“I hope you like chocolate.”
“I’m female.” I chuckle and take a bite of the delicious pastry. “It’s in my DNA to enjoy chocolate.”
“I have a wine that goes perfectly with a nice dark chocolate.”
“I know. The late harvest Cabernet Sauvignon. You don’t bottle much of it.”
He narrows his eyes and takes a sip of his coffee before responding. “You know your wine.”
“I do. I love wine, but it’s also part of my job. I can’t serve bad wine at events.”
He reaches down and pulls the bag onto the table and sets it before me.
Inside is the limited edition white wine that I covet every summer.
“Oh,” I breathe, stunned. “I love this.”
I glance up in surprise.
“When I brought it to Brynna and Caleb’s wedding last summer you practically drooled over it.”
“It’s so great. I try to order some every summer. I’ll share this with Emily.”
“My assistant. This is her favorite too.”
He runs his forefinger over his bottom lip. “I’m sure I can find a bottle for her as well.”
“Thank you.” How am I supposed to resist a man who brings me my favorite wine and is generous enough to offer the same to my staff?
“When are you going to come out to the vineyard to work?” he asks quietly.
I’ve been avoiding this. I love his vineyard. And I’m attracted to him. And that’s just not a combination that makes me comfortable.
But he’s right. I have to go out there.
“Does Wednesday work? You don’t have to show me around. I’m sure you have staff who can help me out.”
“I’ll make sure you’re well taken care of,” he replies noncommittally.
“Thanks. Well, I have another meeting in Seattle in an hour, so I should go.”
“Of course.” He stands and holds his hand out for mine, helping me to my feet. “Do you need directions to the vineyard?”
“No, I know where it is.”
He nods and holds the door open for me.
“Where are you parked?”
“Oh, there wasn’t any parking when I got here, so I’m a block over. You don’t have to walk me.”
“I’ll walk you.”
“You’re rather stubborn, aren’t you?” I ask, as we walk toward my SUV.
“That’s what mama always said,” he replies with a laugh. “But she also taught me to make sure a woman reached her destination safely.”
And, queue the butterflies.
“Chivalry isn’t dead after all,” I mutter.
“It shouldn’t be.”
I unlock the doors and he opens the driver’s side for me, leans in to lay the wine on the passenger seat, and takes in the back of my packed vehicle.
“What do you have in there, cara? It’s packed.”
“Decorations, samples. Stuff. I never know when I might need something.”
He turns back to me with a smile, but when his eyes catch mine, his face sobers. He reaches toward me and tucks a lock of hair behind my ear, then gently cups my jaw in his palm and lightly traces circles on my cheek. My nipples pucker, my breathing increases, and he licks his lips as his eyes drop to my mouth.
He’s going to kiss me. I lean in, just an inch, craving his lips on mine, yet knowing this is such a bad idea.
The worst idea ever.
I don’t want him to kiss me.
I so want him to fucking kiss me.
But rather than tip his face down to mine, he backs away, takes a deep breath, and gently pulls his fingers away from my face, leaving me yearning for him.
“I’ll see you Wednesday, cara.”
I bite my lip in disappointment, but offer him a quick grin.
And with that, he turns and walks back the way we came, his hands in his pockets, those jeans moving deliciously over his ass and his black T-shirt showing off every muscle in his back and shoulders and every part of me is screaming for him.
Such a bad idea.
“Good morning,” I say with a smile as I answer my phone via the bluetooth on my car.
“Hi Alecia, it’s Meg.”
“How are you today?” I ask and change lanes. The traffic on Interstate 5 is surprisingly light this morning heading south. I’m just passing by Fort Lewis, and with each passing mile, I keep getting more nervous.
This is a welcome distraction.
“I’m stressed out. Why didn’t anyone tell me that getting married was such a pain in the ass? I should have just followed Leo’s lead and gotten married in Vegas.”
“Getting married in Vegas suited Leo and Sam, but I don’t think that’s your style.” Meg’s mega rock star brother, Leo, married his long-time girlfriend Samantha Williams just last month in Las Vegas when the whole crew, all of the Montgomery and Williams siblings and their significant others, were there for a combined bachelor/bachelorette party for Will and Meg.
I was supposed to join them, and was looking forward to it, but I ended up picking up a last minute wedding and had to bow out.
Then Leo and Sam go and get married on me, and I missed it! Damn them.
“Well it would have been much less stress, let me tell you.”
“Okay, talk to me. The stress is my job. What’s up?”
Meg takes a deep breath. “Twenty-eight new RSVP’s since I saw you last week.”
“Okay? What is wrong with people? All of the RSVP’s were supposed to be returned six weeks ago! That’s twenty-eight more people that we need to find seating for, Blake has to cook food for. Party favors! Oh, my God, twenty-eight more party favors!”
“Take a deep breath, Meg.” My voice is crisp now and all business. “This is what you’ve hired me for, remember? I have this covered.”
“It’s twenty-eight more people to pay for, Alecia. I know Will says that he doesn’t care about the money, but this wedding has turned into this enormously expensive affair with celebrities and so many people, and it’s costing him a fortune!”
I nod, knowing she can’t see me. It’s costing a fortune.
“Meg, Will wants to give you this wedding. He loves you big. Anyone can see it.”
“He does everything big,” she whispers, and I can hear the tears in her voice. All brides are nervous and worry about their day, and few handle the stress of an affair of this size this well.