Skin of the Night

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Chapter 60: I Only Have Eyes For You

Smearing my hands down my waist to my hips, I twirled in front of the full-length mirror of the bathroom. The silver satin gown had a naked back that ended just beneath the small of my back. Despite that fact, it clung to my prominent curves as though it had been tailor made for my body type.

I’d always been both curvy and slender, even if my breasts weren’t too big. Average in size, they filled a C-cup. But they were firm and symmetrical, which I’d always been grateful for. I quite liked my nipples, too. Pinker than nude, brown or red, they were quite small when considering the size of my tits. It wasn’t that I had anything against large areolas; they could be beautiful, too. I merely fancied how mine fit with the rest of my mounds.

However, my bum was without a doubt what I was most pleased with, and I worked hard to maintain its perkiness. As of late, I’d been working harder on it than usual, and it was certainly due to the fact that William loved my bum. And I loved that he loved it. We had that in common. It was always nice to hear that someone else appreciated an asset of mine as much as I did – if not even more.

“Cara?” he queried outside the door. “You ready soon? You’ve been in there for about an hour.”

I groaned. “It takes time to style hair, Will. Especially hair of the same length as mine.”

“I wasn’t complaining.”

I chuckled. “Sounded like it. But yes, I’m ready.”

“Are you going to knock the wind out of me? Should I have a seat?” he teased.

“Oh, you’re in for a treat,” I confidently replied with a cheeky smile on my mouth. I didn’t think I’d ever felt quite this beautiful before. Hopefully, he’d see why.

“I’m having a seat.”

I laughed as I went for the door and opened it. Peeking out, I found him sitting on the side of the bed. For a moment, I completely forgot everything but him. London faded, my existence faded, until only he remained. I’d never seen him so striking before. While he always wore suits to the office, he looked divine and opulent in a black dinner suit. William wearing a bow tie was a fatal man. I’d do just about anything for him. In fact, if joining him for events like these meant I’d get to see him wearing attires of the like, I would demand to join him next time.

I gawked, speechless. He looked to have walked straight out of a fashion magazine. He could easily have pursued a career as a male model, had he wanted. But I respected his decision to utilise his brain rather than his mouth-watering anatomy. Well, he did utilise the latter, too – in bed, with me. I could hardly believe my fortune. The fact that his body was reserved for me alone was mind-boggling. Handsome and clever as he was, I almost felt it was unfair to other women to keep him to myself. But I would. Thought that counts, right?

“Oh, my God,” I finally managed to utter. “William, are you real?”

It tempted to pinch myself. He was a daydream for certain. I’d never seen a man more appealing in my life. It was intimidating.

He frowned back at me. “What?”

“You look incredible.”

His eyebrows arched with his surprise. “Well, thanks. But let me have a look already.”

The sight of him had converted my earlier confidence into nervousness. I wanted to look good by his arm, but in all fairness, I reckoned I’d pale beside him. He was going to claim the spotlight whether he wanted to or not. It wasn’t that I wanted all eyes to be on me, but I definitely wanted to complement him – seem suited to him. I wanted to look like I was in his league, but he was making that quest impossible.

Regardless, I managed to step out, and his consequent reaction restored a portion of my confidence. His jaw looked to unhook while he gaped at me, clearly affected. He’d looked somewhat similar when I had presented myself in lingerie last Saturday, but there was still something different about that look of his this time around. In a few seconds, I would be able to distinguish the difference after analysing him.

This time, he looked intimidated. I realised it when he finally managed to close his mouth to swallow a lump in his throat. Not only that, but his entire figure also tensed while he leaned slightly away from me. Thank goodness it was mutual. He intimidated me just as I intimidated him. We were perfect for each other; both stupidly blind to our own appearance when we compared it to the other’s.

