Deep blue eyes squinted as he sipped his drink. I remained deathly still, terrified he would recognize me. He probably wouldn’t. I mean, what big-shot boss remembers a single waitress out of a dozen restaurants and bars he reigned over? True, my location was headquarters—but between meetings and flights to who knows where, he couldn’t possibly know every single employee.
I glanced away and studied the look on Crystal’s face. It was almost comical; her eyes sparkled with repressed mischief. She thrived in this environment while I dreamed of getting in a cab and hauling ass back to the apartment.
Blake was gone when I moved my gaze back. Crystal was telling me something and I realized we were still poised inside the elevator, which opened up to the rooftop. The view was something out of a movie: Lights glittered and fell off into blackness, and a subtle breeze brought the scent of sea salt, reminding me we were very close to the water.
“Going to get us some drinks,” Crystal whispered in my ear. Somewhere there was techno music playing, but not loud enough to make one scream. I nodded and moved onward as my eyes took in the dim, square lanterns that littered the space. Low couches and chairs upholstered with bright red material in a checkered pattern were spread throughout the open terrace—some were canopied with curtains for privacy. I walked in a daze, taking it all in. When the pool came into view I know my jaw dropped. It was lit and glowing in a soft blue, which transformed into a light purple. It appeared to be suspended on the edge of the building.
“Enjoying the view?”
I jumped, startled to hear a voice so close behind me. I turned just enough to catch Blake’s smile. Lowering my eyes I smiled back.
“It’s stunning,” I replied.
I couldn’t be rude so I turned to face him. His eyes scrutinized me once more.
“Have we met?”
I shook my head. “I don’t think so,” I lied. We had been introduced when I started working for him three years ago; I wasn’t going to count that.
His head tilted to the side.
“My friend works for you. I’m her date.”
His brow rose in question. I blushed at his thoughts.
“She’s my best friend—like a sister.
He glanced into his drink. “I’m glad to hear that.”
Crystal’s blonde head bobbed behind Blake’s shoulder. She was grinning from ear to ear. With my eyes I begged her to save me, but the bitch toasted both of our drinks together and disappeared just before he turned to follow my gaze.
I smiled warmly when he turned toward me once more. “Just saw someone I know.”
“Must be someone you don’t feel too fondly for.”
I fiddled with my clutch. “You’re right, but I don’t like to be rude.”
He followed my hand as I pulled at the hem of my dress. “Did you want something to drink?”
I opened my mouth to decline but he was already snapping his fingers to the waitress walking by with flutes of something bubbly.
Maybe a drink was good. Yes. I needed to steady my nerves and just have a normal chat. Who was I kidding? My employer was hitting on me, his employee, and he didn’t even know it. Awkward?
He handed me the drink and I gulped it down in one chug. He scowled when I put the empty flute down on a nearby table.
I giggled. I never giggle. “I was thirsty.”
“I can see that. Another?”
Hell no. “Sure.”
Why was I drinking like a lush? Because I was by myself, that’s why. I scanned the crowd and no Crystal. Not even an excuse to flee. I didn’t know anyone. This was the executive team and management. No lowly waitress or bus boys here. I found another drink in hand and sipped this one a bit slower. Two gulps. Blake laughed and nodded.
“What did you have for dinner? A bottle of salt?”
I laughed with him, my ridiculous nerves finally taking a back seat.
“You are too cute. No, I actually like the bubbles.” Did I just say that? I needed to step away and gather my scatter-brained self. This was Blake Steel and I was making a complete idiot—
“You’re cute too. What’s your name?”
I searched my brain for a name, afraid he might make the connection.
“Rose,” I blurted. Rose? How innocent.
His eyes sparkled with interest. Oh no.
“I live far away. Very far.”
He grinned. “I have a private jet at my disposal. That’s not a problem.”
Double damn. I am going to murder Crystal.
“Is that supposed to impress me?” I smacked my hand over my mouth.
His eyebrows rose in surprise. “Complete with thorns, I see.” His gaze dropped to my neck and bare shoulder.
My skin burned under his stare. What was in that drink?
No matter, because I finished it anyway. I turned and studied the area where we stood. It was suddenly a great place to be. The music got louder and I started to sway to the beat. My eyes fluttered closed and I forgot Blake stood beside me. I had to contain myself.
Opening my eyes, I found his smiling down at me. Suddenly, I wanted to do something spontaneous. I grabbed his hand and pulled him out toward the dance floor. Jody would be mortified at my behavior, but 'Rose' didn’t give a shit.
His hands rested on my waist as the beat pumped around us. I raised my arms into the air and shook what my momma gave me.
I caught Crystal’s slack-jawed expression across the way and waved. She continued to stare and I laughed, throwing my arms around Blake’s neck. The song ended and I found myself in a cheesy dip, Blake’s arms holding me back from busting my ass.
“Do you mind if I go to the little girls' room?”
“Not at all. First door down the hall. I’ll be at the bar.”
I winked at him and walked toward the penthouse, shaking my ass the entire way because I knew he was watching. His place was unbelievable, all glass and modern lines. The guest bath was a dream. I had managed to snag another drink from the waitress on my way in. It rested on the counter as I glanced in the mirror and applied more lip-gloss.
The door clicked shut and I knew exactly who was there. I turned and Crystal’s expression was picture-worthy.
“I never thought I’d see the day.” She studied the drink on the granite counter and nodded.
“Are you drunk?”
“Not at all. I’m just having fun.” I adjusted my dress, turning to make sure nothing was showing that shouldn’t be.
I watched as she pursed her lips. “You’re definitely drunk.”
I grabbed my clutch and drink then waltzed by her. “If you will excuse me, I have a hot guy waiting at the bar.”
Chrystal blanched and I laughed at her expense. This is what she had wanted the whole time—she should be on cloud nine. “Isn’t this what you wanted?”
She threw her hand up in the air. “Not with the owner of the company! I mean, have fun, but you are in no condition right now. There are plenty of other hot guys out there.”
“Oh please—this coming from the girl who tongued her manager to get an invite?”
“Holy shitballs, Jody!”
I came close and whispered. “It’s Rose tonight. That’s what I told Mr. Steele. No way am I giving him my real name. He doesn’t have a clue who I really am and I want to keep it that way.”
Crystal rolled her eyes. “I barely recognize you—how would he?”
I grinned at her. “Exactly.”