Home > Tycoon(6)

Author: Katy Evans

I realize Aaric is watching us, and as his date speaks to the other girl, I say, “Sounds like she dotes on you.”

His brows shoot upwards in amusement, and though he’s not smiling, his eyes begin to dance devilishly. “You two were talking about me.”

Lightning fast, a warm flush runs up my face, and I quickly change the subject. “Anyway. Should I tell you about my business?” I say.

God, he’s enjoying this. Isn’t he?

He starts to follow the maître d' to our table, pushing his fingers into my back to urge me forward with one hand, while doing the same to his date with the other. “Not until I’m interested,” he leans down to say in my ear.

“But— that doesn’t even make sense.” I frown and walk forward as he guides me.

“You’re part of the business,” he says.

“Yes. I am. What? You don’t want to do business with me…your little bit?” I ask in disbelief.

He shakes his head, his tone tender but rueful. “You’re not my little bit.” His thumb caresses my bare back, and a host of tingles climb up my spine and neck.

“For old times’ sake.” He pulls out my seat, not answering. “Christos!” I hiss as he turns to his date. He helps her with her chair then takes a seat beside me.

He leans close to me. “Can you relax and enjoy yourself without talking business?”

He raises his eyebrows, challenging.

I stare at his hard male chest and his thick throat, my head spinning dizzily at his words. He’s so close I can smell the soap and shampoo on his skin and hair, the cologne drifting from somewhere around him.

“Excuse me while I go freshen up in the ladies’.” I inhale deeply and push away from the table.

I enter the bathroom, but instead of heading for a stall, I stop at the sink and stare at myself in the mirror.

He really pushes my buttons, this man.

Even in school. He was the first workaholic I’d ever met. Fixed everyone’s phones, cars, and even sold tests. He was a little bit too bad, and I was a little bit too good. He was a demon in the making and I was still Daddy’s little angel. I suppose it was my fault that we never…that…well, I just could never believe he might actually want me. Not for keeps. I was too afraid to get hurt.

I wash my hands, splash some cold water on my neck, and then head back to the table. I try not to stumble when I watch Christos lift his head from his conversation and quietly watch me return, that unreadable, dark gaze on me.

I slide into my seat while conversation continues between the women and Cole—

“—so there’s this endless line of people, and I…”

Aaric’s hand is curved around his wine and his thumb is stroking the glass. Up and down.

“So what brings you to the city?” Cole asks me when his date finishes with her anecdote.

“Business. I’ve been in town for six weeks.”


Christos moves his head closer to me and leans forward, as if to exclude the others from our conversation.

“Plan to stay?” he asks, gruffly.

I tilt my head to meet his gaze.

“I’m living in Nolita with a friend. I have a gig dog walking since waitressing is not my thing. I’m looking for an investor for my startup and was hoping you would see me again.”

“Call his office,” Cole interrupts.

I look up at his handsome, but less intimidating, brother and smile. “I already did.”

Christos digs a hand into his suit pocket and places a sleek white-and-silver letter card before my place setting. “Call again.” Christos meets my gaze and holds it, some sort of warning in his gaze.

I’m not sure what he’s warning me about.

That I need to be persistent?

Or that I need to be sure that I want to do business with him?

That maybe our close proximity…

“—right, Christos? The best startups you’ve ever funded have always come to you unawares.”

“Best things always creep up on you,” he agrees.

I smile, but my smile falters when his date snuggles up to his side as if she thinks he was talking about her.

I tremble as I take his card and tuck it into my pocket.

“What happened to Kelly’s, Bryn?” he asks me, once again turning to speak to me in a low voice, as if wanting to exclude everyone.

“Bankruptcy. We couldn’t keep it.”

He looks at me and I see concern in his eyes, but I look away because his judgement is unbearable.

If he doesn’t like my idea, what will I do?

I’d always thought I’d work at the Kelly department stores.

Christos must notice how uncomfortable admitting Kelly’s fall was, because the rest of the evening he engages in conversation with everyone else—no more lowering his voice for one-on-one talks with me. Even Cole sent me a sad smile but made sure to drop the subject.

By the time dinner is over, I definitely feel like a fifth wheel. A part of me wishes I were alone with Christos so I can talk to him, but another part of me feels vulnerable with him. Does he remember what it’s like to hustle or has all the success taken that away?

After dinner, we step under the awning again. “Take you home?” Christos asks me as his black car pulls up to the curb. He asks me casually, but his gaze is intent, more demanding than his tone.

“Oh no, I’ll walk. Thank you. Goodnight.” I say my goodbyes and his possessive, protective stare burns into my back as I head down the block.

Walking to Nolita, I push in my earbuds and replay the meeting with a ball in my stomach. Christos’s voice, quietly asking me, What happened?

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