Sweet Sinful Nights(10)

By: Lauren Blakely


“Good trip?” James asked as he sat down again, gesturing to the booth on the other side of the table. James was older than Brent by a few years, and had a long pedigree in business. While Brent had the vision and the guts to build Edge, James was the solid, reliable rudder who made sure they stayed the course.

“The best,” he said, and recounted a few key details. When he was through, he glanced around, scanning the room for the waitress.

“The waitress should be right back. She’d just stopped by before you arrived,” James offered.

Brent tipped his forehead to the square bar in the middle of the space. “I’ll just grab a drink myself. You want something?”

“Vodka tonic.”

Brent threaded his way around the leather chairs and chrome tables to the towering shelf of liquor that framed the bar. A guy he knew, Miles, was working behind the counter, and nodded a hello. “Hey, Brent. What’s the latest with you?”

“Not much, just working on my tan,” he joked, holding out his forearm to show the color he’d nabbed while in the Caribbean.

“Haven’t I told you to quit the tanning bed juice?”

“This is all natural, man. Saint Bart’s color.”

“I’m working on my blue-light tan,” Miles said with a laugh, as he glanced up at the tinted lights in the bar. “Anyway, what can I get for you?”

“Scotch on the rocks, and a vodka tonic.”

“Coming right up.”

Brent drummed his fingertips against the steel countertop as Miles headed to the other end to pour. Turning around, he leaned against the bar and stared out the window, where the entire city stretched far beyond the glass. City of sin. City of secrets. City of endless opportunities. Whatever bout of exhaustion had threatened him when he’d landed had vacated the premises. He was wide-awake and energized, ready to sign deals, to grow Edge, to keep on building the business.

Glass clinked against metal, and he turned to grab the drinks and start a tab. A minute later, he had a glass in each hand and was making his way back to their table when he stopped short.

His pulse pounded.

His throat went dry.

The floor tilted and loomed closer. The glass walls zoomed in. He blinked.

He was seeing a mirage. Either that or he’d slipped back in time, because there was no other explanation.

After all those years, there she was, in the flesh. A vision in black and red, and a brunette now. He stared from across the room, trying to process what he was seeing.

Shannon Paige-Prince.

The biggest regret of his life, more stunning than she’d ever been, and she wasn’t alone. She was with one of her brothers, and they were both focused on James. Heading for his table. As she turned in his direction, she looked up and they locked eyes.

His drinks slipped from his hands, crashing onto the dark wood floor and shattering.





CHAPTER FOUR


“That answers my question. Those glasses are indeed breakable,” Brent said, tapping on his glass as he sat back down with a new drink and raised it in a toast. The waitress had just given it to him after quickly handling the spill.

James laughed and clinked their glasses. “Good thing you tested it. I was so damn worried,” he said, and Shannon faked a smile, still shaking in her skin. Blood pounded in her head, and the entire bar seemed to sway and bob, like a boat on the seas. She dug her fingernails into the leather of the armchair she’d claimed—a necessary stake in the ground because it gave her distance from that man. That man she wasn’t supposed to see tonight. Who wasn’t supposed to be there. Who had been just as surprised to see her. And who was doing a much better job at covering it up than she was, with his little jokes, and his self-deprecating humor.

Fucking bastard.

Everything was so easy for him.

The man was a master at ad-libbing, at covering up the hole in the routine.

She hated that he had the ability to patch a gaffe so quickly. But a small part of her was pleased that he’d been so shocked he’d dropped his glasses.

“In any case, now that my CEO has finished his quality control inspection of the Mandarin’s glassware, I’d like to introduce everyone,” James began, gesturing to Shannon and her brother. “This is Shay Sloan, the founder and head choreographer for Shay Productions. And her brother, Colin Sloan, a financier who advises Shay Productions. Shay and Colin, allow me to introduce Brent Nichols, who runs Edge.”

Colin rose first. “Good to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you,” he said, and extended a hand to the man he’d met at Christmas the year Brent had proposed. But Colin knew how to cover up the past, and knew intuitively that she’d want him to.

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