A Tricky Proposition(9)

By: Cat Schield


“Want to catch dinner?”

Evan’s gaze shot toward his brother, and in a furtive move, he pocketed the earrings he’d been brooding over. Jason recognized them as the pearl-and-diamond ones his brother had given to Ming as an engagement present. What was his brother doing with them?

“Can’t. I’ve already got plans.”

“A date?”

Evan got to his feet and paced toward his desk. With his back to Jason, he spoke. “I guess.”

“You don’t know?”

That was very unlike his brother. When it came to living a meticulously planned existence, the only one more exacting than Evan was Ming.

Evan’s hand plunged into the pocket he’d dropped the earrings into. “It’s complicated.”

“Is she married?”

“No.”

“Engaged?”

“No.”

“Kids?”

“Let it go.” Evan’s exasperation only increased Jason’s tension.

“Does it have something to do with Ming’s earrings in your pocket?” When Evan didn’t answer, Jason’s gut clenched, his suspicions confirmed. “Haven’t you done enough damage there? She’s moving on with her life. She doesn’t need you stirring things up again.”

“I didn’t plan what happened. It just did.”

Impulsive behavior from his plan-everything-to-death brother? Jason didn’t like the sound of that. It could only lead to Ming getting hurt again.

“What exactly happened?”

“Lily and I met for a drink a couple months ago.”

“You and Lily?” He almost laughed at the odd pairing. While Evan and Ming had been perfectly compatible, Evan and Lily were total opposites. Then he sobered. “Just the once?”

“A few times.” Evan rubbed his face, bringing Jason’s attention to the dark shadows beneath his eyes. His brother looked exhausted. And low. “A lot.”

“Have you thought about what you’re doing?” When it came to picking sides, Jason would choose Ming every time. In some ways, she was more like family to him than Evan. Jason had certainly shared more of himself with her. “Don’t you think Ming will be upset if she finds out you and her sister are dating?”

Before Evan could answer, Jason’s cell began to ring. With Ming’s heart in danger and his brother in his crosshairs, Jason wouldn’t have allowed himself to be distracted if anyone else on the planet was calling. But this was Ming’s ringtone.

“We’ll talk more about this later,” he told his brother, and answered the call as he exited. “What’s going on?”

“It’s Lily.” There was no mistaking the cry for help in Ming’s voice.

Jason’s annoyance with his brother flared anew. Had Ming found out what was going on? “What about her?”

“She’s moving to Portland. What am I going to do without her?”

What a relief. Ming didn’t yet know that her sister was dating Evan, and if Lily moved to Portland then her relationship with her sister’s ex-fiancé would have to end.

“You still have me.” He’d intended to make his tone light, but on the heels of his conversation with his brother moments before, his declaration came out like a pledge. “Do you want to catch a drink and talk about it? We could continue our earlier conversation.”

“I can’t. Terry and I are having dinner.”

“Afterward?”

“It’s been a long day. I’m heading home for a glass of wine and a long, hot bath.”

“Do you want some company?”

Unbidden, his thoughts took him to an intoxicating, sensual place where Ming floated naked in warm, fragrant water. Candles burned, setting her delicate, pale shoulders aglow above the framing bubbles of her favorite bath gel. The office faded away as he imagined trailing his lips along her neck, discovering all the places on her silky skin that made her shiver.

“Jason?” Ming’s voice roused him to the fact that he was standing in the elevator. He didn’t remember getting there.

Damn it. He banished the images, but the sensations lingered.

“What?” he asked, disturbed at how compelling his fantasy had been.

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