Only with You (The Best Mistake #1) - Page 17

Maybe he should call Brynn again. Perhaps he’d been too hasty in ending their relationship before giving it a chance. She was everything he was looking for. Successful, lovely, calm…

No. He was bored just thinking about it. Plus it would mean enduring more Dalton family dinners, and no woman was worth that.

Still…he needed a girlfriend. Someone to talk to. Ian was great, but weekly sessions at the gym with another dude weren’t the same as lingering dinners with a woman.

But finding the right woman had proven a hell of a lot more difficult than any business venture he’d undertaken. He’d given up on dating in Chicago after Jessica, and the Seattle dating pool hadn’t been much better. He wasn’t even sure what he was looking for anymore.

Gray did, however, know what he wasn’t looking for. He didn’t want someone too cheerful and talkative. And maybe it was time to try a brunette this time—someone serious and focused. Someone who wouldn’t wear a miniskirt to a business function just to piss him off.

His eyes unwillingly fell on his assistant. Someone not like Sophie.

* * *

“Where’s that cute little Sally?” Alistair Blackwell asked around a mouthful of his third salami panini.

Gray clenched his teeth. The thought of this creep lusting over his assistant was not improving his mood. It was becoming rapidly apparent than Alistair’s only purpose in joining them for the day was free food and getting into Sophie’s pants.

“I believe Ms. Dalton is on her lunch break,” Gray replied coolly.

Actually, Gray had no idea where Sophie was. He hadn’t seen her since he’d requested she call a town car, but he assumed she was off eating a fancy overpriced salad at one of the nearby restaurants with the other office women. He hated to admit it, but he almost wished she were here to work her nauseating female magic on the Blackwells.

As if Sophie had read his thoughts, he heard the sound of familiar female laughter. Finally she was back from her froufrou girly lunch. Really, she couldn’t have waited to do an extended lunch on a day when his personal and professional life weren’t in mayday status?

Slowly his mind registered that he was hearing the laughter of two women. Both sounded familiar.

His spine stiffened in realization. Oh God.

Alistair, completely oblivious to the turmoil running through Gray’s mind, seemed delighted to see not one, but two females approaching through the glass partition.

“Well, well, your pretty Sally has a pretty friend,” he said, all but licking his lips.

“My assistant’s name is Sophie,” Gray ground out. “And that pretty friend you’re ogling is my little sister.”

He didn’t have to turn around to know it was Jenna. The low, cynical chuckle and the raspy jazz-diva voice were all too familiar. Gray had spent the past decade trying to keep the twins away from his professional life, and Sophie had managed to undo years of careful maneuvering in one afternoon.

“Sophie!” Alistair was booming, heading toward the door of the conference room. “I was wondering when we’d get to see your pretty face.”

“Mr. Blackwell,” Sophie cooed. “It’s so lovely to see you again. Allow me to introduce Mr. Wyatt’s sister. This is Jenna, visiting us all the way from New York. I just picked her up at the airport.”

Sophie shot Gray a triumphant look, and as much as he wanted to drag his assistant into his office by her hair, it was hardly the time to address her misunderstanding of the words “town car.”

Gray settled for sending her a glare. We’ll talk later.

She smiled back at him. You’re welcome.

“Gray, aren’t you going to say hello to your sister?”

He jolted guiltily. He’d been so busy glaring at Sophie that he’d forgotten all about greeting Jenna. His sister looked beautifully dangerous, as always. Dressed in tight black pants and some sort of knit top, she looked every bit the New Yorker she’d been for all of the past three months.

Before that, she’d been a Southern belle. Before that, a cowgirl.

Dark hair fell in thick waves around Jenna’s shoulders, and one perfectly groomed brow arched above a gray eye not unlike his own.

“Hello, brother dearest. It was so thoughtful of you to send your assistant since you couldn’t make it in person. I’d have thought you’d have just sent a town car, but this was a nice personal touch.”

Gray smiled thinly.

