“Thank you,” Preston said.
She leaned in and whispered something low to him. I couldn’t make out exactly what, but something along the lines of, “hurt her,” and “balls torn off,” were key words I picked up on. Preston smiled and nodded.
“Great! Then we’re good.”
“Now if you ladies care to join me, I’d like to introduce you to a few people.” Preston casually rested his palm on the small of my back. Since the first night I met him, he’d been guiding me through rooms. Gently coaxing me in the direction of his choosing—a fact that was not lost on me.
My powder blue dress barely grazed the floor as he led me toward a small crowd of people on the other side of the room. The silk was tight from my br**sts to my hips then subtly flared out. Emma and I looked to be the only ones who wore our hair down instead of some intricate up-do. As if Preston could read my thoughts he leaned in and said, “I’m proud to have you on my arm.”
We reached the group of older gentlemen, all looking like a cross between Bill Gates and the Monopoly guy. Except for one.
“Rhys, this is my fiancé Megan and our friend Emma Wade.”
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Rhys said and shook my hand. The man was massive. Not quite as tall as Preston, but over six foot with the broadest shoulders I’d ever seen. His smoky gray eyes and longish blond hair made him look more like a superhero in a tux than a CEO of Striker Solutions.
“It’s nice to meet you.” I smiled, but his attention was already turned to Emma.
“Miss Wade,” he said. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought Emma shuddered a little when he took her hand in his.
Preston and Rhys started talking business, a few details spilling out here and there. Rhys was a former Marine and moved as though he knew where everyone in the room was at any given time—a trait that likely made him very good at his job. But his gaze kept landing on Emma.
I stood there, sipping my champagne, perfectly happy to be listening and not talking. Emma, on the other hand, kept fidgeting and looking at Mr. Marine. I’d never seen her so affected by a man.
The orchestra slowed the beat and Rhys held out his hand to Emma. “Care to dance, Miss Wade?”
Emma put her empty champagne flute on a server tray passing by and nodded. Holy crap! Brassy, tough-talking Emma was speechless. Rhys led her to the dance floor among the other couples swaying. When she looked over her shoulder at me, I smiled wide.
“Preston.” A middle-aged man approached and shook his hand. “Strauss Hotel is doing well. I hear John is retiring soon.”
“We’ll see,” Preston replied. “David, this is my fiancé, Megan Riley.”
More pleasantries, handshakes and fake smiles took up the next two hours. I hadn’t said more than a few words to anyone, and most were just formal greetings. Over and over Preston was approached, confidently holding court in his own corner of the ballroom while the crowd came to him. And I was just another bird in that flock. Pulled in by that invisible power and charisma he radiated.
Emma was doing her own mingling, mostly with Rhys, and I stood, staring into space, trying to figure out what part of Preston was more enthralling—
“A-hundred-thousand for your thoughts?” Preston whispered into my ear.
I smiled at him. “Isn’t it, ‘a penny’?”
He shrugged. “I like to aim high.”
“Well, that’s quite a price for a single thought.”
“Depends.” He faced me fully, the crowd around us faded away and the heat of him engulfing me. “Tell me your thoughts were of me and I’ll double my price.” His green eyes shimmered like glossy emeralds and like usual, I was mesmerized.
“Would you like to dance?”
My heart pounded hard, and while this night hadn’t gone as I had originally planned, there was nothing more I wanted to do in that moment than wrap myself in Preston’s arms and let the world fade away.
“So much,” I whispered.
Taking me by the hand, he led me to the center of the room and I realized that it could have been to the gates of hell, I still would have followed.
It was late. I didn’t know exactly how late, but enough to where my body ached and my feet stung from being pinched in the high heels. I walked into the closet, stepped out of the strappy death traps and peeled off the dress. I was too tired to rummage for a nighty and honestly, I wasn’t feeling sexy enough for any more silk and lace. Grabbing one of Preston’s white tee-shirts off the shelf I pulled it on and walked out of the closet and into the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face.
“Did you have a nice time?” Preston called from the bedroom.
“The Armory was beautiful and Rhys seems nice.” I needed to talk to Emma about how nice of time she had. She was quiet on the ride home and I didn’t want to push for details in front of Preston, but it was obvious she seemed to connect with the security CEO.
“Rhys is a good friend,” Preston called out again. This time it sounded like he was in the closet. It was funny how we seemed to move around each other so fluidly at times. “He’ll be at the wedding.”
Walking from the bathroom I pulled the comforter back on the bed. I glanced up to see Preston standing on the other side—
“Whoa,” I breathed.
Sheets in my hand, I froze and simply stared. Preston in a pair of low slung gray pajama pants and nothing else. There was something so incredibly sexy about him, but this? Hard, tan torso muscles tapering to lean hips and that small trail of hair that started just below his navel and disappeared below his pants made my mouth water.
“I see you have the top to my bottoms,” he grinned. I looked down the front of me. His shirt hit mid-thigh and I hadn’t bothered to cover up further.
“Hope you don’t mind?” I asked, hadn’t thinking to do so before.
He shook his head. His expression was stern but other than that, he looked so relaxed, so normal, in slightly disheveled hair and five o’clock shadow. He slowly walked around the edge of the bed toward me, never taking his gaze from my face.
“This arrangement is different for me too, you know.” His voice was low and those green eyes seared hot. My body responded in every way, recognizing that once again, I was the piece in his sights. Any feeling of exhaustion was gone, replaced with anticipation. My ni**les hardened and the scratch of the soft cotton tee was enough to make me groan. “I don’t stay the night with women.” Step. “I don’t play house.” Step. “I don’t share my clothes.”