“Yes,” Dr. Wyatt replied quickly. That, coupled with the unmistakable bitterness in his voice, meant only one thing.
This was extremely bad news.
Jeannie had been working in a bar since the day she’d turned eighteen, three whole years before she was legally allowed to serve alcohol. She’d been desperate to get away from Nicole, who hadn’t wanted Jeannie to get a job and certainly not as a bartender. She’d wanted Jeannie to go to college, become a teacher, like Nicole. Wanting to own her own bar was out of the question. Nicole wouldn’t allow it.
After that fight, Jeannie had moved out, lied about her age and learned on the job. While pouring wine, countless men and women poured their hearts out to her. In the years she’d been at this high-priced chophouse, she’d learned a hell of a lot about how the one percent lived.
But she’d never had a customer like Robert Wyatt before.
Wyatt finished his drink in two long swallows. “The thing is,” he said, setting his glass down with enough force that Jeannie was surprised the delicate stem didn’t shatter, “if he runs, he’ll expect us to stand next to him as if we’re one big happy family.”
Wiping her hands, she gave up the pretense of working and leaned against the bar. “Sounds like that’s a problem.”
“You have no idea,” he muttered, which was even more disturbing because when did precise, careful Dr. Robert Wyatt mutter?
His charcoal-gray three-piece suit fit him perfectly, as did the shirt with cuff links that tonight looked like sapphires—he favored blues when he dressed. The blue-and-orange-striped tie matched the square artfully arranged in his pocket. It was September and Chicago still clung to the last of the summer’s heat, but the way Dr. Robert Wyatt dressed announced that he’d never stoop to sweating.
She could see where the tie had been loosened slightly as if he’d yanked on it in frustration. His hair wasn’t carefully brushed back, but rumpled. He made it look good because everything looked good on him, but still. His shoulders drooped and instead of his usual ramrod-straight posture, his head hung forward, just a bit. When he glanced up at her, she saw the worry lines cut deep across his forehead. He looked like the weight of the world was about to crush him flat.
It hurt to see him like this.
If it were any other man, any other customer, she’d honestly offer him a hug because Lord, he looked like he needed one. But she’d seen how Wyatt flinched when someone touched him.
“So don’t do it,” she said, keeping her voice low and calm.
“I have to.” Unsurprisingly, he straightened his cuffs. “I won’t have a choice.”
At that, she gave him a look. “Why not?” He glared but she kept going. “For God’s sake, you have nothing but choices. If you wanted to buy half of Chicago to raise wildebeests, you could. If you opened your own hospital and told everyone they had to wear blue wigs to enter the building, there’d be a run on clown hair. You can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone you want because you’re Dr. Robert freaking Wyatt.”
All because he had looks, money and power.
All things Jeannie would never have.
His mouth opened but unexpectedly, he slammed it shut. Then he was pushing away from the bar, glaring at her as he threw some bills down and turned to go.
“Dr. Wyatt? Wait!” When he kept going, she yelled, “Robert!”
That got his attention.
When he spun, she flinched because he was furious. It wasn’t buried under layers of icy calm—it was right there on the surface, plain as day.
Was he mad she’d used his given name? Or that she’d questioned his judgment? It didn’t matter. She wasn’t going to buckle in the face of his fury.
She squared her shoulders and said, “I have a family thing next week and I’m taking some vacation time.”
Confusion replaced his anger and he was back at the bar in seconds, staring down at her with something that looked like worry clouding his eyes. “How long?”
She swallowed. She was taller than average, but looking up into his eyes, only a few inches away... He made her feel small at the same time she felt like the only person in his universe.