Grace had picked me up earlier that morning, so I didn’t have my car, and I knew she wouldn’t be able to drive me home until the next day. I was secretly hoping that instead of my having to spend the night here, Adam would give me a ride home.
Smoothing my dress, I walked into the large dining room. It was not set for dinner, but rather a buffet of food and drinks. Random people were scattered throughout the house, talking, laughing, and getting drunk. My aunt’s parties tended to get a little wild when her closest friends were present.
“Pretty good turnout.” Brian bumped my elbow with his and took a swig from his longneck.
“Yeah, Grace likes these kinds of things.”
Brian’s hazel eyes skated over my aunt before landing on me. He was a good friend—he always stayed late, later than me sometimes, and helped clean up.
“You crashing here tonight?” Brian asked, empty beer in hand.
Since my aunt’s house was several miles from ours in the city, making cab fare brutal, Megan, Brian, and I typically picked a designated driver for the parties.
In the distance, Megan was swaying to music. She had already had a few and I could tell that Brian wanted a second. Looked like I was the one staying sober and I had no problem with that.
“I can drive your car, drop you off at your place, then take Megan home if you’d like.”
Brian shook his head and cracked open another beer. “I thought we’d make a night of it. I can drive us all home in the morning.”
It wouldn’t be the first time that a party had run late and Brian and Megan had slept it off in the guest room. I, however, always opted to go home, which is why I hated not having my car here. My friends knew a lot about my past, but I kept my uncle’s creepy perv tendencies to myself.
“You want a drink?” he asked.
I shook my head. “Not in the mood tonight.”
Brian’s eyes were on the room. “All right, but if you change your mind, there’s plenty to go around.” He winked and pointed at the bar across the room where everyone was congregating. Tim always kept it well stocked. When I had moved in with them at age sixteen, after my mother’s latest rage, I learned real quick that while there might be a short supply of vegetables and empathy, they were never short on liquor.
The doorbell rang.
“Have fun.” I smiled at Brian before walking out toward the entryway. I opened the large front door. The cold air hit me, but a hot flame burst through my bloodstream.
Standing in all his perfect glory was Adam Kinkade. If I’d thought he was delectable in a suit, in light gray pants, black belt, and white shirt, he was yummy.
The first two buttons on his collar were undone and a wool coat that matched his pants draped his broad shoulders like a dream. A pang washed through me when I realized that I had been intimate with this man—kind of—but had never seen him naked. I hadn’t even got to witness the hard chest he was hiding beneath all those expensive clothes.
“Jesus, Katelyn,” he grated. My gaze snapped to his. I thought he was upset, but then I saw a familiar look in his eyes. It was the same look he’d given me when I was on my knees before him. Lust. “You’re beautiful.”
My chest tightened. Not because of his words, but because of the way he said them. He spoke as though the wind had just been struck from his lungs.
“Thank you. You look pretty great yourself.”
A small grin split his lips. “May I come in? Or would you prefer that I drag you out into the cold and whisk you away somewhere else?”
“Of course, come in.” I smiled sheepishly. He took of his coat and I hung it in the closet. “The party is in here.”
I turned to lead the way, but he grabbed my wrist, halting me, spinning me to face him. His blue eyes were shining like a moonlit iceberg. They reminded me that once again, I was drowning around him.
“Thank you for inviting me,” he rasped. His thumb drew lazy circles on my inner wrist. The action made my whole body tense. “I’ve thought of nothing but you—” Still gripping my wrist, he raised his hand to my face and brushed my bottom lip. “—and this talented mouth for the past two days.”
He kissed my palm. The gesture was intimate, as though he was praising me. Odd, since I was pretty certain Adam Kinkade didn’t do emotions and sex. Not that we’d technically had sex.
“Katelyn! Simon’s nanny just left with an emergency.” Tim stomped toward me. The sound of his voice sent a slow slide of dread down my neck. “Can you take care of—”
He stopped midsentence, and midstride, when he saw Adam. “Oh, hello.” He extended his hand in greeting. “I’m Tim St. Roy.”
The look on Tim’s face was a mix of surprise and recognition. Obviously Tim had heard of Adam.
“It’s nice to meet you.” When Tim’s eyes landed on me, unease slithered through my body like a chafing eel. “I was unaware that you knew my Katelyn.”
My Katelyn? I clenched my jaw. The endearment sickened me to my core. Apparently Adam didn’t like it either, because his whole demeanor shifted. He didn’t let go of my wrist, rather he slipped his hand into mine and twined our fingers together. The small gesture comforted me.
Tim took notice. Adam’s body was thrumming, but he remained perfectly still. Adam was not the type to offer information. Instead of taking on Tim’s questioning expression, Adam turned toward me.
“I’d be happy to escort you to dinner if you’d like.” He unleashed that megawatt smile. “Or, perhaps coffee?”
I beamed up at him. Somehow, he had picked up on my agitation and offered to remove me from the situation.
“You can’t go,” Tim shot out. “You just got here. Come, I’d like to introduce you to some people, Mr. Kinkade.” Tim’s eyes briefly flashed to me. “Kate, you have Simon?”
I nodded and stole a glance at Adam. His eyes were intense, watching every move I made.
“It’s okay. I’ll be right back,” I whispered, and headed for Simon’s room. There was no doubt that Adam could handle himself just fine. It was the way he looked at me, as if silently asking me if I was all right. The surge of strength and repose that came over me made me smile. Adam had done it again. Facilitating a lightning bolt of power straight to my self-esteem.
When I got to Simon’s room, I found him lying in bed, clutching his blanket. I turned on his night light and sat next to him. “Hey kiddo, why aren’t you asleep yet?”