Only with You (The Best Mistake #1) - Page 27

“No, just a girls’ night.” She lowered herself onto the leather bar stool and fixed her eyes on her glass as he poured himself some sort of amber-looking liquid.

“And you came by to say hi,” he said, taking a long swallow of his drink.

“Mm-hmm,” she said, tracing a drip of condensation down the side of her glass.

The wine buzz was fading, but the recklessness wasn’t.

Her mind kept returning to The Kiss from the car. It had been running over and over through her brain like a track on repeat. And the more she thought about it, the more she wanted to do it again. Take it further.

But not like this. He was supposed to be his usual crude self. She wanted hot, meaningless anger sex. Something she could walk away from without so much as a bruise on her emotions.

This quiet, contemplative Will set her on edge. She didn’t know how to speak with him in any language other than “feud.”

Why didn’t he call her bony or snobby or vapid and set her temper off so that she could storm out? Storming out was immature, but smart. Practical. Necessary. Storming out was very Brynn.

And that was the problem. She was sick of herself. She wanted a break from being the organized, uptight, no-sex-before-the-eighth-date goody-goody.

Who better to give her a night’s vacation from perfect than a man who spent more on condoms in a year than he did on food?

Brynn shook her head to try and clear it. She was making herself dizzy with all of this waffling. Either she wanted to jump his crass bones, or she didn’t. Make up your mind.

And then the most disturbing thought of all hit her. What if he didn’t want her?

She’d taken for granted that he was a womanizer, but for all her complaining about him going through women faster than a toddler went through Cheerios, he’d never made a move on her. Not in high school, when they’d run in the same social circles. Not in college, when he’d practically lived at her house over Christmas break. And certainly not in their adult life, when their once-harmless bickering had turned into very real dislike.

Not until that rainy night in his car, and she still wasn’t sure that the kiss hadn’t been more about punishing her than passion.

The thought of being rejected by Will was almost enough to bring back the practical, self-preserving Brynn. And yet still she didn’t move.

Just do it. You have the rest of your life to be boring.

Brynn set aside her untouched water glass and stood.

Keeping her eyes locked on his moody blue gaze, she slowly made her way around his kitchen island. She continued her slow approach until there were only inches between them. Still he didn’t move or speak.

Brynn let her eyes move over him the way she’d seen him check out women a thousand times before. He was wearing a tight black T-shirt, jeans, and a scowl. He looked like every woman’s bad-boy fantasy. Perfect.

Licking her lips nervously, she pulled the glass from his hand and set it on the counter. She felt a little thrill of gratification when something dark and dangerous flashed through his normally bored eyes.

She hesitantly ran her manicured fingernails lightly over his rib cage, closing her eyes in ecstatic panic when she heard him suck in a sharp breath.

Rough fingers clamped around her wrist. “Brynn, wait—”

No! Desperate to stop him from thinking this through, she rose to her toes and kissed him. It was a soft kiss, just merest brush of her lips against his. But still, she shuddered. He tasted warm and smoky and strangely addicting.

She kissed him again, lingering this time. His lips moved just slightly beneath hers. Not quite returning the kiss, but not pulling back either.

He’s letting me decide, she realized. Whatever she was feeling was nothing like the manic passion of the car, and that alarmed her. This kiss was softer. Nicer.

And every instinct was screaming that “soft” with William Thatcher was dangerous. “Soft” wasn’t what she was here for. She wanted hot, animalistic sex on the floor of his bachelor pad, not soft, heady kisses in his homey kitchen.

Determined to banish all traces of tenderness, Brynn wound her arms around his neck and pulled his head down to her. Her lips were firmer this time, and she nipped at his bottom lip. He stiffened, and for a fraction of a second she had the horrible sensation that he was going to pull back. Push her away.

He doesn’t want me, she realized in horror.

Then Will moved so quickly that she nearly lost her balance. Sliding one arm around her back, he hoisted her onto the kitchen counter, even as his other hand slid around the back of her head.

