“She probably wanted to sweeten the deal,” Dylan offered, with a grin. He leaned back against the rail, bracing his hands on either side as the doors slid shut. “With that kind of money on the table, you’ll have a fighting chance at getting a decent woman to marry you.”
“Your faith in me is inspiring.”
“I’m just sayin’…”
“That I’m a loser?”
The elevator accelerated upward.
Dylan happily elaborated. “That there are certain things about your personality that might put women off.”
“You’re grumpy, stubborn and demanding. You want to drink scotch in the middle of the day, and your ass isn’t what it used to be.”
“My ass is none of your business.” Zach might be approaching thirty-five, but he worked out four times a week, and he could still do ten miles in under an hour.
“What about you?” he challenged.
“What about me?” Dylan asked.
“We’re the same age, so your ass is in as much danger as mine. But I don’t see you in a hurry to settle into a relationship.”
“I’m a pilot.” Dylan grinned again. “Pilots are sexy. We can be old and gray, and we’ll still get the girls.”
“Hey, I’m a multimillionaire,” Zach defended.
The elevator came smoothly to a halt, and the doors slid open to the small glass foyer of the helipad. One of Dylan’s distinctive yellow-and-black Astral Air choppers sat waiting on the rooftop. A pilot by training, Dylan had built Astral Air from a niche division of his family’s corporation to one of the biggest flight service companies in America.
Dylan gave a mock salute to a uniformed technician as he and Zach jogged to the chopper and climbed inside.
He checked a row of switches and plugged in the headset. “You want me to drop you at the office?”
“What are your plans?” asked Zach. He wasn’t in a hurry to be alone with his own frustrations. He had a lot of thinking to do, but first he wanted to sleep on it, start fresh, maybe forget that he’d screwed up so badly with Kaitlin.
“I’m going up to the island,” said Dylan. “Aunt Ginny’s been asking about me, and I promised I’d drop in.”
“Mind if I tag along?”
Dylan shot him a look of surprise. Aunt Ginny could most charitably be described as eccentric. Her memory was fading, and for some reason she’d decided Zach was a reprobate. She also liked to torture the family’s Stradivarius violin and read her own poetry aloud.
“She has two new Pekingese,” Dylan warned.
Zach didn’t care. The island had always been a retreat for him. He needed to clear his head and then come up with a contingency plan.
“I hope your dad still stocks the thirty-year-old Glenlivet,” he told Dylan.
“I think we can count on that.” Dylan started the engine, and the chopper’s rotor blades whined to life.
A week later, Kaitlin met her best friend, law professor Lindsay Rubin, in the park behind Seamount College in midtown. The cherry trees were in full bloom, scenting the air, their petals drifting to the walkway as the two women headed toward the lily pad–covered duck pond. It was lunchtime on a Wednesday, and the benches were filled with students from the college, along with businesspeople from the surrounding streets. Moms and preschool kids picnicked on blankets that dotted the lush grass.
“I finished reviewing your papers,” Lindsay said, swiping her shoulder-length blond hair over the shoulders of her classic navy blazer while they strolled their way down the concrete path.
Kaitlin and Lindsay’s friendship went back to their freshman year at college. Social Services had finally stepped out of Kaitlin’s life, and Lindsay had left her family in Chicago. On the same floor of the college dorms, they’d formed an instant bond.
They’d stayed close friends ever since, so Lindsay knew that Zach had ruined Kaitlin’s career, and she applauded Kaitlin’s desire for payback.
“Am I safe to sign?” asked Kaitlin. The sunshine was warm against her bare legs and twinkled brightly where it reflected off the rippling pond. “And how soon do I have to let him off the hook?”
Lindsay grinned in obvious delight. She pressed the manila envelope against Kaitlin’s chest, and Kaitlin automatically snagged it.
“Oh, it’s better than that,” she said.
“Better than what?” Kaitlin was puzzled
Lindsay chuckled deep in her chest. “I mean, you can name your own ticket.”
“My ticket to what?”
Why was Lindsay talking in riddles?