ENGAGING JAYDEN

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JAYDEN


“Darrrrrllling!” Delise stood and embraced me with a hug. “You look gorgeous as always.”

I dawned in a long red satin gown that flowed with my every move. It hugged my curve’s perfectly in an elegant way. The straps were spaghetti thin and the back was open all the way to my low back. My stiletto heels brought me an inch shorter than Gage. My smokey eyes gave me more of exotic look along with my red lipstick. Other than my engagement ring, I wore a delicate necklace and earrings. I had left my hair down and curled it to the beach waves I was known for. “Thank you.” I would have relayed the favor but she didn’t favor compliments.

“How is my sexy girl?”

“I’m well.” Before either of us pulled away she air kissed both sides of my cheeks. She kept her hand on my back and eyed Gage like he was a delicious lollipop she’d like to gobble up.

Normally, I’d mind.

But this was Delise.

She’d never lay a hand on him, let alone make an offer. Probably because she is old enough to be his mother.

She was approaching seventy and with her black cropped hair that ended at her earlobes and the black thin frames she always looked sophisticated. She always wore gotti jewelry and a flashy diamond on her ring finger though she had never married. As she’d said before, ‘I have my dog’s to keep me company. And they don’t argue with me.’

“You are more delicious in person.” Her smoker’s voice rolled off her tongue, causing Gage to chuckle in amusement.

Gage grinned his sexy grin. “It’s the suit.”

“Oh— shush now. You know as well as I do that you make the suit, the suit doesn’t make you. You looked sexier than James Bond.”

Gage raised his brows at me. His features of, ‘See?’, was easily read. I couldn’t help but laugh.

Delise eyed him again. “Seriously, though, you are the definition of sex. Has anyone told you that?”

“More than once.” Gage admitted with another sexy grin.

“Keep this one close, darling.” Delice said to me. “There isn’t a woman here that’s not stripping him from his clothing with their scandalous eyes as we speak.”

“It happens everywhere we go.” I replied. And it did. Most of the time I handled it well. But there were times that women were too blatant and even tried slipping him a number with me standing there. It was times like those that irked me.

“But—” Delise leaned closer to me, “you, Gorgeous are no different. Now, let me see your ring.”

I placed my hand in hers.

At first she didn’t say anything. She flicked her eyes to Gage. “That’s an impressive ring. Beautiful.”

Gage grinned. “Not as beautiful as her.”

Delise smiled at me then. “Come let’s sit.”

What she said was true. I’m not being conceited when I say that nearly every man in here has eyed me one way or another. I just pretended I didn’t notice because I knew how men’s mind’s worked and I didn’t want to see in their leers who was picturing me in lingerie or who was imagining me bent over a table.

Because, let’s be honest, there was only one man I was interested in. And he was the only man I’d pose privately in lingerie or bend over a table for.

Gage slid in Delise’s chair as she sat before he made his way to me. After he helped me with my chair, he leaned down, his lips grazing my ear. “Just so you know there’s only one woman I have eye’s for— And that’s you.” He moved my hair aside and placed a kiss on my neck causing my body to shiver in delight. I knew that type of kiss. The open mouth kiss that ended with a lick of his tongue told me what his intentions were for me later.

And no ... There was nothing honorable about them.

“You are a lucky woman, Jayden.” Delise sipped her wine and flicked a quick glance to Gage as he took his seat.

“Yes, Delise, I am.” I just wanted to know how flushed my cheeks were. “More than you know.” There was no stopping the smile that filled my face. I was filled with so much joy I was nearly bursting at the seams with it.

“You two are going to have gorgeous children one day.”

I wasn’t sure how to respond. Gage and I had never talked about children. Did I want them with him?

Yes.

Definitely, yes.

To have a little girl walking in my high heels around the house would be a kick to watch. And a boy...He’d be a handful to be sure in his workout gear scrambling on the mat trying to pin his dad in a rear naked choke hold.

I wasn’t sure if Gage had read my mind but it was reassuring when he replied, “Damn right we are.” with an arrogant grin. His eyes held something I had never seen.

Anticipation.

“I’m expecting an invitation.”

“It wouldn’t be a wedding without you.” I said with sauce.

