I ignored them, scavenging the wine fridge for some chilled Prosecco. They broke their embrace when I popped the cork. As they disengaged, the intercom sounded. Heath went to the panel and buzzed his guests in.

“Who’s meeting us?” I asked Alli.

“Jess and Trevor.”

“Friends of yours?”

“Yes, Jess and I went to high school together. They’ve been in L.A. for college and just moved back and are engaged now, so they’re living it up before having kids and all that.”

Moments later a tall blonde in a fire engine red dress came through the door. After spending the week with the lovebirds, I was excited to have some new people to talk to, but soon realized I would also be the fifth wheel when Jess’s fiancé walked through. Trevor had jet-black hair and deep blue eyes, a rare and exotic combination. Slightly shorter than she was considering the heels, he made up for the height with his looks.

“I’m Jess.” She beamed as she came toward us.

Jess was bubbly and reminded me of Alli in that way.

“This is Erica, my best friend from school,” Alli said. “Erica is wildly talented and beautiful, so you two should get along great.” She winked and sashayed over to Heath, who sat on a leather armchair. He and Trevor caught up on something sports related that threatened to put me to sleep instantly.

Jess motioned toward the kitchen where she tasked herself with filling our champagne flutes.

“I’ve heard so much about you, Erica. I feel like I already know you. Alli raves about what you’ve done with your business.”

“Thanks. Yeah we’ve been inseparable for the past few years, getting it going.”

“I can imagine.”

“Speaking of inseparable,” I murmured, motioning to Alli twisting Heath’s hair affectionately.

“No kidding. I miss those days.” She sighed.

“Those days?”

“Don’t worry.” She lowered her voice so only I could hear her. “They call this the honeymoon stage. They’ll eventually figure out that the other isn’t completely perfect, and then we’ll see what happens.”

I laughed, feeling a little guilty it was at Alli’s expense. But I liked Jess. Maybe tonight wouldn’t be so hopeless after all.

The dusk darkened into the night, and we made our way to the lobby. A long black limo pulled up to the curb. I looked to Alli to confirm my suspicions. She nodded with a smile. Indeed, that was our ride.

The driver rounded to the door nearest to us, opening it for our entry, I assumed. My breath caught and I reached out to grab Alli’s hand.

Blake stepped out and stood before me, looking as dashing as I’d ever seen him. He was dressed head to toe in black, his shirt casually unbuttoned at the top. Jesus, why couldn’t he be wearing one of those stupid T-shirts when he dropped in on me like this?

The mere sight of him had my heart racing. A slow heat slid over my skin, inflaming my senses as I raked him in. Behind me I heard a whoa from Jess, thankfully not within earshot of Trevor. Yeah, I answered in silent agreement. He was a smoking hot slice of heaven, and as much as I loved him in those clothes, I could think of nothing else but taking them off. She could whoa all she wanted, but I’d be the one doing it. The past couple days had shown me how possessive I could be with him.

But what was he doing here? I wondered if it was Alli or Heath who had tipped him off. As much as I wanted to care, I didn’t. My whole body came alive knowing he was close enough to touch it, to set me off in ways that no one ever had. I clenched my fists, stilling myself and crushing Alli’s hand.

Our eyes met for a second before Heath pulled him into a quick one-armed guy hug and introduced him to Trevor. Blake made small talk with them, his back to me, an arrangement that had me nearly sick with need. I needed many things from him at the moment, not the least of which was his acknowledgement of my presence. Alli had me dressed to the nines. What the hell did a girl need to do? Now I knew what it was like to be like every other hot-blooded woman he passed over.

Everyone started piling into the limo. I held back a beat and he stood behind me. His hand on my back and breath on my neck that had me panting in seconds. We needed time alone, like now. I submerged the need to drag him back to the condo and got into the limo, shimmying to an empty spot. He slid right next to me, his thigh pressed into mine. The contact stirred my longing for more of him, but he seemed detached. He looked away, seemingly interested in Heath’s usual banter but not responding to him, or me, one way or the other. Nothing would indicate that we were together. Were we? Blake’s thoughts meant infinitely more than what the other guests in our party might pick up from our body language. Not knowing felt like torture.

We pulled up to the club. A long string of would-be patrons lined the block. While others stepped out of the limo, I realized that we could have a second to ourselves once they left. I wanted to keep him here, to talk about everything that had happened. I wanted to break through this mood that had him so quiet.

Trevor stepped out behind Jess, leaving us momentarily alone. Words caught in my throat but before he could move to leave, I grabbed Blake by the jacket and pulled him to me. I crushed my mouth onto his, kissing him with a wild hunger. He met me full force. Our tongues tangled and I pulled him closer. He slipped his hand under the tight elastic of my dress, cupping my ass and grazing the edge of my panties. I moaned into his mouth, forgetting myself and our surroundings.

He clenched his teeth and growled a little as the driver poked his head in. Blake grabbed my hand and pulled me out after him. The quintessential red velvet rope lifted for our group as we stepped ahead of the line. I offered those we bypassed an apologetic look that was met with eye rolls and catty stares.

Heath led us up a few flights of stairs to the private rooftop deck he’d reserved. The air was still hot, but a steady breeze swept over us making the temperature bearable, a calm reprieve from the heat of the day. Our fingers interlaced, Blake and I meandered to the edge while the rest of the group settled onto a large outdoor sectional that matched the modern outdoor space.

Jazz music hummed, but at a reasonable volume that made communication possible. I leaned forward on the metal railing overlooking the traffic below us. Blake nestled behind me. I sagged into his body, grateful to be with him again and filled with relief that he still wanted me as much as I wanted him. His hands roamed, touching my skin where the dress didn’t cover it.

“You’re lucky I’m here. If I found out you were wearing this in public without me, I’d have to punish you.”

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