Only with You (The Best Mistake #1) - Page 2

“The emergency button isn’t working. Nothing will light up.”

Sophie peered in the direction of the elevator controls. “Are you sure you’re hitting the right button? It should be the red one with the little fireman’s hat.”

He turned away from the control panel to stare at her. “I know what button it is.”

Sophie winced. This could not be happening. She could not be stuck in an elevator while wearing less than she would to the beach.

Cool under pressure wasn’t exactly one of her specialties, but she gave it a shot. Pushing panic aside, she forced herself to think.

“Cell phone!” she said. “We can call from our cell phones.”

But The Suit was way ahead of her, already pushing buttons on his fancy phone. The expression on his face said it all. No service.

“Check yours,” he commanded.

“Yes, sir!” she grumbled, fumbling around for her clutch and pulling out her phone. The only benefit of the complete darkness was the fact that he didn’t have to watch the way her miniskirt persistently climbed its way up her hips.

Please get a trillion service bars, she silently begged her phone. Even dealing with Trish in all of her holy Bridezilla horror beat being locked in a tiny black box with the human equivalent of dry ice. But all she saw was the sad little symbol of no service.

“Nothing,” she moaned. “We’re totally stuck. Shouldn’t the elevators have emergency lights or something?”

“They’re supposed to,” her companion said darkly.

Realizing that her legs were still shaking, Sophie slid down the wall until she was sitting on the elevator floor. She wasn’t claustrophobic. Not exactly. And she didn’t have a fear of heights, but…

She was scared.

“Are you crying?” he asked.

“No.” She sniffled.

“Oh Jesus. You are.”

She heard a sigh followed by the sound of sliding fabric. Surprised, she realized he’d just settled on the floor beside her. He pressed something against her elbow.

A handkerchief. Not a rough paper tissue, but a soft, actual handkerchief. How perfectly cliché. What decade was he from? She accepted it reluctantly, knowing that she was bound to get black mascara streaks all over its pristine whiteness, which would only foster his grumpiness.

But it was either that or show up to the bar looking like a raccoon.

Wiping her watery eyes, she looked at him. So maybe she was a tiny bit grateful for his presence. Being stuck with a jerk beat being stuck alone.

“You should know I’m not going to save this as a memento,” she said, waving the handkerchief defiantly in his face.

“What?”

“You know, like in the movies when the gentleman hands the distraught lady a handkerchief and he finds out at the end of the movie that she’s saved it for like decades as a keepsake?”

“What movie is that? It sounds awful.”

“Never mind,” she said on a sigh. No imagination, this one. “So what do we do now?”

“We wait. It’s a modern hotel; they’ll have realized by now that something’s wrong.”

She nodded, knowing he was probably right.

“Christ,” he muttered under his breath. “Of all the days, and of all the women.”

Sophie stiffened at the scorn in his tone. “Oh, I’m sorry, would there be a more convenient time to get stuck in an elevator? Or a more preferable woman? A mute nun, perhaps?”

He didn’t answer. Which was answer enough.

“What exactly is your problem?” she asked. “You can’t so much as smile at a stranger, much less make standard small talk when stuck in a small, confined space?”

Nothing.

The elevator jerked suddenly, and her hand grabbed at his leg in panic. The movement stopped as suddenly as it began, and they once again jolted to a silent stop.

“Oh God,” she whispered, biting her lip against the next round of terrified tears, her fingers still clenched on the irritable stranger.

He tensed, but didn’t remove her hand from its viselike grip on his thigh.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Sophie.” She sniffed. “Yours?”

“Gray.”

That briefly distracted her from her terror. “Like the color?”

Like your suit? Like your eyes? Like your personality?

“Yes. Like the color.”

“That’s a nice name.” It was sorta sexy. Very manly. He said nothing, but his leg shifted slightly under her grip, and she wondered if her hand was making him uncomfortable. Probably. She left it

where it was.

