“Then why don’t you?” I’m teasing him, and it feels good to be light and silly after only moments ago revealing such heavy information.
He smiles and I pull my finger from his mouth. “Thank you, Rose.” His smile fades, his expression going dead serious. “I mean it. It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about my dad with anyone. Even my mom.”
“I’m sure especially your mom. I know my father gets uncomfortable when any of us ask questions about our mother.”
He strokes underneath my chin with his thumb, his gaze thoughtful. “Have I told you lately that I think you’re beautiful?”
“Stop.” I bat at his hand but he doesn’t let go of my chin. He tells me I’m beautiful more than any other man has ever done but when he talks to me like this, I get embarrassed. “Seriously. You’re going to give me a complex.”
“A complex over your beauty? That doesn’t sound like such a bad thing.” He releases his hold on my chin so he can touch my cheek and run his finger down my nose, along my brows. “You’re unnaturally pretty, I swear. Like a little angel face.”
I roll my eyes and grimace. My cheeks are hot and I don’t know if I can take much more of this. “That’s what Violet says and it’s so embarrassing. She claims I look like one of Botticelli’s angels.” I don’t really believe it. Lily’s the beautiful, outrageous one. Violet’s the quiet, smart one, but truly? She’s just as beautiful as Lily.
“I had thoughts of wanting to paint you a few nights ago,” he admits sheepishly, flashing a lopsided smile.
My brows go up as if I have no control over them. “I didn’t know you were a painter.”
“I’m not.” He chuckles. “But you were lying on the bed, naked and spent, your skin all rosy and your hair everywhere. You had this satisfied look on your face, and I totally understood at that moment why artists always want to paint nudes of beautiful women.”
“Please.” I shake my head but he leans in and drops a kiss on my mouth, his lips lingering. “You don’t mean it.”
“I totally mean it,” he whispers, his lips moving against mine. “You make me … feel things I’ve never experienced before, Ro. You’ve changed me.”
I’m speechless. Not that I could say anything anyway. Not with the way Caden’s kissing me, his tongue sneaking into my mouth, sliding against mine. His hands start roaming my body and soon we’re lost in each other.
Not that I’m protesting.
“When you coming back, son? I need a firm answer. They’re ready to interview you. Whenever you’re ready, so are they. You’re spending way too much time over there and if you don’t hurry home, your opportunity is going to move on without you.”
I’m out in front of the hotel standing on the sidewalk, having escaped from the room and Rose so I could call Cash. He’s been blowing up my phone the last two days in a variety of ways including missed calls, texts, and voicemails. I had no idea the old man was so savvy with a smart phone. He even tried to Face-Time me.
I’ve avoided him, which is stupid. I’d rather spend time with Rose than face my reality. I need to man the fuck up and do what’s right.
Blowing out a harsh breath, I run a hand through my hair. I need to get this shit cut. It’s driving me crazy, always falling in my eyes. “I’m not exactly sure.”
Cash wheezes. Or maybe he’s sighing. I can’t tell. “I’m telling ya, you need to get your ass back here. The position needs to be filled and he’s going to find someone else for the job, which would be a damn shame because you’re perfect for it and you know it. You’ve got an eye like no one I’ve ever met. They would kill for your expertise.”
“Put me down for Monday, okay? Let them know I’ll be there first thing in the morning or whatever works best for them.” If I can’t go back to New York with Mitchell, then I’ll have to find my own way home.
This means I have approximately forty-eight hours left with Rose.
Not enough time. I don’t want to leave her. Worse, I don’t know how I’m going to tell her I’m leaving her.
“Sounds good. Just know that this position can’t wait for you.” He keeps telling me this and I know he’s right. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. A lifetime, kid. It’ll help you go legit. Keep you out of the shit.”
“You’ve done all right for yourself,” I point out.
“I don’t know anything else. I got in so deep, there’s no way I could get out. Next thing I knew I was forty. Then fifty, then sixty … hell, I can’t even make myself retire. I’m addicted to this game. It’s ridiculous.” Cash pauses. “But you, you can pull yourself out of this. You’re young. You’re smart. You can do something with your life and actually become something.”
That’s why I’m going to the interview. Cash talks like the job is mine already, but we don’t know that for sure. I still need to interview and prove myself. It’s still hard for me to believe I’ve been handed this opportunity. An established and respected jeweler with a store in Brooklyn needs someone with a good eye who can evaluate and price jewelry. Considering I’ve been stealing copious amounts of jewelry for years and can price the shit out of it—both on the black market and legitimately—this is right up my alley.