Carver was willing to accept any time they could have together, but Lina knew he deserved so much more.
“I…I can’t,” she whispered and dropped her head. When he didn’t immediately speak, she moved slowly away from him, sliding to her side of the seat without any effort on his part to stop her. “I can’t ask you to wait for me, Carver. I don’t know when I’ll be ready to settle down and give you what you want.”
“What do you think I want, Lina?”
“A home, a wife, children, a family in Temptation. That’s what you’ve always wanted.”
He was silent because he knew she was right.
“That’s not on my agenda right now.” It was the truth, and the sooner she said it, the sooner she could convince herself that she was doing the right thing. “But I really do want to keep in touch this time. I want to hear all about your studio, and I’ll even come and visit.” And she prayed that would be enough. The heavy weight resting in the center of her chest promised it wouldn’t.
RJ Gold lounged back in his seat, resting his elbows on the chair arms. He frowned. “I’m the very last person you should be asking for advice about love.”
Lina shook her head. “Oh no, that’s not what I’m asking you at all.” She sat up straighter in the chair across from RJ’s desk. “I was only saying Carver would be good for the upcoming Infinite Evening collection. You said he did a great job with the Women’s World shoot, and Colette said you liked the work on his website.”
RJ rubbed a finger over his bearded chin. “You talked to my assistant about a photographer?”
He was trying to take this conversation into an unnecessary direction, and it was making her uncomfortable. “I’m just thinking about the catalog. We want the best pictures in our portfolio, online and in print. It’s not unusual for us to discuss photographers in sales meetings.”
Everything she’d just said was true. Except they weren’t in an official sales meeting. She’d come into RJ’s office half an hour ago to tie up before next weekend when his brother got married. She’d only brought up Carver because she knew they needed to lock in another photographer for their upcoming schedule. Not because it had been almost a month since he’d been here in the city and not one day had passed that she hadn’t thought about him.
“It’s not,” he said in response to her comment. “But it is unusual for the photographer you’re pitching to be someone from your past.”
“I didn’t tell you he was from my past.”
RJ grinned. “You and Riley always think I’m not paying close attention to you on a personal level, but I am. Always.” He sat up and placed his elbows on his desk. “After seeing the two of you interact at the photo shoot that day, I came back here and did a little background research on your favorite photographer.”
She didn’t like the sound of that. Riley was RJ’s younger sister, making Lina—as his godsister—the next in line to receive his older-brother protectiveness. It’d never bothered her before. Now she could understand Riley’s rare annoyance with her older brother, and Lina didn’t think she liked it. Not one bit.
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