One Breathless Night(7)

By: Jo Leigh

He’d noticed one on Jenna’s finger. He wondered why good old Payton hadn’t mentioned she was his fiancée. The thought was cut short when a heavy hand landed on his shoulder. He spun around, dislodging the hand and ready to flatten the moron who’d touched him—until he got a whiff of the moron’s breath.

“Don’t do it,” the drunk said, his voice moist and sloppy. He looked to be in his fifties or sixties and was listing to his right. “Just live with her. ’N’ don’t have kids. They’ll drain you dry. Happy New Year.”

The man entered one of the stalls as Rick slipped the ring in his pocket. He hadn’t actually thought about marrying Faith, not until a couple of guys he worked with had started having kids. They were around his age and while he harassed them a lot, both of them seemed happier. From there the seed had been planted.

Besides, with Faith in his life, a future with kids didn’t sound so bad. She was an adventure junkie like him. They both had a major interest in atmospheric studies. And she was just the kind of woman he needed. Independent. Driven. Career-minded. Gorgeous. He’d never met a woman as easy to get along with. So yeah, even though Faith didn’t want kids now, she’d probably change her mind down the road. He wasn’t ready for them now, either. But he’d turned the first corner in his thinking. Sure, things would change. But they’d always looked forward to challenges.

Proposing to Faith was the logical next step. He wouldn’t say that last part to her, though. She’d just laugh and tell him his entire life was illogical. And he’d have agreed.

As he washed his hands, he thought again about that guy Faith had hugged. It was full-body contact. If he hadn’t seen it, he wouldn’t have believed it. She was most definitely not the huggy type. When she was forced into one, she’d bear it and come away with her very convincing fake smile, but she’d never initiated more than a guy hug—one shoulder to another, a quick pat on the back—when there was a choice.

Maybe she’d felt obligated to plaster herself against him? Some old debt she had to pay? No. She’d been smiling as if she’d just spotted a rare left-moving supercell.

What the hell was he worried about? Faith wasn’t interested in anything besides her work and, well, him. And Payton wasn’t as good-looking. Rick turned to check himself out in the mirror over the sink just to make sure. Damn it, he couldn’t tell. He looked more like a villain than Bond. Faith liked to call him dangerously sexy. Seriously, though, who named a guy Payton? Jesus. Still, weird name or not, he’d managed to get himself a hot fiancée.

The paper towels left something to be desired, but finally Rick couldn’t put it off any longer. He reinserted his earplugs and went back to find Faith. They only had twenty minutes until midnight.

* * *

JENNA WAS ONCE again by herself. Payton had gone off with a fraternity brother to grab a final drink, and she had no expectations of seeing him until just before midnight.

If Jenna had had it her way, she and Payton would have left with Mindy and Zane. They’d very rationally decided to go home so they wouldn’t be caught up in the mess of drunken crazy people trying to get on the train for the suburbs.

Instead, Jenna had walked too far in heels that were too high, and somehow managed to end up right in front of the dessert table again. She’d never fit in her wedding dress if she kept this up.

Oh, screw it.

She chose a chocolate-stacked, delicious-looking thing. For God’s sake, it had a brownie bottom, a cheesecake center and chocolate-mousse top. It would take a stronger woman than herself to walk away.

She’d just taken her second bite when Danger Bond entered the room. His gaze swept directly over to where she was standing. Of course.

Faith joined him seconds later and Jenna spun around. Now she was facing a blank wall. Nothing suspicious there.

Good grief, why had Payton left her here? Why hadn’t they gone home already? She was tired and cranky. And she needed to put down her plate. Walk away from temptation. There was still coffee left, decaf even. But, naturally, there was no convenient tray nearby. The closest was by Faith and Rick, and since she wasn’t going anywhere near them, Jenna walked all the way across the suite, where she found a big tray next to a pretty decent unpopulated corner.

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