“How do I look?” Rainie grimaced at Chloe’s questioningly look, when Rainie entered her room where Chloe was sitting in front of her small dressing table putting on the make- up.
Chloe looked at her through the mirror then turned her body around. The approving smile curved on her lips. “Nice.”
“Are you sure?”
“You look great.” Chloe assured her enthusiastically. “New dress?” She observed.
Naturally it was. She could not go out with Draven wearing the old reliable little black-dress that she had worn so many times for the past three years at every occasion. Coming to this party with Draven, she had to wear something much more elegant, stylish and definitely noticeable.
She had apprehended when she had seen the full-length figure-hugging strapless dress in the shop that would ensure that Jason was no longer under any the wrong idea concerning her having totally over him with the very benefit as Draven was her partner!
“Do you really like it?” She asked Chloe uncertainly.
Trying the dress on in the shop and buying it with an impulse then actually putting on at home were two different things, she had realized few minutes ago. Seen in this homely setting, the dress was much more revealing than anything she had ever worn before, clinging to her slenderness in a scarlet enfold, the bareness style showing her upper body enticingly.
Her hair was swept up loosely from the slimness of her neck and secured with sparkling combs. The transform of hairstyle seemed to enlarge her brown eyes and the dark sweep of her lashes. Blusher highlighted her cheeks and the bright red gloss on her lips was the same color as the outfit. Rainie had noted all of this in her bedroom mirror twenty minutes earlier, sweeping out of the room and went to Chloe’s before she had time for second thoughts and settled for the familiar black dress after all.
“You look wonderful.” Chloe told her spraying herself with perfume, tossing her long black jet hair back and smiled at her in the mirror. “You’re going to knock off his feet!!”
Rainie frowned hearing the statement. “The idea isn’t to attract Draven.”
“I wasn’t referring to Jason.” Chloe murmured pointedly.
“Oh...” She acknowledged weakly, feeling the color warming her cheeks at her mistake. She wanted to smack her brain to think in all honesty that she had thoroughly forgotten about Jason as she prepared for the evening out. Which was totally ridiculous since he was the reason she had gone all the trouble in first place! The reason she had swallowed her pride and agreed to go with Draven after the despise words she had accused to him when she had not known him at that time.
“Yes Jason.” Chloe smirked mischievously. “Or your eyes diverted to Draven already?”
“What?!” Rainie gaped at her. “I never set my eyes on him!” She denied feverishly. However the crimson on her cheeks getting redder when she thought about him and his so sexy, irresistible figure, not to mention his fathomless eyes, his impish grin or the time when she had thought how did he look when he was naked? Naked lying beneath the blanket with her…
God! You’d better stop, girl! She warned herself vehemently.
“Never say never.” Chloe commented, applying mascara onto her lashes. “You don’t know what will happen in the future.”
“That’s rubbish!” Rainie said defiantly. “We’ve nothing in common. Our philosophy opposite. He wants a care-free kind of life while I’m struggling to find a Mister Right.’
“Mister Right!” Chloe spat the word dismissively and looked at her. “Instead of looking for Mister Right why don’t you look for Mister Right Now.” Her eyes gave a swift glance to the photograph on the mantelpiece of her picture with Nathan at one of the occasion.
“So, Nathan’s your Mister Right Now?” Rainie commented dryly.
“Don’t be silly!” Chloe replied, color tinged her cheeks. “What I’m saying is, since you haven’t found a man who sweeps your feet or you have a rock on your finger, just having fun but keep on looking.” She advised optimistically.
“I’m not looking for a rock on my finger.” Rainie mumbled reluctantly. “At least not now after what I’ve been through.” She added which she had known that it was completely a spam. She really wanted a rock on her finger, again! She loved to have relationship. She fancied herself to have two or three children, a loyal husband and her white damn picket fence house!
