“You are welcome.”
“Are you sure we aren’t rushing?”
Something clenched in his gut. “Are you having second thoughts?”
“No! Not at all.”
Okay, so that was good. “Have you changed your mind about walking down the aisle with a noticeable bump?”
“Then we are not rushing things, we are simply being expedient.”
“Right. Um, Art called a little bit ago.”
Was that what had prompted her uncertainty? If so, was it because old feelings for her ex had resurfaced, or was it because seeing him made her question her decision-making skills when it came to marriage? “What did he want?”
“It finally sank in what you said about us getting married.”
“He is not invited.” Forgiving his family was one thing, her ex was a bridge too far.
“He wasn’t angling for an invitation, well not entirely.”
“That man has no shame.” And even less business sense.
“And you don’t even know the main reason he called.”
But it wasn’t hard to figure out. “Let me guess. He wanted a loan?”
“Yes! How could he?”
“For a man like him? Very easily.”
Piper made a sound of disgust that transferred more than adequately over the cell phone. “I suppose so, but there was a time, and I find this really hard to accept now without considering myself an idiot, only I loved that man—or at least the man I believed him to be.”
“He has feet of clay.”
“His whole body is clay, if you ask me.”
Okay, so definitely not resurrected tender feelings. Zephyr could afford to be generous. “Do you want me to bail his company out?”
“Would you, if I did?” she asked, sounding more curious than anything.
“You didn’t even hesitate.”
“I want you to be happy.”
“Even if I wanted you to do it, giving Art a loan would just be throwing good money after bad. Most of his best designers have left the firm because of creative or financial difficulties. I suggested moving to smaller offices when I still worked at the firm, but he liked the ‘grand’ impression the space made on clients, the illusion that the firm was bigger than it was. He’s still paying rent on prime New York commercial real estate much bigger than he needs.”
“He doesn’t want to acknowledge his poor choices and the effect they’ve had on his company.”
“He never did. As for all the employees that would be out of work, I made a few phone calls. Along with learning his best designers had left Très Bon, I discovered he’s mostly been staffing with temporary interns since the year after I left. He always was more about appearances than substance.”
“So, no loan?”
“No loan,” Piper confirmed.
“I am sorry.”
“So am I, for the people who do rely on Très Bon for their livelihood and for his uncle, who is still living. Old Mr. Bellingham has to watch his company fall apart, but then he could have stepped back into the picture at any time. He gave acting control to Art, but never signed over his ownership of the company.”
“So, your ex is not an issue between us.”
“I told you he wasn’t.”
“You had feelings for him a long time after the divorce,” he reminded her.
“You’re right, but I got over him. With your help.”
He didn’t have to ask himself why that knowledge was so satisfying. “Where are we sleeping tonight?”
“My place. The movers are going to be there in the morning to pack me up.”
“I look forward to sharing the same home.” And for the first time, his penthouse apartment would be a home with her living there.
The move went smoothly and Piper was surprised at how easily her things integrated into Zephyr’s apartment. It helped that he gave her carte blanche on the décor and over what furniture stayed and what had to go.
That could have made her feel like he didn’t care how their home together took shape, but he noticed every change. And commented on it in some positive way. He’d just got through telling her how he liked the way her curtain scarves brought a splash of color to that side of the living room.
“Why are you staring at me like that?” he demanded.
His eyes narrowed and she wondered if he’d say it. She knew what was in her eyes right now: love, adoration and even a bit of hero worship.
He was so perfect for her.
“Like I am the perfect man.” Ah, he got it.
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“No one is perfect, Piper.”
“True, but then you don’t have to be perfect for me to love you. You just have to be perfect for me. And you are.”