“You’re quite the assistant, Ms. Dalton,” Peter was saying to Sophie as Gray awkwardly hugged his sister. “You fetch lunch, answer phones, and pick up your

boss’s sister from the airport…”

“What other services do you offer, Soph?” Alistair said with a grin, his eyes fixated on Sophie’s breasts.

And that was quite enough of that. Gray stepped forward between Sophie and the Blackwells.

“Jenna, it’s great to see you, but as you can see, we’re just wrapping up a business meeting here. Let’s meet up for dinner later?”

“By all means,” his sister purred, her expression betraying nothing.

Alistair finally managed to tear his eyes away from Sophie’s chest and did a double take as he took in the full impact that was Jenna. His sister was stunning, which had been hell on an older brother while she was in her teens. Now that she’d blossomed into a confident and edgy woman, she’d become downright dangerous. Her eyes were the trademark Wyatt gray, except hers tilted upward slightly, giving her the look of a predatory cat. A slim body and long silky chestnut hair had attracted the attention of many a modeling scout. Which Jenna had, of course, pursued, if only to irk both of her brothers.

The combination of Sophie’s sunny glow and Jenna’s sultry smirk was too much for the Blackwell men to handle, and Gray sensed their already-iffy focus starting to wane.

“We’ll get out of your way,” Sophie said smoothly, apparently sensing the tension in the room. “I’m sure both Mr. Blackwells here are eager to get back to work.”

“I was just about to suggest we men get back down to business. You took the words right out of my mouth,” Alistair said, puffing up slightly. “Ladies, I’d love to entertain you, but I’ve always been a man of focus, I’m afraid. Occupational hazard.”

“I completely understand,” Sophie replied with a straight face. “I couldn’t bear it if little women like me and Jenna here distracted you.”

Jenna snickered, and Gray sent Sophie a warning glance. Now was not the time for her to show the Blackwells her sugar-coated fangs.

“Perhaps we could all grab dinner after,” Alistair suggested with a lingering glance at Sophie’s shapely calves.

“Son, I’m sure they have a nice family dinner planned,” Peter said chidingly. “We don’t want to intrude.”

Jenna laughed softly. “You don’t know the Wyatts that well, then,” she said. “For us, family and business go hand in hand. Dinner just wouldn’t be the same unless work crept into it, right, Gray?”

The accusation stung more than Gray wanted to admit, but he gave a tense smile. “I’m sure Mr. Blackwell was just being polite with his offer. I can’t imagine what all of us would have to say to each other over a meal.”

Sophie shot him a look. Watch it. Coddle them.

“But,” Gray amended hastily, “if you’re in town tomorrow night, dinner would be great. It’d give us a chance to talk about your property in a more informal setting. Maybe get to know each other better.”

Sophie smothered a laugh, and Jenna tilted her head to the side and eyed him suspiciously.

“Actually, we need to fly out tomorrow morning,” Peter said. “It’s my wife’s birthday tomorrow, so we need to head back to the islands. But no need to schmooze us over dinner. I think we’ve come about as far as we can in this discussion, don’t you think?”

Shit, Gray thought, his mind reeling for ways to save the deal. “I have just a few more points to wrap up if you have the time,” Gray said hastily. “Jen, I should be done here within a couple hours, if you want to grab drinks.”

“Sounds great,” she said with surprising agreeability.

“Unless…” Sophie began.

Oh no. No. No. No. But, of course, she kept going.

“Well, I’m just thinking, neither Jenna nor the Blackwells here have really seen Seattle. No harm in killing two birds with one stone. We could all see something of the city, and finish the evening with a dinner? Gray’s buying.”

Great. Now she was a f**king Girl Scout troop leader using company money?

“I’m game,” Jenna said.

“I could probably find the time.” Alistair looked ridiculously pleased with himself.

“Well,” mused Peter, “I suppose we all need to eat, and I wouldn’t mind hearing a local’s opinion on Seattle. Especially a beautiful local.”

Sophie laughed prettily, and Peter blushed slightly, smiling at her like a fond father.

