Jordan was running late when she pulled into the valet at Hyatt Regency, but she found she didn’t care. In two days she was getting on a plane to take her to New York, where she would join Jon on another plane that would take them to Barcelona. She had this charity gala tonight and was working a half day tomorrow and then she was off for six weeks.
The gala was an annual event for the local chapter of Make-a-Wish; a place where the who’s who of philanthropy gathered in one place. Jordan planned to mingle, charm and be seen for ninety minutes; two hours at the most. She was going to make it an early night but it was definitely an appearance she had to make. The opportunities presented were just too good to pass up, regardless of the fact that her mind wasn’t totally engaged. She could fake it for a couple hours.
She was checking her coat when she felt her phone vibrating inside her purse. She pulled the phone out, smiling when she saw it was Jon. “Yes, boss?” she answered, teasingly.
He laughed. “Now if I could just get you to call me Master all would be right with the world.”
“You’re not giving up on that one, are you?”
“Not really, no. I’m keeping the faith that you’ll come around eventually.”
“Well you do whatever you have to, honey,” she answered, smiling. “I can’t talk long—I’m already late for this event.”
“Very much so, yes. Too bad you’re not here to be my arm candy,” she teased.
“Now that would be a switch,” he grinned. “So are you dressed to kill?”
“Absolutely. I’m wearing a gown and everything. Definitely not rock and roll tonight!”
“No leather, huh? Well I can definitely see you in haute couture…driving those rich old men wild.”
She laughed lightly. “Well, there is a fine line between fundraising and prostitution, I’ll admit.”
“Ooh. I’m having some very non-charitable thoughts right now. You, me, the coat room…all without messing up your hair or anything.” He was in a good mood, and anxious for her to join him.
“Okay, stop it right now,” she laughed. “I don’t need you doing that to me right before I walk into a room full of wealthy businessmen.”
“Doing what exactly?” she could hear the grin in his voice.
“That. Being you, getting me… well, you know.” Jordan found herself blushing and laughed. “And you think I’M the bad one.”
He chuckled. “I think we bring it out in each other.”
“Oh, please. You were far from innocent when I met you!” She looked around to see if anyone was within ear shot. “Did you call just to talk dirty to me or what?”
“Yes, I have it on my calendar: Get Jordan all hot and bothered and than hang up,” he laughed at his own joke. “Actually, I just wanted to say hi and see if you need anything from me before you come out on Saturday.”
“I don’t think so; I’m more or less ready to go,” she smiled. “I’m getting excited.”
“Me too, baby. I’m so glad you’re coming with me. With us, I mean,” he added, once again reminding himself she was officially an employee. “Okay, I’ll let you go to work the room or whatever it is you need to do. Do you want me to call you later in case you need an out?”
“Will you be waiting for me at the bar wearing just a trench coat?”
He laughed. “Now, see, that’s not nearly as sexy. I’d just be considered flasher.”
She joined him in his laughter. “Good point. Okay, let me go get this over with.”
“Alright. Good luck. I might call you later,” he teased. “I’ll definitely talk to you tomorrow night. Have a good time. Don’t let any of those old men grab your ass or anything.”
She told him goodbye and returned the phone to her tiny purse before entering the doors of the ballroom. She couldn’t keep from smiling; hearing his voice gave her such a sense of elation that she had decided it was far better than any drug on the market. Maybe that’s why he’s sold so many albums, she thought to herself with a laugh.
If there’s something better baby, well they haven’t found it yet.
Almost immediately she spotted Gerald Evers, and she couldn’t believe her good fortune. Evers was a semi-retired investment banker who served on various nonprofit boards. He and his wife Kay contributed generously to numerous organizations, and Jordan had worked closely with him for a key gift for the Children’s Cancer Wing at the hospital. She also had him in mind to fund another large project but needed to do a little more social cultivating before she moved in for the ask.
“Jordan, my dear,” Evers said, spotting her before she had a chance to say hello. He moved to her, embracing her briefly and giving her a light kiss on the cheek. “You look stunning!”
“Thank you,” Jordan answered. “You are looking quite dapper tonight yourself. Where is Kay?”
“She isn’t feeling well tonight, I’m afraid. But I bought a table so I decided I should at least show up,” he said with a smile. “Besides, this is such a nice event and for such a great cause. Wouldn’t want to miss it.”
Jordan nodded in agreement, accepting a glass of wine from the waiter passing by. She’d discovered it was good to hold a drink, even if she wasn’t drinking it. Otherwise she spent the entire evening turning down offers from people offering to buy her one. If she already had her own full glass, that problem was solved and she had better control of her sobriety.