“Cara, I...” He paused, eyes romancing across my figure for quite a long time. Up and down, his eyes repeatedly travelled. Eventually, he shook his head to himself, as if to recompose himself. “Wow. Honestly, I’m lost for words. You look out of this world. I’m fucking blessed. I’ve never doubted you’re the most beautiful creature alive, but you just confirmed it. You’re going to put me to shame.”

I frowned. “That’s how I feel about you.”

He looked incredulous. “Don’t be ridiculous. I feel truly honoured to have you as my date tonight. I’m going to have my ego repeatedly boosted when other men ogle you this evening. I can’t wait.”

I rolled my eyes at him. “And yet I only have eyes for you, Will.”

A spark of profound affection shined from his eyes. “You often tell me I always know what to say. Well, darling, you just did the same.”

“I’m happy to hear that. Reassuring you is important to me. But that matter aside, we should get going. I’m eager to meet Alexander after all the mentions as of late.”

Standing, he walked around the bed to have a peek out the window upon the street outside. “He hates the red carpet, so I’m assuming he’ll try and arrive just on time to skip most of the cameras.”

I blinked. “There’s a red carpet outside?”

“Yeah. Plenty of semi-celebrities here today, Alex being one of them. Being filthy rich does that. However, he goes out of his way to avoid the media, and I get it. I’ve always avoided red carpets as well, whenever I attend an event that’s at that level of prestige. Not that I’m semi-celebrity. But because of my father, I am part of the ‘elite’, for lack of a better word. Jason and I always hated it. Alex, too.

“Andy doesn’t mind, because he’s simply a social butterfly unlike any other. Andy’s got so many shallow and superficial friendships that I get tired and sick just thinking about it. But he’s a pronounced extravert, so I don’t blame him. He’s only being polite and sociable, but Andy’s ‘polite’ is remarkably friendly. He has that talent – if you’ve only spoken to him for a few minutes, you’ll feel like he’s been your friend your entire life. Gets him into trouble with women quite often, as they mistake his kindness for flirting. Good thing Chloe isn’t the insecure type.

“But unlike him, I can’t be bothered to be that nice to people I don’t know. I’ll be polite, but not overly welcoming like he is. In the end, I’m only a mild extravert. Andy can’t stand being alone. I quite enjoy being alone from time to time.”

My head tilted, as I found myself intrigued by what he’d said. He did make a fair point. Speaking to Andy was as easy as breathing. I hadn’t realised it before, but I supposed that, around Andy, I’d never felt awkward or forced to hide away my true character. In fact, I’d been bantering with him since day one.

“Must have been hell for him when he had to move out during his trouble with Chloe,” I pointed out. “If he can’t stand being alone.”

“Oh, you have no idea.” He groaned. “He spent four-to-five days a week at mine. I’m certain it would have been seven if I hadn’t kicked him out every now and then. When they first clashed, he asked if he could stay with me until they sorted things out. I refused for two reasons. One, I didn’t want to encourage his decision to leave Chloe. Two, I like having my space.

“So he called Alex, who rejected him for exactly the same reasons. We had spoken about it before and agreed not to take him in. Alex and I are eerily similar about things like that. He’s like an introverted version of myself, though slightly softer and far more idealistic.

“But don’t get me wrong – we did support him. If he wasn’t hanging out at mine, he was usually over at Alex’s. It’s just that, by principle, we thought he was being an idiot, so we didn’t want to encourage his behaviour. Our way of expressing that, aside from verbally, was by not offering him a place to stay. We wanted him to get an actual feel of what it meant to be alone, without Chloe. We wanted him to seriously hear the silence of her absence, make it palpable for him, hopeful that it would guide him back to her. And he can afford a bloody hotel. He’s rich as well.”

I smirked. “Scared I’ll judge you for being a rubbish friend?” I teased.

“A bit. I’m aware my methods can be controversial.”

“Well, you know him better than anyone. And clearly, it worked.”

He flashed me a satisfied grin. “It did, didn’t it? And now he’s happier than ever.”

