I give her a wry smile. “You’re ever the romantic, Leonie. Aren’t you?”
“I just want you to be happy, Declan,” she counters pointedly. “I don’t want you to sabotage yourself in finding that happiness.”
In a rare display of genuine affection, because those moments strike me few and far between, I reach across the table and hold my hand out to her. She doesn’t hesitate, placing her wrinkled, age-spotted one in mine, and I curl my fingers gently around her. I squeeze lightly and hold tight. “I am happy, Leonie. The way my life is right now, I’m pleased. And I don’t feel things are lacking. But I do love you for worrying about me in that way. I know I can always count on you to worry over me, and that’s something I’ll always treasure.”
Her eyes get wet with emotion, and I squeeze her hand one more time before letting it go. It’s been a good night for sure. I got to spend quality time with my favorite woman in my life, and I got an agreement from Bailey that she’ll attend The Wicked Horse with me tomorrow night.
Yes, I’m happy with my life right now.
My nerves are stretched to capacity, the endings buzzing as if electrified. While I might be strutting confidently through the lobby of the Onyx Casino toward the elevator that will take me up to The Wicked Horse, I’m a mass of jangled emotions inside.
This is it.
The night that Declan and I will come back together.
Without restraint or judgment.
It did not help that Declan wasn’t in the office today. He had sent an email that he was going to work from his personal suite, and for a time, I wondered if he was sick, or even having second thoughts. But one of the other women in the secretarial pool said that he often worked from his place on the top floor, or at least he had before I had started my position. They all chattered that he probably had been working more in his office to train me properly in my job, but now that I had been here for a few weeks, he felt he could work remotely.
I have no clue about his reasoning, only that not seeing him today in our regular work routine has made me infinitely more eager to see him tonight. Almost in a starved kind of way, but that may also be because I know deep in my heart that he’s going to give me something tonight that will be shattering.
We may be done after this meeting. We may want more. I think the fact I have no clue what’s going to happen only levels up the anticipation.
Declan asked me to meet him here, which I believe is just another way he wants to make sure there’s a bright line of separation between our working relationship and the sexual. I’m okay with that because I have zero aspirations that this is going to turn into a love story. In fact, I’m as adamantly opposed to love and the romantic notion of soul mates as I was on the day my divorce to Caleb was finalized.
Love, commitment, partnership, and devotion. Pipe dreams, every bit of it.
Wild, raucous, guilt-free sex with a handsome man who wants nothing from me but my body at night and my brains by day?
Sign me the hell up.
The elevator ride up is distracting, as I ascend with a young couple that can’t quite keep their hands off each other. He boldly stands beside her as they kiss, his hand up the back of her skirt. By the way she’s squirming, I’m fairly sure he has his fingers inside her.
God, I feel twitchy. So tightly wound.
The elevator doors open. I step up to the podium, giving the woman there my name. She smiles and replies, “Mr. Blackwood is already here and requests that you meet him on The Deck. Do you need help finding it?”
I shake my head as I remember seeing the hallway that led there. “No, thank you.”
I ponder grabbing a drink at the bar, but ultimately, I’m too excited to take the time to do so. I move with purpose through the crowd, knowing that I look the part. As if I belong to this debauched lifestyle.
For the first time in a long time, I’m not wearing one of the expensive outfits Declan had purchased, instead opting for one of my dresses I used to wear in my clubbing days. Back when Caleb and I first started dating and could dance until the wee hours of the morning together.
The outfit I chose tonight is a form-fitting black dress that is long-sleeved and stops just above my knees. It has swatches of material cut out of it at strategically sexy places such as my outer thighs, my back, and across my shoulders. I’ve always had an uncanny knack for walking in high heels, and I pulled out a black pair that had four-inch stilettos built upon a two-inch platform base. It adds significant height to my frame and brings out the definition in my legs.