Vows of Revenge(5)By: Dani Collins
His denunciation had her shoulders dropping in dismay. “That would be poetic if it wasn’t so depressing,” she informed him. “Weddings are as much a celebration of the happiness that has been achieved thus far as they are a promise of happily-ever-after.”
“You promise that, do you? Sounds as if you’re taking advantage of the gullible.”
“Meaning that people who fall in love and make plans to share their lives are suckers? On the contrary—they haven’t given up hope,” she defended, lifting her chin with pretended insult.
“For?” he challenged, secretly enjoying this lighthearted battle of opinion.
“Whatever it is they seek. How far would you have come with your company if you hadn’t dreamed beyond what looked realistic? If all you’d done was aim low?” She gave him a cheeky smile as she walked past him into his private sitting room, meeting his eyes as though sure she had him. “See? Being an optimist, I believe I can convert you.”
“I’m not that easy to manipulate,” he stated, confident he’d maintained the upper hand. “But go ahead and try,” he added with significance.
“OKAY— OH.” THE sitting room took up the corner of the house facing the water. More French doors opened to both the side and front balcony. The rest of the area was clearly the master bedroom.
Melodie had been so caught up in trying to be clever she hadn’t realized where she was going. She blushed. “I didn’t realize.” Why hadn’t he stopped her?
“There’s a guest room down the hall that Ingrid can use to dress,” he said drily.
She should have hurried to find it, but her feet fixed to the carpet as she took in the luxurious room in varying shades of blue. The bed was obscenely huge and was backed by mirrors to reflect the view. The wall onto the balcony was made of glass doors that doubled back on themselves so many times they ended up tucked into the corners. The partition between outside and interior had essentially disappeared.
Filmy curtains hung in tied bunches at the corners of the bed, presumably to afford some privacy to the occupant—occupants, plural?—if they happened to be in the bed with the doors open.
With that thought Melodie became acutely aware of the fact that she was a woman and Roman a man. He was tall and broad and his bed would accommodate his strapping body easily, along with any company he brought with him. She swallowed, trying not to betray the direction her thoughts were taking, even as she felt heat creeping through her, staining her cheeks.
As far as what he might be thinking, it was hard to tell whether he was attracted to her or just amusing himself at her expense.
“Oh, that’s very beautiful,” she said, letting the view draw her onto the balcony and away from the intimacy of his bedroom. She set her purse near her feet and used two hands to steady her phone while she took a snap. Her faint trembles grew worse as Roman came to stand next to her.
“How do you know Ingrid?” he asked.
Uncomfortable remaining where she could smell the traces of his aftershave, Melodie moved along the upper balcony, trying to pretend her dazzled state was caused by the band of turquoise just beyond the white beach before the blue of the sea deepened to navy. An indolent breeze moved through her sweater and hair, doing little to cool her. It was more of a disturbing caress, really. Inciting.
“Our mothers went to the same prep school in Virginia.” Looking for cool in the wrought iron rail, Melodie grasped only heat, but she let the hard cut of metal into her palm ground her as she added, “My mother passed away recently and Evelyn came to the service. It was auspicious timing, with Ingrid recently becoming engaged.”
Melodie’s father had been instrumental in this new job of hers, of course, not that she intended to broadcast that. After insisting they invite Evelyn to say a few words about Melodie’s mother—a request that had surprised the woman when she hadn’t spoken to her old friend in years— Garner had insisted Melodie go talk to her. Ask her about her daughter. Melodie had realized after the fact that Garner had been fishing for info on Roman through his PA, but she didn’t know why. She’d taken her time following up with Evelyn a couple of weeks after the service and kept it to herself. Her father and brother didn’t even know she was here. Heck, they didn’t know she was alive. She preferred it that way.
“Helping with the arrangements has taken my mind off things,” she provided with a faint smile. “Weddings are such happy occasions. Far better than organizing a funeral.”
A pause, then he asked, perplexed, “Are you saying the funeral was so impressive it prompted this woman to ask you to arrange her daughter’s wedding?”