“Good job, team Alex and Will. What brilliant parenting.”

He chuckled. “Thanks. Though, you’re an introvert, aren’t you?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “I prefer being alone, but I don’t necessarily mind people. What I find difficult is growing attached to them.”

He was not surprised. “No shit.”

I bit into my lower lip as I smiled shrewdly at him. “Let’s go, shall we?”

“Let’s,” he concurred and approached to offer me his arm. I took it with a dazzling smile on my face, feeling as though I was currently enduring a real-life version of a strange sort of fairy tale. My prince charming might be flawed, twisted and dark, but I wouldn’t have him any other way.

After we’d passed through the small security area downstairs and provided our names to the hostess, a staff-member guided us toward our designated seats. Abandoning William’s arm for a beat, I walked around the table, searching for familiar names. I read Alex and Ivy, but it would seem that Andy and Chloe weren’t going to be seated with us.

“If it isn’t William Night,” a stranger called when I’d nearly reached his side again. Both of us gazed over to acknowledge the male voice, but I’d never seen the owner before. A head shorter than William – which meant he was already above average in height – he looked a few years older than him. Perhaps thirty-five?

Faint lines were carved across his forehead, and I noted vague creases around his eyes, as well as the occasional grey strand interfering with his otherwise short, black beard. He was quite the handsome fellow, taking his symmetrical features into account. His eyes were a bit small for the squared shape of his head, but his lips were rather full for belonging to a male. They looked soft. The bridge of his nose bulged out of his face, clearly masculine in its form, but it suited him. His emerald green eyes were undoubtedly his best feature, even if they reminded me of Robby. But Robby’s were larger.

Despite being a head shorter than William, the man was broad. The muscles of his arms strained against his very dark blue dinner suit, leaving it obvious that he spent quite the amount of time in the gym – and perhaps on steroids. I dared say he was even stronger than William from the look of it, but I’d never fancied men that big. It wasn’t proportionate, and it didn’t look natural. William’s body was perfect. William was perfect.

“Oliver,” William greeted surprised and hooked his arm around my waist to bring me closer to his side. I wanted to roll my eyes, but resisted. He could be so pathetic with his territorial tendencies. “It’s been months. How are you?”

“It has, indeed. I’ve been well. Work over at the bank has picked up pace after my recent promotion. I’m the new chief of the life insurance department.”

“Congratulations,” William replied impressed.

“Thank you. How are things on your end?” Oliver’s eyes flickered in my direction before returning to Will again. Noticing it, William tightened his embrace of me.

“They’re good. I’m working on a case at the moment that should impact my career rather positively. Important client. Big brand.”

“Good, that’s good,” Oliver replied enthused and nodded his head for encouragement. “Still striving for partnership?”

William chuckled. “I wouldn’t mind it.”

Oliver passed him a shrewd smile. “Well, if you’re anything like your father, I’d say it’s only a question of time.”

“We’ll see,” said William.

“Who’s the beauty beside you?” Oliver queried and cocked his head toward me. I smiled pleased, appreciative of the compliment.

“This is Cara Darby, my date,” William declared proudly.

“Well, you’re a lucky man, William.”

“I’m well aware.”

“Will you be seated by this table?”

William glimpsed the table behind us before nodding. “Yes. And you?”

“Over there,” said Oliver and pointed to the table at the far end of the space.

“Well, suppose we’ll see each other after dinner reaches an end,” William murmured and fixed his attention on a middle-aged woman standing beside the table Oliver had pointed to. “If you’ll excuse us, Oliver, there’s someone I want Cara to meet.”

“Of course,” he politely responded and watched William guide me away and toward the woman in bright red. We’d nearly reached her when she noticed our approach. Looking over, her eyes widened considerably before she gasped.

“Will! You get more handsome for each time I see you,” she uttered, and I realised from her tone that she harboured a version of maternal affection for my date.