Chloe raised her perfectly arched eyebrows as though to say, ‘What a liar you are.’ And closed her make up case. “No harm of trying.” She suddenly added. Her dark eyes were running over her like some kind of radar scanners which Rainie noted, she was the only one who could do that in such a way!
“But not with Draven!” Rainie retorted.
“Why not with him?” Chloe asked in astonishment, her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“Because...Because...” She stammered relentlessly, inhaling a deep sigh before she finally answered her. “Because I just don’t want to.”
Chloe gave skeptical gaze at her however either it was her best friend slow reply or the perfect timing of the door-bell Rainie had to be thankful.
“It must be Nathan!” Chloe said and took her clutch before swayed out her room. Rainie followed her behind, almost could not restrain the envious feeling.
Chloe dainty figure dressed with purple neckline gown. She had to admit that she was looking beautiful tonight. Nevertheless it was not her look or her outfit that made her jealous. It was the fact that Chloe had found a person, a real somebody who treasured her, who laughed with her. A man that she could rely on to pick her up, to send her to the office and to do small things, that somehow when she had thought about it Jason hardly had done those things to her.
Which was why she had no idea why she had gone all the trouble trying, might...Just might to pick pieces they left off or basically she just wanted revenge?
To be honest she did not know which one was the truth! All the emotion had mixed altogether and she could not recognize the real one. At this moment while she was standing here, wearing a revealing red dress with a very slippery silver shoes, feeling decidedly like the overdressed golden statue that adorned their sitting room table waiting for Draven to arrive.
Nathan had come to pick Chloe up and Draven...That man was late.
It was already seven thirty, and before Rainie had left his office yesterday they had agreed that he would have picked her up at seven, in order for them to drive to the function and arrive a polite ten or fifteen minutes later for the welcome drinks. And it was evident that at this rate they would be lucky to arrive in time for the serving of the first course!
“Hi Nathan.” Rainie greeted her best friend’s boyfriend as he was walking at the door. Then again the envy came like a great wave as she looked at him standing next to Chloe. They were handsome couple. A perfect portrait. The lady was totally beautiful and Nathan, she had to admit, was looking absolutely striking, cladding with his black dinner suit. His dimple showed as he received a brief kiss on his lips from Chloe, welcoming him.
“Hi Rain...” Nathan replied, his gaze admiringly traveled her figure from head to toe then commented. “You’re looking good.”
“Really?” She asked hesitantly. Not too sure if it was a genuine comment. After all it was obvious when compared herself to his sister, Paige or to Whitney or even to Chloe.
“Yes.” Nathan acknowledged then as if he wanted to make sure he was nodding his head before he turned to Chloe and whispered something to her. Something that made both of them giggled.
“What both of you whispering?!” Rainie snapped at their childish secret.
“Oh nothing.” Chloe said avoiding her eyes.
“What?!” Rainie impatiently asked both of them for the second time.
“Nothing’s bad, Rain.” Nathan this time answered with his usual placid tone.
Hrrpp! Nothing my ass! She scolded immersed.
It pissed her off when she heard the answer. It was obvious that they were talking about her and it was no use to keep persisting to get the answer.
She only shrugged languidly. It was better to focus more important thing right now.
“Well...” Rainie began and questioningly looked at Nathan “Why didn’t you come with Draven?”
“He didn’t call me.”
“He’s always unpunctual?” She frowned at Nathan as he put on the coat on Chloe’s shoulders.
“He’ll be here, Rainie.” Nathan dismissed her thought assuredly. “We’ll see you at the party.” He glanced at his girlfriend and smiled to her. “I told everybody we’ll meet them around eight-thirty.” He added informing the plan. “Do you want me to reach Draven on his mobile phone before we leave?” He offered as they walked to the door. “Maybe his car broke down or something.”
“Does Jaguar break down?” Rainie asked him dryly, wondering if she was going to get to party after all if the car broke down or worse Draven forgot about their so-called date and brought another woman leaving her alone standing like a wallflower at the corner of the ball.
