“Florida weather.” In contrast to Damian’s tone of polite friendliness, hers bordered on rudeness. It wasn’t something she planned, but somehow it just ended that way, and she told herself that was fine. The plan was to exorcise old ghosts, anyway, and show him once for all—-
“I missed you.”
And just like that, the plan to give him the cold shoulder fizzed out, with Damian’s gruffly spoken words completely catching her off guard. For one long moment, all Sarah could do was gape at him. Had he really said those words or had she—-
“No.” The faintest smile curved over his lips. “You weren’t imagining it.”
Her heart nearly stopped beating. “You’re r-reading my mind again.”
A beat of heartbreaking silence, and then Damian said quietly, “Some things never change, I guess.”
Her eyes started stinging.
Don’t do it, Sarah! Don’t forget the plan! Don’t forget how much he’s hurt you!
Damian slowly reached down to take her glasses off.
The tears rushed down.
“This one,” he said, “I’m hoping will change. I don’t want to make you cry anymore.”
The tears fell faster.
And then she could no longer help it, and she was throwing herself in his arms. “I miss you, too…big brother.”
Damian had a limousine waiting for them, and she forced herself to act casual as the billionaire joined her in the backseat. In the past, she usually had to badger him to sit next to her, so having him do so right away was more than a little disconcerting. It also put Sarah on her guard, and her unease only grew when Damian told her they’d have lunch first before joining Naomi and Josiah.
“You must be hungry after the flight.”
“I’ve already booked a table at Le Petit Prince, and I’ll be meeting with my assistant there.”
Sarah breathed a sigh of relief. This was just his usual efficiency at work, apparently, and she settled back against her seat, no longer as bothered.
“I hope you don’t mind?”
“It’s fine,” she assured him. “Let Petit Prince’s my favorite, after all.”
Damian blinked. “Is it?”
She threw her shoulder bag at him, but he caught this handedly, and the billionaire was smirking when he handed it back to her.
“So did you remember or not?” she asked in a mock growl.
“I remember everything about you,” Damian said silkily. “Happy now?”
“It’s nothing to be happy about,” she retorted, “since I remember everything about you, too.” She flashed him a smile. “We’re siblings, after all.” She saw the billionaire’s lips tighten but told herself it was just his dog-in-the-manger personality asserting itself. Over the years, she had done her best to analyze his attitude with painstaking objectivity, and her eventual conclusion was that Damian was just like all other big boys with their toys. He only remembered to want her either because of nostalgia…or when another big boy (Colton being a good example) appeared to want what was his.
The rest of the ride elapsed in silence, with Sarah doing her best to ignore the way Damian kept staring at her. Had she gained weight? Did she look different? Less attractive?
Her thoughts ran to all sorts of directions, but all of them completely missed the mark since what the billionaire was busy grimly evaluating was her words and actions.
In the past, Sarah’s face would’ve glowed like sunshine if he told her they’d be eating out, and she’d act as if she had won the lottery if she subsequently learned it would be only the two of them. This time, however, the thought of being alone with him appeared to make her skin crawl, and he had been forced to throw his pride away and offer up a stupid excuse just to keep her from leaving.
More unwanted changes became evident when they arrived at the restaurant, with Damian doing his best not to feel antagonistic at the way Sarah was giving everyone hugs while saying ‘I missed you guys’ over and over. She certainly hadn’t been as warm and enthusiastic with him earlier.
“Welcome back, Mr. Fox, Ms. Clarke.”
In response to the dignified greeting from the restaurant’s silver-haired manager, Sarah, being her usual impish self, overrode all rules of formality by blowing the older man a kiss. “Thanks, Brucie!”
“It’s been so long since we’ve last seen you together,” April, the restaurant’s assistant manager, remarked. “I’m glad to see you two have finally worked things out.” And since the sexual tension between the two was pretty much palpable, April flashed them a mischievous smile, asking, “Are wedding bells imminent?”
Sarah didn’t even miss a beat, saying with a laugh, “Unfortunately, no. We’re not back that way.” She tossed a wry look at the billionaire over her shoulder, adding, “My dear big brother was very patient with me.” Turning back to April, she explained, “He rightfully waited for me to grow out of my infatuation, which I eventually did.”
How very juicy, April thought, and how very inaccurate, too, considering the way Sarah’s dear big brother had started sporting a granite-hard expression at the younger woman’s words. “Does that mean you’ve started dating other guys—-”