They were visiting comfortably when Evers motioned to someone behind her. “Some of my guests,” he explained to her.
“Oh, of course. I shouldn’t take up all of your time,” Jordan said, prepared to move on and try to make a few more contacts.
“Nonsense, girl,” he answered. “I’d much rather visit with you than some of the old farts in this room.”
She burst out laughing at his candidness. She guessed that he had probably been quite the lady killer in his day.
“Barry, so good of you to come,” Evers said, extending his hand to a man who had walked up. The men shook hands and Evers made the introductions. “Jordan, this is Barry Mayfield, one of our legal consultants. Barry, this is Jordan Scott. She’s with the CU Medical Foundation.” Barry and Jordan shook hands politely. “Is Robert joining us as well?” Evers asked.
“Robert is right here,” said the man who appeared at Barry’s side. Jordan released Barry’s hand just as her eyes fell on his colleague, and she felt the wind rush out of her.
He looked the same, if not better, than the last time she’d seen him. His dark hair showed a touch of grey at the temples and was cut shorter, but it was still thick and wavy. He hadn’t noticed her yet; he was shaking Evers’ hand, a broad smile on his lips and dark eyes sparkling. Damn, damn, damn.
It almost felt like slow motion when Evers introduced her, and Rob’s attention moved from the old man to her, their eyes meeting for the first time in more than five years. She saw his lips part slightly in surprise. Evers’ voice sounded distant and she fought the urge to shake her head to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. Pull it together, Jordan.
“Actually, Jordan and I know each other,” Rob was saying. He held his hand out, his eyes acknowledging her shock. “Don’t we, Jordan?” He clasped her hand and leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. “It’s wonderful to see you.” He stepped back, squeezing her hand and winking, trying to set her at ease.
“You too,” Jordan managed. You can do this. “So, you work with Barry, I take it?”
“I do,” Rob answered with a nod. “And Ev brought me on about six weeks ago for some expanded consulting work.”
Ev. He’d been working with the man less than two months and was already comfortable calling him Ev, which was a privilege Jordan was well aware Evers didn’t grant just anyone. Rob could charm his way out of a snake pit.
“So where’s that cute little blonde gal of yours?” Evers was asking. Jordan decided that the wine in her hand might come in useful after all, and took a drink.
Rob smiled, shaking his head. “She dumped me a couple weeks ago.”
“Oh? Well I’m sorry to hear that,” Evers said, obviously feeling a little awkward.
“Oh, don’t be,” Rob answered with a wave of his hand. “Besides, I probably deserved it.”
Ironic that the topic should come up here, he thought. Lisa had broken up with him after he’d accidentally called her “Jordan” one too many times. The first time had been in bed, unfortunately, but she had been willing to forgive that one—even going so far as to laugh it off, which he thought was more than generous. When it happened twice more, however, she’d been less understanding. Turned out she was more forgiving of his utterances in the heat of passion than those in daily conversation.
Then she’d found an old picture of him with Jordan that he’d discovered in a box of some old books he was sorting through. He’d tossed it in the top drawer of his desk, never thinking that Lisa might come across it. She had moved out the next day, without tears or pretense.
And here she was, standing in front of him…the other woman, looking more beautiful and confident than ever. He couldn’t help but smile to himself. That was about as close as Jordan would ever be to being anyone’s mistress, he knew. Hell, she’d been faithful to him even when he hadn’t asked her to, and early on, she’d refused to date him until she knew he’d broken up with the woman he was seeing before her. Of course, after the breakup, they’d slept together once or twice when he was seeing someone else, but he had been careful not to reveal that tidbit to her. God he was a fuck up when it came to relationships…
Evers’ voice interrupted his thoughts. “I think we should probably find our table. It looks like they are getting ready to serve dinner.” He brought a hand to Jordan’s waist. “Join us, won’t you? You can take Kay’s place.”
Jordan looked quickly at Rob, who cocked his head slightly, lifting an eyebrow. It was a motion she had once found endearing. “No, no, I can’t…” she began.
“Nonsense!” Evers answered. “I won’t take no for an answer.” Jordan realized she was stuck. The last thing she wanted to do was insult Gerald Evers. They moved to the table, a prominent one at the front of the room, and took their seats. Evers sat on her right and Rob on her left, with Barry on the other side of Rob. They were joined by the bank president and his wife.
