“Well, it wasn’t a hotel employee. It was me. So calm down. Where’s the guy I met seven years ago who talked like a dork and then showed me his penis?”
“He grew up.”
“Good for you.” She could walk out the door right now, but that would feel too much like running away. So she shifted the energy and her expression with a smile. “It’s been forever since I’ve seen you. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.” She glanced suggestively at the bed. “Don’t I get a hug?”
Ace looked at the bed and back at London, who wore a formfitting maxi. He took a step, tripped on the sheet and almost bared his goods again. “In there,” he said, pointing toward the living room.
The lack of cordiality put London back in a huff. “Never mind. It’s clear I’m not welcome, so I’ll leave you alone.” She strode out of the room.
Ace was right behind her. “London, wait.”
She stopped but didn’t turn around.
“You shocked the heck out of me, okay? Give me a minute to put some clothes on.”
A slow, deliberate turn and then dark, daring eyes stared at him. “Are you sure about that?” Ace sighed. “Forget it. Jeez, I was just kidding. You act as though you’re not happy to see me.”
“I’m very glad to see you, London. I just need to put on some clothes.”
He gave her a hug and a kiss to her forehead, then he pulled away before a certain part of his anatomy betrayed him and revealed just how much.
London strolled over to the large picture window that let in a picturesque view of the Temescal Mountains. The commanding peaks reminded her of Switzerland and a cottage near her boarding school she and her friends would sneak out to when they wanted to meet up with boys. Her senior year, just after turning seventeen, she went on a trip to Paris and got discovered by Incomparable, one of the top modeling agencies in the world. A year later she met Ace and had her world rocked off its axis.
Her phone vibrated in the bag that rested against her thigh. It was a text from Diamond.
It’s brunch. You’re late.
London glanced toward the bedroom and typed a quick reply.
Busy. Can’t come. Talk later. BTW… I’m always late.
Her thumb hadn’t left the send button before she heard the padding of bare feet across the dark hardwood floor. Slipping the phone into her bag, she turned around and was met by the confident, carefree Ace that she remembered. But if he hoped to make himself less desirable by covering up with a pair of low-riding jeans and a black OTB tee, he failed. Miserably. The way London looked him up and down expressed that louder than words ever could.
“Come here, you.” He opened his arms.
London crossed the room in a walk worthy of the runway and stepped into his embrace. “I’m glad you left the jerk in the bedroom and brought out the Ace that I know.”
Her teasing smile rendered the barb harmless.
His hug was heartfelt and even though she’d spent several pleasurable minutes rubbing oil over his body, she relished the chance to touch him again. “It’s good to see you,” she said, dropping her hands to squeeze his butt, one of her favorite parts of his anatomy.
He caught her wrists and pulled her hands away. “Still the troublemaker, I see.”
“What are you doing here?” they asked each other.
“Oh, no. That’s my question.” Ace reached for her hand and led them to the couch. He sat and pulled her down with him. “Now out with it. The truth. What’s this about?”
London leaned against the comfy couch, enjoying Ace’s suspicious discomfort a bit more than she should. When his eyes turned stormy, she knew she’d toyed with him long enough.
“It’s pure coincidence,” she said with a shrug. “I came here for a funeral.”
“A funeral. At a luxury hotel.”
“I guess without explanation that does sound pretty weird. It was for my great-grandfather. He owned this land, planted the first vineyards and nurtured the idea of the full-scale winery that you see today.”
“This resort belongs to your family?”
London nodded. “My first cousins.”