“Hello, wife,” a seductive voice echoes in the bedroom behind me as I sit staring at my reflection in the dressing table mirror.
“Hello, husband,” I reply, grinning at the impossibly handsome man reflected in the glass. He leans casually against the door, tightening his cufflink, his dark-gray suit accentuating his steely dark-blue eyes and dark, tousled locks that turn up at the ends.
“You look beautiful, as always.”
I roll my eyes as Nick closes the gap between us. “Stop saying that.”
He leans in behind me, regarding our reflections in the mirror.
“Never,” he replies, curling the corners of his lips in an innocent, childlike way. “Are you nearly ready? Our guests are starting to arrive.” He leans in close to my ear, sensing my anxiety. “Don’t worry. I’ll be right by your side.”
I turn around to look at him and there, in the lines of his face, in the warmth of his eyes, I find in him the courage I haven’t been able to find in myself to make the journey downstairs.
Nick holds out his hand to me. “Shall we?”
I put mine in his and he summons me into his arms, his eyes soft and heady.
“I love you, Mrs. Pierce,” he whispers, lowering his lips to mine.
I freeze, unable to respond. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about my husband, Nick. I married him, so I must love him, right?
Truth is, I really don’t know. I really don’t know anything since the accident.
As we start down the stairs, the sound of wine-induced laughter and chitchat grows louder, grating my already fraying nerves. I reach out, taking a firm hold of the balustrade. Nick turns to look at me.
“It’s okay—it’s only close friends and family, and they’re all here for you. To reconnect with you. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
I arch an eyebrow.
“Besides, you’ve met them all before,” he jokes.
“That’s not funny.”
“Really? Not even a little bit?”
“Not at all.”
“Come on.” He takes a step forward and tugs at my hand.
I drift forward, but I still can’t let go of the balustrade. He turns back to me, amused.
I nod at him, without any intention of complying.
“Let go, then,” he coaxes, tugging me away from the balustrade and tucking me under his arm so I can’t do it again. “You know, if memory serves me, I can’t recall ever seeing you this nervous.”
I glare up at him. “At least someone’s memory’s serving them.”
“I see you haven’t lost your sense of humor.”
My lips twitch, fighting a smile, his sarcasm producing the desired effect, but it doesn’t last long.
I know it’s only close friends and family gathering here to see me, but for all intents and purposes, it’s a room full of strangers.
People I have no memory of.
It’s been six months since the car accident that claimed my memories. Memories of who I was and the twenty-eight years of life I’d lived, replaced by nothing. A void of emptiness and darkness.
My very first memory—waking up in a hospital room, lying damaged and broken, surrounded by people I didn’t know and have only now begun to accept. I watched while they rejoiced for a life saved—a life I didn’t even know existed—listening as they told me how I’d lost control of my car. How it had spun off the road into icy-cold waters and how a man had rescued me and swum me to safety, risking his life to save mine. I didn’t remember it.
Not a single thing.
For a time, University Hospital was my home and doctors’ and nurses’ faces more familiar to me than my own ‘family’. Weeks turned into months, blending together without distinction as I relearned the basics of everyday life. Some things came naturally, of course, while others took time.
Doctors breezed in and out of my room, doing tests, sending me for tests and often testing my patience, offering their best guesses with regard to my recovery, that perhaps one day I would remember something, maybe everything, maybe nothing. In other words, they didn’t know. They call my condition Focal Retrograde Amnesia. I like to call it Living in the Moment.
The day I left the hospital with my husband, Nick, a man of whom I had absolutely no recollection, I decided right there and then I would live in the here and now. Nothing had come back to me—maybe nothing ever would. Instead of wasting my energy on what I’d lost, I was determined to focus on my new life…and the intimidatingly beautiful man to whom I happened to be married. The man who sat beside me, driving me away from the only home I’d ever known.
As we reach the bottom of the stairs, people seem to swarm from all directions, with me nectar to the bees. One by one, friends and relatives reintroduce themselves to me, reminding me of places we’ve been and things we’ve done. As they speak, I search every line of their faces for something familiar, for one solitary hint of association.
But there’s nothing.
Afterward, they stand and stare at me, as though at any moment I’ll remember them, followed closely by a look of disappointment when I don’t. I cast a fleeting glimpse around the opulent, densely populated room. Here I am, surrounded by friends and family, people I’ve apparently known all my life.
I’ve never felt more alone.
Suddenly, a man’s face appears in front of me, freeing me from my wayward train of thought. My mother stands beside him, weaving her arm around him.
