“You’re young, you should be enjoying it.”
“You talk like I’m a teenager.” She downed her champagne and held her glass out to me.
I figured I’d be making sure she got home safe, so another glass couldn’t hurt. “No, but you’re young. Younger than me. I’m in a different place. That’s all I meant.”
She made a pfffttt sound that was adorable. “You’re not that much older than me.”
“I’m enough older.” I refilled my glass.
She sipped her champagne, as she studied me. “But you’re still in your prime. You’re handsome and you’re brilliant.”
I waited for her to say rich, but she didn’t. I liked that. She didn’t see dollar signs when she looked at me.
“And sexy.” She put her hand over her mouth as if she hadn’t meant to say that bit.
I started to laugh until I realized the warmth I felt from her earlier had reached my dick. It wasn’t fully erect, but I felt the telltale signs of arousal beginning in me. Guilt flooded my brain. This was a mistake. What was I thinking taking my assistant to a nice French restaurant and plying her with wine and champagne? It wasn’t appropriate for me to be offering her comfort over the loss of her mother.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “That was unprofessional.”
I forced a smile. “It’s okay. Perhaps I should get you home.”
Disappointment showed on her face, but she nodded. “Thank you for this. It cheered me up.”
I stood and swayed slightly. Shit. I’d probably drank too much too. “I’ll be right back.”
I went to the men’s room to make sure my dick behaved itself and splashed some water on my face. Pull it together Blake. After years of feeling nothing but pain or nothing, my reaction to Bella was surprising and unwanted. And disconcerting. I wasn’t the rich, older boss who coveted his much younger assistant. Not when I’ve had the love of a good woman. Yes, my good woman was gone, but my love for her wasn’t. My commitment to our marriage wasn’t.
When I returned, the waiter brought the check, which I paid and then escorted Bella outside. I’d given Hank the night off and so I ordered a car from my phone app to drive us.
Bella gave her address and we sat together in the backseat as the driver wove through the city to SoHo.
“Do you live alone?” I asked her, hoping she had a roommate who could keep an eye on her.
“Yes. I’ve got a little one bedroom. I’m lucky my boss pays me well so I can live in the city.”
I smiled. “I’m glad you think so.”
She sighed and closed her eyes. She had an emotional day, so I let her sit quietly. But when her head fell onto my shoulder, I realized she was asleep. My first instinct was to pull away but as I looked at her, her pale skin, pink cheeks, and rosy lips, I couldn’t move. She was lovely, and my instinct was to hold her. I sucked in a breath, steadying myself from taking such action.
Finally, our driver pulled to the curb and let us out. “I’ll escort her up. You don’t have to wait.” She was tipsy, if not drunk, and sleeping, I figured it would take time to make sure she was settled in at home. I paid the driver and then woke Bella.
“Oh. Oh my God, I’m sorry, Mr. Alexander—”
“It’s Blake tonight, remember.” I smiled trying to ease her worry, especially since she looked mortified that she fell asleep on me.
She nodded, but I could see the distress on her face.
“Come on, let me escort you up.”
“You don’t have to do that. I’ll be fine. Really.”
I stepped out of the car, holding out my hand to help her. She looked up at me tentatively, but then put her hand in mine. Again, warmth spread and I felt the urge to hug her close. When she was out, I released her hand. What the fuck was wrong with me?
Her building didn’t have a doorman, but at least it had an elevator which we took up to the fifth floor. She swayed slightly as she worked the key and opened the door.
She turned and leaned against the door frame. “Thank you for this evening Mr. Al— Blake.”
“My pleasure. Are you okay?”
She nodded, but I wasn’t comfortable leaving her yet.
“Do you have coffee?”
She perked up. “Yes. Would you like some?”
I probably could use it. Too much wine had to be the reason I was feeling strange sensations around her. Yeah, but you weren’t drinking in that elevator the other day. I pushed that thought away.
She opened the door to let me in. The apartment reminded me of the tiny place Joanna and I first had before our company took off. Small, but clean and cozy.
I looked out the window while Bella went to the kitchen. Like our first place, there wasn’t much of a view. Now, my view was of Central Park. I loved having the space and luxury that money brought, but I couldn’t deny the wonderful memories of when I didn’t have all that. When all Joanna and I had was love and a dream.