‘Cancel your plans, you’re going.’
I put down my pencil and look up at the dark, irritated eyes on my father.
‘I want you at the venue by seven o’clock, if it makes you feel any better, you can leave by nine. But wear the damn dress I bought you and try to smile and look like you’re enjoying yourself. Remember that you’re representing me as well as yourself.’
I scowl at his words and take a sip of my coffee.
‘I mean it, Enna. Stop scowling.’
Twenty-two years old and he still speaks to me as though I’m a child.
‘Fine, whatever,’ I reply.
Maybe I act a child sometimes.
My father sighs dramatically and storms out of the kitchen. I roll my eyes and turn back to the designs, sprawled across the huge table.
I have another hour before I need to go home and start getting ready, plenty of time to make some more plans.
I’ve recently graduated with a degree in Landscaping. My father has hired me to re-do the impressive gardens of his enormous mansion.
He’s completely minted and married to a woman twenty years younger than him.
Ashley is only five years older than me. It’s gross, but that’s life. She’s not too bad to deal with, we tolerate each other.
Plus, I get to live in one of my father’s many apartments, rent-free. My father might be overbearing and a control-freak, but he spoils me. Whatever I want, he would buy it for me.
But despite this, I’m not spoiled, I remain humble. I don’t ask him for things and the only time he’s really helped me out, is to provide a loan for me to start my landscaping company.
I’ve already designed two gardens for his friends, hopefully my business will keep booming. I can pay back his loan and carry on without his support. He’s loaded, but I don’t like living off of his money.
I tap my nails against the table whilst I think. I got my acrylics put on yesterday, they’re a beautiful maroon colour. My father ordered me to get this colour, wanting it to match my dress.
He’s got some fancy, formal event tonight that he’s dragging me to. We usually have to wear matching colours at these events for appearance’s sake, it makes us look like a happy family.
After doing some more work, I go back to my apartment and get ready. Once my hair and make-up is done, I slip on the red, satin dress. It’s figure-hugging and cut incredibly low at the back with a cowl neck. It’s beautiful. It makes my tanned skin look even darker, thank God for my Italian heritage.
My brown eyes are appear golden on these summer nights. My black hair falls in waves to my waist, brushing the top of my bum. I smooth down my dress and check myself for anything that needs tweaking.
Hopefully I’ll catch someone’s eye tonight, or I’ll be bored out of my mind.
I don’t take the car with my father and his wife, I don’t want to be in their company longer than I need to. One my father’s drivers takes me and I enter the building unescorted.
I’m a little late, ten minutes past seven. Most of the guests have already arrived and are mingling in the ballroom. I swipe a flute of champagne off of a passing tray. I take a sip for Dutch courage and enter through the double doors.
My red dress immediately catches a few eyes, I flush under their gazes. I like attention and at the same time, I feel shy about it.
I try to ignore the stares and I take another sip of my drink. I scan the crowd, looking for my father. I spot him and his wife stood, talking to some politician.
‘Enna!’ I hear my name being called and I turn to see Bradley strolling over.
He’s an old school friend. His mother is in business with my father. He’s a blue-blood through and through, if you think I’m spoiled, you should see him.
He leans forward and kisses my cheeks. ‘You look stunning.’
‘Thank you, Bradley.’
‘Come say hello to my parents.’ He ushers me across the room to where his parents are standing.
I’ve met them before, many times. They’re pleasant enough. They’re stood with one other person. As we near them, the man catches my eye.
He looks to be in his late twenties, early thirties. He has brown hair, cut short and styled attractively. His physique is incredible, he’s built like a rugby player. Tall, thick and muscular. His expensive suit hugs his big body in a way that has my thighs clenching.
His navy eyes are intense. His facial structure is to die for, all high cheekbones, square jaw and straight nose. And his lips. Holy shit, his lips. Dark pink and so fucking plump, I want to bite them.
His eyes move from Bradley’s father, who he’s talking to, and land on me as we approach. I notice him check me out, his gaze travels up and down my body, twice, before settling on my face. I smile at him, silently letting him know he’s been caught, and that I like what I see, too.
He smiles back. A sexy, mischievous smile that promises trouble.
‘Enna, it’s lovely to see you.’ I’m distracted by Bradley’s parents for a bit. I make small talk, the usual.
After asking after my father and his wife and hearing about their health, we get to move past small talk. I want them to introduce the ultimate hunk stood across from me.
