Mr. Irresistible(5)

By: Karina Bliss

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.

Kate squeezed Peter’s arm. “I can tell it’s your design, there’s so much of the Midas touch.”

She felt him relax, and realized he’d been scanning the room. “He’s not here. His partner has come instead.”

Kate accepted a glass of champagne proffered on a silver tray, secretly just as relieved. “And I so wanted to pull Jordan’s hair.”

“Not funny, Kate,” Peter growled. She was glad she hadn’t told him she’d ignored three messages to call King. She wasn’t interested in hearing his spin. Beside her, her escort stirred restlessly. “The thing is, I should really go and talk to the Triton guy.”

“Go ahead. I understand why you’re not keen to introduce us.” She waved to a group of women by the bar. “I’ll get in some practice and join the other neglected wives.”

“You’re wonderful,” said Peter, and was gone.

Kate watched his retreating back, knowing she wouldn’t see him until dinner, and then only briefly. He was an ambitious and tireless worker. Yet another point of difference from her father, who had flitted from one crazy scheme to another.

Exchanging pleasantries with the other women, Kate eyed Peter’s target with some surprise. Jordan King’s partner, also gorgeous, was urbanity personified, as suave and dark as King was brash and blond.

As she wondered idly whether he was as tall, the comparison became unnervingly easy. Jordan King, his arm around the waist of a stunning blonde, appeared beside him. His horror almost comical, Peter sought Kate’s gaze. Abruptly, she turned away, startling one of the women, who had been detailing her child’s case of chicken pox. “It’s not that contagious,” she insisted.

Kate forced herself to turn around again. “I’m sorry.” She searched for an excuse but found none. “Actually, there’s someone over there I don’t want to meet,” she confessed, then could have kicked herself as four pairs of eyes swept the room.

“Male or female?”

“Female,” lied Kate. She knew King’s attention had settled on the group, drawn by the frisson of excitement, and she kept her face averted. It wasn’t in her nature to avoid a confrontation, but she had to do this for Peter.