“Anna,” he greeted fondly and released me for a beat to peck each of her cheeks. “You always look wonderful.”

When he pulled away, Anna smiled up at him before her deep blue eyes darted in my direction. Her eyebrows jerked upward when she caught a proper look, and then another gasp escaped her.

“Goodness, is this your date, William?”

William’s eyes were radiating when he looked toward me with a huge grin plastered onto his face. “Indeed, she is. This is Cara Darby, but you mustn’t tell Dad. It’s a bit of a secret for the time being.”

Anna covered her mouth with her hand while she sized me up. “Darling, you’re stunning. What a beautiful gown!”

I sent her a shy smile. “Thank you. You’re quite stunning yourself, I should say.”

“William, wherever did you find her?” she queried and looked back to my date. I wondered what their relation were since they were so familiar with each other. It was apparent that Anna knew John, or else William wouldn’t have said what he had.

William blew his cheeks out before he sighed long and loud. “Long story, but she’s sort of my legal assistant for the time being. Intern. Hence why it must be kept a secret from Dad.”

Anna blinked at him. “Oh, I see. I’ll be quiet about it.”

“Thank you. On another note, have you spoken to Alex?”

Was she Alexander’s mother, perhaps?

She shook her head. “No, but I’m expecting he’ll arrive any minute. Graham is right over there.” She pointed across the room.

“I should have a word with him. Isn’t he opening a restaurant in Barcelona soon?” William enquired as he looked over.

“He is. He’s leaving tomorrow, as it happens, to follow up on the progress.”

“Exciting.”

“Anna,” a couple called and approached.

“I’ll catch you later, dear,” she said and touched William’s arm. “Go speak to Graham. You know he loves chatting with you.” She chuckled as she headed away toward the couple.

“Who is she?” I asked curiously.

“Anna Winton, Alexander’s mother. Known her since I was about five?”

“Charming. And Graham?”

“Alexander’s younger brother.”

“Well, he looks lonely. Let’s tend to him.”

Half an hour later, I’d been introduced to so many people that I had given up trying to remember any of them. After having spoken to Graham for five minutes, we were currently chatting to another middle-aged couple that were friends of John and Daphne. I was grateful William minded most of the conversation, because I was truly somewhat intimidated by my circumstance, even if I didn’t let it show. Everything was so... posh. And I couldn’t help but notice that most of the conversations regarded matters of prestige. ‘How’s work?’, ‘We travelled there and there last week’, ‘Lovely suit. Is it Hugo Boss? Valentino?’ and I hated it. Self-importance was clearly a trend here. Narcissism at its finest. No wonder Jason had declined.

In that moment, I missed him intensely. I wondered what he was doing. He had said he was going to grab a few pints with his mate Jonathan, but I suspected he’d been lying to ease my concern. Knowing him, he was probably still wallowing in his misery over Olivia – who still hadn’t responded to my texts – and glooming about alone in our flat.

“There’s Alex,” William suddenly said and cocked his head toward a group of familiar people.

Chloe, Andy and Graham were keeping two people I’d never met before with company, one much shorter than the other. The shorter person was a girl, with brown hair like mine, though tied into a lush and plaited bun atop her head. Wearing a faint pink gown, she looked incredible – like a charming fairy, even if her dress reminded me of The Great Gatsby with its golden sequin embroidery and sheer parts.

I couldn’t see much of her face, since her profile was turned toward us, but from this angle, she struck me as a stunner, but of the innocent sort. Similar to that of Olivia, actually. Angelic almost. Was that Ivy?

Steering my eyes to the man beside her, my lips parted. “Wow,” I uttered, breathless. Aside from William and Jason, I’d never seen a more perfect model of the male gender in my life. What a bloody striking man. He was devastating. Obviously I’d seen pictures of him before, but they did the reality of him no justice at all. The man contested even William’s appearance. And he was a millionaire? That was hardly fair. Beauty, wit, and fortune? If he was truly as kind, intelligent and benevolent as William would have me believe, Ivy didn’t stand a chance.

