“You ruined Celia’s grand introduction!” Patrick shouted.
“Get your hand off her!” Jayden snarled as h
e stepped between her and Patrick.
“Mr. Laughton, I'm so sorry,” Kit said in a raised voice. Maybe it wasn't too late, she thought, to rescue Celia’s moment. Someone had opened the curtains prematurely and the audience had seen her and Jayden enjoying a romantic kiss. It was Celia’s worst nightmare. The attention had been taken away from her at the worst possible moment.
Patrick’s lip curled. “Not as sorry as you're going to be, Miss Jefferson. I trusted you to deliver the debutante ball of the century and you've done nothing but subject my granddaughter to public humiliation.”
Jayden let out a loud snort. “Humiliation? That's rich coming from you. Your media group humiliates people every day with its nasty headlines, unflattering photos and unfounded gossip.”
Patrick's face was mottled with rage and he looked as if he wanted to hit someone. “Jayden. You've crossed a line tonight,” he said through clenched teeth. “I'd be very careful if I were you. I’m very good friends with the owner of your team. I could make things really difficult for you…and your career.”
Kit placed a hand on Jayden's chest and none too gently pushed him back. The last thing she needed was for Jayden to get into an altercation with Patrick. She knew how vengeful Patrick could be if he was crossed. Jayden had his career to consider. He was a prominent figure in the community and if the media got wind of this it could make front page news.
“I never meant for any of this to happen. And if you give me another chance we could still give Celia her grand introduction.” Kit hated the begging tone in her voice.
“If I were you I'd consider a new line of business,” Patrick snarled. “Because you're done in this town!” After shooting her a look of utter disdain, Patrick strode off the stage, his steps full of unbridled anger.
Kit stood there for a moment, her body frozen in time as she processed what had just happened. She sucked in a deep breath, a sharp pain filling her insides as the realization hit her that she had failed. Again.
“I will not cry. I will not lose it,” she murmured, mindful of the fact that Jayden was standing mere inches away from her. He was staring at her with a small measure of fear in his eyes, as if he had zero confidence in her mantra. Her shoulders heaved with emotion and her body shuddered as she collapsed in a sea of tears. Suddenly, she felt strong arms holding her. Although she had no idea what she was going to do, she suddenly didn’t feel alone anymore.”
“What do you do when your entire career has just blown up?” Kit asked, wiping away tears from her face. Jayden hated seeing her so upset. It made him want to do some damage to Patrick Laughton, although he knew that would solve nothing. He hated bullies, especially rich and entitled ones.
“First of all, your career has not blown up. Not by a long shot. Celia and Patrick Laughton don’t own the world. They can’t stop you from making a living.”
“But they can blackball me!”
He shrugged. “They can try, but, as I said, they don’t own the world. From what I saw tonight, you’re one talented event planner. You’re smart, beautiful, hard working…and very easy on the eyes. Celia could take a few lessons from you.” He rolled his eyes. “I can’t wait for the day when she crashes down to earth. Mark my words. She’s going to land on her rear end one of these days.”
Kit threw her head back and chuckled. The sound of her laughter was like sunshine. It shimmered and shone just like the sun. And it made him think good things were just around the corner. It made him want to take her in his arms and never let her go. It was a crazy thought. He had never been the type of guy to think long-term. What was happening to him?
“Thanks for the compliments. At a time like this I can’t believe you made me laugh. That’s a gift, Jayden.” She wiped away tears of laughter from her cheeks.
“You’re a treasure, Kit. And this may sound all kinds of crazy, but I don’t want to walk away from what’s happening between us. It’s more real than any attraction I’ve ever felt. Maybe it’s because we grew up together. We have history!” He shrugged. “I don’t know. All I do know is that I can’t walk away from what’s happening between us. I don’t want to walk away from it.”
“Neither do I. It’s been a crazy night full of ups and downs. I almost feel like the world is spinning right now.”
Jayden reached out and took Kit’s hands in his own. “You can look at this night as a failure or an opening. We would never have reconnected if it hadn’t been for this evening.”
Kit nodded. “You’re right about that,” she said, chewing her lip. “But I still wish tonight had been a smashing success.”
Jayden jerked his chin in the direction of the ballroom. “Trust me. If you ask any of the guests, they’re going to say it was the event of the season. Don’t let the Laughton’s drive you crazy. You need to get away for a little while and decompress. Forget about all this madness for a bit.”
“I wish,” Kit said, letting out a sigh. “It would be nice if I had a tropical island to disappear to.”
“I have to catch a red-eye flight to Las Vegas. It leaves in a few hours.” Jayden could see the look of disappointment as it crept over Kit’s face.
“Oh,” she said in a soft voice. “I guess we won’t be seeing each other for a while. I mean, no pressure. It’s not as if we have to see each other.”
“Do you want to see me again, Kit?” he asked, praying the answer would be yes.
Kit nodded. “I really do, Jayden.”
“This may sound crazy, but I want you to come to Las Vegas with me. I’m there for four days to do some endorsements. No strings attached. Separate hotel rooms. Nothing sketchy at all. I promise.”