Authors: Ciara Cole
Stretching for the nearby table Ciara grabbed a glossy-looking magazine and began to leaf through it. Emily made a face. “Since when did you get into these glorified gossip rags?”
“Oh, that’s not it. It’s just that they called to let me know they did a little feature on my shop and I wanted to check it out. Ahh, there it is. Don’t the photos look great? They got some really good shots of the croissant varieties and muffins.”
“Wow, I’m officially impressed,” Emily said as she checked out the article. “My best friend’s shop is turning into a renowned patisserie. Damn, I need to up my game.”
Ciara only shook her head and laughed, seeing Emily’s grin and knowing her friend was just teasing as usual. Then she saw Emily’s temple darken with a frown as she ran her eyes over the opposite page. “What’s wrong?” Ciara asked in concern, smile fading.
Emily just happened to cast her eyes on a piece showcasing some leggy blonde lingerie model named Veronica Fry. The main shot displayed her vintage-looking teddy silhouette which perfectly suited her slender yet generously curved frame.
“Veronica Fry…now where have I heard that name before?” Emily mused while her frown deepened. Somehow compelled to read further, she saw the article was about the beautiful model’s new lingerie line opening in New York this week. New York…
Wait a minute
, thought Emily. Now she remembered who Veronica Fry was. That stalker reporter Amanda Weeks had said that name the first time Emily had bumped into Chace at that nightclub.
Amanda had asked Chace if things were over with him and Veronica Fry.
“Who’s Veronica Fry and why do you have that look on your face?” pressed Ciara, finally breaking into Emily’s roving thoughts. Emily then had to tell Ciara all about what happened with the reporter showing up twice now that Emily had been with Chace, the fact that Veronica Fry had to be Chace’s ex, and how at that moment Veronica was having an opening in New York while Chace had flown over there for business.
“Just because they happen to be there at the same time doesn’t mean they’ll be together,” Ciara said sensibly. She’d pieced together Emily’s exact doubts which made Emily feel even worse because now it sounded even more probable.
It’s no wonder Chace hadn’t tried harder to convince me about going with him
, fumed Emily. He knew he’d have ample distraction with Veronica in the same city. They could be hooking up right this minute…
“Stop, just stop,” Ciara said firmly, knowing from Emily’s expression just what was going through her head. “Have another one of these macaroons – they’re divine, even if I do say so myself.”
Emily obediently chomped on one meringue filled cookie, still too furious with herself. “I’m such an idiot! Chace has always been a player. He did the same thing while we were dating in high school and now this. I should have asked him to come clean about Veronica, but I never wanted to bring his past up and he never asked much about Devan either. How could he do this to me?”
Ciara was staring at Emily, feeling at a loss. “You can’t say for sure that Chace has actually
anything. It’s a big city, and they’ll both be busy handling their separate plans. There was certainly no mention of her relationship with Chace in the article,” Ciara pointed out.
Emily groaned and rubbed harder on her temples. “I really don’t want to be that jealous, insecure jackass I was back then. The last thing I need is imagining Chace with someone else when just the other night he was with
Emily looked up to see Ciara’s troubled expression and felt bad for making Ciara worry. Emily sighed deeply. “I know I made it out like it was just sex. But…I think I’m scared I might be falling in love with him again. What if I never stopped?”
“I’m sure you’re worrying for nothing. Chace doesn’t strike me as someone so fickle,” Ciara said thoughtfully. “When he gets back, you can iron it all out with him. Till then let’s not believe the worst, okay?”
Emily wished she could play it so cool. But she only had to take a look at the beautiful, sexy, blonde in the photo spread and she felt all grimy.
Why would Chace pass up that to be with me?
Emily could act all self-aware and comfortable in her own skin…and yes, she truly was confident about her looks and attraction level when it came to the opposite sex. But somehow with Chace she was on another different level of not knowing where she stood.
