“Working together is a horrible idea.” She looks up toward the ceiling with a grin, but to my surprise, she doesn’t jerk her arm away from my touch.
“It’s really not. But do you really want to pass up the opportunity? I mean, everyone is eyeing this as the opening of the year. It’ll put you on the map.”
Now she gives me that coy smile that makes me weak every time. “Ooh, someone is a little brash these days. That was never your style, so don’t start it now.”
And she’s right. Beginning with high school, when I was the varsity football player, until now, as the high-roller property investor, I’ve never let success get to me.
“Maybe so, but I’ve changed. I’m not the same guy as before.” I’m more determined, persuasive, and I know exactly what I want.
Her head retreats back slightly. “Now I’m intrigued.” I love the way she just gave me a flirty grin there.
“I just mean that if we both know what’s at stake professionally here, we both could benefit from a successful opening, career-wise, obviously.”
I squeeze her arm to assure her. “I promise I’ll be professional the entire time.”
She hesitates and bites her lip again, a nervous habit that I recognize. “Okay.”
Relief hits me that this isn’t going to be a longer debate, and a victorious smile spreads across my face.
“Perfect. I have no doubt you will do a good job.”
She holds her long finger up. “A great job,” she corrects me.
“You will do a great job,” I confirm with a grin.
A short pause enters our conversation, and maybe we both get lost in the thought that we’re both in the same city at the same time and now thrown together. The factors that were always missing before in our alchemy as two people who can’t pinpoint a title of what they are.
“I mean it, Professional Wes, all the way,” she nearly whispers, her eyes not blinking.
It’s a good few beats again before she breaks our piercing gaze. “You are making quite a name of yourself.” I swear I can hear a hint of pride in her voice.
“Maybe.” I play modest, but I know at age twenty-eight that I am doing well. Back in Detroit, I found myself mentioned in a few local magazines, singing my praises for the venues I managed. When I became an investor, my name kept growing. I now have enough money in my bank account to be more than comfortable.
“It’s a beautiful place here. I actually can’t believe this is all you.” She gently smiles as she looks around.
“Thanks. Not quite finished, and construction was a pain. I’ll most definitely rely on the chef and Charlie to make this work… and you, obviously.”
The corners of her mouth twist at my statement.
“And the name of the restaurant?” she asks, curious.
I scratch my cheek and grin. “Two Tomatoes is not the name we’re keeping. It has a new name.”
“Yeah, it doesn’t sound like you. So, what’s the new name?”
She instantly freezes and takes in my words. She gulps, even. Maybe because it means something to her. Before she thinks too deeply, I correct any notion. “The marketing guys I work with gave me a list of names, and Jupiter was on it. It sets a good tone, and someone once mentioned to me that Jupiter has the longest nights, and that’s when exciting things happen,” I remind her casually.
She looks away before she nearly blushes but moves past my quip. “I thought I had another week before I would see you.”
I cross my arms and admire her truth. “Were you mentally preparing?” She doesn’t answer. “It’s better this way.”
Her head tilts to the side. “Why is that?”
Placing my hands on each side of her, one on the chair and the other on the bar top, I lean into her personal space, causing her breath to catch.
“Because I need you to agree to work here before the wedding so you can’t back down, because I know you would say no after what I have planned for you this weekend.” I retreat back slightly with a confident look, my lips at a perfect distance to nip the corner of her mouth if I wanted. The mouth that has parted open slightly from my words.
I hope her blank look is a sign that she’s imagining the things I’ll do to her—and fuck me, I hope she is calculating which black lace panties to wear too.
“I’m in trouble, aren’t I?” She swallows, and I love how it comes out a flirty yet serious whisper.
I lick my lips at her statement because she knows me too well. “Maybe.” I turn casual. “Stay for lunch?”