“It is,” he lied, annoyed that she didn’t seem more impressed. People were usually awed by this. But as Ruby yawned, he noticed dark circles under her eyes. “Don’t worry,” he said roughly. “There’s more.”
He led her to the huge formal dining room, with its white marble fireplace and black-and-white-checkered floor. At the center of the room, covered by an elaborate antique vase filled with fresh flowers, was a long oak table, big enough to seat eighteen.
She frowned at it. “You eat your cereal in here?”
“Come on,” he said irritably.
Next, he led her down the hall to the huge, commercial-grade kitchen with white walls and high-end appliances. Sunlight shone through the back window, where they had their own garden, rare for the Upper East Side. He smiled. “Mrs. Ford raises fresh herbs and vegetables, along with flowers. She uses them in her cooking.”
“Does she? How clever. I can’t even imagine. I told you I’m not much of a cook. Pasta from a box.”
“And I’m sandwiches.” He grinned. “Fine pair we make.”
“Pasta is harder,” she said archly. “You have to boil water. So I’m a better cook than you.”
Ares took a step toward her in the white, sunlit kitchen.
“I don’t know,” he said huskily, looking down at her. “You seemed to think my sandwich was pretty spectacular.”
He heard her soft intake of breath. Her cheeks went pink as she turned away, and he knew that she, too, was remembering their night together.
She cleared her throat. “Um…so what else?”
Ares hid a smile. Taking her hand, he led her up the sweeping staircase to the second floor, which held the library, the billiards room, his home office and a solarium, fitted with an entire wall of glass overlooking the garden. But she seemed more puzzled than awed as she looked around. “Did you run out of money before you could buy furniture?”
“What do you mean?”
“The rooms are all so empty.”
Ares looked around the solarium, with its white tile floor and single hard-backed white loveseat edged in chrome. The sliding glass doors led out to a back balcony with two black chairs and a black container that held ghostly white flowers.
“It’s a look,” he said stiffly.
Her expression was skeptical. “A look?”
“Created to my express specifications by the best designer in New York. Spartan and modern, with clean lines and plenty of space. Space is what I care about.”
She rolled her eyes. “Space just means there’s nothing there. How big is this place, anyway?”
“Six stories plus a basement and roof terrace. Ten bedrooms, twelve bathrooms.”
Her eyes were huge. “All just for you?”
“Mrs. Ford lives on the fourth floor. Three other staff members also work here full-time, but live out.”
She looked around the solarium. “It’s like a hotel. A really elegant, really empty hotel.”
He’d never seen any woman so unenthused by his home, which was generally considered to be a Park Avenue showplace. He said grumpily, “You haven’t seen the home theater and wine cellar. The exercise room has weights and a yoga room, and there’s a rooftop terrace with an arboretum and pool—”
“Please,” she begged. “Just show me to my room. It was a long night. I’d like nothing more than a nap and maybe a bath.”
Looking at Ruby, he paused, looking at the dark smudges beneath her beautiful brown eyes. Her cheeks were pale. “Didn’t you sleep well on the plane?”
“As you wish,” he said reluctantly. He took her to the elevator. She made no comment on it. Pressing the button for the sixth floor, he led her down the hall, and pushed open the first door to the left, revealing an enormous bedroom that was empty except for a large black four-poster bed.
“This is mine,” he said.
She drew back indignantly. “You can’t think—”
“I don’t,” he cut her off. At least, he added silently, not yet. “I just wanted you to know where I’ll be. You’re next door.” He led her down the hall. “This is yours.”