Only with You (The Best Mistake #1) - Page 4

Marnie also was a fastidious dresser, believing that jeans were strictly for gardening and that unpolished nails were for “street people.”

Sophie’s mother’s voice trilled from the hallway, “William and Sophie Claire, won’t you please come join us in the drawing room?”

“You have a drawing room?” Will asked.

“She’s probably been rereading Jane Austen and decided to rename the living room.”

They grabbed their wineglasses and headed toward the sound of Brynn’s smooth alto voice and the sharper squawk that generally meant Marnie was in full-out “impress” mode.

Sophie hoped her sister’s new man-friend was adept at flattery and pleasant niceties, because he was going to need a hefty dose of social skills to maneuver his new girlfriend’s overprotective father and eager-for-grandbabies mother.

She shuffled after Will into the “drawing room,” mentally preparing herself for mind-numbing conversation with one of Brynn’s adoring drones.

Sophie halted to a stop so suddenly that some of her wine sloshed over the edge of her glass and onto Marnie’s pristine white carpet.

Her mother made an exasperated sound, but a little spilled Chardonnay was the least of Sophie’s worries.

Oh.

My.

God.

It was him.

The man from the Las Vegas elevator standing in front of her like some sort of icy-eyed ghost. And he had an arm around her sister’s waist.

Oh, holy crap.

The aged gouda she’d just swallowed began churning in the wine tsunami of her stomach.

Will pinched her upper arm none too gently, and Sophie belatedly realized that her sister had finished introductions.

Everybody was staring at her, including Mr. I’m Not Looking for an Escort Service. She had so not missed that deadly sexy gaze. Emphasis on the “deadly” part. Still, it was reassuring that he too looked a bit shell-shocked. He didn’t say a word, but based on what she knew of him, she didn’t really expect him to.

The ball was clearly in her court.

“Soph?” Her sister’s perfectly symmetrical smile was looking a little strained around the edges. “Everything okay?”

“Sorry,” Sophie said lamely. “Totally zoned out there for a minute.”

“Awwwwkward…” Will muttered under his breath.

“Okay?” Brynn said, giving her a puzzled look. “Um, again, this is Grayson Wyatt. Gray, my sister, Sophie.”

Sophie pushed a smile onto her face even as she felt the telltale tingle at the corners of her eyes.

Do not cry. Do. Not. Cry.

But the tears threatened to fall anyway. Her family was about to learn that Sophie’s disdain for convention had reached new heights. Good Lord, her father was about to find out that his baby girl had been mistaken for a freaking prostitute.

Unless…

It was a long shot, but Sophie slowly lifted her gaze to Gray’s impenetrable gray one.

Please.

If he heard her silent request, he didn’t respond. There wasn’t so much as a twitch of his hard features or a hint of understanding in his eyes. And then…

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Dalton,” Gray said, stepping forward and extending a hand. “I can certainly see the sibling resemblance.”

It took Sophie a moment to register what had just happened. Not only had he correctly interpreted her silent plea to keep their first meeting a secret, but he had actually granted her request.

Granted, the man was still wretched. What was with the “Ms. Dalton” crap? And he hadn’t smiled once. Stiff.

But he’d passed on the chance to humiliate her. And for that, she could have kissed him.

Except, not. Of course. Bad idea. Not only because he was still on her list of Horrible Human Beings, but also because he was dating her sister.

Oh God, my sister is dating this jerk. How had that not fully registered until now? She’d been so busy reeling from seeing him again that she hadn’t even comprehended the implications. This wasn’t just a chance meeting. The enemy was in her childhood home.

“What is with you?” Will whispered as Marnie captured Gray and Brynn’s attention with a description of her closet remodel. “How much wine have you had?”

“I must have had too much too fast,” Sophie said quietly. It felt wrong to lie to Will. She never lied to Will. Never had to. But there were some things she wasn’t ready to share, even with her best friend. He’d just laugh and tell her it was no big deal.

