Bared to You

Page 13


"I'm excited, too. I'm going to work you hard, Eva. Your parents are going to get their money's worth."
I set a filled glass in front of Cary and took a big gulp out of my own. It never ceased to amaze me how much cooperation money could buy. But again, that wasn't Parker's fault. "No complaints here."
"We'll get started first thing next week. Your driver has the schedule."
"Great. See you then." I hung up and caught the glance Trey shot Cary when he thought neither of us was looking. It was soft and filled with a sweet yearning, and it reminded me that my problems could wait. "I'm sorry I caught you on the way out, Trey. Do you have time for pizza Wednesday night? I'd love to do more than say hi and bye."
"I have class." He gave me a regretful smile and shot another side-glance at Cary. "But I could come by on Tuesday."
"That'd be great." I smiled. "We could order in and have a movie night."
"I'd like that."
I was rewarded with the kiss Cary blew me as he headed to the door to show Trey out. When he returned to the kitchen he grabbed his wine and said, "All right. Spill it, Eva. You looked stressed."
"I am," I agreed, grabbing the bottle and moving into the living room.
"It's Gideon Cross, isn't it?"
"Oh, yeah. But I don't want to talk about him." Although Gideon's pursuit was exhilarating, his goal sucked. "Let's talk about you and Trey instead. How did you two meet?"
"I ran across him on a job. He's working part time as a photographer's assistant. Sexy, isn't he?" His eyes were bright and happy. "And a real gentleman. In an old-school way."
"Who knew there were any of those left?" I muttered before polishing off my first glass.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing. I'm sorry, Cary. He seemed great, and he obviously digs you. Is he studying photography?"
"Veterinary medicine."
"Wow. That's awesome."
"I think so, too. But forget about Trey for a minute. Talk about what's bugging you. Get it out."
I sighed. "My mom. She found out about my interest in Parker's studio and now she's freaking out."
"What? How'd she find out? I swear I haven't told anyone."
"I know you didn't. Never even crossed my mind." Grabbing the bottle off the table, I refilled my glass. "Get this. She's been tracking my cell phone."
Cary's brows rose. "Seriously? That's...creepy."
"I know, right? That's what I told Stanton, but he doesn't want to hear it."
"Well, hell." He ran a hand through his long bangs. "So what do you do?"
"Get a new phone. And meet with Dr. Petersen to see if he can't talk some sense into her."
"Good move. Turn it over to her shrink. everything okay with your job? Do you still love it?"
"Totally." My head fell back into the sofa cushions and my eyes closed. "My work and you are my lifesavers right now."
"What about the young hottie bazillionaire who wants to nail you? Come on, Eva. You know I'm dying here. What happened?"
I told him, of course. I wanted his take on it all. But when I finished, he was quiet. I lifted my head to look at him, and found him bright-eyed and biting his lip.
"Cary? What are you thinking?"
"I'm feeling kind of hot from that story." He laughed and the warm, richly masculine sound swept a lot of my irritation away. "He's got to be so confused right now. I would've paid money to see his face when you hit him with that bit he wanted to spank you over."
"I can't believe he said that." Just remembering Cross's voice when he made that threat had my palms damp enough to leave steam on my glass. "What the hell is he into?"
"Spanking's not deviant. Besides, he was going for missionary on the couch, so he's not averse to the basics." He fell into the couch, a brilliant smile lighting up his handsome face. "You're a huge challenge to a guy who obviously thrives on them. And he's willing to make concessions to have you, which I'd bet he's not used to. Just tell him what you want."
I split the last of the wine between us, feeling marginally better with a bit of alcohol in my veins. What did I want? Aside from the obvious? "We're totally incompatible."
"Is that what you call what happened on his couch?"
"Cary, come on. Boil it down. He picked me up off the lobby floor, and then asked me to f**k. That's really it. Even a guy I take home from a bar has more going for him than that. Hey, what's your name? Come here often? Who's your friend? What are you drinking? Like to dance? Do you work around here?"
"All right, all right. I get it." He set his glass down on the table. "Let's go out. Hit a bar. Dance 'til we drop. Maybe meet some guys who'll talk you up some."
"Or at least buy me a drink."
"Hey, Cross offered you one of those in his office."
I shook my head and stood. "Whatever. Let me take a shower and we'll go."
I threw myself into clubbing like it was going out of style. Cary and I bounced all over downtown clubs from Tribeca to the East Village, wasting stupid money on cover charges and having a fabulous time. I danced until my feet felt like they were going to fall off, but I toughed it out until Cary complained about his heeled boots first.
We'd just stumbled out of a techno-pop club with a plan to buy me flip-flops at a nearby Walgreens when we ran across a hawker promoting a lounge a few blocks away.
"Great place to get off your feet for a while," he said, without the usual flashy smile or exaggerated hype most of the hawkers employed. His clothes - black jeans and turtleneck - were more upscale, which intrigued me. And he didn't have fliers or postcards. What he handed me was a business card made from papyrus paper and printed with a gilded font that caught the light of the electric signage around us. I made a mental note to hang on to it as a great piece of print advertising.
A stream of quickly moving pedestrians flowed around us. Cary squinted down at the lettering, having a few more drinks in him than I had. "Looks swank."
"Show them that card," the hawker urged. "You'll skip the cover."
"Sweet." Cary linked arms with me and dragged me along. "Let's go. You might find a quality guy in a swanky joint."
My feet were seriously killing me by the time we found the place, but I quit bitching when I saw the charming entrance. The line to get in was long, extending down the street and around the corner. Amy Winehouse's soulful voice drifted out of the open door, as did well-dressed customers who exited with big smiles.
True to the hawker's word, the business card was a magic key that granted us immediate and free entrance. A gorgeous hostess led us upstairs to a quieter VIP bar that overlooked the stage and dance floor below. We were shown to a small seating area by the balcony and settled at a table hugged by two half-moon velvet sofas. She propped a beverage menu in the center and said, "Your drinks are on the house. Enjoy your evening."
"Wow." Cary whistled. "We scored."