Ty growls low in his throat as Jack’s eyes seek me out in the crowd. That son of a bitch! He did that on purpose, and we all know it.
I make an effort to maintain my composure, not letting my face show the horror or embarrassment of being linked to Jack. I will never give him that satisfaction.
“What an asshole,” Josh murmurs.
“All of the winners of tonight’s silent auction will be contacted by phone before the end of the month. I hope no one outbid me on that golf package in Monterey. I have a feeling I’ll need a celebratory vacation soon. We are about to start the dancing portion of the evening. Have fun, everyone.” Jack flashes that charming smile of his that turns my stomach and returns to his table.
I turn to face Ty, surprised to find his eyes glittering in anger.
“Hey,” I murmur, and pull my fingers down his face. “It’s okay.”
“Don’t let that jackass ruin your night, guys.” Cara pats Ty on the arm and smiles over at me. “You’re way too pretty for him, you know. You are one hundred percent his loss.”
I laugh and shake my head, some of the unease lifting from my shoulders.
Ty relaxes and his face softens as he gazes over at me. “She’s right. And thank God he’s an idiot and didn’t know what he had when he had it.” Ty plants his lips on my forehead in a soft kiss and pulls me to my feet. “Let’s dance.”
The DJ queues a slow song, the same song that played in my house while Ty and I painted last weekend. Ty grins and pulls me into his arms as other couples join us on the dance floor. He holds my right hand close to his chest and rests his other hand on the skin at the small of my back and begins to sway to “Beneath Your Beautiful.”
“You look magnificent in this dress,” he murmurs into my ear. “And I love how tall you are in these shoes. Tall enough that I can whisper anything I want into your ear without bending in half to reach you.”
I grin and inhale deeply, enjoying the musky scent of him, enjoying being pressed against his firm body. My fingers comb through the soft, inky hair at the back of his head and he sighs deeply.
God, his body wakes mine up in ways it hasn’t in a long, long time.
“That feels good,” he whispers.
“This tux is nice,” I murmur, running my hand up and down his arm. “It’s definitely not something off-the-rack.”
“I like nice suits.” He shrugs. “I’m in them almost every day.”
“Custom?” I ask with a raised brow. He nods with a smirk. “Very fancy, Mr. Sullivan.”
He chuckles softly. “I’m just as happy to wear an old shirt and jeans.”
“I like that about you. It makes you . . .” I narrow my eyes and tilt my head, trying to find the right word.
“Human?” he asks with a chuckle.
“I was thinking approachable.” I run my hand down the lapel of his jacket over his chest, then trace down his arm with my fingertips. “And what’s beneath here,” I whisper, “is damn hot.”
His breath catches and his eyes blaze as he watches me. “Keep that up, Lauren, and I won’t be responsible for fucking you right here on the ballroom floor.”
It’s my turn for my breath to catch, and then I smile, a slow, wide smile. I love that I’ve turned him on as much as he does me. “I’ll behave for now.”
“Damn,” he mutters.
I rest my head on his shoulder, enjoying the feel of his strong arms wrapped tightly around me. I don’t care that many of the members of our community are watching us, including my asshole of an ex-husband. All I know is that this song is romantic and this man is a breath of fresh air.
We stay on the dance floor for two more songs. Ty is an excellent dancer, twirling me about and leading me effortlessly around the room.
When the third song ends, he dips me low and then ushers me back to mingle with our friends. He keeps one hand on me at all times, whether it be on my back, my neck, or holding mine, brushing his thumb over my knuckles. He introduces me to anyone I don’t already know, which aren’t many, and engages me in conversation.
He’s looking out for me. Who said chivalry is dead?
Warmth that has nothing to do with the three glasses of champagne I’ve consumed tonight settles on my skin and I just can’t stop smiling.
Finally, we circle back around to Cara and Josh.
“How is the school year going so far, Cara?” I ask, and sip a fresh glass of champagne.
“Pretty well.” Cara nods. “I have some good kids this year.”
“Ah, hell,” Josh mutters as he looks over my shoulder. I follow his gaze and my heart sinks when I see Jack making his way toward us.
Ty immediately grabs my hand, catching Jack’s attention. Jack’s eyes narrow on my face as he stops before me.
“Can I help you?” I ask, maintaining my composure.
His mouth tilts up in a perfect smile, showing off his straight teeth. “That’s a loaded question, baby.”
“Don’t call me baby,” I reply quietly.
His smile fades and his eyes shift to Ty before landing on me again. “I see you’re doing the right thing by pinching pennies.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Fucking your lawyer rather than paying him,” Jack replies softly so only our small group can hear him.
God forbid he causes a scene.
Cara gasps, but I just smile at Jack and squeeze Ty’s hand when I feel his body tighten in anger. “Anything and anyone I choose to do is my business, Jack.”
“Just remember what I told you the other day.” He winks at me.
My heart lodges directly in my throat. Damn him!
“You might want to watch your language, Jack,” Ty murmurs. His hand is holding mine like a vise and I can feel the anger coming off him in waves.
“Or what?” Jack challenges.
Ty steps forward into Jack’s space and replies calmly, “Or I will make your life a living hell.”
“Are you threatening me?” Jack demands.
“I didn’t hear him threaten you,” Josh replies coldly. “I think he made his intentions pretty clear.”
Jack’s nostrils flare and he pins me in another glare before turning on his heel and stalking away.
“Does he always talk to you like that?” Josh asks from behind me. I turn to him and nod, my face flushing now in embarrassment. Ty tucks me against his side and kisses my cheek.
“What did he mean about what he said to you the other day?” Cara asks with a frown.