After we ordered Denise straightened her spine.

“Uh-oh.” I brought my Manhattan to my lips. “I know that posture.”

“Do you?” She quirked a brow.

“I do.” I set my drink down. “This is where you try to convince me to come back.”

“Oh, darling...you are coming back after hearing what I have to say.”

“Fire away.” I huffed a smile. I didn’t break her gaze but I watched Gage eyeing me. He looked pleased. About what, I didn’t know.

“So—” Delise took another sip from her glass, “I want to carry a signature line.”

That grabbed my attention. I loved the sound of it.

“I want to name it after you. The Jayden de Luca line would only be photographed with you wearing them.”

I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t expecting this. Bribery, yes. But this...This was well beyond bribery.

“I’ll do anything to bring you back, darling.” She said with all seriousness. “Just name it and it’s yours.”

I’d like to have said that I told her I’d think about it. But I didn’t. It was an offer I couldn’t pass up. To work that close with Denise was something every girl who loved fashion would die for.

“Anything?”

“Anything.” She replied.

“Well— I’d like to have an entire signature line made for each of Gage’s sisters. And they get VIPs to the Spring show.”

“Done.” She arched one of her perfect brows. “Anything else.”

I shook my head. “Nope. Just that.”

Gage shook his head as he grinned at me. “Of all the things you could ask for—”

“I already have what I want.” I said.

Our waiter approached the table with a Manhattan and set it in front of me. “I was told to send this to the beautiful woman in the red dress.”

“No, thank you.” I replied. “You can send it back.”

The waiter looked at me puzzled. “It’s from the gentleman—”

“I don’t need to know who sent it. Thank you for bringing it over but please send it back to him and let him know that my fiance is the only gentleman who buys my drinks.” I looked at Gage who was laughing. He placed his elbow on the table and his hand went into a loose fist as it hovered over his mouth. The scars from his surgery were still red and slightly swollen.

“Damn baby, that’s mean.”

I shrugged my shoulder. “It’s true.” I looked at the waiter and handed him the drink. “Please send this back.”

“Darling...That was a free drink. You should have taken it.” Delise said as the waiter left.

“It was an invitation to sleep with him. If he’s checked me out as thoroughly as I think he did then he undoubtedly saw the ring on my finger.” I replied.

“You’re stubborn. It must be the Italian in you.” Delise stood. “I’m going to the ladies room.”

Just then the waiter came back with the drink and placed it on the table. “The gentleman is determined that you should have this. He also gave me this,” he placed a napkin in front of me, “you are to flip the napkin over.”

Irritation flooded me. The audacity of the man. “Please remove the drink.” I grabbed the napkin by the corner with my thumb and pointer. Without reading it, I was about to set it on the silver tray when it was ripped from my fingers.

Gage quickly read it and held it up. His voice carried well beyond our table. “Where’s this fucker at?”

I tried to ignore the fact that so many eyes were on us now. You’d think that I’d be used to it by now considering it was a normal occurrence growing up around Knox and Spencer.

As Gage looked around the restaurant I peaked at the napkin.

Tiffany.

Amber.

Veronica.

Vicky.

I didn’t understand it but clearly it meant something to Gage because he was getting really pissed off.

“This fucker is right behind you.”

I looked to my left as a man approached.

I recognized him immediately.

Gage paused in his seat and a rich chuckle erupted from him as he turned and stood to his full height. “Paconi you mother fucker.” He continued to chuckle. He shook the president of EIC’s hand.

Paconi pointed to the napkin. “I knew that would set you off.”

“Oh, it did.” Gage was still amused. “My heart’s fucking racing you ass hole.”

Paconi chuckled. He looked at me and smiled, “I’ve never had to work so hard to send a woman a drink.”

“I bet you haven’t.” I smiled. I placed my hand in his. “Jayden—”

“de Luca, I know. Knox’s little sister. Excuse me, I should have said, younger...You’re not so little are you?” Paconi grinned along with a wink. His dark hair was short but still was able to have a messy look on top. He was handsome but didn’t hold a candle to Gage.

But honestly, nobody held a candle to Gage.

