He was looking at Gloria, not Talia, and his intent gaze gave her a thorough once-over.
Since Gloria had progressed to opening a compact and powdering her nose, Talia decided to answer for her. “Gloria has, ah, decided to leave the party—”
“No, I haven’t,” Gloria interjected loudly.
“—and I’m going to throw her into a cab and send her home, so we’re all good. Thanks.”
Cooper considered this, brows lowering. “I don’t think she should go anywhere by herself.”
Yeah, Talia had already considered that issue. With her luck, the second the cab pulled away from the curb, Gloria would direct him to some club or other, where God knew what could happen next. In the mood Gloria was in right now? Hell. Talia wouldn’t put it past her to hook up with some idiot in a nightclub and elope to Vegas on the next available flight.
“I know,” Talia agreed, “but I can’t leave the party yet, and I’m not sure—”
“I can see her home,” Cooper said.
“—that I can— Wait, what?”
“I can see her home,” Cooper repeated, his gaze finally flickering to Talia’s face.
Talia hesitated. This guy was a Davies, which meant he probably wasn’t a rapist or ax murderer, but, on the other hand, they barely knew him and Gloria was clearly not in her right mind.
A hint of amusement made Cooper’s eyes crinkle at the edges. “She’s safe with me. Don’t worry.”
“I’m not sure you’re safe with her, frankly,” Talia muttered.
Cooper laughed, a startling event that flashed his dimples and white teeth.
Gloria, who hadn’t been listening, closed her compact with a snap. “What’s the plan? Who’s coming to the bar with me?”
“You’re not going to the bar,” Talia said flatly. “Cooper is taking you home.”
“Taking me home?” Gloria looked him up and down with significantly more interest, her eyes narrowed and speculative.
“Making sure you get home,” Cooper clarified, taking her elbow. “Ready?”
“Hang on. Thanks, Cooper. You’re a lifesaver.” Rising on her tiptoes, Talia whispered in his ear under the guise of kissing his cheek. “And if you take advantage of my sister while she’s drunk, I’m going to clip your balls, fry them up in a beer batter and serve them to you with hot sauce. Comprende?”
Another disarming laugh, followed by something that sounded suspiciously like a pledge. “Oh, I comprende. And since my balls are very important to me, you won’t have to worry about me taking advantage of Gloria. Ever.”
Strangely reassured, Talia nodded and moved aside so they could go.
Whereupon Gloria surprised her with a new show of emotion and a piece of sisterly advice as she swiped at her eyes again. “Learn from my mistakes, okay, Tally? Don’t bother counting on a man. They never come through in the end.”
These two, Tony thought, were really crazy. In a good way.
Arianna and Joshua, who apparently had zero faith in the sitter they’d hired for the night, had spent most of the evening on the phone with her, tracking Apollonia’s progress and calling with additional instructions every few minutes.
Tony sighed, watching his sister with bemusement.
She wore a pretty blue dress that matched Joshua’s bow tie and cummerbund, and had her hair all done up. Listening intently, with the cell phone pressed to her ear, she shot Joshua a worried look.
Joshua froze, his tumbler of Scotch on the rocks halfway to his lips. “What?”
Arianna’s eyes were wide, her expression dire. “She says the baby hasn’t burped yet.”
Joshua frowned. “Well, did she put her over her shoulder or across her lap? Because the lap thing always works for me. Let me talk to her.”
Arianna put her index finger up, holding him off as she spoke into the phone again. “Did you put her across your lap?” She nodded, listening. “Well, because that always—”
“And did you ask about the poop?” Joshua interjected. “Did she poop yet? Let me talk to her.”
Oh, for God’s sake, Tony thought, rolling his eyes and trying not to laugh in their faces, which would probably be rude. These two were going to tackle each other for the phone in a minute.