“How long until we’re rescued?” she asked.

“Soon. This is Las Vegas. I’m sure they have an elevator maintenance service nearby.”

“Do you come to Vegas often?” she asked.

He let out the smallest of pained sighs at her continued conversation. “Every couple weeks or so,” Gray finally responded.

“That often?” she asked, surprised. He didn’t seem like the gambling type. “What’s your vice of choice? Slots? Texas Hold’em? Lap dances? A little Cirque du Soleil?”

This time he didn’t bother to hide his sigh. “Listen, I get that you’re nervous, but do we have to, you know…talk?”

“Yes, we have to talk. It helps take my mind off the fact that we’re stuck in a dark death box. Plus your conversational skills clearly need some practice.”

“Are you always this noisy?” he asked.

“It’s not like I’m singing show tunes. It’s just small talk. You know…safe topics. Weather, movies, careers…Let’s start simple. Where are you from?”

More silence.

“Chicago,” he said finally.

She waited. Nothing. No detail. No reciprocal question. Not even a full freaking sentence. Sophie gently rapped her skull against the elevator wall in exasperation. “You’re killing me. Don’t you ever put more than three words together at a time?”

“Now who’s being rude?”

Sophie fought for calm, both over nerves and temper. Her fingers tightened reflexively on his leg. She belatedly realized exactly how high her hand had slid up his thigh. Her pinky was almost touching…

Oh God. She froze as she realized she was practically fondling the horrid man.

Gray turned his head sharply toward her, and she felt his breath against her cheek in the confined space. He looked away just as suddenly and studied the ceiling.

“I’m not interested in acquiring your services, so you can save yourself the effort,” he said quietly.

She blinked at him, totally confused. “My services?”

“You know, I mean…” He shifted uncomfortably. “I’m not really the type to pay for sexual, um…attention.”

Heat and disbelief swelled to Sophie’s head. She slowly pulled her hand away from his thigh as she processed what he’d just said.

“You think I’m a prostitute?” Her voice sounded like a twelve-pack-a-day chain smoker’s.

Something unfamiliar crept over Sophie’s cheeks, and she realized she was feeling something she hadn’t in years: humiliation. She couldn’t even remember the last time she’d bothered to care what someone else thought of her. Somewhere between her family’s lectures and getting her first job carrying full martinis on a tiny little tray, Sophie had learned to let the looks and snide comments roll off her.

She’d thought herself immune to surprised disdain and friendly condescension. She’d learned to deal with the label of “law school dropout.”

But this?

A prostitute? It was a whole other ball game of embarrassment.

It was worse than the time she’d seen her mother’s golf instructor at the bachelor party where she’d been working as a bartender. Worse than the time she’d been uninvited from her former best friend’s engagement party for being too “showy.” Worse than Brian accusing her of floating.

Sophie was still reeling when the lights flickered on. The elevator gave another sharp jolt before it began a downward descent. A very slow, normal downward descent.

“Looks like they fixed it,” Gray said.

He climbed to his feet, and although he avoided her eyes, he must have had some long-stifled seed of humanity floating around, because he extended a hand to help her up. But there was no way Sophie would let her hooker hands touch his saintly ones, so she ignored the hand and crawled to her feet, more conscious than ever that she wasn’t wearing enough fabric to cover a Chihuahua.

His gaze was fixed once more on the door, and she realized that he wasn’t going to discuss the misunderstanding. He hadn’t even asked if she was a hooker. He’d just assumed.

“You think I’m a prostitute,” she repeated, her voice stronger this time.

His silver gaze flicked to hers. Then away. “Look, it’s not that I don’t respect your choices. I’ve just never been in the market for an escort service,” he said.

“An escort service, is it? At least have the balls to call us what we really are. Call girl. Hooker. Whore.”

He flinched but didn’t refute her.

“You know what I

think of you?” she hissed, humiliation sending her into attack mode.

