I fought it all day, but at seven I caved and hopped in the shower to get ready to meet Grant. I can’t help it. I have to know why he’s here. I have to know what his plan is and how it will affect me. And the kids. Especially Olivia. She’s the sensitive one.
After my shower, I pad across the bedroom to my walk in closet and dressing area. Spinning in a slow circle, I survey the racks of clothing that wrap around all sides of the room. I don’t know what to wear. Is this meeting business or pleasure?
I wish I could ask Paige, but she’d kill me if she knew I was meeting him tonight.
I hope this isn’t a mistake.
Business. Definitely business.
Dropping my towel at my feet, I turn to the section of the closet where I keep my slacks and pick a pair of black trousers. I spin around and choose a pink silk blouse. I grab my Prada pumps from the shoe rack to complete the outfit.
When I’m dressed, I survey myself in the mirror. My tan is perfectly displayed. My clothes fit well. A good tailor goes a long way. Attractive, but not too sexy. Perfect for a meeting with my ex-husband.
I search my closet for the perfect handbag and find it on the top shelf. The black patent leather Prada I purchased in Italy.
My phone buzzes and I glance at the screen. It’s Paige asking if I want her to come over tonight. I type a quick reply – I tell her I’m taking a bubble bath and calling it a night – and hit send before I have a chance to feel guilty about lying to her.
On my way down the stairs, I pass Jax on his way up.
When he sees me, he stops dead in his tracks.
“Wow, where are you going dressed like that? You have a new boyfriend we don’t know about?” He laughs.
“I’m having dinner with Paige at Marino’s. I wanted to look nice. Is that a crime?” My voice has an edge to it.
I turn and continue down the stairs without saying goodbye.
“Good night to you, too,” I hear him call out to me when I’m half way out the door.
Heart hammering, I slide into the front seat of my car and drive around the circular driveway, turning onto PCH toward town.
At five minutes past eight, I pull up to the valet and step out of the car when he opens my door for me.
I glance at the entrance of the restaurant, which is softly lit giving off a very romantic feel. Not the atmosphere I was hoping for.
So I take in as much air as my lungs will hold before slowly letting it out.
“Miss?” The valet is looking at me curiously. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I say, taking a couple of confident steps toward the door. “At least I will be as soon as I have a glass of wine.” I say more to myself that to him.
Once inside, I head straight for the bar and order a glass of pinot, hoping to gulp as much down as I can before facing Grant.
I’m seated at the bar, half the glass empty, when I feel someone touch my shoulder.
“I didn’t think you’d come,” Grant says from behind me.
His breath tickles the back of my neck. I have a sudden urge to turn on the barstool and kiss him.
Instead, I take another big drink before spinning to face him. “I almost didn’t.”
“You look beautiful.” He smells like cologne. The same cologne he’s worn since our first date.
“I know,” I say, with as much confidence as I can muster.
He laughs. “You haven’t changed a bit, Logan Kelly.”
“Neither have you.”
“Would you like to finish your drink here? Or we can be seated. Our table is ready.” He touches my back and my breath catches in my throat.
“Is there a rush?” I ask, taking another drink of pinot.
“I have all night, baby.” He takes the seat next to mine and orders a scotch on the rocks.
“Do I dare ask what brings you to town?” I meet his gaze and narrow my eyes. He looks away first.
“Later. I’ll explain everything.”
When I’ve finished my second glass of pinot, we’re seated at our table overlooking the ocean. I can barely make out the whitecaps below, and beyond, the water stretches out endlessly into the inky black night.
“I forgot how beautiful it is here,” Grant says, his head craned towards the view.
“I don’t ever see myself leaving,” I say.
I see him nod out of the corner of my eye as I search for lights on ships out at sea.
Just then the waiter comes by our table to take our order. I order the salmon. Grant orders a steak. Rare.
“So…” My voice trails off.
He meets my eye and once again, my breath catches in my throat.
Damn him and those hypnotizing eyes.
“Why are you here?” I fold my hands in front of me on the table. “Why did you come back?”
“It’s a long story,” he says, shrugging his shoulders.
My face heats up and my hands shake as I reach for my wine glass. And I remember so many of our past conversations containing the exact same words. The exact same shrug of the shoulders. It’s like I’m being transported back ten years. Fifteen years.
“I hope you have more to say than that,” I say as slow and calm as I can.
He stares at me, wide eyed. A flame ignites and burns through my body. When he sees the look on my face, he says, “Okay, I got it. You want the story? Here’s the story.”
“I was seeing someone. It was serious. I asked her to marry me. She turned me down. It broke my heart. I got in my car and started driving. And I ended up on your doorstep. All roads lead me back to you. It’s always you.”
A shiver snakes its way up my spine.
“God, you’re still the best damn liar I know.” My voice shakes.
“It’s not a lie. I never stopped loving you. You’ve always been the one for me. That’s why it didn’t work out with Jenna. Because I was meant to be with you.” He lifts his drink to his mouth and drinks what’s left in one gulp.
“You’re a selfish bastard,” I say.
“What’s so selfish about loving you. About wanting to be part of your life?”
“You being here affects more than me and you. Did you forget about your children? The children you’ve made no effort to contact for the last five years. Did you forget they existed?” My voice rises to a pitch not suited for a restaurant with this type of ambience.
“I think about my kids every day.” He motions to the waiter and orders another drink. I point to mine. I need another with the way this conversation is going.
“Oh, really, now. You think about them so much they’ve seen nary a Christmas card from you for the last five years.”
The waiter sets a glass in front of me and I take a big drink, trying to stifle my rage.
“It’s complicated,” he says. Again, he shrugs.
“Olivia knows you’re in town. Jax does not. Yet. But he will soon. This affects them, too. You need to think about that before you come traipsing into our lives without notice.”
Silence. He just stares at me.
“Okay, then. If that’s that, then I might as well go.” I twist in my seat, reaching for my handbag.
“Wait. Don’t go,” he says.
“There’s no reason for me to stay and talk. This conversation is over.” I stand up.
Grant stands, as well, reaching one hand out and grabbing my arm.
“I need a place to stay. I was hoping I could stay at the house.”
My knees go weak and I slump back down into my chair.
“No way,” I whisper. “There is no way that’s a good idea.”
“Just for tonight. I can stay in the guest house out back. I’ll leave before the kids get up. They’ll never know I was there. I’ll figure out what I’m going to do in the morning.”
His face is serious. His eyes are piercing.
“Okay. One night.”
Oh God. What am I getting myself into.