Lacey paced in her bright, modern Chelsea apartment, in front of the windows overlooking the greenery-filled High Line. She was wearing a new dress for the occasion, a sleek elegant satin gown in pale blue, allowing her black hair to tumble down her shoulders. She’d put on the new diamond necklace he’d given her, taken it off and then put it back on again.
Oh, what was wrong with her?
The doorbell rang at exactly eight. She stopped, eyes wide.
“Do you want me to answer it?” the babysitter said, smiling as she held Taffy in her lap. Lacey looked down at the kindly widow in dismay. Was it that obvious?
“No, I’ll do it,” she stammered. Squaring her shoulders, she went to open the door.
When she did, John filled the doorway, devastatingly handsome, his powerful body in a well-cut tuxedo. His dark eyes gleamed as he slowly looked her over.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said in a low voice. He glanced past her into the apartment, and she saw by his expression that he was remembering the many nights he’d spent here during their affair.
“Thank you,” she said awkwardly. “Um, so do you.”
With a sensual smile, he held out his arm. “Shall we?”
Pulling a light wrap around her shoulders, she took his arm. “I’ll be back before late,” she called back to her neighbor.
“Take your time,” came the knowing reply.
As John led Lacey downstairs to his waiting Rolls-Royce, she shivered at his closeness, at the strength of his arm beneath his civilized tuxedo jacket. What was wrong with her? She had to get a hold of herself!
“I knew that necklace would look perfect on you.”
As his chauffeur drove them north toward midtown, Lacey glanced at John beside her in the back seat.
“Thank you.” She paused. “You actually picked it out yourself?”
He nodded, his dark eyes holding hers. “And the flowers.”
Roses and wildflowers, her favorites. He’d remembered. A lump rose to her throat. Looking away, she muttered, “Romance was never our problem.”
“Or friendship,” he said in a low voice, reaching out to take her hand.
Feeling the warmth of his palm against hers, she whispered, “Or sex.”
His hand tightened, and he didn’t let go for the rest of the drive.
After they arrived at the Campania Hotel, they walked through the crowds of the ballroom. She stopped when people greeted her, and he waited patiently, his dark eyes never straying far from hers. Later, they sat down to a formal dinner; he took the place beside her at the table that Sophie, one of her top designers, had happily given up.
Unfortunately, the rumor had exploded through Lacey’s office that John was Taffy’s father, and suddenly all of her employees were rooting for them to be together. A conspiracy, that’s what it was, Lacey thought darkly.
She turned to talk to Cristiano Moretti, the handsome Italian who owned the Campania Hotel chain. But even as she spoke to him, she was aware of John beside her, making her tremble.
When the dinner finally ended, and the dancing began, John held out his hand. With a deep breath, she took it, and he led her to the dance floor.
Feeling his strong arms around her as they swayed to the music, sparks went through her, consuming her, body and soul. She tried to remember why she’d left him that morning. How she’d even managed to do it, loving him as she did.
John’s eyes burned through her.
“Lacey,” he said huskily. “I have something to tell you.”
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