It’s silly, I suppose, but I like feeling that no other guy has touched me in this dress.
I like it that it’s all for Ethan.
That thought is running dangerously close to breaking our rules, so I fold it away and push a bright smile to my face. It doesn’t falter when Grayson opens the door.
I move into the car and Ethan is there, overpowering me with his presence, all that I need, all that I can sense, and he’s just sitting there, staring at me.
He holds a hand out and I reach for it as I step in, sitting beside me. Am I imagining it or is he frowning?
I must be imagining it, because within a minute he smiles at me, and pleasure reaches right down to the bottom of my toes.
‘How was your day?’ I ask.
He leans forward, brushing his lips to mine. ‘Better now.’
‘I have a bone to pick with you,’ I murmur.
‘Yes? What’s that?’
‘Flowers.’ I lift a finger in mock admonishment. ‘Flowers are expressly prohibited in our terms of engagement. Clause One, Part A.’
‘Ah.’ He grins as he catches my finger and brings it to his lips. ‘I remember. I’m revising that clause.’
His eyes hold mine and my heart thumps, and I am grateful that Grayson chooses that moment to slide into the driver’s seat.
‘Where to?’ Grayson tosses over his shoulder.
‘The hotel?’ I whisper in Ethan’s ear, smiling conspiratorially.
He laughs, wrapping an arm around me and holding me close to him, keeping me cradled to his side.
‘Belle Nuit,’ Ethan contradicts, naming one of the hottest eateries in New York.
I’ve heard of it, of course. It’s just over the bridge, hooked into Brooklyn, with a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline—and Brooklyn Bridge.
‘Ethan,’ I say softly. This is another rule that’s being flaunted. ‘Why don’t we just grab takeout and go back to yours? Or go to Benji’s diner...?’
‘Because.’ His eyes glint as they meet mine. ‘This place is nice.’
‘Nice?’ I roll my eyes. ‘It’s better than that.’
‘Have you been there?’
‘Well, no, but I mean it’s the place...’
‘Don’t you think it’s breaking even more rules?’ I push, concern obvious in my question.
‘I’m leaving in a few days, Ally. Does it really matter?’
My heart stammers in my chest. Jesus Christ. A few days. Something about the finality of that pushes all my stupid objections aside. What can go wrong in a few days?
‘I guess not.’
I’m still torn.
His eyes hold mine and my temperature shoots up. Suddenly every touch, every word, is a prelude of what I know will come, and it is hyper-charged with awareness and need. There is a heat between us that is threatening to explode.
Traffic is unusually light, and we cruise over the bridge easily. I look out at the water as we go, admiring the view, thinking what a unique place in the world this is.
The restaurant is as glorious as I imagined. Grayson pulls up right at the front and though it’s discreetly decorated, the prestige of the place is marked. There are two waiters standing by the doors, dressed in tuxedos.
One pulls the restaurant door inwards at the same moment Grayson opens the car door, so that it’s easy for us to navigate our way in. There are paparazzi—I suspect they’re almost permanently camped out at a place like this. Is it stupid to come here?
‘My mom’s going to have kittens,’ I whisper under my breath as we move inside and another waiter appears to lead us to a table.
The place is packed, and I see two newscasters, an actress, and a famous-for-all-the-wrong-reasons Hollywood director and his twenty-something wife tucked away in a corner. We’re led to a booth near the windows. It has the advantage of being private and offering an unrivalled outlook of the twinkling lights of Manhattan.
‘This is beautiful.’
He nods, but he’s distracted. Again.
‘Does that bother you?’ he asks after several long seconds. It takes me a moment to recall what I have said.
‘Kind of. Not really.’ I shrug. ‘She’ll get over it. What’s one more crime to my name?’