After This Night (Seductive Nights #2)(6)


by Lauren Blakely

“That’s so nice that she adores you so much,” Michele said to Liam when the woman walked away.

“And I adore signing cocktail napkins,” Liam said, with his trademark grin that made women swoon. “Signed a few in the Bahamas last weekend.”

“How was your vacation there?” Clay asked. “Good times?”

“Amazing. Gorgeous blue skies, perfect weather . . . did some fishing. Oh, and listen to this. Some guy tried to get me to buy real estate there. A damn condo, of all things,” Liam said, tossing his hands up in exasperation. “Do they think I was born yesterday? I know how those things work. It was probably for one of those deals where only one unit is done so they show you that. And then just pictures of the rest.”

“And you want me to advise you on whether this is a good deal or not?” Clay said in a dry tone.

“Oh yeah. Exactly. Please tell me, because my poor little actor brain can’t figure it out,” he said, and the two men laughed.

“Actually,” Michele chimed in, crossing her legs, and sitting up straighter in the bar stool as she kept her eyes locked on Liam. “I’ve heard that a lot of those scams try to prey on celebrities. Because so many celebrities can often make quick decisions with money.”

“I can make quick decisions on other things,” Liam said, waggling his eyebrows at Michele.

“Like what, Liam?” she asked in a soft, sexy voice Clay had rarely heard her use.

Damn, the flirting between the two was stirring up again. “And that’s my cue to go,” Clay said, slapping some money down on the bar. He patted Liam on the shoulder. “Poker tomorrow night?”

“Of course.”

“See you then.”

He started to leave, but Michele followed him to the doorway. “You’re always just taking off,” she said brusquely, crossing her arms.

“Didn’t seem I was necessary around here. You two are hitting it off,” he said with a shrug.

“Are you trying to pawn me off on him?”

“Pawn you off?” he asked as if she’d been speaking a foreign language. “You guys are getting along. I’m making myself scarce so you can keep getting along.”

She heaved a sigh. “How was your trip to San Francisco last week?”

He could have done without the reminder. It took every ounce of will he had to strip his California girl from his brain. “It was fine.”

“Did you ever hear from that woman you were crazy about?”

And his perfect hold on not thinking about Julia slipped through his fingers. One mention, one reminder of how he felt for her, and she came roaring back to the front of his mind. It was like a truck had slammed into his body, the weight and pressure of the memory of the woman he craved. “Michele, if you don’t want to hang with Liam, I don’t care. I’ll tell him I need to take you home. Whatever you need. I’m not trying to pawn you off on him. I thought you were having a nice time with him and I wanted to get out of the way. If I read the signals wrong, I’m sorry.”

“You do a lot of that, don’t you?” she said, looking him fiercely in the eyes like they were locked in a battle to not blink first.

He squinted at her, as if that would help him understand what she was saying. “What do you mean?”

“Read the signals wrong, Clay. You read the signals wrong,” she said, parking her hands on her hips.

“What signals am I reading wrong?”

“You really don’t get it, do you?”

He shook his head in frustration. “Evidently I don’t. And on that note, it was a pleasure spending the evening with you.”

Once he returned to his home, he tossed his suit jacket on the couch, unbuttoned his shirt, and threw it in the laundry. He washed his face, brushed his teeth, shed the rest of his clothes, and then flopped down on his bed, surrounded by the sounds of silence.

He considered taking up meditation for a nanosecond. Then practicing a mantra. Hell, maybe he could even give yoga a shot. But in the end, none of those things suited him, so he did what his instincts told him to do. Reach out to Julia.

CHAPTER FOUR

from: [email protected]

to: [email protected]

date: May 2, 8:23 PM

subject: You

I keep thinking about what happened on your street. Can’t stop worrying about you. Are you okay?

from: [email protected]

to: [email protected]

date: May 2, 11:24 PM

subject: Me

Mostly. How are you?

from: [email protected]

to: [email protected]

date: May 2, 8:25 PM

subject: Not my favorite day that’s for sure

Been better . . .

from: [email protected]

to: [email protected]

date: May 2, 11:26 PM

subject: Wish I could change that

I hate the thought of you having a bad day. I want you to be happy.

from: [email protected]

to: [email protected]

date: May 2, 8:27 PM

subject: I’m not unhappy

I’m just worried about you. I feel like an ass. Like I just left you there on the street.

from: [email protected]

to: [email protected]

date: May 2, 11:29 PM

subject: You’re not, but you have a nice ass :)

I’m a big girl. I made it home safely. But it’s sweet you were worried.

from: [email protected]

to: [email protected]

date: May 2, 8:31 PM

subject: Sweet? Me?

I still am worried. Is Stevie bugging you?

from: [email protected]

to: [email protected]

date: May 2, 11:32 PM

subject: Soooo sweet . . . strong, confident, sexy too

He’s fine. It will all be fine soon enough. Let’s talk about something else. I came up with a new cocktail tonight.