A Taste of Summer(6)

By: Beverly Preston


“Sounds exciting.” Carrie Ann snickered.

“It is exciting. You’re going to have a great time.”

“Me?” A jolt of anxiety rushed through her.

“Yeah, you.” Tommy’s dark brown eyes twinkled impishly, locking on Carrie Ann, making it impossible for her to look away.

“No, no, no. I’m not going to the premier.”

“Sure you are.” Tommy’s lips remained pressed together as a convincing grin broadened across his face. Carrie Ann knew he was saving the full flash of pearly whites in case he needed to pull out all the stops. After a few beats his lips parted exposing a dazzling gorgeous smile. One that could melt any woman of any age for any reason. “Now, Carrie Ann, how long have you known me?”

“A long time, Tommy—” She cast a small vexing eye roll to the side. “—but that has nothing to do with it.”

“Sure it does. You’re going to attend the premier to support your favorite uncle. And as an added perk you’re going to take the opportunity to invite some last-minute heavy hitters with deep pockets to your Bachelor/Bachelorette Auction next weekend.”

This struck a chord. He knew damn well it would. Fuck! Fuckity-fuck! She folded her arms on the counter and dropped her forehead, hiding her face. A low groan of disapproval crooned in her throat.

“Oh come on, Carrie Ann. It’s not that bad.”

“It is that bad, Tommy.” She lifted her head meeting him with a hard glare. “I ran into him this morning at the gym. If I go to the premier Summer’s going to think—”

“You and Ryan had a thing?” JC interjected, eyes wide drooling with curiosity.

Carrie Ann massaged her temples as if ridding an oncoming migraine. “Yes. We dated for a couple of years, but it was a long time ago.”

“Really?” JC’s voice rang in astonishment.

“Ryan? Is that the hot guy with the wolf eyes in Tommy’s new movie?” Reed asked, curling his fingers into quotation marks when he used the word hot.

Shayla’s uncle recently made the transition from gracing audiences in front of the lens to stepping behind it, taking on the role of producer. Tommy met Summer when he attended college with Carrie Ann and Shayla. The three of them were inseparable. It seemed an easy match when Tommy collaborated with Ryan when producing his first film. The movie was set to premier in a few days, but rumors already swirled with talk of Oscars for the producer and cast.

“Yes, that’s him.” JC laughed out loud.

Carrie Ann and Shayla cut a sharp glance at JC.

“What?” JC shrugged innocently. “He’s handsome.”

A ping of jealously stabbed at Carrie Ann’s heart wondering if there was a possibility JC had been one of Ryan’s many lovers. Prior to her marriage to Reed, the gorgeous blond had been in the modeling circuit for years and was well-known for a string of somewhat scandalous outings with men from around the world.

Carrie Ann watched as Reed coolly curled his fingers around JC’s hips drawing her back into his chest. Brushing his lips along her neck, he took a gentle bite of her lobe privately querying in her ear.

JC’s jade eyes widened and her lip curled in revulsion. She answered her husband’s mute concerns with a quick shake of her head, “Ewww. No. Noooo. Definitely not.”

Carrie Ann expounded, unloading the breath she’d been holding. The relief-filled exhale captured Shayla’s attention, causing her to raise a quizzical brow.

“What?” Carrie Ann cleared her throat, automatically going on the defense. A habit she seemed unable to shake over the years. “He’s not ewww. It’s not like he’s a bad guy.”

A snicker of doubt escaped JC’s lips right before she sealed them tight.

“Tommy,” Shayla interjected. “Would you like to take this opportunity to explain to Carrie Ann why JC thinks Ryan is…Ewww?”

A deep resounding chuckle sifted through the kitchen. “Umm, no, Shayla—“he drew out her name in protest “—not particularly.”

“Tommy…” Shayla encouraged with several bats of her lashes.

He palmed the granite counter, spreading fingers wide as if using the hard surface for moral support. “There’s the slight possibility I might’ve fibbed a little.”

“Fibbed?”

“Just a small harmless lie.” He fumbled through the words, mindlessly spinning a ring on his finger.

Tommy’s wife, Tess, strolled into the kitchen. Her dark shoulder length mane was pulled back into a ponytail, wearing not a stitch of makeup and still looking absolutely gorgeous.