And that was the real kicker.

She was scared to tell Will that it was a big deal. After

years of acting like her flighty reputation didn’t matter, a gray-eyed stiff had picked at a scab she didn’t even know she had.

He’d made her bleed.

Sophie took a sip of wine and tried to still her too-fast pounding in her chest. She tried to keep her eyes focused on her mom, but they kept straying to Gray.

She sucked in a quick breath when she saw he’d been watching her. His eyes quickly moved back to Marnie, but she saw the tension in his jaw.

He didn’t like this any more than she did.

“…And I think you should know, my Brynny doesn’t bring just any boyfriend home to meet her parents,” Marnie was saying.

“Oh, he’s not quite my boyfriend,” Brynn said quickly. “We’ve only been on a few dates. I know it’s a bit soon to bring him to meet the family, but he just moved to the area, and I knew he’d appreciate a home-cooked meal and a chance to get the scoop on Seattle sports!”

Brynn flashed a winning smile at her parents, who puffed up at the praise, but Sophie winced. She didn’t know how she knew it, but she instinctively understood that a man like Gray would hate feeling like a friendless charity case. She cast another glance in his direction, and sure enough, his clenched jaw looked like it could shatter his molars. Good thing he was dating an orthodontist.

Looking to distract the conversation before her mother and Brynn started stuffing baked goods in Gray’s pockets while discussing baby names, Sophie jerked Will forward as buffer. She couldn’t remember if Brynn had already introduced Will while she’d been having a mental and emotional breakdown, but it couldn’t hurt to put her own spin on things.

“Mr. Wyatt, this is Will Thatcher. My date.”

Will let out a derisive snort, but took pity on her, because he didn’t bother to correct the implication that they were more than friends. The two men shook hands.

“A pleasure to meet you,” Gray said politely.

Will said nothing. Sophie tossed back the rest of her wine.

“Mom!” she said sharply, pulling her mother out of a hushed conversation with Brynn. “I think we’ve all adequately enjoyed the drawing room.”

“Of course!” Marnie said, realizing that standing in their rarely used living room was hardly the way to make her potential future son-in-law feel more at home. “Come into the kitchen; it’s far more cozy!”

Will and Sophie exchanged a look. Her mom had recently hired an interior designer to make over their house in “industrial mod.” “Cozy” it was not.

Marnie linked arms with Brynn and they left the room in a flurry of whispers. Will followed them, making soft mimicking noises behind Brynn’s back.

“So what do you know about the Mariners?” Sophie’s father said to Gray, as he led him toward the kitchen. Sophie trailed after them, trying to keep her eyes pinned on the back of her father’s head so her gaze didn’t drift to Gray’s back. She hadn’t seen him from this angle before, and it was every bit as yummy as the front.

Stop. It.

“Um, I’m not as familiar with Seattle pro sports teams as I’d like,” Gray was saying stiffly. Sophie rolled her eyes. At least his horrible conversation skills weren’t limited to her.

Gray stopped abruptly in the hallway and turned back toward Sophie. “Miss Dalton, I was wondering if you might show me to the restroom?”

She jolted slightly as she realized he was addressing her, and she swallowed dryly. “Um, sure, it’s just down the hall on the right—”

He grabbed her arm and pulled her in that direction, while an oblivious Chris continued to the kitchen, still rambling about ERAs and RBIs.

Gray shoved Sophie roughly into the tiny powder room and shut the door behind them.

“Well this is familiar,” Sophie said. “You, me, small dark spaces. Animosity. The sister element is new, though. Quite the twist—”

The light flickered on, and she found Gray glaring down at her.

“I think I liked the dark better,” she muttered. “I certainly haven’t missed your scowl.”

“What are you doing here?” he demanded. His lips were pressed together so tightly it was a wonder any sound came out.

“What do you mean what am I doing here? You’re in my parents’ house. Sunday dinners have been a weekly occurrence for a couple decades now. You’re the newcomer.”