That one night with him had been mind-blowing, and he’d been all about giving, more focused on Emily’s pleasure than even his. Not that great sex was a main criteria for falling in love, but Emily liked that Chace was a generous lover and always had been. Emily’s ex Devan had been good in the sack, but he hadn’t really gone out of his way to see to her needs. He had liked trying out new things, but only because of his own self-centered interests and not because he really cared if she was into it or not.
Now Devan had possibly moved on with someone new, since she’d heard or seen nothing of him since their parting. How had Emily been so dumb as to jump right into bed with Chace, even though they’d known from long ago?
was inadvisable, at least not without finding more first. Emily had been so preoccupied trying to act like things were just casual between them, she hadn’t tried to go in-depth with Chace to know just the kind of man he’d become. Was he truly the deceptive playboy she feared he was or was he for real?
Would she have the courage to find out?
Emily’s phone rang later that night and she turned on her stomach, placing the phone to her ear as she heard her best friend Ciara’s voice.
“I just emailed you a link to your new blog – why don’t you check it out,” said Ciara brightly.
“My what?” Emily blinked, sitting up as she pushed her wayward curls off her face.
“I set it all up so all you have to do is start posting. About anything you like,” Ciara went on in her chirpy tone. “And don’t worry about anything because it’s all free. You need an outlet for all that resentment, babe. I bet you can’t get any sleep and you’re still brooding over Chace, am I right?”
Emily’s answer was to blow a huffy breath at an errant curl drooping over her nose.
Ciara chuckled. “Check your mail, okay? Don’t get me worried about you.”
The call ended and Emily sighed, falling on her back again and staring up at the ceiling. Finally making up her mind, she sprung from the pillows and went to the desk in the corner where laptop sat. Emily viewed it critically; it looked like it was gathering some dust. Lord knew she hardly looked at the thing.
Wanting to be furious at her friend, but unable to keep it up, Emily finally plonked on the chair and started up the device. In moments, she was checking her inbox and indeed found a link from Ciara.
Emily clicked on it and it led her to the admin page of a blog. Okay, so this looked way over her level. She was no net whiz. But then after a few minutes of clicking Emily found her way around the different features.
This looks like fun
, she thought. And the blog theme was really pretty, very artsy and edgy. Just what Emily liked.
Hmmm, well she wasn’t getting any sleep tonight anyway, in between thinking dark thoughts about Chace and alternatively replaying each kiss, touch and thrust. Feeling her treacherous folds begin to plump up in her panties as if at the vivid memory, Emily simply pressed her thighs harder together. “Focus, you sex-mad freak,” she muttered to herself. She was staring at the blank word editing page. What the devil could she write about? She hadn’t formed a single line in forever.
Chace’s rakish grin swam before her eyes, the eloquent line of his throat as he arched over her, his powerful arms holding up his weight on either side of her head. She thought of his deep voice and the way his chest spread out in his suit. She could even imagine his scent still lingered somewhere on her person…very masculine and magnetic, stirring heat into her stomach.
Drawing in a shuddering breath, Emily hovered her fingers over the keyboard. Moments later, her hands were flying as words jumped right into her head. She wasn’t even sure what she was doing. Maybe that didn’t matter, anyway. All she knew was that it felt good and she couldn’t stop. For the first time in ages, she’d looked at a blank page and realized she had something to say.
It was like a fresh start, one she hadn’t seen coming or even searched for. But it did feel like it been there all along, waiting for her to find herself. Somehow, Emily knew things would never be the same again.
The woman in the slim-fitted skirt with the blouse tucked smartly in didn’t notice the tall male figure who’d walked into the restaurant. He walked to the table right in her section while she was attending to another customer. Her naturally curly hair was tamed in a severe bun which brought her heart-shaped face into more definition. She had barely any makeup on and she didn’t need any, thanks to her smooth, glowing, caramel skin.
As she turned smartly and walked away from the customer, his eyes traveled briefly and appreciatively over her shapely form nicely encased in that figure-hugging skirt and top which was the uniform for the female waiters.
A few tables away, the newly arrived customer narrowed his eyes as he saw the other man checking the waitress out as she strode off in a smart, straight-backed, and ultimately sexy walk. Chace found he enjoyed the view himself, but didn’t take too kindly to someone else taking the liberty of following Emily with his eyes.
