With a start, he realized Felicity was speaking. He tuned in just in time to hear her say, “Thank you so much for inviting me to the fund-raiser. I’ve heard a lot about Monte Carlo Night.”
He cleared his throat. “Thank you for accepting.” He caught the gaze of the waitress who had given him his champagne and motioned her over. “Something to drink?”
Felicity hesitated. “I have an early morning meeting. I shouldn’t—but sure. Thanks.” She accepted the glass with a smile from the less-friendly-than-before waitress. “I’ve never had champagne at a job interview before.” She laughed. “But then I’ve never had an interview at a black-tie event.”
“It’s unorthodox. But this is an unusual employment offer.” There was something in the way Felicity’s gaze flashed when he said unusual that made him reconsider saying anything further. “Tell me about your job at Friedmann Adams. What’s your favorite thing about it?”
He ignored the urge to look at his watch to see how much longer he needed to stay at the party and still be considered socially polite. Leaving early wouldn’t be productive, nor help him accomplish his goals for the evening. If Felicity didn’t work out, Danica had to provide only one more preapproved candidate before her contract terminated.
He smiled, remembering their conversation after that dinner and how she’d tried to pretend he didn’t know what she was thinking. It had been written all over her expressive face. Not that he blamed her for believing in fairy tales like love and living happily ever after. They were pervasive in the prevailing culture. But they were emotional manipulations. Insubstantial.
Sex, on the other hand, was an actual physical phenomenon. It could be scientifically studied. What would it be like if he studied it with Da—
“And that’s the difference between a pessimist, an optimist and a financial advisor!” Felicity laughed. “That pretty much sums up what I do.”
He’d missed most of it. What was wrong with his focus? “Fascinating.”
Felicity pushed a strand of hair behind her right ear and glanced around the temporary casino. The gaming tables were filling up, and the polished travertine floor meant the sound level rose accordingly. “Not really. I could tell by the way you weren’t on the edge of your seat.”
Caught. “It’s noisy in here,” he said. “Let’s find a quieter spot.”
“That would be great. I’d like that.” She gave him a generous smile.
Her lips were full and softly curved. But he had no desire to kiss them. Didn’t care to learn how she tasted. No interest in discovering how her mouth would feel against his or if her response would be soft and quivering or hard and driving.
There was only one person he wanted to kiss, and that was—
His peripheral vision caught someone frantically waving two arms high in the air. Danica?
For a second, he wondered if his undisciplined subconscious had conjured a vision of her. But then a grin lit her face as their gazes met, and he knew it really was her.
No memory could be that vibrant. The details that had become fuzzy over the past few weeks now appeared in solid form. Her hair, so many different colors of gold, the curls tumbling from her ponytail, twisting and turning in the light. The way she walked, her rounded hips slightly swaying as she cut through the crowd with graceful deliberation.
Her eyes matched his memory exactly. They shone with some unexpressed emotion. Was she happy to see him? Or—no. Something was wrong. He narrowed his gaze questioningly as she arrived at his side. She shook her head slightly in response and thrust her left hand toward Felicity.
“Hi!” she said, her voice as bright as the artificial smile on her face. “Nice to meet you again.”
Felicity shook the proffered hand, but a crease dented her brow. “Likewise. I didn’t know you were going to be here.”
“Of course! I wouldn’t miss this event for the world.”
Felicity ran her gaze up and down Danica’s outfit. Her nose wrinkled as if she saw something not to her liking, which was ridiculous. Danica looked beautiful. She had forgone her usual skirt-and-blouse combo for a plain black dress with buttons down the front, like an oversize men’s shirt, belted at the waist. He appreciated the way it emphasized her curves. “I see,” Felicity said slowly.