His jaw was sharp like William’s, and, like my date, decorated in stubble, though it was light brown in colour, rather than William’s dark brown variety. In fact, Alexander’s short and neatly groomed hair had a shimmer of blonde to it. Not exactly highlights, but definitely a golden shimmer. His skin was rather tan, too, and it made him look edible and healthy. A straight bridge led to a somewhat rounded, and yet still sharp, nose. I wished he’d turn toward us so that I could catch a proper look of his face. Thus far, it looked beyond promising.

The next thing I noticed was what a mountain he was. He towered even taller than William. And like my romantic interest, he was remarkably fit. It was blatant that he exercised regularly.

Bloody hell. William, Andy and Alex were breaking hearts everywhere they went, weren’t they? At least they made vaginas throb. Of that I was certain. Lucky Ivy, Chloe, and I, for having the option to sit on their cocks. Otherwise, what a waste of lubricant.

“God, did you say he was six-foot-seven?” I asked astonished.

His groan was heartfelt. “Just barely taller than me. Always bothered me, and he likes to rub it in my face.”

“You three – Andy, Alex and you – are bloody mountains! Christ. What sort of mutants.”

He laughed wholeheartedly. “We’ve received that comment several times, actually.”

“I’m not remotely surprised. Is that Ivy by his side?”

“Indeed.”

“She’s stunning.”

He pressed me against him and lowered his mouth to my ear. “That would be you, darling.”

I snickered and looked toward him. “Don’t be silly.”

“I’m not being silly. I’m being honest.”

As I grinned to myself, I gazed back at Ivy and Alexander, and was pleasantly welcomed by the chance to lock eyes with her. Finally, I could see her entire face, and it was quite a cute face. I hadn’t been wrong – there was an angelic beauty to her. Her eyes were large and blue, emitting innocence, and below them, a small and slightly pointed nose rested. Her plump lips were perfect in their shape – full and the form of a heart. I could imagine Alexander staring at those and feeling an extreme urge to kiss them. I wondered if he had, yet. If he hadn’t, what torture the resistance must be.

“We should greet them,” William said and kissed my cheek. “Don’t be surprised if Alex tries to pull my leg, even if he fails every time. He’s not as good at comebacks as I am, but that doesn’t keep him from trying. Only you can shatter my dignity in a second.”

I laughed sincerely and gazed lovingly into his eyes. “I see it as my duty to level out your ego.”

He chuckled. “I’m glad I’ve got you to tie me to the ground, sweetheart. You’re my rock.”

I sighed besotted. “And you’re mine.”

I was growing increasingly nervous when William guided the way toward them. It wasn’t like me to be nervous, and it had nothing to do with the fact that Alexander was a famous business mogul. His wealth didn’t intimidate me, but his close friendship to William did. It was gravely important to me to attain his approval. I feared that if I didn’t, it would cause friction either between he and Will, or Will and I. After everything I’d heard about the three men’s remarkably profound friendship, it was apparent that their opinions mattered tremendously to each other.

By the time we’d reached them, I heard Alexander say to the others, “Thank you, guys, but I’ll manage.”

“Manage what?” William chimed in and reached a halt.

Alexander looked over and sighed. “Abigail.”

What a voice. It was softer than William’s powerful version. William’s voice rang of authority, even if it was deep and soothing. Alexander’s wasn’t necessarily more comfortable to listen to, but it was certainly softer. Quiet, almost. Calm and pacifying. Instead of exuding authority, it exuded patience and an open mind. It spoke to his character. Indeed, my first impression of him was that he was a mellow man, even if he did come across as reserved in his body language. While his stance was relaxed and confident, it was also weirdly guarded, as if he was impenetrable.

