I sensed a chance to learn more about where Kate’s mind was. “Speaking of insight, she seemed to doubt you when you called me a friend . . .”

Kate licked her lips, lifted her glass, and took a sip. “Like I said, she’s insightful.”

For the second time that night, I wanted to punch the air.

But I also wanted something else.

I wanted a kiss.

So I took one. I leaned across the table, clasped her cheek, and dropped my lips to hers. The second we made contact, I moaned, and she murmured. Closing my eyes, I savored her lips, kissing her tenderly. We were in a classy joint, after all. Now wasn’t the time to devour her mouth. And right then, I didn’t want to devour. I wanted to savor the taste of the wine on her lips, the softness of her kiss. Maybe I was buzzed from the alcohol. Or possibly from the evening. Whatever it was, my mind went hazy, and Kate Williams went to my head.

Her hair and her lips, her mind and her mouth . . . From her big heart to the way she listened, her hotel friend was spot on.

Kate was not a friend.

And I didn’t feel friendly at all.

She didn’t seem to either, as she murmured softly, sighing when I broke the kiss.

“Insightful,” she whispered.

“Very insightful,” I replied, blinking to clear my head again.

A few seconds later, the waiter swung by, asking if we needed anything.

That broke the spell.

“We’re all good,” I told the man.

When he left, Kate jumped back to an earlier topic. “So, do you think you’re married to work, like your ex said?”

I liked that she wanted to finish the conversation that had been interrupted by Ivy’s appearance. It said she was focused on getting to know me.

I scrubbed a hand across the back of my neck, wanting to answer her honestly, as she’d done with me last night. “The age-old question.” I’d let her go first. “Are you?”

She nodded. “Oh, definitely. But once I get this debt paid off, I want to get a massage and lie out by the pool and read, read, read. Just get lost in a book.”

“One of my favorite things to do too.”

“Book lovers unite,” she said with a grin.

“And to answer your question,” I said, “maybe I am caught up in work. But at the time, it wasn’t something I planned to change.”

“And now?”

I flinched. Was she asking about the weekend? Did she mean would I change for her?

Tension radiated through my bones as a familiar feeling spread over me. Flight. The desire to take off when a woman started encroaching on my carefully constructed goals.

But then, just as quickly as it had come, that sensation dissipated.

Maybe because that wasn’t what Kate was truly asking?

Or maybe because of something else . . .

When I met her gaze, searching those hazel eyes, I saw something in them I hadn’t seen in other women.

Not in Debbie. Not in Cassidy.

Something I wasn’t looking for.

But now, it was something I was pretty sure I wanted.

Someone who got me.

Who understood me.

And maybe, just maybe, someone I wanted to change for.

That was what I had been realizing all night with her, what I’d been trying to figure out as we talked.

That was who she was.

The realization nearly knocked the breath out of me.

What the hell?

This was not on the agenda, not part of the weekend plan.

Catching feelings was not on the list of things to do with a woman who wanted nothing to do with emotions.

I had to get it together.

I needed to center myself and zero in on the mission of the weekend. Fantasies. Pleasure. Role-play.

Not the role-play of a great date.

Not the role-play of a fantastic conversation.

And not the role-play of starting to fall for someone.

So I did my best impression of a lawyer, evading the question as I said, “You never know.”

Then I paid the bill, cleared my throat, and told her in that commanding tone she seemed to love that we’d meet at The Chandelier bar downstairs in a few minutes.

Sex.

We’d focus on sex.

And that would get my mind off the inconvenient feelings that were threatening to uproot a perfectly good weekend of hotel sex.

16

Kate

The Chandelier Bar dripped with sensuality. Crystal strands hung from the ceiling, wrapping the bar in a rich, luxurious feel.

Silver and pink, with plush stools and lounges—this was a bar for hot romance.

It spoke of trysts and arrangements. It spoke of passion and nights with your lover.

It spoke of promises.

Forever promises, in some cases.

I’d read a novel where the hero proposed to the heroine here in this bar.

As I sat perched on a stool, I replayed the scene, remembering how he’d asked the question, a smile tugging at my lips.

But then, I dismissed the scene, the memory.

Why would I be thinking of scenes like that tonight?


Tags: Lauren Blakely The Gift Erotic
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