“Jared Paconi.” He dropped my hand. “I just had to come and meet the woman that was molested in front of everyone eating dinner by my good friend here.” He pointed to the rock on my hand and looked at Gage. “I see where your payday went.”

“Yeah,” Gage scoffed.

“I heard the rumor but I have to say I didn’t believe it.” Paconi shook his head and chuckled. “Really, man...The whole fucking check?”

Gage grinned though I could tell he wasn’t happy Paconi brought it up. I hid my shock. I knew Gage was the highest paid fighter so he was seven figures. Knowing that it now wrapped around my finger was humbling.

Paconi motioned for me to place my engagement hand in his. And I did.

“So this is what four point two million looks like.”

Suddenly uncomfortable, I looked at Gage. He wasn’t amused. I then pulled my hand away.

Paconi looked at Gage. “Too far?”

“Yeah.” Gage replied tightly.

Paconi nodded with his brows raised. His offset smile was as all the apology Gage was going to get. “I have a very hot blond waiting for me so I need to get going.” He said smugly.

“You never learn, Paconi.” Gage shook his head. He slapped his friend on the shoulder. “Just do me a favor and don’t marry this one.”

“Can’t make any promises, my friend. Besides, I’d have to get divorced first.” He then turned to me. “Jayden, it was good meeting you.”

My lips thinned seeing that he had a wedding ring on.

What a snake!

Gage took his seat as Paconi left and his eyes went to the napkin. I saw nothing but guilt wash over his face.

“You don’t need to explain that to me.” I assured him. I reached over and took his hand in mine.

“Yes, I do.” He held up the napkin. “These are the women that Xavier and I traded off with when I was training him.”

I made a mental note to never name our daughter: Tiffany, Amber, Veronica or Vicky. “They were before me, Gage— So, it doesn’t matter.”

And it didn’t.

He reached out and cupping my cheek, he caressed my lower lip with his thumb. “How the fuck did I get so lucky?”

* * *

Four months later

The limo pulled in the alley way and there were two security guard’s flanking the door. A moment later, Gage’s door opened and he stepped out. Immediately he held his hand out and I slipped my hand in his and my sandals hit the asphalt.

“You ready?” He asked. He had told more than once over the last several months how proud he was of me. He also made it clear that if I changed my mind he would back me a hundred percent. ‘Just as long as you’re happy’ is what he always said to me.

“I should be asking you that.” When he tilted his head I clarified, “In about two minutes you’re going to be surrounded by about thirty women either dressing in front of you or walking around naked. You’re about to have your very own show, Gage Buchanan.”

“Just as long as I get to watch you dress and walk around naked I’m good.”

“You’re going to be slipped a lot of numbers today.” I hated that I knew it would bother me. Because let’s be honest, Delise only selected the best.

He didn’t reply. “Come on.” He guided me towards the building. One of the guards recognized me and smiled. “Long time no see, Ms. de Luca.”

“How are you, Toni?”

“All’s going well, can’t complain.” He notched his head towards Gage. “He’s new.”

“Toni, this is my fiancé Gage. Gage, this is Toni.”

Gage shook hands with the three hundred pound guard that stood six-five. “Nice to meet you.” He wasn’t the least bit intimidated.

“Likewise.” Toni looked at me and pointed to Gage. “Nicer than the cowboy you brought with you the last time.”

“Ooohh, I won’t talk about my last one.” I winced. I did my best to shake it off but the fact that Brock knew the entire time that his brother attacked me made me ill.

“Understand completely. I have a new girlfriend myself.”

“Didn’t pan out so well with that Latina salsa dancer, huh?”

He grinned and played it off with, “Who?”

I laughed and heard Gage chuckle. Toni grabbed the handle and held the door open. “Go break a leg.”

“Thanks.” I walked in, pulling Gage behind me. “His last girlfriend was a major clinger.”

“Ah!” Was all he said.

The music grew louder as we went further down the hall. One girl exited the room up ahead wearing only underwear when she entered the bathroom across the hall.

“Here we go.” I breathed.