She closed her eyes and waited for the crush of his lips, but his fingers clenched in her hair and held

her still. His eyes had gone so dark they were almost black, and he stared into hers with an unreadable expression.

“You’ll hate me if we do this,” he said gruffly.

“I already hate you.”

“Then why are you here?”

She almost laughed at that. She had her legs around his waist and he had to ask? “Isn’t that kind of obvious?”

“Just sex?”

“Yes. And just this one time. And, Will…if you tell anyone about this, I will kill you.”

His head tilted back slightly, and something unidentifiable flashed across his face before he resumed his usual bored expression.

“Well, if it’s one-time sex you want, you’ve come to the right place,” he said with an evil little grin.

Then his mouth closed over hers, and she resigned herself to the inevitable.

She was going to become one of William Thatcher’s women.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Of all the ways Gray expected to be spending his first truly sunny Saturday in Seattle, it wasn’t at a company picnic.

A picnic that he was supposedly hosting.

With the help of his assistant.

Who was supposedly just his friend.

And yet here he was on a gorgeous late-May afternoon, surrounded by balloon bouquets, blow-up obstacle courses, beanbag tosses, and the spouses and children of his employees.

It should have been a disaster.

But as usual, Sophie had been right. Everyone seemed to be loving it. He’d lost count of the number of times that someone had clapped him on the back with the affirmation that Brayburn Luxuries was an even better place to work now that it was under Gray’s considerate care.

Wives had simpered at him, grateful that in a world of corporate schmucks with no soul and no family, that they were lucky enough to belong to a “work family” that respected and supported the homelife.

Gray hadn’t bothered to explain that he’d had nothing to do with it. That every last detail, from DJ down to the corn on the cob, had been masterminded by the world’s biggest people-loving tornado.

Sophie.

He looked around for his erstwhile assistant, hoping she’d see that he was smiling and shaking hands just like she’d instructed. While lending half an ear to some hyper little man from finance, he finally spotted Sophie over by the games tent.

Yes, she’d set up a games tent for a three-hour event. And yes, it was ridiculous.

But damn if people weren’t loving it.

His plastered-on smile faltered as he saw who she was talking to.

As if it wasn’t enough that Jeff Andrews had become a permanent fixture at Sophie’s desk over the past couple of weeks, it would seem that he needed to drool over Gray’s assistant at work events as well.

Since they were friends, Sophie had felt the need to explain that Jeff had just finalized a messy divorce and was in need of a friend. Sophie, being Sophie, had taken Jeff under her wing in an effort to “distract him from his pain.”

Gray, being a man, was reasonably sure that the main focus of Jeff’s personal life at the moment had nothing to do with missing his ex and everything to do with coaxing a sympathetic Sophie into bed. He narrowed his eyes as Jeff playfully tugged at Sophie’s ponytail.

Flirting with coworkers, especially subordinates, was unprofessional and lowbrow.

He promptly ignored the voice in his head that whispered, Hypocrite.

“…and that’s how my wife and I learned that athlete’s foot was contagious!” the bumbling employee from finance was saying, with a proud grin at having captivated the CEO’s attention for all this time.

“That’s, um…that’s…” Why the hell were they talking about this? And what was this man’s name again?

“Oh, there’s my wife now!” the athlete’s foot expert said proudly. “Keri! Keri! Over here, babe! I want you to meet Gray!” He blanched for a moment. “It’s cool if I call you Gray, right?”

No, it’s absolutely not cool. “Sure,” he said weakly. “Call me Gray.”

“My wife will think it’s so cool that I’m on a first-name basis with the company’s CEO,” he said with a delighted grin.

Sure enough, the wife was impressed by her husband’s lofty connections, and it took Gray another ten minutes of listening to conversation about sausage-making before he could politely remove himself. Gray began making his way through the throng of people, hoping his expression said “pleasant, but busy.” He couldn’t handle much more of this chatter. Overall, the afternoon hadn’t been horrible, but if he had to make one more inane comment about

the great weather or the merits of the Seattle school districts, he’d probably need a sedative.

