Authors: Ashley Beale
"I'll call you in the morning," I tell Clarissa. "Love you."
"Love your face as well. Behave yourself." She smacks my ass before walking towards her car. "Keep some pepper spray on you. Even I want to jump your bones in that dress." She slides into her car and shuts the door before I can retort anything.
Although the biggest pain in my ass, I truly couldn't see my life with a better friend than Clarissa.
The drive to
Tempe isn't too bad. It's mostly beautiful homes and even more beautiful scenery. Especially driving into the sunset as I continue my journey west. As the homes start to become sparser, they also become larger than the previous one. I'm still three miles out from Roman's home according to my GPS as the homes disappear altogether. Instead I'm almost driving straight into the mountains.
A mile from my destination I turn left onto a cobblestone road. Less than twenty feet down the road, it narrows to fit less than two cars before coming to a wrought iron gate. Two security guards standing outside it, dressed like the secret service. I roll down the window when I come to a complete stop.
"Name," one states.
"Liv Donovan. I'm not sure if I have the right address. I was told-"
He checks off something on the paper in front of him and interrupts me completely. "There will be a valet at the door."
The gate opens in front of me. I guess I have the right place after all. I drive down the driveway-slash-road, going slow to enjoy the view. Fields on both sides are freshly mowed. Looking to the right, the land is flat as the eye can see, with a several cacti spread about. To the left are the mountains, towering higher than I've ever seen in person. I'm in awe of them and almost wish I were brave enough to someday hike.
Roman's home comes into view suddenly, getting larger by the minute. It isn't a home. It’s a freaking mansion.
There are three professional looking men in suites standing outside the stone steps when my car rolls around to the front door. One of them comes running around to the driver side of the car. He helps me climb out of my car, since it isn't exactly easy to maneuver in this dress. I thank him before he takes my place in the driver’s seat. I've never used a valet before so I'm not even positive what I'm supposed to do besides making sure that my purse is with me, not him.
I walk around the car to where the other two employees are. "Do I give you my name?" I ask.
"You're all set Ms. Donovan," one claims.
The man at the gate must've told him I was coming. They all are wearing ear pieces after all. "Thank you. Do you know where to go?" I look up the stone steps to the maroon stained wooden door. The flowers on either side of the steps on the walk up are exquisite. I would never have imagined that someone as unrefined as Roman could live in a place this grand.
"Once you get through the main doors, you'll take a left. You'll enter a hall, then you walk to the end of that. To the right is the grand room where the rest of the guests are assembling."
I inhale slowly and exhale through my nose. Ready or not, I'm entering the wolf's den. I just hope I get out alive.
The entrance to Roman's home is made of stone. I have an irresistible desire to run my hand along it. It’s welcoming and beautiful. I turn to the left as the man outside explained and walk down the long hall. The walls are blinding white with black trim around each door and window. The contrasting colors are gorgeous, especially against the hardwood floor. I'm in awe of his home. Not by the size but by looks alone. I couldn't dream up something better.
I find the grand room without any problem. By the amount of cars outside, I assumed twenty or more people were already here. Cut that number in half and I'd be correct. Everyone seems to know each other as they talk in two large groups, making things even more awkward than I'd already assumed they'd be. I continue to stand here, off to the side, watching them. I don't even see Roman or Stephanie yet.
I decide to take this time to freshen up in the powder room, before everyone else shows up. Make sure my makeup still looks fresh and use the facilities at the same time. I don't have the faintest idea where the bathroom is located in this monstrosity Roman considers a home.
Since I didn't see it on the way to the grand room, I take my chances and walk further down the hall. The hallway doesn't extend very far before reaching a staircase. I look around me but don't see anyone in sight that could help me, and I certainly haven't found the powder room.
With a sigh, I decide to take my chances and ascend the stair case slowly. I really do feel like a princess in this dress, climbing the dark stone steps. The view I'm given as I go higher up is breath taking. There is an immense picture window overlooking the mountains. The sun is still setting in the distant, bringing on a radiant glow in the distance, shadowing the peaks of different heights.
I stop at the top of the steps to get a last glance of the view. If I could build a bedroom anywhere in the world, it'd be here. I'd love to fall asleep to that view every night. I know I'd be blessed with good dreams each time I closed my eyes.
Turning away from the view, I look around to see an open concept parlor. Two leather couches are placed strategically in the middle of the room with end tables placed on either side of them. Book shelves are built into the walls surrounding the rooms, and in the corner is a giant fire place. The room looks extremely old fashioned with modern touches to it. I can count a total of five doors, all of them closed.