“Honey, I have someone I want you to meet,” she gushes, anticipation glowing in her eyes. “This is Mitchell Morgan.”
I shift my gaze to the tall, thirty-something, dark-haired man standing beside her. He looks as anxious as I am. He curves his lips into a warm, friendly smile that creeps slowly into his mysterious dark-brown eyes. He reaches his hand out to me and I look down at it curiously.
“Mitchell’s the brave young man who pulled you from the car wreck that night. He saved your life!” she continues.
“Oh!” I blink at him in surprise, extending my hand to his.
“It’s just Mitch,” he corrects, eyeing me intently, our hands still connected.
I drift toward him, surprising us both when I throw my arms around him, hugging him tightly.
“Thank you,” I whisper into his neck, unexpectedly overwhelmed by the bewitching scent of his skin.
“You’re welcome,” he replies, his body tense, his voice a little disjointed. I glance over his shoulder as he holds me to him to find Nick’s brooding dark-blue eyes regarding us closely. I inhale sharply, stepping back out of Mitch’s arms.
“So, how are you doing?” he asks. “You look much better than you did the last time I saw you.”
I glance at my long, flowing red evening gown. “This dress probably helps.”
He raises his eyebrow, amused, but keeps his gaze locked with mine, as though waiting for a more honest answer.
“I’m much better, thank you.”
“That’s good to hear.”
My mother squeezes Mitch’s arm. “We’re so lucky you were there. She can’t swim, you know.”
“Yes, I heard that,” he answers.
My mother shakes her head. “I don’t know. She can’t swim, can’t drive, obviously, or she wouldn’t have been in the water in the first place. Otherwise she’s a very clever girl.”
“Mother!” I protest, glancing sideways at Mitch as he presses his curled fist to his mouth in an attempt to conceal his grin.
I steal a glimpse in Nick’s direction, but he’s nowhere to be seen, leaving me hovering precariously on the brink of panic. Suddenly, the lack of him in the room means more to me than all the people in the room put together.
“Trish!” my father calls from across the room, distracting me. My mother groans.
“Not again!” she complains, turning her attention to him. My father waves her toward him impatiently. “Yes, yes, I’m coming,” she snaps, her temper clearly fraying. I glance up at Mitch and he chuckles. My mother turns back to us, slowly winding up the corners of her mouth like two movie theatre curtains parting, suddenly all refined and composed.
“You’ll have to excuse me. Mitchell, it was so good of you to come.”
“No, thank you for asking me, Mrs. Lawren.”
My mother bows her head graciously. “I do hope to see more of you.”
“Well, that’s a bit forward!” Nick’s voice interrupts, brazenly, behind us. I flinch, startled by the touch of his cool hands on my shoulders.
“Nick!” My mother scolds, swiping at his shoulder before rushing off toward my father. We can’t help but laugh, my amusement slowly fading as I realize Nick and Mitch haven’t been introduced.
“Nick, this is Mitchell Morgan. Mitchell, this is my husband, Nick.”
Nick frowns, as though uncertain what to make of the introduction.
“Mitchell’s the man who rescued me from the car that night,” I continue.
Nick raises an eyebrow, giving just an inch to the man standing before him.
“Ah, Mr. Morgan. Nick Pierce.” He steps forward, extending his hand to Mitch. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”
“You, too. And it’s just Mitch.” The two exchange a firm handshake.
“Mitch it is,” Nick replies, squaring his shoulders. “I think I just missed you at the hospital that night. I would have contacted you myself, but Scarlet’s mother insisted on a more formal meeting. I just didn’t know it was tonight. I can’t thank you enough for what you did. We’re very lucky you were there.” Nick snakes his arm around my waist, pulling me tightly to his side like a wild animal staking its claim. “I don’t know what I’d do without her.”
I blush like a giant beetroot and peek up at Nick, only to meet him bringing his lips down on mine in a surprise attack.
Uncomfortable kissing in front of company, I pull back from him and glance across at Mitch, abashed. He creases his brow, an awkward silence filling the air, as the two regard each other intently.
Mitch turns his attention to me. “So, your mother tells me you can’t remember a lot since the accident.”
“No. Nothing at all.”
Nick shifts his stance, clearly uncomfortable with my response.
“It’s frustrating, to say the least.”
“I imagine it would be,” Mitch replies to me, letting his smoldering brown eyes linger on mine much longer than they should.
A waitress stops to offer drinks. She passes beers to Nick and Mitch.
