Reunited with the Lassiter Bride(11)

By: Barbara Dunlop

“We’re friends now,” Evan offered simply.

“No, you’re not,” Conrad countered with conviction, his bushy brows coming together, creasing his forehead.

Angelica stilled, worried they were caught.

“In a relationship like yours,” he continued, “you either love each other or you hate each other. There’s nothing in between.”

“You can’t believe what you read in the tabloids,” said Evan.

“It’s not what I read. It’s what I see. Picture after picture tells me you two had it bad.” His wrinkled hand gestured back and forth between the two of them. “I’m no fool. You’re makin’ nice now, but it’ll go off the rails in the blink of an eye. The story will hit the tabloids, and this wedding and my mansion will be smack dab in the middle of a scandal.”

“You’re right,” said Evan, and Angelica shot him a look of amazement. But then his hand closed around hers with a reassuring squeeze. “Truth is, we’ve been thinking about getting back together.”

He raised her hand to his lips and gently kissed her knuckles. A familiar buzz of awareness traveled along her arm to her heart, and she had to struggle to mask her reaction.

“You have not,” said Conrad. “Nobody keeps a secret like that in this town.”

“We do,” said Evan, sounding completely convincing. “Look at her, Conrad. I’d have to be a blind fool to give her up.”

Conrad’s gaze took in every facet of Angelica’s appearance. She told herself to hold still and try to look like some kind of 1950s dream girl, the kind you forgave, took back and married, even when she messed up your life.

Conrad finished his drink, and Evan followed suit.

“You’ve got me there,” said Conrad.

“I think you’ve had enough to drink, sweetheart.” Evan lifted the glass from her hand and drank it himself.

Angelica focused on looking calm, serene and in love.

“I’ll be damned,” said Conrad, his expression relaxing for the first time since they’d arrived.

“I’m no fool,” said Evan.

“I guess you’re not. So, you’re telling me I don’t need to worry about wading into a scandal?”

“I’m assuring you this won’t blow up in your face.”

“What was that date again?”

“Last weekend of the month.”

“This month?”

“I realize it’s short notice. I told you about the fire at the Emerald?”

“We’d need extra staff and security,” said Conrad.

“We’ll take care of all the details,” Evan assured him.

Angelica held her breath.

Conrad nodded his head. “I’ll leave the details to you.”

“Thank you so much,” Angelica reflexively gushed, reaching out to shake Conrad’s hand with both of hers. “Kayla will be so excited.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Conrad gruffly brushed away the thanks and seemed to mentally withdraw.

“We’ve imposed on you long enough,” said Evan polishing off the last drink. “Thank you for this, sir. Is there a staff member we can contact?”

“Albert will bring you a business card.”

The butler, who had remained nearby, came forward to give the card to Evan.

“Goodnight, Conrad.” Evan tucked the card into his suit pocket and shook Conrad’s hand.

Conrad gave Angelica a parting smile. “I guess I’ll be seeing you again soon.”

“You will,” Angelica agreed. “I’ll look forward to it.”

Evan put his hand at the small of her back and guided her back through the great room toward the hallway. As soon as the front door was closed behind them, he leaned down to whisper. “You were amazing.”

“Are you okay?”

“How do you mean?”

“You drank six single malts.”

“Oh, that. Getting him a little drunk seemed like a good strategy, and I couldn’t very well throw you to the wolves.” Evan blew out a breath as they approached the car. “But I am a little woozy. I think you’d better drive.”

“No kidding.”

He walked her to the driver’s side door, extracting the keys. “Do you know how to drive a stick?”

“I can manage.”

“She’s peppy,” he warned.

Angelica’s back was to the car door, and she couldn’t help smiling at the warning. “I’ll be fine.”

Then he went silent, and she suddenly realized just how close to her he was standing. The warmth of his body swirled out to meet her skin. She picked up his familiar scent on the breeze. He smelled good, so good, and she felt herself sway involuntarily toward him. Her hormonal reaction to Evan hadn’t changed one bit.

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