All eyes turned to us, and it unnerved me. This much attention applied pressure to my conscience. Don’t do anything stupid. Intimidated, I directed my eyes to William’s profile and felt my heart calm. Merely looking at him made breathing an easier task. His presence was appeasing. Tonight, and most nights, he was my safe haven.

He frowned. “Abigail’s going to be here?”

I feigned nonchalance, even if I was both alarmed and curious. I’d heard horrible stories of her. Perhaps I’d finally see my chance to witness her dreadfulness in action.

“Her father is, so it’s not surprising,” Alexander countered. “But who knows? She might not show.”

William scoffed, and I sensed he was getting protective of his mate. “She’d better not.”

“Is this Cara?” Alexander queried, seemingly curious and eager to change the subject away from his ex. Meeting his eyes, I saw that they were deep blue in colour, and they shined of a wisdom I hadn’t expected. Frankly, their tone and vibe made it seem as though he was years older than his actual age. He was regarding me with patience, despite innocent curiosity. I did not fail to notice that he had a very intense stare about him, however.

It wasn’t the same version as William’s stare. It didn’t scream of maddening desire and a drive to consume me. Alexander’s stare was far more mysterious. Frankly, it was unnerving. It was impossible to gauge his thoughts while he looked at me that way, and because of it, I had a feeling that he was in the habit of staring a lot. Furthermore, I was confident that he was probably unaware of that habit of his, provided that he looked riveted by his own analysis. His thoughts were all he noticed while he scanned and browsed my face.

A lopsided smile formed on William’s mouth while he turned toward me while nodding his head. “This is her,” he proudly confirmed. I nearly blushed at his tone.

“Hello, Alex,” I greeted and extended my hand to him. To my utter surprise, he not only took it, but also lowered his head to kiss it. What an old-fashioned gentleman.

After releasing my hand, he held my gaze while he stretched back up and said, “I’m delighted to meet you, Cara. Will’s been doing my head in for the past couple of months, going on about you.”

Flattered, I sent him a wry smile and then faced my date with a leer. “Months?” I echoed to him.

“As if you didn’t know,” he responded and passed me a scowl. Suppose I couldn’t seem to hear it enough. The fact that I’d made such a strong impression on him boosted my ego. It also reassured me about his profound interest.

“Well,” I cooed, “I fancy the reminder.”

“You should,” Alexander said firmly. “It’s not an easy feat to catch William’s eye.” I adored that he was trying to make me feel special on his friend’s behalf.

William chimed before I could respond, “It’s not an easy feat to catch Cara’s either.”

“Hello, Cara,” Chloe greeted me, and the sight of her warmed my heart. Finally, I could place a face to the name. How well she looked next to Andy. They were a beautiful couple.

Blonde and pretty, she had a nose slightly too large for her face, but quite big lips made it look proportionate. Her brown eyes radiated of warmth, and I could immediately sense that she was a maternal character. Odd to think of how long she had known Will for. Even stranger to think of how long she and Andy had been together. To top it all off, she was pregnant with his child now. I wondered if the others knew. Probably. Though, I presumed they meant to keep it somewhat private until their conception was more secure and not under the threat of suffering a miscarriage, which was relatively common for women during their first trimester.

“We haven’t met,” she continued, “but I’ve heard so much about you, both from Will and Andy.”

I smirked. “Bitch behind my back, do they?”

She giggled at my joke. “Only William,” she teased back, and it was my turn to laugh.

“I’d never dare,” Andy assured me.

“Only I’ve got the balls for that,” William stated through a smirk. Looking to him, I nudged his arm and cocked my head in Ivy’s direction. I wanted to meet her. In the end, we were in similar situations. She was Alexander’s assistant, just as I was a version of the same to William. If anyone could understand and sympathise with the torment I’d endured the past few weeks, what with lusting after my boss, it would be her. If I were lucky, perhaps I’d be provided with a chance to have a heart to heart with her about it later in the evening. I was curious to hear her angling on the dilemma.