I swallow hard, glad of the sudden interruption.
“So, what is it that you do, Mr. Morgan?” Nick asks.
Mitch takes a sip of beer, swallowing it hastily. “Uh, boat building. I build boats. I’ve got a boatyard down by the Coomera River.”
Nick raises an eyebrow. “Really? Boat building. That must be very fulfilling work.”
“Exactly what type of boats do you build, Mr. Morgan?”
I look up at Nick, puzzled by his condescending tone.
“Uh, small skiffs mainly. The wooden, hand-sculptured, heart-and-soul-type boats.”
“So, you race then?” Nick asks.
“I’ve been known to race, yeah. I’ve got a traditional forty-five-footer that I take around the block from time to time.”
“You built it yourself?”
“My grandfather and I built it, yeah.”
“I’d imagine that would be quite time-consuming.”
“It was, but it’s a labor of love,” Mitch replies, resting his gaze on mine.
A second waitress steps in close to Nick, offering appetizers, her tan fingers, with their long red-painted nails, clinging to his biceps as she flashes him a wide, toothy, big-cat smile. Nick barely responds to her at all, but I do, treating her to my most transparent ‘what the fuck’ look. She closes her lips swiftly, retracting her claws from his arm and flipping her long platinum-blonde locks as she strides off in her ridiculously too-high stilettos like a head on a stick. I only hope she’s hired help and not a relative or friend I haven’t met yet.
“What is it that you do, Mr. Pierce?” Mitch asks.
I almost laugh out loud at the innuendo in Mitch’s voice as they serve misters at each other like players in a tennis match.
“I’m a partner at Chase, Patten & Lomax, the global financial firm.”
Mitch raises his eyebrow, suitably impressed. “Nice. Difficult times, though, I bet, with all the dramatic plunges in the stock market.”
“Yes, well, it’s not without its challenges, but at the end of the day it’s worth the stress,” he replies, casting his gaze upward at the grandiose chandelier hanging above us, its diamond-filtered light dancing in the shadows of the ornate ivory-vaulted ceilings.
Mitch follows his gaze. “Yeah, I can see that,” he says, his eyes sparkling luminously, making the diamonds in the chandelier look like cheap imitations. “You certainly have a lovely home.”
“Thank you,” I reply.
I glance across at Nick, to find him studying Mitch with close scrutiny.
“So, are you here with your wife then or…”
“Uh, no. No wife. It’s just me.” He holds up his hand, revealing his naked ring finger.
Nick nods, narrowing his eyes to thin slits. “So, boats. Is that how you came to be down by the water the night of Scarlet’s accident?”
“Well, no, actually, I was driving in my car and Scarlet’s car spun off the road in front of me.”
A deep crevice forms between Nick’s brows. “So, you just saw the car go off the road and jumped into freezing-cold water after it?”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
“That’s pretty heroic. I imagine there wouldn’t be too many people out there willing to risk their lives for others like that.”
Mitch shrugs. “I didn’t really give it a lot of thought.”
“Well, I’m certainly glad that you did. If there’s ever anything I can do for you…”
“Well, thank you, but just seeing Scarlet here alive, walking and talking is enough for me.” He curls his lips, two soft dimples punctuating his cheeks as he settles his gaze on mine again.
All the blood in my body hurtles to my face at warp speed. I blush, again—a ridiculously bright shade of ruby red, I suspect.
“Scarlet!” a female voice interrupts and couldn’t have come at a better time. The tension between Nick and Mitch is almost unbearable. I was sure they were just about to strip down to their loincloths and bash each other over the head with their caveman clubs. I look up to find my two best friends, Natasha and Tayla, standing in front of us, martinis in hand.
“Well, hello there,” Tayla gushes, squaring her lean, tanned shoulders as she flips her long strawberry-blonde locks. Nick groans.
“Who is this gorgeous man you’re talking to?” Tash asks, who I’ve learned is never shy of saying whatever she feels, regardless of consequence.
Nick steps forward. “Nick Pierce,” he quips, holding out his hand.
“Not you, idiot!” she replies, the roar of our laughter cutting through the room.
“Well, aren’t you going to introduce us?” Tayla purrs, grinning at Mitch like a Cheshire cat.
“Of course. Mitch, these are my good friends, Tayla and Natasha.”
“It’s Tash,” she corrects, only Natasha when the mood strikes, as I’ve been informed.
“Sorry! Tash,” I revise. “Tash is a curator over at the Living Art Gallery on Bundall Road and Tayla owns her own antique store in Southport.”
