“Do you have a reservation?” A man in a penguin suit asks from behind a podium. I glance over his shoulder, and the inside is formal with white linen and soft candles. It echoes one sentiment, romantic.
No Dylan. No Dylan. No Dylan. This chant isn’t working as images of his smile, his eyes and a low rate hum ensue. The one I get every time I think about him. Every time I see him. It happens more frequently. This will not help.
Before Asher married Jazz the three of us did everything together. Then our three became two. It felt odd without Asher at first. Over the past year, it became something we did. Every Saturday. Movies. Museums. Concerts.
Missing our third wheel this time alone feels intimate. And although our secret meetings aren’t really a secret we have never had a candlelight dinner. But this is the address he sent by text this morning.
“Ma’am.” His annoyed glare bores into me.
“Ah, Jameson, Dylan Jameson.” He scans a list under a reading lamp, my stomach’s in knots.
“Dylan, what are you doing?” I whisper searching the room for his familiar face.
“I want to celebrate your birthday.” His silky voice holds a challenge. I stumble back connecting with his chest.
“We shouldn’t.” Dylan steps closer planting his large hands on my hips.
“Of course we should.”
“Sir.” The suit insists.
“Give us a second.” Dylan turns me to face him as he scans my body from head to toe. A singe of heat accompanies his roaming appraisal of my black dress paired with silver heels.
“Yuki. Join me. Or I could celebrate your birthday alone.” I see his smile before his head falls.
“How do you plan to celebrate my birthday without me?” I punch him in the arm. “You don’t have to do this.” I glance again over his broad shoulders at the impatient suit.
“I know how important twenty-seven is to you.”
I don’t buy luck. However, on my seventh birthday, Momma adopted me. I graduated college at seventeen. Twenty-seven looks as promising as the others. This is the downside of knowing him for most of my life. There are very few secrets between us. I stare up into his blue eyes, and I shiver.
“We could dine upstairs,” he offers.
Taking a deep breath. Upstairs means fewer eyes, we would be alone. Alone, alone. But this is Dylan, we’ve spent time alone before. I roll my shoulders back and close the space between us.
“My penthouse suite.” Smoldering blue eyes are melting my resolve to treat him like my brother. Hell, I’ve known him since we were seven. Nothing about this man mirrors his seven-year-old self except maybe the honesty hidden in the depths of his eyes. And memories, really great memories.
The suit clears his throat a few times, and Dylan glances back with a raised brow. And the suit nervously walks away to seat a couple.
“What do you say?”
As a marketer and a saleswoman, I close deals. It is what I do. I tell colorful tales, full of hope and potential fused with a dedicated focus. I am a visionary. I see the unseen. I get paid millions to do it. But this is hard to envision. I can’t see how this will end.
How can our friendship remain intact? How will Asher feel if it all blows up in our faces? If Dylan learns….
“Dinner. Drinks.” He restates casting his own vision for tonight.
“Just dinner and drinks.”
“Baby girl, we honestly passed just dinner and drinks a long time ago. I want more. Much more. You know it. I know.” He pauses letting his words penetrate my apprehension. “But I’ll accept what you offer.”
I bite the inside of my lip counting the cost. “So dinner, drinks, and—”
“You in my bed beneath me.”
The air swooshes from my lungs. His intense gaze melting through my objections. And then his mouth covers mine. In front of the suit, the other waiting patrons. Soft and persuasive. His large hands grip my waist pulling my body to his. Intense, yet familiar.
Our first kiss.
He pulls back. “Yes?”
I swallow, my body swims with desire at seeing this Dylan for the first time. “Yes.”