And there it was again: a rich, velvety tone that was slowly and sinuously working to make her years-dormant body ache and swell back into life.
“Don’t worry,” she managed to say. “Everything’s different now. I’m not going to jump on you the first chance I get—-”
“I won’t stop you if you would.”
“Ha. Ha. Ha.” Oh God, why was he saying these things?
“It wasn’t a joke.”
She really did laugh this time, but it sounded so awkward to her ears that she quickly cut it off and reached for her water instead. Her discomfort was more than obvious, and his lips tightened at the sight of it. Sarah used to die for the chance to speak about the two of them, but obviously that, too, had changed.
Damian made no further attempt to engage her in conversation, and although she tried to convince herself it was what she wanted, she still found herself close to tears by the time the billionaire asked for the check. She took her phone out and sent an SOS. A moment later, her phone rang just as Damian returned to their table, and when she was done with the call, she gave him a smile of apology, saying, “Connor’s coming over to pick me up. Can I take a rain check on the Foxtown tour?”
“Damian looked like he wanted to kill me.”
“Dog in the manger,” Sarah dismissed as she took a sip of her hot chocolate. The cafe they were in was a renovated barn, and their table in particular offered spectacular views of the nearby elk refuge. In the past ten minutes, she had already spotted a huge herd of elk, along with a couple of moose and bighorn sheep. Such sightings usually excited her, but now she couldn’t even make herself smile.
“I don’t think it was just that,” Colton said skeptically. Maybe Sarah had missed the look the billionaire had given him, but Colton hadn’t. He had already had a taste of Damian Fox’s fist, and suffice to say, once was definitely more than enough.
“Stop looking so worried,” Sarah reproved. “I was throwing myself at him every opportunity I got,” she reminded him, “and I did it for years. But he never took the bait. What does that tell you?”
“I get your point, but there’s just something—-”
“There never was anything between us. That hasn’t changed, and it never will,” Sarah forced herself to say with a shrug. “Anyway, what’s this about you finally having a girlfriend?”
A crooked grin flashed over Colton’s lips at Sarah’s words. “She’s amazing…”
Sarah couldn’t help reflecting over the change in their friendship while listening to Colton talk about his girlfriend Beth. Unlike her and Damian, she and Colton had patched things up pretty quickly. He had apologized just a few days following the incident, and she had accepted his apology and gave him an explanation as well for her reaction.
They had become firm friends after that, real friends, in the sense that neither of them had any unrequited feelings for the other. And because they were real friends, Sarah only waited until Colton paused for breath before blurting out her request. “What do you think about pretending to be my fake boyfriend for the weekend?”
“Most dangerous idea ever,” he answered promptly, “and not something I’d risk my neck on.”
Darkness had long fallen by the time Colton drove her to Josiah’s fancy digs in Jackson Hole, and she still hadn’t stopped nagging him about a fake relationship.
“Come on, Colt,” she wheedled as she got out of his car. “Be a good sport—-”
“Shit! Do you see that?”
Sarah followed his line of gaze and started in surprise when she saw Damian standing on the porch while deep in discussion with Tommy.
“You told me he wouldn’t be here,” Colton hissed under his breath.
“Obviously, I’m wrong,” Sarah hissed back. “Last time I checked, being wrong isn’t a crime—-”
“Easy for you to say,” Colton snarled.
“You’re a professional football player, for heaven’s sake! Start acting like it!”
And as the two of them continued bickering sotto voce, neither was aware of how deceptive their posture appeared, with their heads bent close to each other and their bodies nearly touching. The whole thing smacked of romance, and the sight had the billionaire fit to kill.
Damian strode forward to deliberately place himself between the two, and as Sarah and Colton jumped away from each other, he didn’t miss the way the pair exchanged nervous looks with each other.
Oh God. Sarah couldn’t help but sneak an anxious look towards Damian. Could he have heard what they were talking about?
I’m fucking dead. Colton could feel himself losing color as the billionaire’s chilling gaze settled on him. Could Damian have misunderstood Sarah’s whispers about (faking) passionate kisses?
Damian, mistaking their worry for looks of guilt, had to clench and unclench his fists several times before he was properly rid of the urge to beat the shit out of the younger man. Turning to Colton, he said in a treacherously soft voice, “We’re about to have dinner inside. Would you like to join us?”