“I hope it won’t happen tonight.” The familiar voice suddenly drawled outside the open entrance.
Rainie gasped, spun around to see Draven was standing in the doorway. She was glad she had already gasped; otherwise she would have done so now as he looked absolutely breathtaking in a dinner suit.
“Good grief! You scared us to death!” Nathan complained sarcastically while Rainie stood silently on the same ground trying hard to cover up the perplexity she felt at his appearance.
Was anyone supposed to be this handsome? This elegantly refined? So sophisticated? This magnificent? There perceptibly really was no other word for Draven’s facade this evening.
“So will I do?” Draven arched mocking brows at her as she continued to stare at him.
Would he do as what? As her Mister Right Now? Or more than adequate replacement for Jason? Yup! Certainly. As a means for making every other woman in the room envy of her so fortunate in having him as her partner for the evening or simply making them drooling their saliva? Confidently. As a calm and soothing comfort to her already battered emotions? Definitely not that one! She cautioned herself to be careful. God knew she had made enough mistakes in her life. She was not going to jump so fast this time. No matter what her heart bade her otherwise right now!
He was a one-evening-only companion, just like the slight shelter offered by the overhang of the roof under the intensifying storm for what predicted to be a very difficult evening for her. He was not supposed to make her pulse flutter, her knees felt weak, and everything insides her turned into a jelly!
“See, he’s here.” Chloe spoke up lightly, dragging her man to walk over the door. “And remember about what I said, Rain.” She added wickedly, flawless dark brow rose teasingly.
“We’ll see.” She shot her a condemnatory look as she and Nathan ducked out of the doorway.
“Oh by the way I expect you won’t return so early tonight, right?” Chloe halted then without waiting for her reply, she walked out grinning widely and rose a hand in farewell until both of them disappeared into the closing lift.
“I hope we won’t be back too late.” Draven looked down at her contemptuously. “Because, sometimes I’m already in bed at these hours.”
Oh, she would make a wild guess that the only reason Draven would be in bed by these hours because he was not there alone!
“You’re late.” She retorted, more flustered than she had just had such a thought about Draven night-time habit than she actually was by his belatedness.
“I’m sorry.” He apologized nonchalantly. “I stopped on the way here to buy you this.”
She saw Draven fished something inside his jacket and soon she found out that what he meant by this was a corsage, a single white rose, newly in bud.
Rainie blinked couple times before looking up to Draven, rapidly looking down again as he returned her gaze with faintly challenging eyes.
Okay to be honest, bringing her a flower, a rose, white or red or otherwise, was not actually a very businesslike. And they both knew it.
“Thank you.” She accepted huskily, taking the rose he held out to her.
“Do you want me to...”
“No.” She quickly discharged.
As she tried to refuse his offer of help less abruptly and at the same time giving him an unconvinced fleeting look. “No, thank you.” She said in the calmer tone. “I can manage.” As she wanted to prove it, she attached the rose to her wrist at first attempt.
“Then, we should be on our way.” He murmured repentantly.
“Yes sure we should.” She echoed wryly, secretly scolding herself for the fact that she was a little disappointed that he did not even recognize or complimented her outlook. Not that she cared but somehow a little self-assurance like a compliment would be accepted, thank you very much!
“It was too bad...” Draven murmured as he scanned her thoroughly. “The dress was beautiful and it’d come with some gorgeous accessories along with.” He explained as she looked up at him questioningly. “Shall we?” He offered her a hand and waiting impatiently as she still reluctantly accepted. “Come on, what are we waiting for?”
“Sure.” She murmured obliged and halfheartedly circled her hand into the solid arm of his.
He helped her to lock the apartment door with his other hand then as soon he had done it they both walk the short-distance lift and waited it to open.
They stood in silence. An awkward silence for Rainie and she had to count inwardly.
One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four...
“You look wonderful tonight.” Draven suddenly complemented as the lift door open.
