“What are you thinking?” he asks, setting my hand back down on the table and pouring me a glass of what looks like very expensive red wine.
“How much I want you,” I blurt out. He looks surprised at my bluntness, then smiles at me over the rim of his glass.
“I think you’ve probably noticed by now Rose, that the feeling is very much mutual.”
The waiter comes back over and takes our order. I don’t know what half of the things on the menu are so I go for a chicken and rice dish, figuring that I can hardly go wrong with that. When it arrives, I pick at it, even though I was starving just an hour ago. Sebastian’s presence makes my tummy flutter with a hunger for so much more than food that there is little room for anything else.
“So, how are your writing ambitions going?” he asks, and I nearly choke on my rice.
“Um, fine, I guess,” I murmur, feeling my cheeks flame. I’m by nature an honest person, so this continued deception isn’t sitting well with me at all. Hurriedly I change the subject.
“How about you, what made you get into the tech field?” Especially when you look more like a bodybuilder or model, I think. Although I suppose neither of those options would pay as well.
“Lifelong interest…and the money,” he admits. “Though I never expected the exponential growth.”
“I heard you went from a millionaire to a billionaire in under eighteen months,” I say and then wince. That was too much of a personal comment for a date, too much like something a journalist would say. He doesn’t seem to mind though.
“That’s right. It was a combination of hard work, a good business head and moving into the right industry at the right time. And I’m a bit of a workaholic I admit, although lately…” he trails off, looking almost wistful.
“Go on,” I prompt him.
“Just lately, I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t more to life,” he admits, and looks at me with such an intense and oddly vulnerable expression that I feel a rush of emotion as our gazes hold.
I’m really falling for him.
I am so screwed.
“Is being a billionaire CEO not making you happy?” I quip lightly, trying to detract from the tumult of emotion that I’m feeling.
“Well, it doesn’t suck,” he laughs. “But honestly? It’s starting to get lonely.”
“You must have people – women especially – falling all over you,” I protest. He smiles wryly.
“Not so much now. I prefer to keep to myself. There are always hangers on when you’re rich and successful.”
“And handsome,” I point out.
“And handsome,” he grins without an ounce of false modesty. “But yes finding genuine, loyal people is tough…as is finding the right woman.”
Is he saying I’m the right one?
The way he looks at me I feel both completely euphoric and yet terrible at the same time. All he wants is loyalty, and I’m lying to him.
Yet I know, with a rush of certainty, that even if he is about to tell me the most scandalous thing ever, there is no way now that I would ever betray him. It’s crazy, and I hardly know him, but I’m ready to throw my job out the window rather than dish the dirt on him…not that there seems to be anything to dish. I was expecting a sleazy businessman – a Mike – and instead, I’ve met a man I don’t just desire but also respect. Of course, this could all be a front to get me into bed but I don’t think so. I have pretty good instincts, and they’re telling me I can trust him.
And I want him to know that he can trust me, even though if he were to find out what I really am, he would probably throw me out of this restaurant on my ass.
I don’t know what to say, so I don’t say anything, but it seems to encourage him to open up, which I gather he does very rarely. I feel honored, and honestly, Adrian and the paper feel like they’re part of another life…all that exists for me right now is this moment with Sebastian.
“Believe it or not, I didn’t grow up rich,” he confides.
“Oh? I sort of imagined you going to a fancy school and the like,” I admit. Sebastian laughs as though that’s the funniest thing he’s ever heard.
“No, definitely not. I grew up very ordinarily, we weren’t poor exactly, but we never had any extras. My mom worked all hours.”
“Was your father not around?”
“He passed away, he was in the Army,” he says, and although he betrays no emotion my heart breaks for him. For him to have come from such humble beginnings to where he is now is nothing short of extraordinary.
It would also make a brilliant story, but I don’t care about that anymore. I care about him.