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.Sort of like James Bond on a Caribbean island.“Better than late, right? Besides, I had an inkling you’d try to keep me out of here.Half expected you to be waiting out front.”Well, that had been her plan.There was an inherent intimacy to letting him into their place.He hadn’t earned that privilege.She didn’t like him being one step ahead of her.“Don’t be silly.We love to show off our place.Daphne and I spent two solid months painting and sprucing when we first moved in.”She stepped back and swept her arm to the side in invitation.The pale lavender walls covered with close-up photographs of individual flowers didn’t exactly measure up to the grandeur and elegance Ben was used to at the Cavendish.Extra wide chairs covered in a watercolory print of lilac sprays were super comfortable for reading away an afternoon.She and Daphne had chosen the deep purple velvet sofa for its make-out potential: had to be long enough for a tall man to stretch out full length.Although it hadn’t seen much of that type of action, she loved the dramatic flair it brought to the room.Ben, however, bypassed the comfort of the couch and ambled straight to the fireplace.Flanked by built-in bookcases, it was Ivy’s favorite part of the room.The wide white mantel held a whimsically mismatched collection of picture frames.“Looks like you’ve got your own gallery up here.” Ben ran a finger along the edge of several frames in a row.“We call it Ivy’s heart on display.” Daphne sprawled on the couch, a pizza box balanced on her stomach.“Everyone she cares about is up there.Kind of a place of honor.If you make it onto the mantel, you’re in the inner circle.”“Good for people to know where they stand,” he said absently.His finger lingered on a shot of her family in Adirondack chairs at their lake cabin in Wisconsin.Then he jammed his hands in his pockets, which raised his jacket high enough to show off a very fine ass.“Don’t want to be late for our reservations.We should go.”Like a cloud passing overhead, his mood had shifted for a moment, darkened.Or maybe she imagined it.The tight roundness of his ass certainly qualified as a distraction.Ivy collected her bag and a white pashmina from the mirrored armoire by the door.“I’m going to wait up, so don’t expect any post-date nookie, Westcott,” Daphne warned.“Actions have consequences, Lovell.Cock blocking me means I nix my plans to bring you back a dessert.” He closed the door behind Ivy before Daphne could splutter out more than a few angry syllables.“Interesting choice of words,” said Ivy, picking her way down the stairs.Ben laughed.“Daphne and I enjoy shooting the shit.We both dish it out as well as we take it.Neither one of us means anything by it.”“Does that mean you’ll still bring her dessert? You can’t toy with her when it comes to her sweet tooth.Because, and let me be clear on this, Daphne’s presence at the apartment is not what’s stopping you from getting laid tonight.”“No kidding.I live at a hotel.She could camp out in your living room for a month while we run through every condom in the city.”Ivy overshot a step and almost lost her footing.Obviously they weren’t on the same page about the agenda for the evening.“I think you’re missing my point.Allow me to strip you of any illusions you might have, there will be no sex tonight.Not in your hotel, not in my apartment.”“What about on the desk in your office?” Ben opened the front door and led her through with one hand cupped beneath her elbow.Was he being deliberately obtuse? Obstinate? Idiotic? Suddenly involved in a body swap with a sex-crazed fifteen year old? “No.” His mouth started to open, and she held up an index finger to shush him.“Oh, and before you ask, also not on the observation deck of the Hancock Tower or the end zone at Soldier Field.”His open palm moved to the small of her back, guiding her down the tree-lined street.“Ivy, relax.I’m just poking at you.”“That’s the only poking you’ll be doing.”“For God’s sake, I don’t expect you to put out for a glass of wine and a meal.Is that really what you think of me?” Legs braced wide, Ben stopped walking.He skewered her with a laser-sharp gaze.Dusk crept in from shadowy corners, darkening the sidewalk even as the sky morphed into an abstract painting with thick streaks of apricot and periwinkle.Mockingbirds twittered from behind clusters of vivid green leaves.The first crickets of the night began their rasping song.A warm breeze carried the scent of honeysuckle.The moment couldn’t be more romantic if she’d orchestrated it herself [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]