My eyes floated closed for the briefest of seconds. This had to stop. I was dangerously close to soaring away on a cloud of borderline lust. I was in a nail salon of all places. I opened my eyes, desperate to grab hold of some kind of witty comeback. But anything and everything fell through my fingers with the way his dark eyes were hooked on me. I didn’t trust William as far as I could throw him, and seeing as I wasn’t terribly good at throwing guys, that wasn’t very much or very far.
Yet he was so hard to resist.
He made me feel so many things. From the way he talked with me, as if he truly wanted to know me, to his carefree ways, to these sexy little moments when he shifted from talking to touching, it was as if we existed in this private little bubble of connection. I didn’t want to leave this island of burgeoning heat, either.
“Right now, gray is my favorite,” I said in a voice I barely recognized.
His lips curved up slowly as he grasped my hand. I didn’t even notice the manicurist anymore, and I doubt he did, either, as we seemed to inch closer, to crave contact and meet in another kiss.
But the moment caved in on itself when my phone bleated loudly. Once. Twice. Three times. I let go of his hand to swipe my phone from my back pocket. My mother had texted, and her note popped up on the screen.
Just finished up with Sandy. Her assistant happened to mention while I was doing Sandy’s eyes that the bridesmaids are picking up their dresses late afternoon tomorrow in Manhattan Beach, and that the officiant should be there, too, to pick up the matching bow tie and cummerbund for her tux.
Forget kissing William. I wanted to kiss the screen. I wanted to kiss Sandy’s assistant. Maybe even my mom.
I tapped out a quick reply. Nice work. Happen to know where? What place? Did you get details?
As I sent the message, I spotted Lolanna Winnifred, the sixteen-year-old daughter of a six-packed and strapping action star who’d been a fingerless mitten model before he made it big on the silver screen. Immediately, I went into stealth mode. I scrolled through my phone, acting casual, but keeping my eyes on Lolanna as she walked into Daisy’s Nails, too. I checked out William, happily enjoying his pedicure. He didn’t so much as look up when Lolanna, who was designing a collection of mittens now, too, walked past him, heading straight for one of the reserved chairs in the back. Lolanna scooted up on a chair, wriggled off her teal-blue flip-flops with a cloth flower on the toe strap, and settled into the chair, oversized sunglasses still on.
I typed more on my phone, as if I were answering a message, then laughed at the screen, positioned it higher, tapped it twice to zoom, and snapped a shot of Lolanna soaking her feet. Anaka would make good use of the photo.
William gestured to his feet. The manicurist was starting to polish his toenails red. “Didn’t want you to miss the main attraction, Jess.”
“Of course not,” I said, tucking my phone into my pocket.
The lady next to William started looking at Lolanna, and then a woman across from us peered over the top of her home design magazine at the girl. All the while, he didn’t seem to notice a thing.
I cocked my head to the side, considering the constitutionally good-looking British guy in front of me. Was he acting clueless or did he truly not recognize the teen daughter of one of America’s most bankable male action stars? How could he miss her? Every night I studied my flash cards. I had a whole stack of index cards with celebrity faces pasted on them. The ones with children had their kids’ pictures on the back side. Thanks to my daily regimen of review, I could spot a face in seconds—from the A-list down to the D-list, their offspring, their significant others, and sometimes even their agents and managers, too, but usually only if they were dating or doing said agent or manager.
“What?” he asked, when he realized I’d been staring at him. “Do I have something on my nose?”
“You don’t recognize her,” I said, as if I’d caught him rooting around for money in his mommy’s purse.
“You don’t recognize her,” I repeated in a low voice, and nodded slightly in Lolanna’s direction. He followed my move, and I watched his eyes survey the sunglassed girl quickly, then he returned to me.
“Sure I do.”
I put my hands on my hips. “Who is she, then?”
“You know, she’s that girl,” he said, and waved a hand dismissively.
I laughed and shook my head. “That is hilarious.”
He held up his hands sheepishly. “Fine. You caught me. I am not one hundred percent up to speed on American celebs. Which movie did she star in?”