Ryan and Neil had been good friends and Ryan hadn’t been intimidated by the cocky and cerebral Brookes-Lyon clan. He’d come to London to get a business degree, she remembered, and dimly recalled a dinner conversation with him saying something about wanting to get out of LA and doing something completely different from his father and brother. He visited Lyon House every couple of months for nearly a year but then he left the prestigious college. She hadn’t seen him since. Until he kissed the hell out of her ten minutes ago.
Jaci pursed her lips in irritation and wondered how he kissed women whose names he did know. If he kissed them with only a smidgeon more skill than he had her, then the man was capable of melting polar ice caps.
He was that good and what was really, really bad was that she kept thinking that he had lips and that she had lips and that hers should be under his...all the damn time.
Phew. Problematic, Jaci thought.
* * *
Ryan “Jax” Jackson nursed his glass of whiskey and wished that he was in his apartment stretched out on his eight-foot-long couch and watching his favorite sports channel on the huge flat-screen that dominated one wall of his living room. He glanced at his watch, grateful to see that the night was nearly over. He’d had a run-in with Leroy, kissed the hell out of a sexy woman and now he was stuck in a ballroom kissing ass. He’d much rather be kissing the blonde’s delectable ass... Dammit, who the hell was she? Ryan discarded the idea of flicking through his mental black book of past women. He knew that he hadn’t kissed that mouth before. He would’ve remembered that heat, that spice, the make-him-crazy need to have her. So who was she?
He looked around the room in the hope of seeing her again and scowled when he couldn’t locate her. Before the evening ended, he decided, he’d make the connection or he’d find her and demand some answers. He wouldn’t sleep tonight if he didn’t. He caught a flash of a blond head and felt his pants tighten. It wasn’t her but if the thought of seeing her again had him springing up to half-mast, then he was in trouble. Trouble that he didn’t need.
Time to do a mental switch, he decided, and deliberately changed the direction of his thoughts. What was Leroy’s problem tonight? He’d agreed, in principle, to back the film and now he needed more assurances? Why? God, he was tired of the games the very rich boys played; his biggest dream was to find an investor who’d just hand over a boatload of money, no questions asked.
And that would be the day that gorgeous aliens abducted him to be a sex slave.
Still, he was relieved that Leroy had left; having his difficult investor and his DNA donor in the room at the same time was enough to make his head explode. He hadn’t seen Chad yet but knew that all he needed to do was find the prettiest woman in the room and he could guarantee that his father—or Leroy, if he were here—would be chatting her up. Neither could keep his, as Neil used to say, pecker in his pants despite having a wife at home.
What was the point of being married if you were a serial cheater? Ryan wondered for the millionth time.
Ryan felt an elbow in his ribs and turned to look into his best friend’s open face. “Hey.”
“Hey, you are looking grim. What’s up?” Thom asked.
“Tired. Done with this day and this party,” Ryan told him.
“And you’re avoiding your father.”
Well, yeah. “Where is the old man?”
Thom lifted his champagne glass to his right. “He’s at your nine o’clock, talking to the sexy redhead. He cornered me and asked me to talk to you, to intercede on his behalf. He wants to reconnect. His word, not mine.”
“So his incessant calls and emails over the past years have suggested,” Ryan said, his expression turning cynical. “Except that I am not naive to believe that it’s because he suddenly wants to play happy families. It’s only because we have something he wants.” As in a meaty part in their new movie.
“He would be great as Tompkins.”
Ryan didn’t give a rat’s ass. “We don’t always get what we want.”
“He’s your father,” Thom said, evenly.
That was stretching the truth. Chad had been his guardian, his landlord and an absent presence in his life. Ryan knew that he still resented the fact that he’d had to take responsibility for the child he created with his second or third or fifteenth mistress. To Chad, his mother’s death when he was fourteen had been wildly inconvenient. He was already raising one son and didn’t need the burden of another.