“I can hardly wait to hear,” he drawled in a bored voice.

But he never heard. The elevator gave a small beep as they arrived at the lobby level, and the doors opened. A flood of voices and faces swarmed toward them. Correction: they swarmed toward him.

“Mr. Wyatt!” A small man in a flashy striped suit rushed forward to greet her fellow captive. “I can’t believe it was you on that elevator. I’m so sorry, sir. I assure you, it will never happen again. I’m Philip Clinksy; as manager of the hotel, I’m personally horrified. If there’s anything I can do—”

“No matter,” Gray interrupted. “I’d like to continue with my dinner plans as soon as possible.”

Sophie rolled her eyes at the sheer injustice of it all. It figured that the world’s biggest jerk was apparently some sort of VIP.

“Very good, sir,” Mr. Clinksy said. The man was practically bowing. “Mr. Wyatt, of course, your dinner will be on the hotel after this harrowing experience. We don’t know what happened, but rest assured we have every possible technician looking into what affected your elevator…”

Gray shot him a cold look, and the manager stopped his ass-kissing abruptly. Silver eyes shifted to Sophie, and for the briefest moment she thought she saw something slightly human. Regret? An apology? Pity?

Oh God, please don’t let it be pity.

He held her gaze for a moment before nodding his head slightly in the barest form of acknowledgment. And then he walked away.

Without a word.

Without an apology.

Without giving her a chance to explain that she was not who he thought she was. Or what he thought she was.

She waited for him to look back. Waited for him to realize that at the very least, some verbal acknowledgment of their minicatastrophe was required. But he kept walking.

A gorgeous shithead in a beautiful suit.

“Will you be joining Mr. Wyatt tonight?”

It took Sophie a moment to realize that the ingratiating Mr. Clinksy was talking to her.

“Oh! No. Definitely not. We’re not together.” Not even if he paid me. “Just two strangers stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Ah, I see.” Was it her imagination, or did the hotel manager look slightly disdainful? The skimpy attire that had seemed like a good-natured joke in her hotel room now felt horribly demeaning. She longed for a sweatshirt.

“Well, I’m very sorry about all this, Ms.…”

“Dalton,” she responded with a faint smile. “Sophie Dalton.”

“Are you a guest here? If there’s anything we can do…”

Ten minutes later, Sophie had a handful of complimentary drink vouchers in her clutch, but her pride was hanging on by a thread. As she numbly wandered toward the bar, she had the oddest sense that something extraordinary had just happened. Something beyond getting stuck in an elevator.

Sophie was no stranger to embarrassing herself. Hell, for that matter, she was no stranger to embarrassing others. Just ask her family.

But Sophie had always been in charge of those perceptions. Always decided the when and the where of her impropriety.

Until now.

After years of carefully selected choices on the path of mediocrity, a stranger had just succeeded where her friends and family had failed.

Sophie had just been introduced to rock bottom.

And this time, she hadn’t even been looking for it.

CHAPTER THREE

Two weeks later, Sophie was in an entirely different sort of hell. One commonly known as “dinner with the parents.”

“William, stop eating all the shrimp. They’re for the salad,” Sophie’s mom said, slapping at the hand of her favorite dinner guest.

Sophie raised an eyebrow at the uncharacteristic behavior. Not that Marnie Dalton wasn’t the type to slap hands. She totally was. Sophie’s career-focused, take-no-prisoners, cloth-napkins-only mother ran her home with the rigid precision of Fort Knox.

But Marnie usually made an exception for Will. Hell, all women made exceptions for William Thatcher III. It was sort of nauseating, but Sophie had gotten tired of dry-heaving over her best friend’s manipulation of the female population somewhere around college. After all, it really wasn’t his fault that all women turned to simpering puddles of swoon around him.

All women except for Sophie.

Sophie’s mother scurried out of the kitchen, muttering something about crass fingerprints on the napkin rings.