“Nope. Hit me.”
“Well, my father and his brother, Tony’s father, founded the place fifty years ago. It wasn’t on Madison Avenue back then, though. It was just a small house that did a good job with estate sales and jewelry collections and the like. We got our big break when a couple of big movie stars sold off their art collections. The rest is history.”
He was being modest. “A couple of movie stars,” she knew from her research, meant the 1960s equivalent of Brad and Angelina. Still, she appreciated a little humility.
“And now you handle pretty much everything, right? Vintage cars, art, jewelry, wine, antiquities—”
“We hate to turn down a challenge. We’ve got departments and specialists who handle the auction end.”
“And you’re the president—”
“Yeah, but I don’t want to mislead you. It takes the three of us to keep this ship running. I oversee day-to-day operations, Coop is in development and public relations, and Tony’s going to replace our finance guy who retired last— Speak of the devil.”
The elevator doors slid open and Tony stepped out, briefcase in hand and a harried frown across his forehead. He’d been heading for the glass doors to the street, but upon seeing them, he veered and strode over.
There was no time to prepare. Talia’s skin experienced that slow sizzle of awareness that only Tony could cause.
The whole suit thing didn’t help. There was something about seeing him—again—in that charcoal suit with white shirt and red tie that really did a number on her equilibrium. Good thing she’d never seen him in his army dress uniform. She’d probably crash to the floor in a dead faint.
“Where are you off to?” Marcus asked him.
“Meeting.” He swung that brown crystal gaze around to her, kicking her heart rate up a couple of dizzying notches. “Do you like your wall, Talia?”
“I love it.” Typically, her enthusiasm for an exciting new project came through in her voice, making her sound like a cheerleader in the middle of a round of rah-rah-rahs. “I can’t wait to get started with the—”
Tony checked his watch.
Wow. Way to slash a woman’s ego down to size. Talia’s smile wobbled, but she somehow hung on to it. “I don’t mean to keep you.”
“Not at all,” Tony replied, but he was already on the move again, slipping through the glass doors without a backward glance at her and only a quick wave for Marcus. “I’ll catch you later.”
“Yeah,” she said lamely, fighting a ridiculous feeling of disappointment. “I’ll see you—”
Too late. At the curb now, Tony raised a hand, hailed a yellow taxi and zoomed down the street, out of her line of sight.
“Why don’t I give you a quick tour?” Marcus asked, gesturing her toward the elevator.
Talia stared after Tony.
“Talia?” The elevator dinged, and Marcus held it open for her. “Tour?”
“Sure,” she said, her face burning with something she didn’t want to identify.
The mansion was, in a word, unbelievable.
Really, Talia thought the following night, as the chauffeured town car rolled to a stop in front of Tony’s Hamptons estate, she should have been prepared for it. Having consulted Google for everything she could discover about the Davies family and seen several online pictures, she knew that the house was in the English country style, with a shingled roof, lots of dormer windows and a couple football fields’ worth of manicured land fronting the beach. She got all that. But getting it while seated in her own comfy home office in front of her computer screen, and getting it right here, right now, were two different things.
Part of the issue was that she’d never spent time in the Hamptons, that playground of the rich and famous, so she had little experience with this kind of property and wealth.
The bigger part of the issue was that she was still reeling from the unexpected turns her life had taken since Tony had shown up yesterday.
And of course, she’d be seeing him again in a minute.
A shiver of anticipation started deep inside her body and radiated out, skating across her skin.
Foolish, she told herself. She was being foolish with a capital F.