“It would involve a big favor from Penny.”
“You two are still fake engaged. What if we had her pretend like she’s going to get her dress? She can have the store close for her and then we can bring Laura in. I would be on my very best behavior. I would put aside all differences and be extremely appreciative for her help.” Reyna winced. “Maybe?”
“I have a feeling she will not like that plan.”
“I know, but honestly this isn’t about me or you or Penny. This is about Laura.”
“I will consult with her and see if we can get it done.”
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!” Reyna beamed at him. Then she trailed her hand down his bare chest. “What are you doing for Christmas?”
He frowned and glanced away. “Christmas is not a holiday I celebrate.”
“It is laced with bad memories.”
Reyna frowned. She wanted to ask him what had happened on Christmas. But she could see the haunted look on his face. That was a story he wasn’t ready to tell. The fact that he was acknowledging that he didn’t like Christmas was at least a step. She would take it.
“Well, would you like to be my date for my brother’s wedding?” she asked in a small voice.
Beckham seemed to come back to himself at that question.
“It’s a small thing. I don’t think that many people will be there. I just thought…it might be nice. It’s a thing…couples do. You know…boyfriends and girlfriends.” She knew she was rambling, but she couldn’t stop. “If you don’t want to, you don’t have to.”
“But?” she asked, instinctively knowing it was on the tip of his tongue.
“I don’t know if I can get away.”
“Oh. Okay.” She frowned and looked down at the bed. A flush suffused her face.
“I will try to,” he said tentatively. He put his hand under her jaw and forced her to look at him. “I do want to come.”
“I know. I wish there wasn’t this sense of secrecy around us.”
“One day things will be different.” He swept a lock of her dark hair out of her face. “Then we won’t have to hide anymore.”
“I look forward to that day.”
“More than my next breath.”
He brought his lips down to hers and she sighed into the embrace. She too wished for the day when there were no longer barriers between them. But she didn’t know when or even if that day would ever come.
* * *
Reyna must have fallen asleep, but she didn’t remember doing so. Only waking up groggily from an afternoon nap to find Beckham on the phone in her room. A computer and a stack of paperwork were in front of him. He looked so serious, back in his suit, and looking all professional. It was a strange juxtaposition to him being naked in her bed moments ago.
His eyes drifted up from the computer as if he knew automatically that she was awake. She crooked a smile and tucked the covers around her still-naked body as she sat up.
Work? she mouthed to him.
He nodded and then spoke into the cellphone. “I understand. Yes, that sounds perfectly reasonable. I will be back in the office tomorrow.”
After a short pause, Beckham frowned considerably. He tensed at whatever was being said on the other line. She could tell that he didn’t like it—what was being said or how it was being said. He looked as if he was about to rage on the other person.
But when he spoke none of that was in his voice. “Of course. Penelope is busy for the evening. She wouldn’t mind giving me up for another ball.” Slight pause. “That is a personal matter.” Another pause. “Understood.”
Beckham ended the phone call and tossed the cellphone next to the computer.
“Who was that?”
Reyna recoiled at the name. It still stung like a viper’s bite every time it was mentioned in her presence. Sometimes she forgot that Beckham worked for him. The reminder was a slap in the face.
“You’re leaving to go see him?” Reyna asked.
“Yes. It’s my job.”
Reyna suddenly felt very naked. “Right,” she said, scrambling out of bed and searching for her clothes.
“I still have some time before I have to return.”
“What did he ask when you said it was a personal matter?” She threw a T-shirt over her head before glancing back at him.
“He asked what my fight with Penelope had been about.”
“You didn’t just lie?”
“Harrington can usually tell when I’m lying,” he said simply.
That made Reyna shiver. “How do you avoid that?”
“Try not to get into situations where he is asking questions that I do not wish for him to ask.”
“How much longer are you going to work for him?” she asked, her voice unintentionally rising.
“As long as it takes.”
Reyna waited for further explanation. She knew Beckham stayed because it gave them insider information into what Harrington was doing and where Visage was going. But it didn’t make it any easier.