“Ava,” he calls as he comes over next to me. “It’s not like that.”
I ignore him as he follows me. I grab a plate and decide I’m going to put some food on top of my feelings so I can make them be quiet. I start grabbing things and piling my plate up while he talks beside me.
“That’s not why I asked,” he says in a low voice, and I glance over at him and raise an eyebrow. “Okay, so I do need a date, but that’s not why I’m asking you.”
“You don’t owe me an explanation,” I say as I get to the end of the buffet and grab a drink. “You don’t owe me anything.” I raise my chin in challenge and I see there’s frustration and anger in him brewing below the surface.
“I’m not good at this. I went about it all wrong. Let me make it up to you.” He says his words smoothly, like warm butter.
For a second I think about just giving in to him, but I don’t want to be played for a fool. “We’ve got to get back to work. I don’t think this is the time or place for…for…” I try to think about what to call this and just huff. “Whatever you’re doing.”
I begin to march away from him, feeling pretty damn high and mighty. Until I hear him from behind me.
“That’s not a no!” he calls out right as I reach the table and Rebecca tells us she’s ready to call in the other applicants.
I’m a complete fucking idiot.
I sit back in my seat and keep my eyes on Ava as they look over the models and ask them questions. I have no desire to listen to the applicants, but hearing Ava talk is like music to my ears.
Could I have been any more of an asshole to her? She probably thinks I’m some rich douchebag who always gets what he wants. If I’m honest, she’s not really wrong, I just don’t want her to see me like that. The reason people think I’m an asshole is because I like things the way I like them. I’ve made my money doing it my way and that’s the best way to do it. When people question me on it, I tend to get angry.
But the second Ava walked in the room I knew I’d do whatever it took to get her to go out with me. And she might be playing hard to get, but she can’t be in denial about the attraction between us. It’s like I’m being pulled to her by some invisible magnet and I’m not about to fight it. I’ve never had a woman turn my head the way she has. And a roomful of models don’t compare to her beauty.
“Okay, so that’s it,” Rebecca says, leaning back in her chair. She lets out a disappointed sigh and shakes her head. “I don’t think any of those will work.”
“I agree. None of them had the right look or personality,” Ava says disappointedly. “I wish you could have found someone who loves this brand as much as we do.”
“I think you’re both blind,” I blurt out. Apparently, my attraction to Ava has made me lose my cool.
“What are you talking about?” Rebecca says as her eyes narrow. “You didn’t like any of them either. Hell, you didn’t even bother looking at them.”
She’s right. I had my eyes on Ava the whole time.
“I’m saying that you haven’t been looking at the perfect model who’s right in front of your face.” I glance at Ava, who turns around and looks behind her. I can feel my lips pull into a smile. “Ava should be the star of the new campaign. The lingerie is designed for her curves.”
This time I allow my eyes to trail down her body and linger on the places where her dress hugs her tight. I make a show of appreciating every inch of her and let her see me do it.
“Her body was made for it.” I run my tongue along my teeth. “She’s the one.”
My eyes lock with hers and I see fear. But I also see need. She’s a woman who hasn’t had a man yet. She may have let a boy who didn’t know what he was doing have the privilege of touching her. But she’s never had a man do things to her that made her see god. And I’m the cocky bastard who’s going to give it to her.
“Oh my god, Lucas, you’re a genius!” Rebecca squeals and claps her hands together. “God, why didn’t I think of this before? Ava, you have to do it!” Rebecca is practically jumping out of her skin with excitement.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down, Rebecca. I’m not going to model the lingerie.”
“Why wouldn’t you? Don’t you like what I’ve created?”