Mitch dips his chin. “Hello, ladies.”
They both smile like movie stars, batting their long black lashes at their would-be prey.
Nick groans, turning to Mitch. “Don’t hang around with these two for too long. They’ll suck your brain cells dry.”
Tash eyes Nick with mock disgust. “Ugh, I cannot believe this is the best you could do, Scarlet.”
“Yes, it really is scraping the bottom of the barrel,” Tayla adds, in a fake noble English accent. They both laugh hysterically, well on their way to Crazy Town, then clang their glasses, making a loud clinking sound.
Nick raises an eyebrow at Mitch. “Run away, run away.”
Mitch chuckles, watching helplessly as the girls close in on him.
“And, on that note, I’m going to take my own advice,” Nick continues, kissing my forehead before he turns to leave. The second Nick turns his back, the girls pounce, Tayla the tiger first.
“So, Mitch, are you single?” she asks, seductively sucking on her martini olive on its stick.
Mitch swallows his drink prematurely.
“Tayla!” I scold.
“What?” she giggles, shrugging at me like a spoiled teenager before turning her attention back to Mitch.
“Uh, I was seeing someone, but that’s, well, yes, I guess I am single,” he replies, rather inarticulately.
Jeez, and I thought I was confused!
“Ah-ha,” she replies, drawing the olive farther into her mouth. Mitch shifts his weight awkwardly, visibly fighting a grin.
“And what do you do, Mitch?” Tash asks, twirling her long brown hair around her finger like a shy twelve-year-old girl, though she’s anything but.
“I build boats,” he replies, taking a sip of his beer.
“Really? Boats?” She gazes up and down his body, as though his reply isn’t what she expected.
“You work with your hands then?” Tayla asks boldly, taking his hand in hers and inspecting it at great length.
Tash reaches out, running her long, French-manicured nails down his arm. “Are you a Libra? I bet you’re a Libra.”
Mitch glances up at me, lost for words, and I hang my head in a bid to stifle my impending belly laugh.
“No. I’m not a Libra,” he replies, politely retracting his hand from Tayla’s, not offering anything further. He gulps down the last of his beer, then holds up his empty glass, copying Nick’s action of earlier. “Time for another, I think. Ladies, if you’ll please excuse me?”
They both dip their heads in quick succession like nodding dashboard dogs, ogling him shamelessly as he walks away.
“So, he’s the one, huh?” Tayla asks.
I look at her curiously. “The one?”
“The one who saved your life.”
I seek Mitch out, studying his profile objectively. “Apparently so.” Mitch turns suddenly, catching my stare, and I quickly look away.
Tayla lets out a long, dreamy sigh. “He’s a hero!”
“He’s a superhero!” Tash replies.
“He’s a god!” Tayla echoes. They both laugh.
Really? I risk another glimpse of him, briefly allowing myself to admire his physique.
“If only there were two. I wonder if he has a brother. Does he have a brother?” Tash queries.
They both turn to me at once and I hold up my hands in surrender. “I only just met the man. I don’t know anything about him.”
Tash nudges her shoulder against mine. “Well, you know he can swim.” They both burst into fits of laughter.
I watch on—with the rest of the room, I suspect—as they snort and giggle. I have to agree with Nick—as much fun as the girls are, I can feel my brain cells depleting.
I take a deep breath, scanning the room. It’s barely recognizable. My mother’s done a superb job setting the mood. A fire flickers in the hearth, its low flames radiating a soft, golden glow, making shadows of our silhouettes dance across the walls surrounding us. The french doors to the terrace stand wide open, letting in the fresh lily- and lilac-scented air from outside, while Nina Simone reminds me, just quietly, that I’m feeling good. Anxiety quickly settles in and I excuse myself from the girls, making a beeline for the terrace, when I notice Mitch walking toward me.
“Scarlet,” he says, passing me a glass of champagne, “you look as though you could use one of these.”
I exhale loudly “How did you know?”
“Ah, there you are,” my mother interrupts, slipping her arms under each of ours. “Come with me. Everyone is wanting to meet the hero.” She ushers us around the room, telling tales of Mitch’s heroism to everyone she can, while we smile politely as they ooh and aah, firing questions at Mitch and flashing me intermittent expressions of condolence.
I watch him talk, a reluctant hero at best, assuring us all that anyone would have done the same thing, though I’m not so sure. I allow my gaze to drift down his face to his broad shoulders, admiring the way the darkness of his shirt accentuates the depth in his eyes. Every now and then he looks up at me, his gaze holding mine until I look away.