The realization settled over Gray like a storm cloud. He had to do this if he wanted to save the deal. Sophie was the key to this whole damn thing. The Blackwells weren’t

interested in the bottom line. They were vain, old-school fools who wanted to be flattered, pampered, and appreciated. They wanted someone to tell them that their property was special and important, regardless of its price tag.

He needed Sophie. And this dinner.

“Fine,” he said, dreading the impending painful evening. “If nobody minds, I’d like to include my brother, Jack. He’s expecting to see Jenna.”

“The more the merrier,” Sophie cooed.

Barf.

“I’ll call Jack,” Jenna said.

Gray closed his eyes briefly and counted to ten. He could do this. It would be hell, but somehow he was going to have to find a way to spend the evening with his estranged siblings and his two most difficult clients.

At least Sophie would be there.

Although for the life of him, he didn’t know if that would make the evening better or worse.

* * *

An hour later, Gray was drinking a lukewarm beer and watching his client hit on his sister, and his brother hit on his assistant.

He wasn’t sure what bothered him more: the way Alistair was staring at Jenna’s chest as she ran verbal circles around him, or the way Jack’s and Sophie’s heads were tilted together as they laughed over their beers.

“I had no idea that Seattle was a bowling town,” Peter said as he sipped his whiskey.

“I don’t know that it is,” Gray admitted. “But tourist options are limited on rainy days, and Sophie insists that this is a Seattle classic.”

Sophie’s head snapped around and she gave him a defensive glare. “What was I supposed to do, drag them through a soggy Pike Place Market? Maybe show them how much they can’t see in the fog from the top of the Space Needle?”

“Calm down,” Gray muttered. “Nobody’s attacking your bowling idea.”

“Are you having fun?” she asked him in a warning tone.

Fun? He should have been having fun. Everyone else was. But instead of joining in with the laughter and the flirtation, Gray had somehow ended up pairing off with the elderly Peter instead of chatting with his brother and sister. Instead of flirting with Sophie.

He felt like a decrepit old man watching the kids run around and have a good time.

“Yes, Ms. Dalton,” he replied. “I’m having fun. In fact, it was just this morning that I was thinking I haven’t been bowling in so long. Thanks for the opportunity.”

She narrowed her eyes, but Peter seemed to take Gray’s comment at face value, because he nodded agreeably.

“You’re up, champ,” Jack said, grabbing Sophie’s knee to get her attention.

Fantastic, they had nicknames now. Jack must have felt Gray’s gaze burning a hole in the back of his hand, because he removed it quickly from Sophie’s leg with a questioning eyebrow as if to say Yours?

Gray avoided his brother’s silent inquiry by staring at the scoreboard, where he was placing…fifth. Out of six. Even Alistair was beating him. Peter at least was a good deal behind him, but the man had arthritis, for God’s sake. Nobody expected Peter to do anything other than gently push the ball down the lane with two hands.

Surely Gray could do better than this. It wasn’t like he’d never bowled before. He could remember a couple of birthday parties as a kid. So it had only been, oh, about twenty years since his last game.

Meanwhile, the blonde demon in his life had just thrown yet another strike, which had her tied in first place with Jack. The two of them were now doing some sort of victory dance that involved lots of touching.

This was just great. At this rate, Gray’s next bowling experience would probably be at the birthday party of his nieces and nephews as they squealed about how this was the place where their parents first met.

The thought of mini-Sophies and -Jacks put him in an even worse mood, so instead he studied the other flirtatious couple. Alistair had abandoned Sophie almost immediately after discovering that she was the better bowler. Pudgy losers like Alistair didn’t like to be beat in anything, even something as ridiculous as bowling. Jenna was barely better than Gray, which made her fair game for the younger Blackwell’s attention.

As Gray watched Jenna lay a hand on Alistair’s arm, he wondered why she wasn’t ripping her lame suitor to shreds. His sister wasn’t exactly approachable, even to eligible men. There was no way she’d waste her time with this overweight lecher boy currently trying to correct her bowling form. And yet her usual venom wasn’t seeping from her pores. Interesting.