“I don’t have them!” she answered in a raised voice. “I thought I’d packed them in my suitcase, but when I looked last night they weren’t there. I’ve looked and looked everywhere. I must have left them at home.”
Jayden felt his eyes widening. “You didn’t bring the divorce papers? Are you serious?”
“Don’t look at me like that, Jayden!”
“Like what?” he asked.
“Like there’s some sort of reason behind my not bringing the divorce papers.”
He leaned toward her so that their faces were almost touching. “Is there a reason?”
“Forgetfulness. Stress. There’s any number of reasons why I didn’t bring the paperwork,” Kit explained. “Don’t make a big deal out of it.”
“Or perhaps you don’t want a divorce.”
Kit let out a groan. “I knew you would say that.”
Jayden reached out and placed his hands on her shoulders. He looked down into her beautiful brown eyes. “I’ll give it to you straight. I don’t want the divorce. We’re better than this, Kit. Don’t you remember who we are? How we came to be together? Our hopes? Our dreams?” Jayden choked up. Tears pooled in his eyes.
Kit’s expression softened. “Of course I remember. It’s something I’ll never forget for as long as I live. It was the most romantic night of my life.”
Back where it all began
Four years earlier
Centerpieces. Check. Champagne. Check. Sparkling cider. Check. The live band—Maroon Five. Check. Kit wielded her red sharpie like a weapon as she checked and rechecked her spread sheet. The Denver Yacht Club’s ballroom had been transformed into the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, with lush floral arrangements, vibrant splashes of gold and cream throughout the room, gilt-edged chairs and mirrors dipped in gold filigree. She'd even arranged to have six archangels painted in gold strategically placed around the ballroom. Every spoiled brat's fantasy come to life, she thought wryly. Perfection didn't come without a price—she'd shed blood, sweat and tears over this event. It had to go off without a hitch.
She wasn't taking any chances. Not tonight. After all, this event would make or break her career. It wasn't every day that an up and coming event planner was hand-picked by a man as powerful and rich as media mogul, Patrick Laughton, to plan his granddaughter's debutante ball. Laughton was a legend here in Denver, as well as all around the world. He was known for being demanding, grandiose and opinionated. He was a perfectionist of the highest order. His last words to her earlier this evening had been, “Don't disappoint me, Kit. I’m not a man who can abide being disappointed.”
Gulp! Messing up wasn't an option. Not this time. Not when there was so much riding on her making this event a resounding success.
There was only one obstacle standing in her way, she thought shrewdly. Celia Laughton. Patrick Laughton's granddaughter was known for being a giant pain in the butt. Despite the fact that her grandfather thought she hung the moon, Celia was known around Denver as PP. Pampered Princess. As legend had it, she was notorious for her over the top antics and demanding Diva behavior. She had wreaked havoc in Denver. Nannies. Wait staff. Teachers. Employees of her grandfather's media empire. Boyfriends. No one was safe from Celia's wrath if her lofty expectations weren't met. For that reason, Kit had tread lightly with her, not wanting to ruffle the feathers of the one person who could crush her dreams into dust. Kit had no intention of angering Celia on the night of her grand, once in a lifetime debutante ball.
Never in a million years had she dared to dream she'd be standing in the ballroom of such an elite establishment, rubbing elbows with the crème de la crème of Denver high society. Politicians. Heiresses. Magnates. A famous opera singer. The room was practically crawling with distinguished people. God had been good to her. In the pit of her stomach she battled a queasy feeling. She had nothing in common with this A list crowd. There wasn't a single thing in this world that had been handed to her
—she'd had to fight tooth and nail for every professional opportunity that had ever come her way.
She quickly checked her watch, a feeling of delight coursing through her as she realized that she'd made it through most of the evening without so much as a hiccup. The rest of the evening should flow flawlessly, she thought, since it was quickly approaching eleven o'clock. The culmination of the debutante ball was Celia being introduced on stage and serenaded by her favorite band. Various media outlets were on hand tonight, ready and willing to give Celia the one thing she wanted most—attention.
A feeling of triumph coursed through her as the realization sunk in that she was nearing the finish line. A half hour to go and this thing would be a wrap. Patrick Laughton would be eternally grateful to her for the flawless execution of Celia's grand introduction to society. With his prestigious name, vast connections and financial backing, Life of the Party could become Denver's premier event planning business.
Don't get ahead of yourself, a little voice in her head warned. Let the rest of the evening play out before you take a bow. There's plenty of time for things to head South.
Kit took a deep, calming breath and looked around the room as a feeling of accomplishment coursed through her. She was going to ignore the little voice in her head—the one that always nagged at her. She was two steps away from doing her happy dance. Yippee! She'd done it! She'd really gone and done it!
Jayden London glanced around the ballroom with thinly disguised boredom. Although he considered himself a social being, debutante balls just weren't his thing. For starters, most of the females in the room fell into one category. Divas. That specific category didn't interest him in the slightest. He preferred a more down to earth woman. So far, the coolest thing about the party was being able to watch Maroon Five perform live on stage five feet away from him. Listening to Adam Levine belt out some of his favorite songs had been a mind blowing experience, one that was well worth the price of admission to this spectacle they called a debutante ball.
His presence at Celia Laughton's debutante ball didn't mean he was in favor of all the extravagance and hoopla. In fact, he was not in favor of honoring eighteen-year-olds who regularly threw tantrums, believed as if the world was theirs for the taking and never uttered the words please and thank you. Instead of being introduced to society, Jayden thought testily, she should be introduced to performing hundreds of hours of community service. Perhaps that would make her realize that the whole world didn't revolve around her every little whim. Maybe it would show her how thankful she ought to be for the life she led.
The only reason he'd made an appearance here tonight was because his parents had asked him to stand in for him at the event. While he was being bored silly, Leon and Janice London were delivering much-needed medical supplies to a village in the Sudan. The couple was on the other side of the world doing what they did best. And loving every minute of it, no doubt. They owed him big time, he realized. They'd clearly gotten the better end of the deal.
Things had gotten a whole lot more interesting as soon as he'd spotted the looker standing next to the stage. Mm, he thought, his interest piquing. She was gorgeous. Tall. 5''7, he would guess. Curvy. She had a flawless face and figure. She could stop bumper to bumper traffic on the highway during rush hour. Her skin was the color of cafe au lait and it looked as silky smooth as butter. He let out a low whistle, determined to make her acquaintance before the night was over. If he had his way, she'd be agreeing to a date with him by midnight.