Sheâd come over to his big estate outside DC for the weekend. She wasnât living with him all the time anymoreâthe way she had in the beginningâbut sheâd spent the last three weekends with him. Now it was Friday at almost seven in the evening, and he was still on a work call.
He was also wearing nothing but a towel around his waist.
Caleb Marshall was the CEO of Vendella and Co., a high-powered pharmaceutical company. He didnât have the luxury of working only on weekdays. She didnât expect him not to workâor not to take calls on any day or at any hour they came in.
But still, they were scheduled to leave for a black-tie event in ten minutes. The cocktail party was his thingâsince she was a pet portrait artist and wasnât in the habit of attending formal events of any kind. It was only because of him that she was going to this party at all. Sheâd gotten out of the shower, dried her hair, and done her makeup in the bathroom, and sheâd expected him to be dressed when she reentered his bedroom.
But he was sitting in a leather chair near the window, talking on the phone, naked except for the towel.
And he didnât even appear aware of her presence.
It worried her.
They were supposed to be in a real relationship. Theyâd never said the words âI love you.â Given both of their pasts as commitment-phobes, that would have been far beyond the comfort zone for either of them. But theyâd admitted that the feelings between them were real, and theyâd agreed to try to make the relationship work.
He was supposed to care about her, be totally into her, feel for her more than heâd ever felt for anyone else. That was what heâd said, at least.
Which was why it was concerning that he hadnât noticed that sheâd walked into the bedroom wearing nothing but her underwear. He hadnât even glanced over at her.
Caleb wasnât just her boyfriend. He might have killed her father. And the only way she could ever find out the truth was to get him to trust her completely, let down his guard, and allow her access to the information she needed so she could find concrete evidence about who had arranged her fatherâs murder. And she only had a limited amount of time to accomplish all this in the month or so her mother had left to live.
If Caleb was losing his interest in her, if she wasnât as attractive to him as she used to be, then she could never do what she needed to do.
So she felt distracted and out of sorts as she walked over to the dresser and looked in the mirror.
Her makeup was goodâsetting off her blue eyes, high cheekbones, fair skin, and full lipsâand her long, dark gold hair was pulled up into an elegant twist. Her bra and panties were a sexy black laceâmuch more expensive than sheâd ever bought for herself before sheâd met Caleb.
In the past, sheâd only ever had one-night stands. There was no man in the world whom sheâd known as deeply and intimately as Caleb. No man who could turn her on as much. No man sheâd invested nearly as much in as him.
No man sheâd hated as much.
It was the bitter irony of her lifeâto live torn apart like this until she could finally find the truth, finally find closure, finally heal. If such a thing was even possible.
But all of it would be futile if his interest was waning.
He was talking about some sort of marketing campaign on the phone. She heard the words, but they were of no interest. It didnât sound like an emergency, though, so it was definitely time for him to hang up the phone.
With that same flutter of anxiety and uncertainty, she grabbed a tube of lotion from the bag sheâd brought over for the weekend and squeezed some out on her palm.
Then she walked over so she was directly in Calebâs line of sight, sat down on the edge of the bed, and started to rub the lotion onto one of her legs.
Her body was pretty decent, with long legs and good breasts. Caleb had always seemed to really like it before. Might as well use it to her advantage.
She massaged the lotion in slowly, extending her leg in a way she hoped was sexy.
With a clench of pleased satisfaction, she noticed from the corner of her eye that Calebâs eyes had shifted over to her.
He was still talking, but at least now he was watching her.
She took her time rubbing the lotion on her other leg as well, and then she stood up and started applying it to her arms and shoulders in turn.
He was definitely focused on her now. His brown eyes had taken on a familiar heatâalbeit still distracted by his conversationâand his gaze didnât leave her body.
Making sure to act unaware, she walked over to the closet to get a dress. Sheâd brought two possibilities with her for this evening, since she hadnât been sure which she should wear. Inspired, she grabbed the one sheâd already decided against.
She returned to his line of sight to slowly, sensually pull the dress on, letting the soft fabric cling to her body.
It was a blue that matched her eyes, and she studied herself in the mirror, turning around and pretending to be evaluating the effect. She slipped on her high heels and looked at herself again.
Then she unzipped it and let it fall slowly to the floor so she was standing in nothing but her underwear and heels.
Caleb stumbled over something he was saying.