I don't want to just open the doors in hopes I'll find a bathroom. With a place so large, you think it'd be easier to locate one. Another thing that frustrates me about Roman. Nothing can be simple when it comes to him.
Speaking of Roman.
My heart pounds in my chest. "A little," I answer. I don't turn around.
Roman's body nearly brushes against me as he walks around me into the room. He turns to face me, looking me over approvingly. "It fits," he states.
"It does." I can't pretend I don't love the dress. A smile brightens my face immediately. "Thank you for it, by the way, but I didn't need you to buy me a dress."
"Trust me." He pauses while his eyes roam my body once more. "It was worth it."
My cheeks immediately heat up. "Do you have a bathroom?" I blurt out. I hate uncomfortable situations such as this. Now I go and make it even more so.
The side of his lip turns up. It’s obvious I amuse him. "Follow me."
Roman turns and walks towards one of the doors in the parlor. I follow behind him as ordered. He opens the door and moves out of the way so I can enter through the door before him. It brings me to another narrow hallway with only three doors. I peek over my shoulder to Roman as he walks behind me. "You're house is confusing."
"For good reason," he admits. "I know my way around, and that is all that matters."
"Are you a conspiracy theorist? You think the world is after you or something?"
He grins deliciously at me. "Or something." His finger points to the door on my right. "There is the room you're looking for. I'll be out here when you're done. Don't need you getting lost."
Except the way he says it makes me believe he wants me lost somewhere in his home.
I open the door to the bathroom and lock it once it’s closed behind me. I have to take several deep breathes before I'm able to even move. I cannot distinguish my feelings for Roman. He truly does drive me absolutely insane but every time he speaks or looks my way a thrill ravages my insides. The more I attempt to shake it off, the worse the feelings become.
Finally I make my way to the mirror. My makeup is still perfected as well as my hair, at least from what I can tell. I use the toilet quickly and laugh at the thought of using the baday. It makes me chuckle even more to know that Roman has one and probably has used it.
Looking my dress over to make sure its perfect, I then unlock the door before opening it. Roman is still standing there in all his perfectness, wearing one of his tailored suits, this time a gray one. I hadn't noticed what he was wearing before I came into the bathroom because I was too focused on the sickening feeling in my stomach that he caused.
"I could have found my way back," I tell him.
"I'm sure you could." He fixes his tie and starts walking down the hall without another glance in my direction.
"Really, I could have." I don't like to be doubted when I know I'm right.
"I didn't argue," he retorts indifferently.
"Why do you do that?" I snap. I have no reason to. None at all.
He pauses as he enters back into the parlor. I nearly walk into him from the sudden pause. Turning on his heels, he faces me. A little too close for comfort but I can't find the ability to take a step away from him. "Liv," his voice caresses my name.
Instead of responding, I swallow the fear building up inside me.
"Tell me what I do."
Confused, I ask, "What?"
"You asked why I do
What do I do, Liv?"
My jaw clenches. "Infuriate me so much."
"By doing... that!" I almost yell at him. My face turns red. I'm both annoyed and embarrassed by my outburst.
He grins. "When you stop fighting your feelings for me, Liv, you'll stop being so angry."
"I don't like you." I curl my lips in disgust. "You're arrogant and rude."
"I'm anything but those things. However, I like the feisty side of you."
I cross my arms. "I'm with Blaise. You can't say those kind of things to me."
"So he isn't just your... friend... anymore?"
My eyes narrow. "This is exactly what I mean by arrogant."
Roman chuckles. "Says the girlfriend to someone like Blaise Cole."
"What is wrong with Blaise? He is perfect."
We stare at each for a moment. It’s obvious he is debating on telling me something... anything. He doesn't want me to believe that Blaise is a good guy, even though there is no way I could doubt it. I continue staring at him, ready for him to try to break that barrier.
When he doesn't say anything after a moment, I finally uncross my arms and readjust the purse strap on my shoulder. "If you don't mind, there is a meeting I was required to attend tonight." When I go to walk around Roman, his arm comes out in front of me, stopping me in place. I shoot a glare at him.
"I'm not even going to attempt to break up what you believe is some kind of love story, but please, beware. Blaise isn't what he seems."
"You employee him. He can't be all that bad."
"When people work for me, I can watch them. I can protect people that way." His hand runs down my arm softly before dropping it at his side.
I'm brought to a stunned silence. I excuse myself without another word, making my way back down the stairs to the ridiculous business meeting.