I entered the room and though everyone kept to their task, the majority of the eyes landed on the man towering behind me. I took a step forward and Gage tugged me back, turning me so that I now faced him. His lips settled on mine. It was the sweetest, slowest and most soul pulling kiss that made my head spin. He hadn’t been quick about it. He pressed his hand on my butt and pressed me close. When he lifted his head, he nipped my earlobe. “Do you think they now understand that I belong to you? Because if not, I can take this a step further.”

I didn’t pull away. I couldn’t. He had kissed me until my legs turned to rubber. I went to open my mouth but nothing came out. I was speechless.

“There you are darling.” I turned just as Delise approached. “Ignore, Quinn.”

I noticed one of the models I remember as Quinn glaring at me. Quinn’s golden locks cascaded to her mid back. She stood an inch taller than me and had killer legs. Her skin was a creamy ivory which was pale in comparison to mine but beautiful all the same. She must have taken over my position when I quit modeling all those months only to be told that I was the spotlight once again now that I was back. I see why she was mad. Anyone would be. No one liked to be pushed aside.

“Are you ready?”

“I am.”

She smiled and bringing her hands up in a prayer she pressed her hands to her mouth. “Then let’s get you prepped.”

I sat in my vanity and began to apply my makeup. I kept it natural with light undertones; nothing flashy. I applied light pink lipstick, sparing a glance here and there as Gage sat against the wall watching me every so often. Someone was curling my hair to my famous beachy waves. I grabbed my outfit that I would be wearing and walked over to Gage. “Hold this.”

Without thought, he grabbed the hanger and I began undressing. His eyes dilated and they roamed over my body clad in only a black laced thong. “I’ll be back for that in a second.” I winked.

Knowing that his haze was locked on my butt, I made sure my hips moved with a little more sway and approached the two guys whose job was to apply shimmer to our body’s. As he finished with one of the girls I approached and stood with my legs slightly parted and my arms out to my sides. I closed my eyes as the man began to spray my body from head to toe. When he was done I mimicked my walk back to Gage who hadn’t taken his gaze off me since I left him holding my dress.

“That was mean.” He said in a graveled tone. His jaw twitched.

“Just giving you a little preview of what’s to come.” I said innocently and taking the black slip dress off the hanger I slipped it on and turned around. “Zip.”

Gage didn’t need to stand but he did anyway. His hips leaned into my backside and his torso was inches from my back as he slowly ran his knuckle along my spine zipping my dress. His hand slipped underneath the wickedly short hemline and caressed the crease where my butt meets my thigh. “Damn...” He then stepped back.

After my hair and make-up was done I was slipping on my heels when Delise approached. “You’re up in three minutes, Jayden. Gage, I saved you a seat next to your sister’s so you better whirl yourself out of here.”

“Yes, mam.” Gage didn’t argue. Carefully, he placed a single kiss on my lips. “You got this, baby. See you out there.”

“Bye.” I made my way to the platform with Denise and stood like a mannequin as my hair and outfit were picked at one last time. The music started and I was given the green light—so to speak.

Shaking out my hands, I took a deep breath and settled my nerves. I was a little nervous and I recognized it easily. I smiled because of it. For once in over a year it wasn’t my anxiety. It was stage fright. I always got uneasy before I stepped on. But once my heels clicked on the runway they vanished into thin air. I hoped that happened tonight.

“Break a leg, darling.”

“Thanks', Denise.” I turned away and went around the corner. The lights lit up the silver catwalk and the camera’s began flashing the minute I began strutting.

Gage and his sister’s were dead center at the end of the catwalk. Denise had given them the best seats. How was I surprised? While Daisy and Jessica waved and giggled, Gage clapped between his whistles. He even stood which made me blush. He couldn’t keep his eyes off mine. A few times, they dipped to my body, lingering on my legs and rib cage no doubt. He shook his head in bewilderment. Reaching the end, I gave a small wave to his sisters and before turning away I flicked my gaze to Gage’s zipper knowing he had a half of a hard on right now. I locked my eyes with him and gave him the sexiest smile I could muster, I tossed him a come get me wink.

Damn, did it feel good to be back.

* * *

I had forgotten how extravagant the after parties were that Delise hosted. It was three in the morning by the time we arrived at our hotel. Jessica and Daisy wanted to stay longer but Gage and I agreed that it wouldn’t be a good idea all things considered. I stopped Gage more than once from strangling a man from ogling his younger sisters. I had to say I did find it grotesque considering they were at least twice their age by the looks of it.