I gaze around the room at all the unfamiliar faces, feeling like a gatecrasher at my own party, finally resting my focus on Nick. He stands by the fireplace, his arm draped over the mantel, talking to my cousins Clay and Tom. He takes a sip of his beer, then throws back his head and laughs, his whole face lighting up, lighting mine. He glances across at me, a look developing on his face, his lips inching up at the corners, one eye narrower than the other. I’ve never seen anything more mesmerizing. He excuses himself, puts his drink down on the table beside him and strides toward me, his tall, powerful frame towering inches above anyone else in the room.
“Hey, you,” he whispers, wrapping his big, strong arm around me before whisking me out onto the terrace.
“Hey.” I smile up at him, thankful for the rescue effort.
“How are you doing?”
My smile quickly turns to a scowl.
“That good?” he jokes, rubbing my arms. “Whoa, you’re so cold.” He takes off his jacket, to drape it around my shoulders. “Here, put this on.” The smell of his cologne fills my nostrils. I close my eyes, nuzzling my nose into the collar, taking a deep breath of his magnificent, manly scent. It takes my breath away, in all the right ways. “Better?”
“Yes. Thank you.”
The girls giggle loudly behind us and we turn, looking over in their direction as they swoop in on either side of Mitch, both slipping an arm under his, Tash’s plunging neckline seemingly lower and Tayla’s light sheath mini clinging to her body so tightly it’s growing shorter by the minute.
“Looks as if the girls have a shiny new toy.” Nick snickers, turning his attention back to me. “I’m glad. He’s been practically glued to your side all night. I was going to ask if you needed something to get him off, but I think you’re already doing that.”
I gape at him and swipe at his arm. “You’re terrible!”
He laughs heartily and pulls me tightly to his chest, before taking my hand in his and swaying slowly to the music in the background. I stare up at him, awestruck, the silver flecks of the moonlight catching in his eyes, making them sparkle with a devilish gleam.
“I’m very proud of you, you know,” he whispers, his voice like a thousand hands caressing my body, making me quiver. I close my eyes, snuggling into his neck. “And very horny!” he growls.
I pull back from him, making a choking sound.
I didn’t see that coming.
In the six months since the accident, Nick has done everything in his power to assure me he’s happy to wait until I’m ready to accept him as my husband, if at all, but tonight, as I look into the depths of his stormy steel-blue eyes, I can see that time is running out.
“Six months is a long, long time, Mrs. Pierce.”
I purse my lips, lost for words.
“I don’t know how much longer I can wait.” His voice is so deep and gritty it almost rumbles. He glides his hand down my thigh, raising the side of my dress, gauging my reaction when he lightly brushes the back of his hand against my inner thigh. I gasp, the sexual tension between us shifting into overdrive. He moves his gaze to my mouth, slowly inching his face toward mine.
He sweeps his lips, soft and tender, against mine and I close my eyes, overcome by an unfamiliar emotion, a permeating giddiness of nervous excitement that lightens my heavy heart. As we part, he glances briefly to my left.
“Later,” he whispers and he’s gone, leaving me curious and longing for more.
I spin around to see what caught Nick’s eye, to find Mitch, Tash and Tayla behind me.
The girls try desperately to monopolize Mitch’s attention, but he has his gaze fixed firmly on me. I start to smile, but he shifts on his feet and looks away. I step inside from the terrace, heading toward them, only to be ambushed by my Uncle Ben and his new wife Joan, making small talk, but the only things I hear are Nick’s words, playing over and over in my head. He’s right. Six months is a long time.
He’s a loving, caring, incredibly amazing man who I just happen to be married to, not to mention extremely attracted to, so what’s stopping me?
The girls let out a loud, cackling laugh and I glance over to find them draped all over Mitch, who now looks as though he’s in desperate need of rescuing. I excuse myself and make my way over to him. Just as I arrive, Mitch pulls his car keys from his pocket.
“You’re not leaving?” Tash shrieks.
“I’m afraid so. I’ve got an early start in the morning.”
I step forward. “I’ll walk you out.”
He gives me a gratified nod then turns to the girls. “Ladies, it was a pleasure to meet you both.”
Tash fumbles around in her purse, emerging with a business card in her hand.
“Here, take my card,” she says a little too eagerly. “Maybe we could catch up sometime?”
Mitch takes the card politely and slips it into his pocket, though I get the distinct impression that’s one call he won’t be making. I shrug out of Nick’s jacket and place it on the chair beside me as we head toward the front door, the girls’ giggles following us indecently all the way down the hall.
