The Play Mate Page 5

Smith chuckled low under his breath beside me. “Are you sure you don’t want a Sex on the Beach?”

I looked at the pink cocktail in front of his date and shook my head. “I’m good. Thanks.”

Apparently Francesca and Giada didn’t speak much English, but that didn’t stop them from communicating in sultry glances and suggestive body language with the guys.

Smith laughed at something Francesca said and patted her hand like he had no idea what she was talking about, but he was amused nonetheless.

If I had one ounce of the self-confidence and charm these women had, I wouldn’t be in this position in the first place. A knot formed in the pit formed in my stomach.

Why the hell was Smith so enamored with her anyway? She had entirely too much makeup on, and he acted like her ordering a Sex on the Beach was the most interesting thing in the world. I could order a froufrou drink too, but that didn’t make me special or interesting.

As I stared straight ahead at the bottles lining the shelves behind the bar, anger bubbled up inside me. A wave of fresh laughter broke out when the women were trying to inquire, I thought, if Donald Trump was actually the president.

After sucking down half my martini, I set it down with a shaking hand. “You know what?” I said, turning toward my brother and Smith. “I thought we were going to have dinner, but if you guys want to play grab-ass instead, I’m out of here.”

Plucking my clutch from the bar, I rose to my feet. Forget this. I knew what I wanted, but I wasn’t going to be anyone’s pushover.

Smith stood too. “Hey, don’t go.”

His hand came to rest on my lower back, and since my dress was backless, his warm fingers landed on my bare skin. My eyes sank closed, and I felt my knees tremble.

When I opened my eyes, Smith’s hazel ones were locked on mine, looking apologetic.

“Evie’s right. Come on. Let’s go to dinner. We don’t want to lose our reservation,” he added, pulling his gaze from mine and casting a glance at my brother.

My mouth lifted in a smile. I was relieved and a little surprised that he actually noticed I was mad, given that Francesca had been pressing her large fake boobs against his arm while she grinned at him.

As Smith tossed a couple of bills onto the bar, Cullen reluctantly rose to his feet. “Yes, I guess it’s that time.”

Just as the hostess approached to lead us to our table, I saw Francesca scribble down her number on a cocktail napkin and shove it in Smith’s pocket.

Taking a deep, calming breath, I followed the hostess to our table, my hips swishing seductively. I could have sworn I felt Smith’s gaze on my ass. Maybe that number in his pocket meant nothing. Maybe I could still try to salvage tonight.

At our table, we were looking at our menus when Cullen cleared his throat. “I would like to make a special announcement concerning the company.”

Smith raised his glass. “No business talk tonight, brother. We’re in Paris for what could be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Let’s just enjoy this good food, good wine, and good company.”

I smiled at him and took the last swallow of my martini. I assumed that Cullen’s big announcement was that Smith was going to become a financial backer in the company. It was something Cullen had mentioned before, taking on an investor. And since I knew Smith was a numbers guy, it was no small mystery that he’d be a silent partner—funding our next round of purchase orders, if it came to that.

Cullen nodded approvingly. “Fine. There will be plenty of time for work talk later.”

“Then cheers,” Smith said, his glass still raised. “To old friends.”

We clinked glasses, which were now mostly empty.

“Shall we order another bottle?” Smith drained the last drop of his wine and met my gaze.

“I’m game if you are.”

Though unspoken, I couldn’t help the deep wave of satisfaction I felt at the desire building between us.

Cullen signaled the waitress and ordered a bottle of merlot while Smith continued studying me from across the table. The wine was delivered with three fresh glasses and a loaf of warm bread, and since my stomach was tied up with nerves, I would have been fine with just this for dinner. Merlot and a good crusty bread? That was my idea of heaven. No way I could survive on one of those no-carb diets.

When the waitress returned, Smith asked about the specials and listened attentively, then ordered the steak. I smiled. My night was back on track.

Throughout the meal, I couldn’t help but notice the weight of Smith’s stare on me, the flash of heat I felt when his gaze roamed along my skin. Even little things about him—like the way his lips closed around his fork—enthralled me, and it was maddening.

Finally, dinner was done, the last of the plates cleared away, and I was ready to pull a page from my playbook and enact Plan: Fuck Smith’s Brain Out.

As my brother and Smith fought over the check, I excused myself to the restroom, needing to quickly relieve myself and check my appearance. After all, there’d be nothing worse than trying to get your freak on only to realize you had a piece of spinach between your teeth. Considering I hadn’t even eaten spinach, it would be especially troubling.

Rinsing my hands at the sink, I gazed up at my reflection in the mirror.

Am I sure about this?

I remembered that Maggie had told me most men preferred a woman shaved bare. But that was just too bad. I wasn’t going to change who I was for a man. I was neatly trimmed, and that would have to be good enough.

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