She struggled for breath to hear the comment she’d hoped to hear five minutes ago, again her cheeks were stained faintly with pink. “Thank you.” She murmured softly.
“Hmmm...” Draven nodded as they went out to the car, opening the door for her to get in. “Jason will eat his heart out!” He added satisfactory.
She laughed heartily to cover her flushed pleasure at his compliment. “That was what Chloe said.”
“Ah...Yeah the witted, honest Chloe would never tell a lie.”
Yes, Chloe would never tell lies, even when it was about Draven Knight. Chloe had always told her briefly about his escapade of wooing a woman however she had the feeling that this man was more capable of practicing the fine art of maneuver if he thought the occasion warranted it. There was a strong, steely edge about his personality. A ruthlessness that obviously made him such a successful businessman. He was a man that proficient enough to do something impossible to possible with his fingertips either with his skill or talent, she couldn’t decide.
And she had to dismiss both of his compliment and thought of his escapade as they neared the imposing and intimidating Park Royal hotel where her former fiancé was abound to announce his latest bride-to-be and all her acquaintances would already be gathered. No doubt all believing, with the lateness of the hour, she had decided not to attend at all.
“Everything will be just fine.” Draven reached out in the warm confines of the care and gave her restless hands a reassuring squeeze before returning his own to the steering wheel of his sleek Jaguar vehicle. “Trust me, hmmm?” He encouraged when she glanced at him with troubled eyes.
Hell, she was not sure, after what had happened her relationship with Jason, she would ever completely trust another man again. Somehow there was the truth what Chloe had said tonight. She should not look for Mister Right but have fun with Mister Right Now, although with Draven at this minute, she could not call him, her Mister Right Now.
For the next fifteen minutes, they took the journey in silence before Rainie spoke.
“If I forgot to mention later, I’d like to say thank you now for helping me out like this.” She murmured remorsefully. For the most part since she was too mortified by her need for him to be here to actually get around to thanking him!
“I believe you already did mention, once.” He drawled. “However why don’t we wait until the end of the evening and you can see if you still want to thank me, okay?”
She stared at him a little bit blankly then the realization dawned her. The way he stated, seemed as if she was actually a spinster who needed any man to accompany her. It sounded a little ominous!
“Hey, cheer up.” He chuckled after giving her a brief glance in her direction. “I promise that you can lean on me this evening, either when you need a pack of tissues or simply a shoulder.”
“Really? Well what a relief.” She said scathingly and partly doubt with the statement. Angry because what he had said were the truth! She indeed needed somebody could rely on when the rough get tough. Somebody, anybody even though it happened to be Draven! Doubt because she barely knew this man. True they had been friends for somewhat two years? Nevertheless what did she really know about him? When Draven was concerned she barely knew everything.
Lord, he was poised, handsome, somehow funny, extremely successful, Single and most of all a hardcore playboy! His dynamic personality simply swept other along in his powerful presence.
Besides those points, she knew nothing!
“Of course.” He answered blandly. “I’ll give you those things you need sincerely although you’ve called me spoilt-brat with nothing but good look and a lot of sperm to spread!” He grimaced at her. His eyes twinkled, half-amused, not furious.
“What! I wasn’t...” Rainie gasped, feeling sudden of a tinge of guilt rose as she turned to stare at him. “Draven, I’m so...”
“We’re here.” He swiftly informed her lightly, turning the Jaguar into the lobby before getting out and coming around to open the door for her. He frowned at her when she made no move getting out of the car. “What’s the matter?”
He knew very well what was the matter! He obviously had not forgotten what she had said two years ago nor forgiven her!
“Hurry, cars are queuing behind us.” He persuaded vigorously. “I’ve to give the car key to the valet.”
Not wanting to add another sinful list she had made on his, she took her clutch as she alighted from the car and with him tucking her hand under his.
