“You didn’t send the flower?” Discomfort replaced intrigue.
“No, London, I didn’t. Where was it delivered?”
“The hotel’s front desk. I called the bungalow, but you’d checked out already.”
“You must have made quite an impression on another hotel guest.”
“No. I stayed in one of my family’s private guesthouses. Was only in the hotel a couple times and tried to stay incognito. One guy recognized me, though. We took a selfie. Oh, well. I’ll call the hotel later and see what information I can get from them. Right now—” the flirty tone returned “—I’m trying to see what I can get from you.”
“You are a very tempting morsel, London. Even all these years later, I remember those nights we shared. But I’m no longer that promiscuous, impulsive man you met in London, the one for whom having sex was as common as eating lunch, and indulged in almost as often. These days, for me, it’s not so much about having sex as it is about making love.”
“So who is she?”
“The lucky woman who’s getting that love. And don’t tell me you’re celibate, because there is no way I’d believe you.”
“No, I’m not celibate. But I’m also no longer into casual sex. I don’t judge those who are—each to his own. But as I told you yesterday, my love affair has been with the secret you now know about… OTB Her. In one way or another, that’s how I’ve been spending my nights and weekends. My partners ordered me to Temecula for vacation. They were right. I was stressed the hell out. But now I know the real reason I ended up there. It was so I could run into you.”
“So we could do business together. This is all about business, nothing more?”
“Right now, that’s all I’m about, period. Plus, I’m not sure I could keep it casual with you. And I’m equally unclear if I could handle a relationship right now.”
“Sounds like there’s a story there. You know about me and Max. It’s only fair I get under your sheets, one way or another.”
“You’re right. There’s a story. Maybe one day. Right now, though, the story I’m trying to do with you is one that will rock the runways this fashion season and then rock the world. Don’t make a decision right now. Just take a meeting with us. We’ll handle everything. Once you see what we’ve designed for the ladies, you’ll be in. Guaranteed.”
“You’re that sure of yourself, huh?”
“No, but it sounded good.”
“Ha! Indeed. Let me think about it and get back to you.”
“When? I don’t mean to rush you, but New York Fashion Week is next month.”
“I won’t take long.”
“Thank you, London. I look forward to seeing you later this week.”
“Stop sounding so sexy before I demand a rider to any contract I sign with OTB…you.”
* * *
London hung up and went to the sitting room of the west-wing suite in her parents’ Paradise Cove estate. It was where her older sister, Teresa, had lived before marrying Atka, her Alaskan love. She walked around the room, idly picked up porcelain and crystal knickknacks, and replayed Ace’s offer in her head. Truth of the matter was, she didn’t need to think about it. She’d already accepted it mentally before the words had fully left his mouth. No need for him to know that, though. Whenever possible, it was always best to let a man sweat. In truth, that’s what she really wanted—Ace’s sheen-covered body hovering over her own. He was sexy and by far the best lover she’d ever had. But even that wasn’t his main attraction. What made him most irresistible was that he’d turned her down. For London, it was a first. And a challenge. Drakes lived for challenges. And they didn’t like the word no.
Her phone chirped, indicating a message. London returned to her bedroom, hoping it was Ace having changed his mind about their hooking up. But it was her agent, with yet another booking opportunity. She’d told the agency she was sitting out this fashion season. Now that she was contemplating walking for OTB, her agent had decided to field other calls. The phone hadn’t stopped ringing. Instead of calling Incomparable, London rang Quinn. That Ace hadn’t sent the flower bothered her more than she wanted to admit. She got voice mail, left a message and then went downstairs.