“Oh, wow.” Her eyes go to my left hand.
“No, not married,” I say. “I wouldn’t be here with you if I were. I’m loyal like that,” I add with a cock of my head.
“Yes, of course.” She holds her own bare finger up and wiggles it. “Single, too.”
I arch a brow. “Daddy hasn’t managed to marry you off to one of his business associates yet?”
She glares at me, but hey, it’s a legit question. After her father accused me of running a prostitution ring, she started going out with that douchebag Jackson Freeman, a man with the right pedigree and someone her daddy handpicked, of course.
“That’s why I’m here,” she says so quietly I have to strain to hear it.
What is she talking about? “You’re saying you’re here to get married?” I ask. I mean the room was full of wealthy men, all of whom her daddy would approve I’m sure. Well, with the exception of me. I might be a self-made millionaire with two extremely successful online businesses, despite the Harding family sabotage, but no matter what, in his eyes I’ll always be that boy from the wrong side of the tracks.
“When I marry it will be for love,” she states, her voice steady, but the turbulence in her eyes is a sure sign she’s fighting some internal war.
“Of course it will.” Leaving the matter for the time being, I tug off my tie and toss it aside. Her gaze drops as I shrug out of my jacket and toss it over my shoulder. “I’ve been wanting out of that all night.”
“Is it one of yours?” she asks, and waves her finger up and down the length of my dress shirt and pants.
“This style sells at Hard Wear, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“It is and I bet it sells well. It’s perfect...you’re perfect.” Her gaze jerks to mine. “I mean you look good. In the suit.” She blinks a few times, her gaze panning the length of me a second time. Okay, obviously our attraction to one another hasn’t diminished over the years. If anything I think our absence has strengthened the pull, and seeing her tonight has lit a spark inside me that I can’t quite seem to extinguish. She lets loose a flustered sigh. “What I mean is the suit looks good. It’s a nice cut.”
“What’s going on with you, Londyn?”
Her gaze jerks back to mine and she stands a bit straighter. “Nothing, um, I didn’t mean to stare. I wasn’t looking at your body or anything like that. I have no desire to sleep with you. I was just admiring...wait, maybe admiring isn’t the right word. None of this is coming out right.” She takes a breath, lets it out slowly and tries again. “I was noticing the excellent fit and I like the way your pants hug your...” A garbled sound crawls out of her throat, a half laugh, half snort. “I don’t mean hug—”
“Londyn,” I say, effectively cutting off her ramble. “When I asked what was going on, I meant are you working in fashion.” She’s not, and as much as I hate to admit it, I have kept tabs on her. “It’s always been your dream and you were good at it.”
“I...um... I’m sort of in between jobs. I’ve been doing charitable work with my mother. So, Peyton, she’s doing well?”
Clearly, I’ve hit a sore spot.
Giving her a reprieve, I say, “Come on, I’ll show you to your room.” I pick up her suitcase and she follows me up the stairs. “This one has a nice view of the ocean. Peyton loves this room,” I say, and she steps in, runs her fingers over the soft bedding.
“It’s very pretty.”
“I’m glad you like it.” I set her luggage on the stool, as she sits and bounces on the bed. My throat tightens, and I try not to look at her breasts. “Comfortable enough for you?”
“Yeah, not that I’ll sleep.”
I soften. “Still hav
e a hard time?”
She points to her head. “I can never shut this down.”
“How about a glass of wine and something to eat. That might help.”
Her grateful smile screws me over. “That sounds perfect. I forgot to eat earlier.” She squeezes her hands together, an anxious gesture of hers I’m familiar with. “I was so ner...”
Her words trail off, but I push. “You were what?” I ask as she follows me back out into the hall. We head downstairs, and I guide her into the kitchen and pull out a stool at the island.
She sits. “I was so busy getting ready for the auction, I forgot,” she says, but she’s forgetting something else. This is a girl who shared all her hopes and dreams with me—only to steal mine—but I know what makes her tick, at least I thought I did. But what she’s not saying is that she was nervous about tonight because this isn’t something she usually does. Why was Londyn really up on that stage?
“You do this often, then?” I ask, deciding to call her out on it as I open the fridge. I pull out a bottle of white wine and hold it up to her. She nods and I uncork it.
“Oh, yes,” she says, her voice light and breezy as she waves her hand. “It’s quite the thrill.”