Melody got out of the car with uncontained excitement. She still couldn’t believe they pulled it off—gotten Allan to agree to Ruiz and her to travel all over the world assessing and inputting where necessary at all the Red Roses hotels. It had been two months already and they’d been to all the Red Roses worldwide, hosting the opening parties at each one with the crème de la crème of society and building a substantial client list with each one. It was the most fun she’d had in years and having Ruiz with her, only Ruiz, and no hovering overprotective brother plus best friend, was the best part—aside from buying a new evening gown for each event with a matching pair of shoes and purse. She felt like the queen of the ball at each one, especially with decked out Ruiz by her side. He complained about being dressed up like a penguin the first time, but regardless it was clear he enjoyed looking like James Bond and the attention that came with it. Especially, it seemed, in Spain. It surprised her that Ruiz could speak Spanish so fluently and even with that Zorro flair. That’s when she found out he was from Argentina. He barely spoke of his home or himself for that matter. He would clamp up when she pushed for more so she learnt to accept to wait until he fully trusted her and took the little he would reveal.
She was surprised Allan hadn’t already called demanding she go back home or sent someone to chaperon the two of them. She knew he had his reservations about his little virgin sister travelling alone with his new lothario brother-in-law but he had nothing to worry about. Ruiz had been a complete gentleman, to Melody’s complete disappointment. It wasn’t like he didn’t want to be with her; she could tell he was dying to with each kiss and each touch and how he devoured her with his eyes when he thought she wasn’t looking, but for some unknown and annoying reason he wouldn’t make a move on her. Short of her throwing herself at him—and her pride demanded she just couldn’t do that—he was never going to, either. Ladies were chased; they never did the chasing, but she was hoping the state of their celibacy would change with their current surroundings. Paris, the city of love, was their last stop and she was hoping some of its magic would rub on to Ruiz.
“Hey, get inside or you’ll catch a cold,” Ruiz scolded her as he watched the porter unload their bags from the car.
“It’s too beautiful to go inside. Look at how the light bounces off the snow. The ground looks like it’s covered in diamonds!” she awed, scooping some of the snow into her bare hands.
Ruiz brushed the snow out of her hands and began rubbing them between his. “Diamonds that will give you pneumonia. You want to have fun or get laid up in bed with the flu?”
Melody pouted. “Party pooper.”
Ruiz gave her one a rakish smile that always sent her heart galloping. “Fine, we’ll play with the snow in the morning. Right now we both need something substantial to eat and then a good night’s sleep.”
She followed him as he led her by the hand into the hotel. The doorman gave them a slight bow and a short greeting, and so did the employees they passed, which made Melody’s excitement build—they might actually spend more time vacationing than working. The place looked like it was being run smoothly, so they wouldn’t need to do much. Just like the other hotels. She might as well start planning the launch party. Thank you Matthew! For the two years Allan had disappeared and Melody had lost interest in the hotels because of it, Matthew truly did hold everything together with the hotels, just like he did with Sinclair Enterprise and her family’s other investments. He even held her together when she wanted to do nothing but crawl in a hole and cry for the months she thought her brother was dead and the following months when he wouldn’t come home until Matthew made him.
The Sinclair’s owed him a lot. We have to do something big to show our appreciation.
“Bonne soirée, Monsieur Albury, Mademoiselle Sinclair. I trust you had a great flight,” the concierge greeted them with a smile. Melody was marveled. This late in such a cold evening and she was smiling? Melody wouldn’t have blamed her if she grumbled a little. She would have grumbled a lot and feigned illness to boot!
“Bonne soirée. The flight was fine thank you. Do you have any messages for us?” Ruiz asked, smiling back.
Melody was pinched by a little jealousy. She understood that it would be rude not to smile back but he didn’t need to look so excited to see her! And he spoke French, too!
“Oui. From both your brothers. They both say to ‘watch yourself Ruiz.’” She smiled at him like she’d deciphered the message and they now shared a secret. Melody rolled her eyes. She too knew what the message meant. It was what kept Ruiz from seducing her.
Ruiz laughed. “The same message every place. Is the suite ready?”
“Oui. The chef has prepared a late supper if you like?”
He groaned with appreciation. “You’re a godsend. Thanks. Would you have it sent up in half an hour?”
“Anything else, Mel?” Ruiz asked finally looking at her since they got to the concierge desk.
“Oh, you finally noticed I’m still standing here? No. I’m fine,” she said sweetly, “but I’m sure you have something more to ask her for, like her phone number?”
Ruiz rolled his eyes and laughed turning to the surprised concierge. “Jet lag. Excuse us. Merci.” With her hand still in his he turned around and walked towards the elevators pulling her into a run behind him.
“Ruiz, I don’t need a workout, I’m jet lagged remember?”
Once they were inside, he pulled her into his arms and bent down to kiss her. She turned her head quickly and his lips fell on her cheek.
He sighed loudly, pulling away. “What now? You have no reason to be jealous. You know that I only have eyes for you.”
“Yeah, if you’re training to be a monk,” she mumbled, keeping her face turned from him.
He sighed again. “We are not going to argue about that again Melody.”
She faced him with a bone wilting glare. “Argue? We barely discuss it! You end it with a bellowing no whenever I bring the topic up. You are so damn annoying.” She tried to pull out of his embrace but he trapped her to him with his arms. “Out of all the guys I’ve dated as long as we have you are the only one that hasn’t tried to get into my pants even once!”
He smiled cheekily at her. “You forget, I have tried.”
Yeah, he did during their last days in the Bahamas. She’d suffered a moment of fear when he crawled between her legs and blurted out her virginity. He’d left the room then like a bat out of hell and can back a few minutes later. She guessed her sobs of rejection drew him back. With his sleeping pants on, he climbed back into bed—dragging a shirt over her head to cover her nakedness—held her to his chest and soothed her to sleep. She hadn’t wanted him to stop. All she wanted was for him to be gentle.
“I should never have told you I’m a virgin,” she grumbled turning away from him again.
He cupped her chin with his cool hand and turned her head up to face him. “I’m glad you did. Your virginity is a gift to the man you love and who truly loves you back. I’m glad you kept it. You have no idea what a guy feels when he knows he’s the only one who’s touched the love of his life. It’s the best thing you could ever do for the man you love. Not many girls do that these days.”
“Then what’s the problem? You love me and I love you and yet I’m still a virgin!”
His bark of laughter should have offended her, but she loved hearing him laugh. Each time he laughed, and he did so constantly these days, it told her she was doing something right. She was making him happy and seemed to help him forget whatever it was that had him in the dumps when they spent time together in the Bahamas. He had moments he would just disappear into himself for what felt like hours to her. But these days he rarely had those moments because she took it upon herself to constantly occupy his mind.
“I already told you this, but I’ll say it again. The best gift a man could give in return is marriage. I’m not going to deflower you until I make you Mrs. Albury.”
Melody blushed right to her roots and she quickly pressed her face in his bulky winter coat at his chest. The cold fabric cooled her heated face some.
“Okay fine, but that wedding better be soon and the proposal sooner.”
“You got it,” he said laughingly.