Dreams Come TrueBy: KB Winters & Evie Monroe
“I love it here. This is a great place, and I’m learning a lot already.” He reached out and brushed a feather off my shoulder from when I’d dug into the boa bin. Him being in such a close proximity had my heart pounding, and I hoped that he couldn’t sense my nervousness.
“Well, that’s good to hear. I’m headed out for the day, so I thought I’d take you home and get you settled in.”
I looked to Weed who was doing his best but failing miserably at holding back a smile. His lips were pulled into a tight line so straight it looked like someone had swiped a line across his face with a magic marker.
“I’m still not sure that’s a good idea.” I had a sinking feeling in my gut. Not only had I promised my dad I’d focus on business while I was here, but I didn’t want to be seen as Johnny’s pet. His houseguest and possible bedmate who was hired on a whim and brought in to save the day. I didn’t need that kind of press any more than he did.
“Nonsense, and again, I’m not asking. I’d like to get to know you. And are you so repelled by me that you aren’t willing to see if it’s a good idea or not?” His brows raised, and his eyes fixed on mine.
I glanced to Weed again who gave me a look as if I should accept and I had the feeling that Johnny would think me ungrateful. “Not at all. If you’re sure, I won’t be any trouble?”
“None at all. Now let’s go before my driver leaves without us. He’s a bit impatient.” He gave Weed a wink as the man came around the counter and pulled me into his arms.
“You did well today, love. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He turned and eyed Johnny. “Take care of her, now. She’s special, that one.”
Johnny eyed me and the two men clasped hands like they tangled while giving a high-five. “I’ll behave, for now.” The comment had me a little unnerved, but at the same time, I liked the attention he was giving me. It’d been much too long since I’d had anyone flirt or even make innuendos in my presence.
Johnny led me back down the long hall and to his back office where I fetched my luggage, and he locked things up. We went out the nearest door which opened into an alleyway where a car waited at the other end. It was black with tinted windows and a big man stood waiting for us to approach. I thought he was a bodyguard until after he opened our door and then he walked around the car and got inside. Judging by his size and bulging muscles that made him look inflated, maybe he was both.
“Do you live very far?” I wondered how long it would take before I could get cleaned up and comfortable. I’d worked up a sweat digging through bins with Weed, and some of the tubs from the top of the shelf had been a little dusty.
“We’re about fifteen minutes out, which will take us twenty on a day like today.” He hadn’t taken his eyes off of me and the almost-smile that barely touched the corners of his mouth, made me wonder if he enjoyed making me feel uneasy.
I figured it’d be best to make small talk to fill the awkward silence. “Have you lived in Los Angeles your entire life?”
“No, I grew up in Texas. In a small town, outside of Houston. My parents were in the oil business, and I was their oddball son who liked to party and play the role of the black sheep. After they died, my father from cancer, and my mother from grief two years later, I inherited everything. I shocked everyone when I decided to go into fashion.”
“Was it a decision, or did it just seem like the natural path?”
He turned his eyes to meet mine. “Now that you mention it, it was more like a natural path. I’d always been an artist and had always loved clothes and seeing women use clothing to enhance their sex appeal. I’ve always been more attracted to a woman and their forms and I look at clothing as a tool for seduction. I suppose I want to seduce my audience.”
“I was definitely seduced. You’re one of my favorite designers.” I tried to keep the stars out of my eyes, but it was hard to do with him. He was so handsome it almost hurt to look at him and the devil may care twinkle he kept in his eyes and the sly grin like he could devour me in a second if he wanted to, gave me tingles in all the right places.
“That’s some powerful ammunition you’ve given me.” He chuckled.
“Why? Was that your plan?” I lifted my chin and gave him a challenging look. I didn’t want him to think I was easy, and if he did, then he’d met his match.
“I haven’t decided yet.” The words pierced me and crawled under my skin earning a huff, and he chuckled. “Did you expect me to be so eager? I am a man that usually gets what he wants.”
“You’re on your way to my house and not a hotel room. I’d say so.” He gave me a smug look.
I looked him square in the eyes. “I’m not there yet.” I lifted my brow as a challenge.
“You’re going to be a tough nut to crack, aren’t you? That’s okay, Liss. I’m not completely spoiled, and I’m the type that actually works for what he has, despite my windfall. So, you should know that I’m up for the challenge. If and when I decide I want you, I’ll have you.”
I lifted my chin as the slow smile spread over my lips. Game on.
When we got to my house, I saw the wonder in her eyes much more than I had when she first walked into my office to meet me. She had no poker face, and the star-struck appearance made her look much younger than she was.
I thought of Nate’s scolding and for a moment I wondered if I should be so quick to lure her into my web like I’d done so many. Not many were as free-thinking as Mandy, content to keep things fun and tether-free. With her having a boyfriend I was certain she’d gone back to the guy, and the two had mad passionate love to the drown of their jealousy.
Jack, the butler, greeted us at the door. “Welcome home, sir.” He took my jacket from across my arm as the driver brought in Liss’s bags.
“Take those upstairs to the landing. We’ll take them from there.” Jack gave a nod. He shut the door and gave Liss a smile and a nod.
“This is Liss. She’ll be a guest for the next few weeks. Please make her feel at home and get her anything she needs.” The old man’s eyes widened a bit, and I wondered if her age was what had his peepers bugging. When she gave him a warm smile, he recovered well and then went about his business.
“This is your house? It looks even bigger on the inside.” She stared down at the floor, her mouth gaping. “It’s like a life-size chess board.” She gestured to the black and white tile that spanned from the entrance all through the bottom floor.
“When I had the place built, I almost went with red and white, but the black and white seemed so much more dramatic.”
“It’s so amazing. I love your choice of colors.” She ran her hand across the back of the large red chair as we stepped down into the front room.
“Your designs are a great mix of color, too. When I first saw the pictures Nathan sent me, I couldn’t help but notice how similar your clothes were to my home interior.”
“I hope that’s a compliment. I’d much rather grace the covers of Vogue than Better Homes.” We shared a laugh, and she nodded.
“It’s very much a compliment. Not many people can make a strong collection with such a bold palette. They overdo it. You’ve got the right touch. I’ll have to agree with Weed; I think you’re special.” I meant every word, but she turned and glanced at me as if I’d just told her the biggest fib.
“Thanks.” She kept her comments to herself and spun around to take in the stairs and the banister that wrapped the upper level. “Are there rooms all around?”
“Yes, and I’ll even let you choose your own. You can even pick one across the house from me and I promise I won’t be offended.” I took her arm, and she stared down at my hand a moment before allowing me to lead her upstairs. “Come on; I won’t bite.”
“Has it ever occurred to you that I might? You don’t know me. I could be a homicidal maniac.” With that, she shrugged as we climbed the stairs.
“Well, if you decide to do me in, make it quick and painless, and promise me you’ll keep it clean and leave a pretty corpse. I have a reputation, you know.”
“Fine, but if I do, I’m stealing the gold tooth.” She gave me a wink, and I ran my tongue over my crown, smiling wide for her to see.
“I could pop off that crown if you like. Most people don’t know it’s all for show.” There were many things the public thought they knew that had been carefully put in place to fit my persona.
We stopped on the top landing and gathered the bags that Jack had left moments earlier. “You mean it’s not real?” She narrowed her eyes. I realized it had been a while since I shared any of my secrets with anyone.
“You’ll see that much of what you know is a persona.” I gauged her reaction, and her eyes went straight up to my hair.
“No, that’s very much real.” I leaned down a tad as if bowing before her. “Go on, give it a tug. Run your fingers through those luscious locks, but don’t tell Weed. He’ll be heartbroken.”