‘Oh, how rude of us! This is Enna, she is Roger Falcone’s daughter. Enna, this is Keon King, CEO of King Engineering and Construction,’ Bradley’s mother finally introduces him.
He holds out his hand for me to shake. I smile and slip my hand into his, enjoying the roughness of his callous skin.
‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr King.’
‘Likewise, Miss Falcone.’
The air seems to crackle between us. I quickly break eye contact and glance back at Bradley’s parents. They are deep in conversation with their son, seemingly having forgotten about Mr King and I.
‘Would you like a drink?’ He asks and his eyes drop to the almost-empty glass in my hand.
I lift the glass and down the last mouthful. ‘I’d love one,’ I reply and he grins at me.
We stroll over to the bar. I put my empty glass down on the counter and lean against it. Mr King leans next to me, his chest brushing against my arm. In my heels, he’s still a head taller than me.
‘What would you like?’ He asks, his voice is rich and deep, I love it.
‘Champagne please, Mr King,’ I reply with a smile.
He smirks down at me. ‘Please, call me Keon, Enna.’
He orders two glasses of champagne for us. It’s free and it’s all everyone’s drinking tonight.
We clink our glasses together and simultaneously take a sip.
‘So, Enna, your father owns Falcone Inc?’ He asks casually and I try not to grimace at the mention of him.
‘Yes, do you know him?’
‘Not well, I’ve heard of his name of course, he’s a big deal in that area of business,’ he muses and I nod.
‘Don’t I know it,’ I mutter, ‘he’s currently over there, the woman that’s my age next to him, is his wife.’ I gesture over at my father and stepmother.
Keon follows my gaze and nods, his expression unreadable.
‘So, what is it you do, Enna?’
‘I have just graduated with a degree in landscaping and I’ve started my own business, I’m currently working on my father’s garden,’ I tell him proudly. His eyebrows raise in surprise and he smiles.
‘Really? That’s amazing, well done. You’re welcome to come take a look at my garden sometime, if you ever need the work.’
‘That would be great!’ I’m never going to turn down business.
The dinner gong rings and people start making their way over to the tables. We check the seating plan, to see which table we have been placed on. Keon gently grasps my elbow.
‘I’m going to see if someone will swap with me, I’d like to continue getting to know you, Enna,’ he says charmingly and I feel my cheeks warm with a blush.
‘Okay, I’d like that.’
I go over and sit down at our table. I purposely choose a seat that is opposite and as far away as possible from my father and Ashley.
A minute later, Keon sits down on my left.
‘Well, I had to flirt my ass off, but I convinced the lady to swap,’ he says and winks at me.
I giggle like an idiot. ‘It’s a shame I missed that, I bet it was quite entertaining.’
‘If you’re lucky, I can work my charms on you, too,’ he teases and I laugh again.
‘Feel free, Mr King. But you should be warned, your charms may not work on me,’ I flirt back and take a sip of my drink as he smirks at me.
‘Oh, really? We’ll just have to see about that, won’t we?’
Keon and I flirt shamelessly throughout the meal, chuckling and teasing each other like teenagers. It’s fun and refreshing. In only an hour, it’s the best dinner that my father has dragged me to.
Keon tells me about his company. He started it seven years ago, he has a Masters in engineering.
‘You’ve told me about your company, now tell me about you,’ I implore. I lean my elbow on the table and rest my chin in my hand as I watch him with interest.
‘Okay.’ He smiles at me, a sweet smile that shows little crow’s feet at the edges of his eyes. ‘I’m thirty-two, I’ve lived in London my whole life, my parents have passed, but I have a younger brother who is twenty-seven, I don’t like oranges and I make a mean chilli.’
I can’t help but smile at his description of himself.
Hmm, thirty-two...that’s not that bad...
He nudges my arm. ‘Tell me about you, now.’
‘I’m twenty-one, twenty-two next month. Only child, my mother passed away five years ago. I have a difficult relationship with my father-’ I cut a quick glance across the table, but he’s engrossed in a conversation. ‘But I love him. I get on okay with his wife, she’s alright. I love orange duck and I hate olives.’
It’s his turn to chuckle, revealing his perfect teeth. ‘And are you dating anyone?’
His question catches me off guard. I might be wrong, but it feels like a level-up from the innocent flirting we’ve been having.
‘No, I am very much single,’ I reply and he grins.
‘Good. Would you like to dance then, Enna?’ He asks.
I look over at the dance area, to see it is swarming with couples. I turn back and Keon is watching me expectantly.
‘Yes, I’d love to.’