Mr. Irresistible(4)

By: Karina Bliss

Looking at the expanse of bare skin and the generous cleavage the top revealed, she chewed her bottom lip. Lucy had insisted she borrow it. “I’m going to change.”

“You can’t, we’ll be late. But…have you got a coat or something?”

Grabbing a crimson silk shawl from an adjacent chair, she wrapped it firmly around her shoulders. “Remind me never to let Lucy loose on me again.”

“I’m surprised she talked you into wearing something like that,” Peter confessed as he watched her lock the front door. “It’s not your style at all.”

Though she agreed with him, Kate felt inexplicably piqued. “No, I’m far too ordinary for glamour.”

“That’s not what I meant.” He opened the car door for her. “You rely on class, not cleavage. There’s nothing worse than a woman flaunting her charms inappropriately. There’s a time and place for that.”

“On the weekend, in bed and with the lights out?” Kate regretted the joke as soon as the words left her mouth.

“Honey, I’m trying to give you a compliment here.”

“Sorry,” she said meekly, and got into the dark blue Volvo. Peter’s conservatism had proved irresistible when his family had moved next door twelve years earlier, at a time when Kate needed respite from her father’s disreputable private life.

When they were eighteen, she’d been the one who decided it was time to lose their virginity. Confident in his love, Kate had been curious to see what all the fuss was about.

Not much.

No, that was unfair. Sex proved very pleasant, occasionally even satisfying. But it had served to deepen her contempt for her father. To betray her mother for something as insignificant as that…

By the light of the dashboard, she looked affectionately at Peter’s square profile. Close-cropped sandy hair—one shaver setting away from military—and a physique as solid as his character. As always, he was immaculately groomed, tonight in a black tuxedo. He threw her a sideways glance. “Tell me again why we have to wait?”

Kate sighed. “I thought we agreed to drop that subject for a few months.”

“But it’s far more sensible for us to get engaged now, and married as soon as possible.” Peter had been doggedly proposing marriage for at least three years, and Kate’s last excuse had just resettled in Australia. “We’re throwing money away on two rents when we could invest in one mortgage.”

“Oh, you mad, passionate fool, you,” she teased. “And I thought you couldn’t bear to live without me a minute longer.”

“That goes without saying,” he said briskly. They pulled up at the function center.

Kate hesitated. Being free of responsibilities felt empty right now, but she might never have the opportunity again. She had explained that to Peter and he’d understood—last week. Her door was swung open by a valet.

Thankful for the reprieve, she allowed herself to be helped out, then impulsively popped her head back in. “Tell you what, I’ll ask you, when I’m ready.”

Getting out, Peter handed the keys to the valet and strolled around the vehicle to join her. “If you leave it too long I’ll run off with someone else,” he warned, but he tucked her arm possessively under his.

“I’ll bear that in mind.” Kate kissed his cheek. “I won’t keep you waiting long, I promise.”

They started down the flower-decked hall leading to the function room. Peter stopped. “Listen, you know how I feel about Jordan King…. If by some remote chance he’s here, instead of one of his partners, please stay out of his way.”

Kate nodded, determined not to feel hurt. Peter had been anxious ever since he’d read her piece about his biggest client, despite her assurances that King couldn’t possibly make the connection between columnist Kate Brogan and the guy overseeing Triton’s software upgrade. Not for the first time she wished her boyfriend was more supportive of her work. He never understood the humor, and hated the adversarial approach she took when she got, as he called it, a bee in her bonnet.

She tried to categorize this failing like color blindness—not his fault. Plenty of people complimented her intellect; no one else offered her the emotional security Peter did.

They reached the doorway and paused for a moment arm in arm. It was an attractive room, long and narrow, the opposite wall more glass than plaster with its bank of French doors.

The panes were aglow in the light of the chandeliers, reflecting the bright colors of women’s gowns, the snowy table linens dressed with gold bows, the glint of cutlery and crystal.