Read an Excerpt
Three months ago I attended a staff dinner dance too far from home to make for a comfortable, quick drive back. Besides which, I wanted to have a drink, so I opted to book a hotel room for the night. That way I could taxi back and fall into bed within minutes of leaving my work colleagues if I fancied. I hadn’t had too much to drink—only a few glasses of wine, and white, at that. Even one glass of red was enough to send me loopy. I’d thought I was playing it safe. Cue a casual conversation with Sebastian, a suggestion that, as he and Tyler were carpooling, they could drive me back to wherever I was staying... Before I knew it, I was in a car with the two best-looking Pearson’s employees in the region, desperately chanting to myself, Don’t say anything stupid, Jess. Don’t say anything stupid. Turned out Tyler—the Manager of his store no less—was the one to take that step. And he was the designated driver, stone cold sober. After pulling up outside my hotel, he looked over his shoulder and smirked. "Here we are." "Yeah." His smile was infectious—I couldn’t help returning it. "Here we are." I’d not yet laid my hand on the door handle. It would have seemed rude to just hop out and go upstairs, but by the same token I had no idea how to wrap up the conversation. "Would you think I was pulling rank if I mentioned a goodnight kiss?" I knew I hadn’t had that much to drink, and alcohol always seemed to affect my balance and speech first of all, anyway. Not my hearing. Three glasses of white spread over the whole evening, with a meal and soft drinks, too... I definitely wasn’t tipsy enough for my ears to have stopped working. "I...what?" "Jesus, Ty." Sebastian, who worked in the same store as Tyler, as his menswear manager, play-punched him on the arm. "You’d take advantage of a drunk woman?" "I’m not drunk." "See?" Tyler held up both his palms in a perfectly-executed gesture of innocence. "She’s not drunk." "Yes, because that’s exactly what a sober person would say." "Are you accusing me of...?" I began, but the look on Sebastian’s face halted me in my tracks. God damn it—I’d been talking to him all night and never seen him in that light before. The half-light as it was, from some nearby lampposts and the neon sign of my hotel. He was leaner than Tyler, but in no way less of a presence. There was a quiet intensity to him that I’d noticed during our conversation that evening, an ability to make me feel like the only woman in the room. It wasn’t that he’d stared at me while we conversed—that would have been too aggressive. But he’d paid attention and made me feel witty, urbane, like the sort of woman who stood a chance. I’d not had much to do with him up until now—we worked in different branches of Pearson’s—but this evening had thrown us together, almost like it was meant to happen. Like it was planned.