wrong. Her career trumped everything else. “But, I don't have time for any of that. I'm needed backstage. Celia is supposed to be introduced in fifteen minutes. It was great talking to you, Jayden.”

Before Jayden could respond, Kit walked away, her strides long and efficient as she made her way backstage. She didn't have time to process the feelings of regret or the pang of longing shooting straight through her. There would be plenty of time for that later when the event was over and she was alone in her bedroom ruminating on the events of the day.

From all the way down the hall she saw her assistant, Karla, racing towards her, a frantic expression etched on her face. By the time she reached Kit she was out of breath.

“Kit, I've been looking for you everywhere. PP is having an absolute meltdown. She's decided that she wants to be introduced as Debutante of the Decade, Celia Laughton, and not as The Beloved, Celia Laughton.”

Kit raised an eyebrow at Karla, then slowly counted to ten in her head. She couldn't afford to lose her composure, even though she wanted to let out a scream. It annoyed her that someone as entitled as Celia stormed through life getting everything she wanted. It was ridiculous! Kit vowed to rise above Celia’s pettiness. Above all else, she wanted her staff to view her as professional and capable. Screaming wasn’t an option. Although she was tempted to roll around on the marble floor clutching her belly with laughter at Celia's arrogance, she couldn't afford such a luxury.

Lord, please give me the strength to finish out this job and not lose my cool. I’ve worked so hard to make a name for myself in this business. I can’t afford to slip up now.

Karla was staring at her as if life as they knew it depended on her boss' response to this mini crisis.

Yes, it was time for her to put her Superwoman cape on and save the day.

“Not a problem,” she said in a crisp voice. “I'll introduce her in that fashion right after the music cues up.”

Debutante of the Decade? More like Spoiled Brat of the Century.

Kit took a deep breath and steeled herself to deal with the guest of honor. Jayden's unforgettable face flashed into her mind and she had to force herself not to relive the moments she'd just shared with him. A huge part of her wished she could've hung around and talked with Jayden. It would've been so much fun to kick up her heels and shoot the breeze with a face from her past. Although Jayden was a famous athlete, she would love to get to know the real Jayden and to find out who he was as a person.

It had been a long time since a man had tempted her to distraction with good looks, charm and an awesome physique. She had the feeling that Jayden was the type of man who could make her laugh. How she wanted to be in the presence of a man who could make her throw her head back and laugh with wild abandon. Lately, her life was consumed by work. All business and no fun had made Kit a very dull girl. Surely God didn’t want her to spend the rest of her days alone.

At the moment all she wanted to do was ditch the debutante of the decade and go back into the ballroom and find Jayden. She wanted to dance with him under the moonlight and talk to him until the stars were stamped from the inky sky. If only, she thought. If only she didn't have work responsibilities. If only she didn't have to deal with an eighteen-year-old debutante-zilla. If only she didn't have so much riding on this one event, this one over-the-top extravaganza.

If only she could have her cake and eat it too.

Oh, well. A girl could dream, couldn't she?


Jayden felt as if he’d just been stung by a swarm of bees. What in the world had just

happened? Right when he thought Kit had been eager to reconnect with him, she'd walked away without even sparing him a backward glance. She'd turned on her strappy little heels and glided away from him as if he were nothing but a pesky gnat buzzing in her ear. That didn't happen to Jayden London. Not ever! Women threw themselves at him—all day, every day. He couldn't even step into a church pew without women batting their eyes at him. It was the one thing he'd always been able to depend on, other than his parents' undying devotion. Women couldn't get enough of him. Up until a few minutes ago he'd been convinced of that assertion. Kit Jefferson was making him rethink things.

Perhaps he wasn’t as irresistible as he thought.

Was Kit trying to play hard to get? He snickered to himself. He wasn't used to that game and he certainly didn't know the rules. This was the first woman in his life who'd ever had the audacity to walk away from him mid-conversation. Was she not attracted to him? No, that wasn't it. He'd felt something brewing between them, that powerful push and pull of attraction. He'd noticed the way she looked at him when she'd spotted him staring at her. Her eyes had been full of interest. And a hundred other emotions he wanted to explore.

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