Page 57 of Soaring on Love

Shit. He turned to see India standing behind him. The form-fitting, low-cut dress she wore should have done something to him, but it didn’t. Yeah, Tressa had ruined him. And he was okay with that.

Roth’s spontaneous decision to invite India to his cabin had been a result of desperation. That night—the night of Tressa’s engagement party—he’d needed something to take his mind off the fact that Tressa would never be his. He recalled his foolish words to India. If I text you the address to my cabin, would you show up? Her answer had been a sultry, “I’ll be waiting.” Inwardly, he chastised himself for having been so damn brainless.

“She’s beautiful,” India said. “Is it serious?”

He nodded. “Yeah, it is.”

India’s face lit into a bright smile. “Congratulations.” She draped her arms around his neck. “I’m happy for you.”

When her glittered lips pressed against the side of his neck, he snatched away and held her at arm’s length. “No.”

India smirked. “I’m just making sure.” She winked and sashayed from the room.

Grabbing up a hand towel, Roth scrubbed at the side of his neck, making sure there was no remnant of India’s lipstick remaining. Satisfied with the results, he left the room to join Tressa. As irrelevant as it was, he should probably mention his past with India. He hadn’t before because the past was the past, right? But now, he didn’t want to feel as if he were keeping anything from Tressa.

Before Roth could escape from the back, Gayle stopped him in the hallway.

Gayle bit at the corner of her lip as if she dreaded whatever she needed to say. “I may have got you in hot water. I’m sorry.”

His brows bunched. “Hot water with whom?”

“Tressa,” she said hesitantly. “I was chatting with her in the bathroom and may have mentioned India.” She rested her hands on either side of her face. “I’m sorry, Roth. It never dawned on me that she didn’t know about the two of you.”

“Thank you for letting me know, Gayle.”

She apologized again, then hurried off.

Roth could read Tressa well enough to know what she’d learned about him and India bothered her, because this was not the jovial woman he’d walked away from several minutes ago. Easing down beside her on the leather sofa, he captured her hand and kissed the inside of her wrist. “What’s wrong?” he asked, fishing to see if she’d tell him about her conversation with Gayle.

“Nothing.”

“Dance with me, beautiful.”

“Roth, I don’t really feel—”

“Please.” He kissed her wrist several more times. “Pretty please.”

Tressa sighed. “One song.”

If she was only giving him one song, he’d better make it a good one. On the way to the dance floor, he whispered to Ernest—one of the guys on stage. The man gave him a nod.

“What did you say to him?” Tressa asked.

Enveloping her in his arms, he flashed a half smile. “I told him I needed a special song for a very special woman. I dedicate this song to you.”

A moment later the band performed John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman’s “My One and Only Love.”

They swayed to the soothing melody. When Ernest’s regal baritone voice poured through the room, Tressa relaxed in his arms. Roth had to give it to Ernest; he could melt ice when he crooned. The man could sing his ass off, really sing. Not any of this new age stuff you could barely decipher from shrieking.

Roth and Tressa never broke eye contact.

While he’d been lost in her dancing brown eyes plenty of times before, this time was different. He was swimming in her soul and experiencing all the effects of being there. Giving her the opportunity to come clean with him, he said, “You want to tell me what’s going on?”

“Maybe you should tell me, Roth. I know about you and India. What I don’t know is why I had to hear it from someone else. It feels like you’re trying to hide something.”

“Tressa…” he said coolly, “India and I happened a long time ago. I’m not trying to hide anything from you. I honestly didn’t think my past—which is exactly what it is, the past—with her was all that relevant. Any interaction we have is strictly, strictly,” he repeated, “business.” Except for the part where he’d invited her to his cabin in a moment of despair. But he had sense enough to keep that to himself.

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