Pretending an interest in the food, he kept one eye on Sophie as she continued to giggle with Jeff. Didn’t she have better things to do than flirt? Caterers to coordinate? Wallflowers to soothe?

“Great party, Mr. Wyatt,” said a low feminine voice to his left.

Glancing down, he saw Beth Jennings, his HR manager. “Thanks,” he said, grateful to find someone he could relax around. Beth knew him well enough by now not to expect inane rambling. His eyes slid again to Sophie, whose hand was settled on Jeff’s forearm, and his fist clenched around his plastic utensils.

It’s your own fault, he told himself. The “friends” routine had been his idea.

He just hadn’t expected her to embrace it quite so damn readily. She’d moved easily into the role of platonic, helpful friend and bidding assistant. It was annoying, really.

The only hint that there had ever been any tension between them happened in the office elevator on Monday. The elevator became more full than usual, and Sophie, in making room for more passengers, had become pressed against him. His body had tensed immediately at the brief contact, and from the hitch in her breath, he had a feeling she wasn’t exactly immune either.

But the moment was over before he had a chance to smell her nearness, and in the moments that followed she’d chatted happily about a date she had planned for later that night. He’d told himself the knot in his stomach had everything to do with annoyance at her rambling, and nothing to do with jealousy.

His life was back to the way he wanted it.

No more stressing about saying the wrong thing, and no more constant worrying about what she thought of him.

“Earth to Mr. Wyatt,” Beth was saying. “You got a little preoccupied with the beans there.”

She nodded toward the pot of baked beans that he’d been stirring with angry stabbing motions. “Sorry,” he said, dropping the spoon.

“Oh, it’s no problem. I know you have a lot on your mind trying to make a good impression on all of these employees after the legacy left by Mr. Brayburn. But I have to tell you, as much as we loved the man, he never put on anything like this. Major brownie points.”

“It was all Sophie,” he said truthfully. He’d agreed to the event and shown up, but he couldn’t rightfully claim any part of its success.

“She’s great, isn’t she?” Beth said fondly, glancing over to where Jeff was now feeding Sophie a piece of pie. “You know, I never thought her and Jeff…well, I mean…I hadn’t realized that they were so close until recently.”

Gray grunted, willing Beth to talk about something else. Someone else.

“You know, I always thought…well…I guess you never can tell.”

“You always thought what?” he asked sharply.

Her smile slipped slightly and she began to look nervous.

Great, Gray. Very smooth. He tried again. “What did you think?” he asked with a strained smile.

“Well,” she said nervously, licking her lips and fiddling with her hamburger bun. “After the weird dynamic I saw between you and Sophie that first day, and the way you were always getting under each other’s skin, well, I guess I maybe thought…”

“Yes?”

She let out a nervous laugh. “Oh, it’s just a little gossip. But for those first few days, I thought that maybe you and Sophie had a…well, a thing. Crazy how misperceptions start, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Crazy,” he said quietly. “Ms. Jennings, if you’ll excuse me, I really should be making my rounds.”

“Of course,” she said with a wave of her hand.

His plate full of food he didn’t want, Gray searched around for somewhere to sit. The handful of picnic tables were half-full with chattering families and coworkers who knew each other. Despite his title, or perhaps because of it, he knew nobody beyond their name, face, and job description. He didn’t know their hobbies, their children, or their favorite sports teams.

But he knew Sophie.

Although, he wasn’t even sure he knew her anymore. In the past two weeks, she’d been her usual chatty self with him. Perhaps more so. But it felt superficial. He was now seeing the same Sophie that she presented to everyone else. She was still sarcastic, but nothing like the gutsy spitfire he’d met in the Las Vegas elevator and who’d gone toe to toe with a brand-new boss who’d openly disdained her.