I knew it was none of my business. Sebastian's secrets were his own, and he didn't owe me any explanations. But nonetheless, I couldn't help but wonder; what on earth had I gotten myself into?


As the evening drew closer, I began to grow excited. As bizarre as the whole situation was, it had been a long time since I'd been on a date, and never with a man as gorgeous as Sebastian.

It wasn't until I finished showering and went to dress that I realised how unprepared I was for the occasion. I'm not normally the sort of girl who spends half the night getting ready, but the shimmering fabrics and exotic cuts on display at his party had left me feeling strangely self-conscious. Suddenly, nothing I owned seemed even remotely nice enough. I had plenty of jackets, blouses and knee length skirts, and a few cocktail dresses for special occasions, but expensive meals with mysterious millionaires were definitely out of my comfort zone.

Half an hour and more than a handful of failed outfits later, I gave up and headed to the lounge to wait. I was wearing a simple black pencil skirt with a white V-neck top I'd dug from some long forgotten corner of my wardrobe. I assumed it was going to be wildly inappropriate for whatever he had planned, but if he didn't like it, that was his problem. I wasn't about to rush out and go shopping for that perfect something just to please him.

At seven thirty sharp, my doorbell rang.

"I'll be right out," I called.

He was waiting for me on the landing outside, leaning against the wall and gazing out into the street. Despite only seeing him yesterday, somehow I seemed to have forgotten how gorgeous he was. Tonight he wore his dark dinner jacket open at the front, his black shirt unbuttoned at the top to reveal just a hint of the olive skin and cut chest beneath.

Seeing him standing there looking so effortlessly masculine was like having a bucket of water poured over my head. I froze in place, my tongue involuntarily grazing my lips as I drank in the sight of him. The casual look suited him. It made him look more human. A godlike human, but still.

He smiled when he noticed me, those blazing eyes caressing my body like a soft wind, sending a tingle up my spine.

"You look lovely," he said.

I gave a little spin. "Thank you. It's not Prada, but it does the job."

He laughed. "What makes you think I want Prada? You make too many assumptions, Sophia."

"So if I told you this outfit was thirty bucks at Myer, you wouldn't send me back to change?"

"No. I'd say that most girls would kill to look that good for thirty dollars."

"Well if it's value you're looking for, I might be able to get it down to twenty if you give me a few more minutes to change."

He let out a little growl. "I know I said this dinner was strictly no obligations, but if you keep giving me excuses as to why you should remove your clothes, I won't be held responsible for my actions."

I blushed. I hadn't meant it that way, but once again he'd managed to turn an innocent statement into something much hotter.

Looping his arm through mine, he turned and led me down the stairs to the black limousine that was waiting by the kerb.

He nodded to the man who was standing next to the door. "This is my driver, Joe."

"Evening ma'am." Joe was a friendly looking gentleman of about sixty. He had the weathered face of a once sturdy guy who had been through a lot, and as he moved to open the door for us, I noticed that he walked with a bad limp.

"War wound," he said, following my gaze. "Took a shot clean through the knee. Shattered part of the kneecap."

"That's horrible."

He shrugged. "Maybe. I've always thought it rather Lucky myself. A foot higher and I wouldn't be here at all."

I nodded, unsure how to reply.

"Joe's been with me nearly ten years," Sebastian said.

"Has it really been that long, sir? The time has simply flown by." The older man's voice was heavy with sarcasm, but Sebastian merely grinned. Clearly there was more than professional courtesy between the two of them.

"Come on, we'll be late," Sebastian said, guiding me to the open door and ushering me through with a gentle push to the small of my back. Even that somehow felt like an incredibly sensual gesture.

"So where are we headed?" I asked, as the limo pulled out into the street.

"Well, I was lucky enough to get last minute reservations at Quay."

My eyes widened. I wasn't much for fine dining, but I knew enough to know that Quay was as fancy as they came. Now I definitely was under-dressed. "Isn't the waiting list like a month long there?"

He shrugged. "They had a cancellation."

It seemed a little unbelievable, but I didn't push. "So, how you feeling?" I asked instead. "You nervous at all?"

His lips quirked upward. "And why would I be nervous?"

"Well I imagine this is your first date in a while. You know, being the non-dating sort and all."


"So I thought you might be a little worried. It's okay, it's perfectly natural. Just be yourself, I'm not going to judge."

He looked at me for several seconds then shook his head ruefully. "You're not planning on making this easy are you?"

"I don't know what you mean." I tried to keep my face straight, but a hint of a smile crept through anyway. After feeling constantly off balance with him, it was nice to put him on the back foot for once.

We sat for a few minutes just looking out the window. He'd seemed upbeat initially, but in the silence that followed, that all leeched away. The longer we sat, the darker his expression grew.

"A penny for your thoughts?" I said eventually.

He blinked several times. "Sorry. I didn't mean to be rude. I've just got a lot on my mind."

"Trouble in venture capital paradise?"

He grimaced. "It's not a big deal. One of our projects has just had some setbacks recently. It's frustrating, that's all."

"What kind of project?"

He smiled apologetically. "I'm not really at liberty to talk about it. It's company policy not to discuss our work with other people. We deal with some sensitive stuff from time to time."

Yeah, like US Government documents. I'd been debating whether to raise any of the questions that had been running through my mind. Obviously he had secrets, and that was fine. Casual meant not having to share much of yourself if you didn't want to. But I couldn't resist trying to fish for a little more information.

"Well, whatever you guys do, you throw a mean party, I'll say that much."

"I'm glad you enjoyed yourself. Honestly those don't happen that often. A few times a year when we want to entertain prospective clients. You got lucky enough to stumble in at just the right time."

Tags: Maya Cross The Alpha Group Billionaire Romance
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