It turned out not to be too awkward, much to Jordan’s relief. As much as she hated to admit it, she and Rob were comfortable together. Both being professional people, they managed to handle the situation smoothly. She was surprised at how quickly her nerves settled. She simply avoided too much one-on-one discussion with him and tried not to look directly into his eyes more than necessary. The conversation at the table was spirited, and she decided she was getting some valuable interaction with the bank president that might prove useful later.
The speeches had been given and the dessert plates were being cleared as the band members took their place. Jordan looked at her watch. Damn. She’d hoped to make a few more contacts but she’d really missed the crucial mingling time.
The band began a set of standards and show tunes. Jordan accepted the offer of coffee, trying to ascertain when she could make a graceful exit. Just then she felt her purse vibrating in her lap. Discretely, she opened the clasp and reached in, turning the phone to better see the Caller ID window. It was Jon. She stifled a laugh but didn’t answer. A few minutes later it vibrated again, and then she heard a quiet beep denoting a text message had been left. She smiled to herself. He was having quite a good time. Rob was engaged in a conversation with Barry and Evers was chatting with the bank president, so she opened the phone to retrieve the message.
re: sat. wanna join the mile hi club?
“Robert, I think you should ask this lovely lady to dance,” he was saying.
Rob smiled. “Oh you do? Well I think that could be arranged.”
“That's really not necessary,” Jordan responded.
“Go ahead, Jordan,” Evers said. “The man’s nursing a broken heart.” He laughed. “I’d take you out there myself but I don’t dance with anyone but my wife unless I have her permission!” He laughed heartily.
Rob stood, pulling Jordan’s chair out for her. “Come on; one dance for old time’s sake.”
They walked out onto the dance floor, just as the band struck up “As Time Goes By.” Jordan let Rob wrap an arm around her waist and pull her to him, a respectable distance between their bodies.
Her heart was pounding a little. It had been a long time since she felt his arms around her and it was a bit unnerving. She was close enough to smell his cologne and the familiarity of his scent added to her discomfort. She finally brought her eyes to his, simply because she felt awkward not doing so.
“You look great, Jordan,” he said. Amazingly good, in fact. He could feel her trembling slightly beneath his fingers.
“One dance and that’s it,” she answered, refusing to return the smile that was on his lips.
“Okay,” he replied. He was silent for a moment. “You didn’t return my call.”
“I saw no reason to,” she said simply. She held his eyes, determined not to reveal an ounce of the emotion she felt rumbling inside.
He nodded. “So where is he tonight?”
“Where is who?” Jordan answered, confused.
“The man who has you looking like this.”
“What are you talking about? Looking like what?”
“So confident, so sexy,” he smiled softly. “So amazing.”
“Well, thank you. But why does all of that have to translate to a man?”
“Well, it doesn’t, I suppose, but if it’s a woman I am REALLY sorry we’re not together any more.” He grinned and she couldn’t help but smile back, shaking her head.
“Sorry to disappoint you, but I haven’t suddenly decided to start dating women. Not yet anyway.”
“Yeah, I figured the idea was too good to be true,” he teased. “Seriously, though. Whoever he is, I hope he’s everything you deserve.”
“Why are you so sure there’s anyone? Maybe I’m fantastic all on my own.” Jordan was not comfortable having such an intimate conversation with this person who had once known her inside and out. She also didn’t want him to think that there was room for him in her life ever again, regardless of whether or not she was involved with someone else. Yes he was handsome, charming, and successful. But she’d fallen for his charms one too many times. Fool me once…
“You are absolutely fantastic on your own. I knew that the day I met you,” he paused. “But I also know what love looks like on you.”
He held her eyes, looking for any hint that he was wrong. She looked away, her discomfort obvious. Finally she spoke. “Maybe I’m just having really good sex.”
Rob laughed. “Well, that works too. Although the two combined tend to create the most satisfying relationship.” She looked away again, and he wondered if she was remembering some of their own moments of passion. He certainly was.
Suddenly the touch of his fingers on her back and the feel of his hand on hers was a bit overwhelming. The song came to an end and she pulled away from him.
He regarded her for a moment, admiring her determination to make it clear that regardless of her relationship status, she was happy in her life; a life without him. He couldn’t help but wonder about the man she was spending her time with—and he was convinced there was one. He was surprised at the jealousy he felt, but he knew he had no claim on her, that he had relinquished that right a long time ago.
He also couldn’t help but wonder how different things might have been if he hadn’t been such an complete and total fool.
As she turned to leave the dance floor, he let his eyes scan her. The gown she was wearing fell gently around her curves but left enough to the imagination that it was respectable. Unfortunately for him, he could remember what was underneath—and the sexual aura radiating from her was hard to miss, even if she wasn’t aware of it herself. Not to mention her perfume was lingering in his senses. This was definitely going to lead to a sleepless night.