His jaw twitched as though irritated to be caught asking the obvious. “You never said you were from Seattle,” he accused.

Sophie’s temper spiked. How was this horrible coincidence her fault? “You never

asked! I was merely playing dress-up at my cousin’s bachelorette party, but you were too busy assuming I was a hooker,” she hissed. “Which I’m not. Obviously.”

“Obviously,” he snarled. Gray glanced down at her worn jeans and seriously ancient Stanford T-shirt. His gaze seemed to linger on her midriff, and Sophie resisted the urge to tug at the hem of her shirt. She was well covered compared to the last time she’d seen him, but something about the way this man looked at her made her feel…naked.

“I knew my sister had horrible taste in men, but you’re a new low. You’re judgmental, cruel, heartless—”

Gray took a step closer until her back pressed against the bathroom door. Dimly she realized they were both breathing hard, and the sound of their panting in the tiny room felt entirely too erotic given that she did not like this man.

“I find it difficult to believe that you can be related to someone like Brynn,” he said, his eyes moving over her once more.

“Why, because she’s so proper and I’m so slutty?”

Gray growled. “No, it’s just…Look, I obviously made a mistake about the prostitute thing, and I’m sorry. But we can’t just fake our way through the evening. Is there any excuse you can give to leave?”

She pushed at his shoulders in outrage, but he didn’t budge. “You want me to weasel out of my own family’s dinner so you’re more comfortable? You’re the interloper. You leave!”

“I’m a guest; that would be rude.”

Sophie gave an indelicate snort. “I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time.”

Gray’s eyes closed briefly, and for a minute he looked almost weary. “This is what I get for agreeing to come to a woman’s house who I barely know.”

Something twisted in Sophie’s stomach. “So you and my sister aren’t serious?”

She didn’t know why she asked. Or why the answer was somehow important.

His eyes opened and they locked with hers before drifting to her mouth. “No. A couple of casual dates. More companionship than romance.”

“Oh,” Sophie said, licking her dry lips. “I don’t like you,” she blurted out, feeling very much like a fourth grader. But she’d had to say something. He was just so close.

“I don’t like you much either,” he said.

But the way their bodies leaned toward each other made liars out of both of them.

What is this? Sophie thought with panic. This man is everything you despise.

And yet, she wanted…

Brynn’s voice calling Gray’s name had them both jerking back. Unfortunately for Sophie, jerking back meant slamming her head against the back of the door.

“Ouch,” she yelped.

His expression turned almost gentle as he reached out a hand toward the spot she was rubbing, but again, Brynn’s voice had him pulling back.

“Gray? Did you get lost?” Brynn called.

“Shit,” he muttered.

“Shit,” Sophie echoed.

“You go,” she whispered. “I’ll stay here and follow in a minute. I’ll pretend I was upstairs or something.”

He hesitated for the briefest of moments. “Maybe we shouldn’t mention…”

“Oh, please,” Sophie interrupted. “As if I want my family to know about our little history.”

Gray gave one last nod before opening the bathroom door and slipping out. Sophie leaned back against the door as she heard Gray greet her sister. “Sorry about that. I took a few wrong turns before finding the bathroom.”

Brynn laughed softly. “That’s what you get for asking Sophie for directions.”

Sophie rolled her eyes, although the light insult didn’t really sting. Brynn could be uptight and condescending at times, but she wasn’t as difficult as their parents. Most of the time she and Sophie got along pretty well, which was saying something for sisters who’d grown up fighting over car keys, prom dates, and too-tight sweaters.

Sophie stayed in the bathroom for several minutes trying to gather her thoughts. In all the time she’d spent replaying the Las Vegas incident in her head, she’d never once imagined having to see Gray again.

On one hand, it was a relief that there was no longer someone out there thinking she was a prostitute.

But on the other hand, the man made her uncomfortable.

And angry.

And, most annoying of all, he made her feel a little…tingly.