“Well, we can’t. Doing business together is complicated enough without adding sexual tension, romantic assumptions and possible misunderstandings.”
“The only sexual tension that will happen is if you try and keep that delicious dick away from me.” She opened the door. “I don’t want to argue, and you’ve got to go.” She gave him a quick kiss while gently pushing him out the door. “You said one, right?” Ace nodded. “I won’t be late.”
He reached his car door and opened it. “I’m going to make sure of that. A car will be by for you at twelve thirty.”
London closed the door and leaned against it. Not do it again? Was he crazy? Over the next few weeks they’d be working together closely. London planned not only to do it again, but as often as possible.
“I like everything you’ve made. All of this! It’s not easy to impress in this business, but… Wow.”
Ace, London, Lucien and Tyler stood in the middle of a cluttered warehouse showroom. Clothes in various stages of completion hung on mannequins and hangers, and lay draped across furniture. At Ace’s request, Lucien had brought out four of the almost forty looks that would be presented during the four-week period when major label shows were held.
London could feel Ace’s eyes following her as she eyed each piece and ran a casual hand over the material or design accent. She said nothing but loved everything designed for the fall collection, including a cropped faux fur–trimmed sweater and cigarette pant look, an oversize hoodie-inspired top paired with leggings and thigh-high boots, and a wide-legged jumpsuit accented with the same cranberry-colored faux fur as the sweater. All were done in tan silks, suedes and cashmere. But it was the show’s trench-inspired closeout piece that dropped London’s jaw. The sketch she’d seen earlier didn’t compare to the finished design. The coat-dress material was a shiny silk charmeuse, the exact color of London’s skin. She looked from the dress Lucien held to the design beside it, noted the wide alligator belt, cranberry fur accents and exaggerated skirt.
“Now I understand the stilts.”
“We’ve got a guy working on them, and they’re actually kind of nice,” Ace replied. “Almost like shoes. Might start a trend. Let’s get you in some of this, see if we can make the magic happen.”
Ace was nervous. He told himself it was ridiculous, that he’d done dozens of fittings and had himself been fitted thousands of times. That he’d seen more naked women than most small-town doctors. That if you’d seen one naked model, you’d seen them all. He told himself all that. And knew it was BS. After last night with London and their heated, prolonged, seductive goodbye, he knew he’d be lucky to hear her voice let alone see her face without his flagpole rising.
* * *
Turned out the nervousness was warranted. When London shrugged out of her coat, peeled off her top and exposed the nipples he’d suckled half the night and part of the morning, Ace was not prepared. She shimmied out of her pants. Cotton panties had never looked sexier. His heart thudded. His groin clutched. He wanted to wrap her in his jacket and shield her breasts from a workroom filled with some of the gayest guys in San Francisco. Ace could have kicked himself. He knew how strong his feelings had been before. They seemed to have gotten worse. Getting physical with London? Bad choice, brother. Very bad choice.
But her body in his clothes? Perfect.
Lucien agreed. “You look delicious! Your body is better than a mannequin. Look—” he stepped forward and clutched the material at her waist “—I need to take it up here.” He turned her around, adjusted the material covering her butt. “And maybe take out a little from each seam. A big derriere, tiny waist and so beautiful! Just looking at you and I almost turn straight!”
“All right, enough flirting, Lucien. But he’s right. I really liked this on the hanger. But on you, it definitely goes to another level.” He looked around for one of a half dozen assistants helping Lucien with the collection. “Hey, can one of you guys bring a crate over? Let’s get her in the trench,” Ace said to Lucien as he turned back around. A young man brought over a crate. Ace helped London into the dress. Wanting to try a range of accessories Lucien bypassed the alligator belt on the sketch and brought back a wide gold belt from the accessory wall. He cinched it tightly, make London’s waist appear even more concave. Ace propped up the exaggerated collar, adjusted the fabric so that the V opening reached her navel.