I kicked my heels off when we entered the bedroom. “My feet are killing me.” I had been wearing heels for nearly twelve hours.

“Are they bleeding?”

“Oh, yeah. That happens sometimes.” I didn’t think twice about it.

“Babe.” He removed his shirt and tossed it on the couch before walking over to me and eyeing the sores on my feet. “You should have said something.”

“Why?” I laughed.

He looked up at me with a blank expression. “I don’t know…” I could tell he felt bad and it was rather adorable.

“I’ve survived bleeding feet before.” I slipped my arms around his neck.

His hands gripped my waist. “After watching you on that catwalk today I realized why Knox laughed at me when I said you walk with two left feet...You were fucking amazing up there, Jayden. And you looked hot as hell.”

“I wasn’t too sure you noticed,” I lightly rubbed the back of his neck, “after all...you were eyeing several guys like you wanted to put them into a rear naked choke.”

“Fucker’s wouldn’t keep their eye’s off you.” He said plainly. “And I know what twisted shit was going through their minds. Frankly, it pissed me off.”

“It might have been my ring.”

He frowned, letting me know he didn’t believe a word I said.

Our heads moved towards one another and just before our lips touched, I pulled back. “Oh,” I blurted, “I have something for you.”

“Can’t it wait?”

Seeing him unbutton his pants and reach for his zipper, I pointed at him. “No.” I said. “Sit.”

He let out a groan like a kid being told to do his homework and sat on the edge of the bed.

Pulling out the small box from my luggage, I hid it behind my back and walked over to him, stopping when I stood between his legs. His hands grabbed the back of my thighs lightly. On one of them, he drew lazy circles with his thumb causing my body to break out in goosebumps.

“I know we are getting married next week and I was going to originally wait until we were on our honeymoon before I gave this to you but...I couldn’t wait.” I brought the box out from behind my back and held it out to him. I can’t tell you how nervous I was. My heart raced. I only hoped he would be excited as much as I was.

“What’s this?” I knew I peaked his curiosity.

“You have to open it and see.” I smiled and bit the inner part of my lower lip.

He smiled back and turned his attention to the box. He removed the lid and stopped short. I couldn’t see his face because his head was bent. Slowly, he picked up the small ultrasound photo and set the box beside him.

I brushed my imaginary bangs from my face and eagerly waited to see his response.

“We’re having twins.”

He looked up at me and my breath caught. His eyes were filled with tears. He held up the photo so I could see it. “We’re going to have some cute ass babies.”

I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. My chest filled with happiness. “You’re happy then?” I knew the answer; still, I had to ask.

“Happy?” He raised his eyebrows and kept a hold of the picture. He dropped to his knees lifting my top slightly, he gripped my hips and placed a kiss on my still flat belly. He rubbed his thumb in lazy circles before placing another kiss. He looked up to me. “Baby, I’m going to be a dad. You are going to be my wife in six days. I’m fucking ecstatic right now.”

I wrapped my legs around him as he stood and lifted me up. I planted my hands on his chest, loving the feel of his taut muscles beneath my palms and pressed my forehead to his. “I love you.”

And boy did I.

“I love you too, baby.” He whispered.

“I’m so glad I ran into you in the hotel.”

“I have a confession to make.” He placed a kiss on my lips and I kissed him back.

“What?”

“I saw you leave your room and I watched you walk down the hallway. I waited until you were close and I stepped in front of you on purpose.”

“You made me dump my purse on purpose?” I pulled back slightly. Just enough so I could look in his eyes.

“Wasn’t expecting the purse to dump. But after it did I saw it as an opportunity and I took advantage of it.” He smirked. “I’d never done that before. But, I saw you walking and those legs— Damn did they do a number on me. I had to meet you.”

“Well, I’m glad you did.” I smiled. And yes, I was beyond flattered.

“Best decision I ever made.” He placed a kiss on my scar and wrapped his arms around me, crushing me to him. “I know I’ve said this once already, but I’ll say it again— You, Jayden Marie de Luca, are the only woman who has the power to drop me to my knees.”

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