Craving Him Page 5

“What did you do today?” he asked, taking another sip of his drink.

“I looked for jobs all day. Applied to a couple of assistant positions for firms downtown.” I’d packed Ellie’s lunch before she’d left for work, too, a small sort of peace offering for all my erratic behavior lately. But I knew that’d just earn me another chuckle from him for being a food pusher.

“Any modeling agencies?” he asked, helping himself to a second slice of bread.

I nibbled on the bread in front of me, wondering if that was a twinge of jealousy I’d heard in his voice. He couldn’t possibly think that other male models would be interested in me. “No,” I confirmed. My adventures in the modeling world were done. I couldn’t handle the egos, the cattiness. “Investment banks, advertising agencies, places like that.”

He nodded, looking mildly relieved.

The server came by and we placed our order. Grilled salmon for Ben and a chicken Caesar salad for me.

I couldn’t help the burning questions still in my head. I wanted to move forward with him, but before I fully could, I knew I needed more answers. I took a sip of my wine for fortification. “Ben . . .”

“Hmm?”

“Was that the only, uh . . . time that Fiona spent the night with you in Paris?”

He reached across the table and took my hand, his thumb rubbing the back of my knuckles. “Yeah, baby. It was just that one time. She was sobbing and upset, so I couldn’t turn her away. I promise you, it wasn’t a regular occurrence.”

I released a breath I didn’t know I was holding. “Okay. It’s just that you two were alone in Paris for three weeks without me. And I just feel like I don’t know what else might have happened.”

He shook his head, bringing my hand to his mouth and pressing a sweet kiss to the back of it. “Don’t. Don’t do that. I don’t want you playing the what-if game, replaying all the possible horrible scenarios in your brain. I was faithful to you, in my heart and in my head. I was too drunk to realize what was happening, and my body got used against me. It’s no excuse and I’ve regretted that night every day since then. It wasn’t clear to me at the time, but looking back, I know Fiona’s plan had been to seduce me. I never should have opened that door for her. What I woke up to in the middle of the night . . .”

I snatched my hand away. “Ben. Please, not so much detail. It still hurts to think about that night.”

“You’re right, I’m sorry. I just thought it might help if you knew more about the situation.”

I drew a shaky breath. “You’re right. It might. But just not right now. I think I’d need more wine for that conversation and I don’t want to cry in public, so let’s just enjoy our meal.”

Fiona had been a constant source of tension in our short relationship so far. I didn’t trust her. And I hated that Ben had a weakness where she was concerned. It drove me mad, actually. But accepting him and moving forward with this relationship meant putting up with her. Something I wasn’t sure I could do successfully.

The mood between us had changed, grown tense by the time our food was delivered.

“Are you okay?” Ben asked.

I nodded. “I’ll be fine.”

We ate much of the meal in silence, though his intense gaze often rested on mine. It wasn’t my intention to create this silent, tense moment but I wasn’t sure how to get back to the easy, flirty banter we used to share.

I wondered if perhaps we weren’t meant to have a relationship. Maybe we were nothing more than a fling of convenience, two people living in close quarters who shared a brief, albeit intense, connection.

While Ben paid the check, I excused myself for the ladies room. He met me in the back corridor and escorted me out to the curb. I wasn’t sure when he’d called Henry—must have been when I was in the restroom—but his black car was parked along the curb, right in front of the restaurant. This guy was like a ninja, always appearing just in time. It was baffling to me. I’d never known anyone with a car and driver.

Ben turned to face me, cupping my face in his big palms. “I’m sorry about everything. I’m sorry I ruined dinner. I was trying to take you on a proper date but perhaps it was thoughtless of me. I should have taken you someplace private where we could’ve talked more.”

The sincere look in his deep-set hazel eyes just about undid me. I’d told him I wanted to go on proper dates and then I’d shut down on him in the restaurant, unable to handle the skeletons in his closet that he was willing to be so open about. “No. The date was nice. Thank you for showing me a place that you went to with your mom. That means a lot to me.”

He smiled and kissed my lips softly. “You’re welcome. I want to share pieces of New York and how I grew up with you.” He kissed my forehead. “Come on, let’s get in the car and get you out of the cold.”

Ben opened the door and I slid across the backseat, allowing him to ease in next to me. Having him close enough that I could smell his cologne was distracting. My body responded instantly to that scent, heart fluttering like a giddy idiot, my palms beginning to sweat.

Ben

I hadn’t instructed Henry about where we were going just yet but he pulled into traffic, seeming to understand that I needed a moment to talk to Emmy. Guy code or something.

“What’s going on inside that pretty head, baby?” I laced my fingers with hers.

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