It was all Chace could do not to spring up and grab the man by the scruff of his neck and give him a black eye for his audacity. What made matters worse, the guy wasn’t the only one giving Emily a second look or more. There were a few other male customers, even those with dates who couldn’t help but glance her way appreciatively. Emily went about her duties, totally oblivious of the effect she was making.
Emily felt she had more a spring to her step lately. Normally she liked her job working at the upscale restaurant. The owner was a top chef, very young and hip and it showed in the dishes the restaurant had become renowned for. Her boss Clyde wasn’t a slave driver, he just liked things done a certain way and Emily had learned early just how to keep him happy. He was also one of the best-looking men on the planet – lean, sexy, and sporting some killer facial hair, though he was totally bald otherwise. He was also happily gay, his gorgeous boyfriend running the coffee bar next door. It was definitely fun working at this job, giving Emily a sense of being grounded. Sometimes it helped having to work to a certain routine. When she was on autopilot, doing her job, she got to take her mind off all the other stuff getting her down lately.
Such as the fact it had been almost a week since she’d seen or heard from Chace. As well as the way he kept popping into her thoughts when she least expected. Sighing to herself, Emily walked to the next table in her section, ready to serve the new customer. When she came to stand in front of him and he looked up with those unmistakable ice-gray eyes, Emily almost rocked on her feet, sure she was seeing things.
It was definitely Chace, in the flesh, seated in
restaurant. Keeping her composure took superhuman effort, but she managed it anyway. “What are you doing here?” she said, a fixed smile on her face.
Chace gave a shrug. “I wanted to see you. And you didn’t pick any of my calls. So here we are.”
Emily huffed underneath her breath. “I’d have imagined you had your hands full during your ‘business’ trip. The last thing I wanted was to be a distraction.”
She felt a slight triumph, remembering how she never bothered to answer any of the calls she’d known had come from Chace while he’d been gone. She’d pressed ignore every time. She’d been in a mess after seeing the picture of Veronica Fry and with the suspicion that somehow Chace and the supermodel would have linked up in New York. Fanciful or just plain lame of her she knew, but she couldn’t help it. This man got to her in the worst way.
“I think I’ll be the judge of that,” said Chace, eyes smoldering as they swept over her briefly. “And I say you’re a distraction I have no problem dealing with.”
“In your dreams,” Emily said haughtily.
Then came that dark, killer grin that twisted her panties in a knot. “No, in my dreams you’ll be screaming my name, telling me how I give you everything you need.”
Cheeks hot with embarrassment and from the pulsing beat starting to drum within her sex, Emily swung her eyes skyward.
Damn this man for getting to me like no one else could
, she lamented. Facing him again, she kept that professional smile.
“Since this is hardly the time or place, why don’t you tell me what I can do for you?” she asked sweetly.
Chace merely smiled and it was that moment Clyde walked up. Emily stiffened at the sight of her boss and she wondered how much he’d witnessed. He seemed unaware of any friction, giving Chace a courteous smile which held more than a hint of masculine appreciation before asking if everything was okay. Emily quickly assured Clyde that there was no problem and Chace calmly ordered some wine.
Emily returned with the wine to find Clyde still in conversation with Chace, as apparently they realized they knew of each other.
, thought Emily with an inner eye roll. Chace really got around, it seemed. If Emily didn’t know Clyde was crazily in love with his boyfriend of five years, she’d have thought he was making a move on the very straight Chace, but that wasn’t it, of course. The two men actually exchanged business cards after their amiable chat and Clyde gave a stately little bow before backing away with a smile.
Emily watched Chace take an appreciative sip of his wine. She’d rather have tossed it in his face with the way he had her walking on pins, but she didn’t have the nerve. “Tell me you didn’t show up here just to make me uncomfortable.”
“Just say you’ll see me after you close in half an hour and I’ll be out of your hair,” said Chace, ever the picture of calm.