“Yeah, well, I have a feeling when I trip over this long dress, I’ll take my breath away, too,” she said as she reached the ground floor. “Did you seriously tell me to throw Versace in the trash?”
The distinctive scent of coconut and lime wafted over him.
“Not seriously.” His mouth was dry. He needed a drink. Lots of drinks. “I knew you wouldn’t hate it.”
“Don’t pat yourself on the back too hard. I’m only wearing it because the price tag is equal to the GDP of some small countries. It would be wrong to throw it away.” Sincerity oozed from her mouth. But he was onto her.
He stared her down. Even in heels, she only came up to his nose. “I still have the receipt. Pretty sure the store would take it back. Run upstairs and change. I’ll wait.”
“All right, all right.” She spit out a bunch of Spanish, and danged if it wasn’t sexy to watch her mouth form the foreign words. Then she sighed, and it was long-suffering. “It’s beautiful and fits like a dream. Because your ego isn’t big enough already, I will also admit you have an excellent eye for style. If you undress a girl as well as you dress one, your popularity with the ladies is well deserved.”
A purifying laugh burst out of him. He’d missed sparring with her this past week and the mental gymnastics required. When she engaged him brain to brain, it thoroughly turned him on.
Something was definitely wrong with him.
“Well, now. As it happens, I believe I’m pretty proficient at both. Anytime you care to form your own opinion, let me know. Ready?”
She laughed and nodded. Obviously, something was wrong with both of them, because he’d bet every last dollar that she enjoyed their heated exchanges as much as he did, though she’d likely bite off her tongue before saying so. Which would be a shame since he had a very specific use in mind for that razor-sharp tongue of his wife’s.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony at Walrich’s new facility was packed. People talked to Lucas, and he talked back, but he couldn’t for the life of him recall the conversations because he spent the evening entranced by his wife’s bare neck.
Since they were in public, he had every reason to touch her whenever the inclination hit, which happened often. The torch-red dress encased her slim body with elegance, and the sight of her very nice curves knifed him in the groin.
Sure he’d bought women clothes before, but not for a woman who lived under his roof and shared his last name. Everything felt bigger and more significant with Cia, even buying her an age-appropriate dress. Even bringing her to a social event with the strict intent of jump-starting his reputation rebuild.
Even casually resting his hand on the back of her neck as they navigated the room. The silk of her skin against his fingers bled through him with startling warmth. Startling because the response wasn’t only sexual.
And that just wasn’t possible.
“Let’s go,” he told Cia. Matthew could work potential clients, which was his strength anyway. “We’ve done enough mingling.”
“Already?” She did a double take at the expression on his face. “Okay. Where are we going for dinner?”
He swore. Dinner put a huge crimp in his intent to distance himself immediately from the smell of coconut and lime.
But if he bailed, whatever had just happened when he touched Cia would stick in his mind, nagging at him. Not cool. That fruity blend was messing with his head something fierce.
What was he thinking? He couldn’t leave the schmoozing to Matthew like he used to. Cia hadn’t balked at attending the ribbon cutting. What kind of coward let his wife do all the hard work?
The best way to handle this divorce deal, and his disturbing attraction to the woman on his arm, was obviously to remember the Lucas Wheeler Philosophy of Relationships—have a lot of sex and have a lot of fun, preferably at the same time.
This was a temporary liaison with a guaranteed outcome, and besides, he was with an inarguably beautiful woman. What other kind of response was there except sexual?
Shake it off, Wheeler.
“A place with food,” he finally said.
Cia eyed her decadently beautiful husband, who should be required by law to wear black tie every waking hour, and waited a beat for the rest of the joke. It never came.
She hadn’t seen Lucas in a week and had started to wonder exactly how mad she’d made him by the pool. Then he’d appeared and asked her pretty please to attend this boring adult prom, which she couldn’t legitimately refuse, so she hadn’t. For her trouble, he’d spent the evening on edge and not himself. “Great. Places with food are my favorite.”
Matthew Wheeler materialized in front of them before they could head for the exit.