I glance across at Mitch, arching an eyebrow. “I’m so sorry about that. They’re—”
“Tanked!” he interrupts, unable to hide his amusement.
“For want of a better word.”
“It’s no problem. They both seem like lovely girls.”
“They are, even more so when they’re sober. They’ve really been there for me through all of this.”
“Oh, I’m sure,” he replies sincerely.
As we reach the foyer, I pause, turning toward him. “Thank you for coming tonight and for doing the rounds with my mother. She can be quite the handful when she gets excited about something.”
“She’s fine. I met her at the hospital the night of the accident and she calls every couple of months to thank me again.”
“Oh, God, you gave her your number? Are you crazy?”
He presses his lips together, fighting a grin. “Yeah, I did. She’s been trying to get us all together for a while now, as a surprise, but it just didn’t pan out until now.”
“Well, it certainly was a surprise.”
“A good one, I hope.”
“A very good one. Everyone loved you.”
“Well, not everyone.”
I frown as though I have no idea what he’s talking about, though I know very well.
“Well, everyone I talked to did,” I insist.
“I just got their attention. It was you who won their hearts.”
His lips steal up into a warm, generous smile that somehow makes me feel more whole.
I open the front door and Mitch walks through the entrance, stopping to face me. “I’ve been meaning to ask you. Do you like boats?”
“Yeah, you know, those watertight contraptions that people float around in on the ocean?”
I roll my eyes. “I know what boats are!”
“I’m glad.” He chuckles. “Do you like them?”
“Well, I haven’t been in one. At least not that I can remember.”
He reaches into his pocket. “Well. This is my card. If you decide you want to come out for the day, just to get away from it all or something, give me a call. You’d love it out there, the wind in your hair, the sun on your face,” he continues, watching me as though waiting for a reaction.
“Uh, okay. Sure. Thanks. Nick would probably like that.”
His expression is impossible to read. I reach out to hug him. “Thank you again, for everything.”
He wraps his arms around me, pressing his body against mine, nuzzling his nose into my hair. I feel his chest rise, drawing in a deep breath, and I twist out of his embrace, suddenly acutely aware of him.
“It was really good to see you again, Scarlet.”
“Yeah, it was nice to finally meet you.”
He dips his head as though defeated, then turns to leave. I stand at the door, rubbing my arms as I watch him walk away, instantly feeling colder. He doesn’t look back.
How strange. Mitch is a complete stranger to me, not family, not a friend, yet it feels as if a part of me is leaving with him. Nick’s voice startles me.
“Seeing your boyfriend off?” he asks, folding his arms across his chest as he leans against the wall behind me.
“Oh. My. God. You scared me!” I shout, clutching at my chest.
“I’m sorry. Are you okay?” he asks, his eyes filled with amusement.
He laughs louder, pulling me to his side, looking down at the business card in my hand. “What did he give you there?”
I hold up the simple white rectangle that reads Mitchell Morgan, Handscraftsman. A cell number and business address occupy the bottom of the plain white rectangle. He takes the card, tossing it onto the end table then directing me back toward our guests.
“So, you and Captain America seemed to get along pretty well.”
“Yeah. He seems nice enough.”
He nods in Tash’s and Tayla’s direction. “Think one of the Bobbsey Twins is in?”
I shake my head vehemently.
He chuckles. “Me, neither. It seemed to me someone else was snaking him.”
“Who?” I ask innocently.
“Please! He didn’t take his eyes off you the whole night.”
“Yeah? Well, he’s gay.”
Nick raises an eyebrow. “Hmmm…maybe he was looking at me, then?”
I laugh wholeheartedly. “Very funny!” I slip out of his grasp and turn to walk away.
“What? I’m an attractive man!” he shouts matter-of-factly down the hallway behind me.
“Yes. You. Are!” a female voice replies.
I spin around to see my much older, very tipsy Aunt Carol pinch Nick on the backside and wink.
“You see! I knew it!” he shouts to me, holding his arms out triumphantly. “Now, if only I was five years older, Carol, you’d be in trouble.”
My Uncle Bill lets out a riotous laugh. “Don’t you mean thirty-five years older?”
Nick shakes his head, giving my Uncle Bill a stern, serious look. “Nope. Five, Bill. Just five.”
The corridor fills with laughter as Nick turns and struts off like a true god. I have to give it to the man—he’s certainly charming when he wants to be.