Page 8 of Closer

There’s a trace of jealousy in his tone, and I stop midstep, turning to face Lucas. How the heck does he know where I’m going? Before I know what’s happening, his hand goes to my elbow and he moves me forward.

“Close your mouth or I’ll put it to use,” he says close to my ear.

I’m so shocked for a moment I move with him, and it takes me a moment before I try to jerk my arm free. But he’s got a firm grip. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s completely unbreakable.

“You’re underhanded,” I hiss.

I’m more annoyed with myself because right now I should not be feeling all this attraction pumping through me. I should be pissed. I don’t want to be like one of those models who would have lain naked on the table for him today.

“If it means getting what I want? Yes. How do you think I’ve gotten where I am?”

I make a huffing noise because I can’t think of a response. All I keep thinking about is the hold he has on my elbow. How does a businessman have rough hands, and why do I keep wondering what those rough hands would feel like as they glide along my body?

“Though I haven’t gotten much done today. You’ve proven to be very…” He pauses, as if he’s reluctant to admit it. “Distracting,” he finally finishes, and I see his jaw tighten.

“That seems far-fetched. You’ve been quite busy, as somehow in the short time since you left the photo shoot, you found out that I had plans tonight. And with whom.” I didn’t even put it in my calendar because it’s a weekly event. There’s no need.

“If you have enough money you can find out anything you like as fast as you like.”

“You know, you sound like a jerk,” I throw back at him. “If you are as underhanded as you claim, wouldn’t you try to be smoother? Aren’t you supposed to be charming?”

“You’re throwing me off. Which I find refreshing.”

I let his words bounce around in my head, reminding me that I’m more of a challenge to him. Once he gets what he wants he’ll be bored and off to the next. While I’ll be left brokenhearted and still have to see him because I work for his sister at a company he practically owns. Crap, that makes him my boss, doesn’t it?

“Avey!” Benny shouts when he sees me.

His eyes go to Lucas and then widen in surprise. He knows about my crush, which makes this a little embarrassing. Benny goes to pull me into a hug, but Lucas stops him. He steps in front of me and holds out his hand.

“Lucas Caldwell,” he tells Benny, his face unreadable.

Benny laughs. “Oh, I know who you are. Seems we have a lot to catch up on this week, Avey.” He takes Lucas’s hand. “Call my Ben. Everyone does. Except my girl.” He’s smiling so big, not even caring that Lucas isn’t letting me near him. In fact, I think my best friend is finding it funny.

“Your girl? Well, Ben, I thought instead of the coffee shop we could go next door to Per Se.”

“I think I like him already if he can get us in there.” Benny smiles even wider, showing off one of his dimples that always charm everyone.

“One of the perks of being an investor,” Lucas says like it’s no big deal he’s part owner of one of the most popular restaurants in the city. It’s impossible to get into, but I hear it has the best food. My mouth is already watering thinking about it.

“We don’t like him,” I tell Benny, and he throws his head back and laughs.

“I’ll try harder to keep that in mind.”

Lucas guides us across the street and we step into the restaurant. The cute hostess behind the desk perks up at the sight of Lucas, which is shocking because most of the time women fall all over Benny. He’s fit and stylish and always well put together. Too bad for them he’s into men. It just goes to show how much attention Lucas gets from the opposite sex.

“Three. A back booth.” I peek up at Lucas, who doesn’t even look at the hostess. He’s looking down at me.

“Of course,” she says, picking up menus as she purses her lips. She doesn’t like being dismissed.

“What do you think of the place?” Lucas asks against my ear, his warm breath tickling me.

I glance around, taking in the restaurant. “It’s breathtaking. I’m not sure I’m dressed up enough to be in here,” I confess.

“How could something so breathtaking not belong?” he asks as he leads me to our table. I scoot closer to him as we weave around the tables, and I hate how much I love the way he feels against me.

“There’s the charm I’ve been wondering about. I knew you could do it.”