There was a small, quiet restaurant in the casino next to the Lennox and I liked the idea of being able to talk, as well as the seclusion the booths offered. When we arrived, the young, female hostess snottily informed me that they were booked months in advance and could not possibly fit us in.

Lia shrugged and started to turn away, but I grabbed her hand and kept her at my side. “Becket Parker,” I told the girl. “Check your list.” She huffed but tapped a few keys on her iPad, her gaze skeptical. Then she stiffened, and her head whipped up. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Parker. Right this way.” She grabbed two menus and led the way through the dining area to the private booths at the back.

Lia raised a brow and looked at me expectantly. I chuckled and pulled her close so I could whisper in her ear, “The owner of the hotel restaurant is a…friend of mine”—I winked at her—”Actually, he owns the hotel, so don’t mention this to my boss.”

“Frenemies?” she asked with a laugh.

I grinned and helped her slide onto the blue velvet seat of the semi-circle booth. “Something like that.” I scooted right in next to her, rather than sitting across from her.

The hostess laid the menus on the table and batted her eyelashes at me. It was likely that she thought it was a seductive move, but she couldn’t have been more than eighteen and it reminded me of when, Delia, my ten-year-old niece, begged me to buy her candy.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Parker. I’m new. Can I get you anything?”

My eyes narrowed at the way she was ignoring Lia and focusing solely on me. I turned away from her, giving my woman all of my attention. “Sweetheart? What can she get for you?”

Lia’s eyes sparkled, turning them almost silver, as she pinched her lips, holding back her laughter. She coughed a little to hide it when she opened her mouth to speak. “Chardonnay,” she requested.

“Um,” the girl shifted uncomfortably. “I’ll find your server.” That confirmed my suspicion that she wasn’t old enough to serve alcohol.

“That would be great. Thanks”—I glanced at her name tag—”Kimberly.” I smiled but didn’t wait to see if she left before facing Lia again.

“Aww, I think you broke the poor girl’s heart,” she teased.

“She’s young, she’ll forget all about me when the next mildly attractive, older man comes in.”

Our banter was cut off when a waiter arrived with a tray holding Lia’s Chardonnay and a tumbler of Scotch for me. “Good to see you, Becket,” he greeted as he set the drinks in front of us.

“Evan,” I said with a chin lift. “What’s with the teeny-bopper up front? Is my brother looking to replace his ex with jailbait?”

Evan chuckled but didn’t get a word out before another man walked up. “Fuck off, Becket.” I grinned at Zack, my brother, as he glared down at me. He gave Evan a look, causing him to scurry off to another table.

“Still a tyrant, I see.”

He rolled his eyes. “She’s Deke’s granddaughter,” he explained absently as his eyes landed curiously on Lia.

I put my arm around her and plastered her up against my side, giving him a warning glance. He smirked when he clocked my expression and plopped down into the booth opposite of us. I had a sudden urge to erase the features that made us look like brothers with my fist.

“Deke is the head chef,” he told Lia. “Despite what Drew Lennox or his asshole employees”—he tilted his head meaningfully in my direction—”say, he’s the best around. So, Kimberly is here until she gives me a reason to fire her that won’t mean losing Deke.”

He smiled charmingly at Lia. “So, why would a beautiful woman like you be sitting here with an idiot like my brother?”

Lia laughed, and I got lost in the sound for a moment, the melody zinging straight to my dick. I cleared my throat and scowled at Zack. “Well, it was nice talking to you, bro. Give Delia a kiss from me.”

He grinned and glanced between us before standing up. “As much as I’d love to flirt with you just to piss off my little brother, I’m confident he’ll blow this date all on his own. Seeing as how I can’t remember the last time he was even on one.”

“For fuck’s sake,” I griped. “Thanks for the ringing endorsement, jackass.” Zack winked at Lia and then strode away, chuckling.

I smiled sheepishly at Lia and shook my head. “Sorry, maybe coming here was a stupid idea. I didn’t think my brother would be here.”

Lia took a taste of her wine and cocked her head to the side. “You didn’t want to be served by your co-workers, so instead, you took me to a place obviously owned by your brother where the wait staff probably knows you even better,” she summed up thoughtfully, her eyes twinkling with merriment.

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