“Right,” William said when he understood. “Cara, this is Ivy, Alexander’s...” He hesitated to put a label on her, and it amused me. Knowing him, he wanted to say something along the lines of ‘Alexander’s love’, but, of course, he would resist. “Date for the evening,” he eventually decided to say. I barely managed to stifle my urge to laugh at both he and Alex, knowing what I did.

“His new PA,” Ivy specified and extended her hand to me. Oh, his PA. She was slaughtering William’s insinuation. Curious. Did she not return Alexander’s interest? I was intrigued.

Grabbing her hand, I shook it rather firmly. “I love your gown, Ivy. You’re putting Alex to shame,” I teased. Hopeful Alexander would survive my banter, I sent him a look of mischief.

He melted my heart when he said, “She surely is.”

If this blind fool, being Ivy, did not sense his romantic interest, she was the most oblivious person I’d ever met. It was glaringly apparent, for crying out loud.

“Wait, William’s got a girlfriend?” Graham chimed in, nonplussed. “Since when? I thought I’d die before I saw the day.”

I didn’t blame him for his confusion. When we’d spoken earlier, William and I hadn’t said anything of the sort. I’d been introduced as his date, not his girlfriend, because I wasn’t his girlfriend. Not yet.

“I’m his amusement for the moment, at least,” I replied ambiguously with a cheeky smile on my mouth.

“As it looks now, probably forever,” William corrected me rather sternly and nodded his head at Graham. My pulse spiked when a bullet of affection bolted through my heart. “She’s difficult,” he continued, “but I’m working on it. Besides, you know I love a challenge.”

I was hardly as difficult as he made it sound. So much for how open I’d been about my feelings earlier. That he had brought himself to say that annoyed me, even if I knew he wasn’t being entirely serious. “You’re the true challenge,” I muttered sarcastically under my breath, leaving the rest of the group to laugh at my statement.

“Takes one to know one,” William countered fondly.

“You’re the only one left, Graham,” Andy twitted. “When are you going to get around to it?”

I looked toward Alexander’s younger, shorter and chubbier replica. He looked bewildered. “I’m not the only one left? Jason’s still single, as far as I’m aware. Speaking of, is he coming tonight?”

He was regrettably single, and he wasn’t coming.

William shook his head in response. “You know he goes out of his way to avoid this sort of thing.”

“True. Pity, though. Been about a year since I last saw him.”

Alexander changed the subject. “Where will you guys be seated?” he asked of William.

“With you, actually.”

“Excellent.”

Ivy was quick to whisper something in his ear, but after he’d replied, he fixed his attention on William again. “Is John here tonight?”

“No. Like Jason, he declined. Mum’s hospital is hosting some event for the staff tonight, so Dad decided to join her there. I’m essentially the family’s representative tonight.”

Alexander was disappointed. “I see. Pity. I’d been looking forward to a chat with John.”

I adored how close their families appeared to be. After having heard John’s fond statements about Alexander this past weekend, I was confident he regretted being unable to chat with him as well.

Mindless conversation continued for the next hour before dinner, and I was grateful the men minded most of it. Since I hardly knew Ivy or Chloe, I didn’t want to take up too much space with my, sometimes, bold mouth. It was important to me to set the right impression. Besides, I fancied witnessing the three mates banter about. Their friendship was hardly that – it was more similar to brotherhood in its depth.

By the time dinner commenced, I settled into my seat beside William and felt him drape his arm over my shoulders, casually protective while he marked his territory. Leaning next to my ear, he placed his hand to my thigh beneath the white tablecloth and slowly trailed it up toward my sex. “After dinner, we’ll need to have sex again. I’m barely able to control my stiffy when you look this breath-taking,” he whispered amorously.

I chuckled and shoved his hand away. His touch was arousing me, and I did not want to be aroused right now. “Maybe,” I teased back.

“Definitely,” he countered confidently and kissed my temple.

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