He gave the car key to the valet service person and soon they hurried over to the entrance of the grandeur, exclusive hotel lobby.
Once she was entering the lobby gradually she felt self-conscious again as she looked down at the eye-catching scarlet dress. Perhaps, as she realized she had made too much effort. The man she was trying to impress was engaged and here she was, pathetically, ridiculously overdressed!
“You look beautiful.” He told her firmly and held her gaze, brushed a finger against a stray wisp of her hair that clung to her cheek. His eyes belied his words.
Hooking his hand around the back of her neck he drew her forward. He caught her off guard as his lips came gently captured hers and his other arm moved about her waist to mold her body against the hardness of his.
The kiss was so unexpected that she responded, her lips parting beneath his even as her arms moved up about his shoulders.
She entirely forgot where they were, who she was, what was her purpose, even as those warmly sensual lips continuously explored the softness of her own. The tip of his tongue was now moving erotically against her lower lip, turning her body to liquid ice ready to thaw under the heat as hot as his! Oh God, how could this man so tempting, so simply irresistible.
His eyes were dark with query as he finally lifted his head to look into the flushed beauty of her face. “Better.” He said silkily. “Much better.” He added nodding with satisfaction, his thumb running lightly across her slightly swollen lips. “Now, you look like a woman out for the date with her sexy lover.”
Damn! Of course! What other reason that he had kissed her. However did he have to say sexy? So obnoxious and hell yes, it was the truth!
“Perhaps next time you’d warn me first!” She retorted covering her pulse humping like rock music beat. She looked down to hide the flush on her cheek to open her evening bag and searching through its contents. “There’s a lipstick on your lips.” She said swiftly, holding out the handkerchief for him to wipe his mouth.
He laughed low in that very masculine way again before cajoling. “Why don’t you do it?” He persuaded huskily. “I can’t see what I’m doing.” He reasoned out before she could protest.
Swallowing hard and to will her hear tot stop pounding or her hand not to shake, she took her white handkerchief and reached up to wipe the smears of the lipstick that was on his mouth.
“Okay done.” She sternly informed him putting the red-stained white handkerchief into the bag.
“Are you okay?” He asked and slowly a very wicked grin curved on oh-so-kissable-lips.
“What? What makes you think I’m not okay?” She stammered nervously avoiding his gaze.
He lifted her chin gently, forcing her to look into the fathomless eyes of his. The two of them were face to face. Toe to toe. Chest to breast. Her heart hummed in an irregular, hip-hop rhythm, however somewhere out of nowhere she managed to force her feet to stay firmly instead to flee or simply hiding behind blanket on her bed.
Whoa...She was having a problem. A Big, trucking problem as she looked at him intently.
“Just relax.” Draven said pleasantly then with obvious unwillingness, he dropped hand and only reached hers and clapped it. “Just behave normally.” He said finally.
Gezz, behave normally. Right. Of course. It was easier said than done.
Behave normally for her, meant, she curled into her bed, read her favorite book before finally she went to sleep.
She did not think so.
Why on earth had he kissed her? Only for the effect…Great, she could not even begin to visualize the effect his unexpected actions had had on her!
It felt so good to be this close to him. Better than anything. She told herself to ignore the flash of heat rocking her and continue on her merry way. She told herself to keep remembering her intention....His intention here, kissed her just now.
But she could not ignore the heat and she did not want to forget their intention here. She only wanted to think how did it feel to be in his arms. Especially since they both had known it had been only for a charade they both played. She promised herself most definitely that it would never, ever happen again.
Draven wrapped his arms around her slender waist and some the whole system of her brain did not work its function properly. Oh okay, so then almost certainly it never, ever would happen again.
Possibly, it would never, ever happen again. Perhaps. Maybe. What was she thinking again?
“Ready?” He suddenly asked waking her up from her reverie. The grip was tighter on her hand as if giving some moral support on her tattered and mixed emotion.
She looked up and forced a smile at him. “Yes.”