He moved beside her, wanting to catch her before they returned to the table. “Jordan, look…whatever the reason you’re doing so well, I’m happy for you. Really. But if you ever need a friend you know where I am.” He realized a bit of levity might be good. “Or a good lawyer.”
“So noted,” she answered. She paused, her eyes finally softening. “You look good, Rob. I’m sorry to hear that things didn’t work out with your girlfriend. But I’m sure you won’t be sleeping alone for long.” She said it without malice but with the knowledge that she was probably right. Rob was never at a loss for female companionship. She could still remember him teasing her about how many women he’d pissed off when he started dating her exclusively. As if to remind her how lucky she was to be the chosen one.
Suddenly she knew she needed to go; she didn’t want to look at him anymore, or be reminded of what they’d had. She needed to get away from him before the memory of how badly he’d hurt her dimmed in the light of his charm and his ability to see inside her so clearly.
This trip to Europe with Jon couldn’t come at a better time.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jon stepped out of the airport limousine at JFK, tipping the driver and gathering his luggage. The journey from curbside to check-in and then to the gate was always a challenging one; as long as he could keep moving it wasn’t bad but waiting in line always sucked. He wasn’t in the mood for autograph signing or chit-chat with strangers. If he got lucky the people next to him in line wouldn’t recognize him—or wouldn’t care, which was just as good.
Fortunately, he was able to walk right to the first-class counter and breezed through priority security, giving himself ample time before the plane took off. He hadn’t spoken to Jordan since the night before, and they’d agreed to meet in the airline’s private club if time allowed; otherwise they’d see each other on the plane.
He entered the doors of the club and surveyed the room, smiling when he saw her lounging comfortably in one of the chairs near the fire. She was sipping a glass of wine and watching the flames while the firelight danced on her face.
He snuck up behind her, bending to whisper in her ear. “Care if I join you?”
She resisted the urge to smile, breathing him in and enjoying the warmth that rushed through her at both his scent and the sound of his voice. “Well, actually, I’m waiting for someone.” She looked up at him.
He nodded slowly. “Oh, really? A man?”
“Yes,” she responded. “A very intelligent and handsome man.”
Jon took a seat in the adjoining chair. “Wow. He must be some guy if you’re willing to wait for him. A beautiful woman like you shouldn’t be alone in a place like this.”
“Oh, he’s something, all right,” she smiled, bringing her wine glass to her lips.
“Sounds like it,” Jon answered, signaling the bartender to bring him a glass as well. “So what’s your favorite thing about this guy?”
Jordan laughed softly. Where do I start? She looked at him; his eyes were twinkling and he had just the hint of a smile. “I like his mouth.”
“I see. And why is that, exactly?”
“Well, he has this amazing smile. Almost unreal, truth be told—his teeth are almost too perfect. It’s the kind of smile that can get a girl in trouble.”
“Wow. Sounds dangerous. Maybe you should steer clear of this guy.”
“I know, I know,” she said, shaking her head. “And then his lips…”
“Mmm-hmm?” Jon asked, enjoying their interplay. He accepted the glass of wine from the waitress and took a sip. Jordan waited for her to walk away before continuing.
“I love the way his lips taste—especially when he’s drinking wine.”
He laughed then, impressed with her timing. “So has this guy ever mentioned that you have pretty incredible lips yourself?”
“You know, now that you mention it, I’m not sure that he has.” She pretended to think about it. “Not directly anyway.”
“What do you mean, not directly?”
She lowered her voice and leaned closer to him. “Let’s just say that when I wrap my lips around his dick, he’s pretty forthcoming with his appreciation.”
He groaned quietly. “Okay, you win this one.” He set his glass down and stood, pulling her up with him and then into his arms. They hugged tightly and he kissed her quickly, the same kiss he’d give any female friend. “You do realize we have a nine hour flight in front of us, don’t you?”
“Yes. And this is bad…why?” She answered, resisting the temptation to brush his hair back with her fingers.
“Well unless you want me really grouchy, you tease, don’t pull out the full court press.” He winked at her. “It’s bad enough that I can’t greet you the way I’d like. But unless we have the first class cabin all to ourselves and I can bribe the flight attendant to leave us alone for twenty minutes or so…”
She sighed. “Point taken.” Still, she couldn’t help but smile. “I’m just really happy to see you.”
He returned her smile and brought a hand up to smooth her hair back, then pulled her to him, kissing her on the temple. “Back at you, baby,” he said softly.
To next section...