“What’s that about?” Eva Torres asked her brother, gesturing towards Anthony. He was arguing with one of the gallery employees.
“What?” Andrei, Anthony’s twin asked, distracted. He looked over to where she was pointing. “Oh, that’s Riley, you remember, the middle Sawyer triplet.”
Eva’s eyes squinted as she took another look at the man. The Sawyer Triplets were actually brothers, born so close to each other that everyone just referred to them as The Triplets.
“I didn’t know he was in Beach City,” she said.
Dre shrugged, staring at a pretty, fair-haired woman at the other end of the room.
“What’s wrong with you?” She asked, frustrated that he wasn’t paying attention to the very loud, very intense fight their brother was having.
“Nothing,” he mumbled, shaking his head. “Listen, I have to get going.”
“But you just got here!” She started to protest.
“I know, and I’m sorry Lou. I’ll come visit again soon, promise.” He kissed her on the cheek. “Your work is stunning, as usual. Tell Alistair I said I’ll see him next time I’m in town.”
She smiled, mollified by that message. As he left, he grabbed his brother mid-angry gesture, and then they both were gone. Something was going on with her brothers – she could feel it. Eva glanced at the blond woman again.
Riley walked towards Eva, seeming not the least disturbed by his very public argument with her brother. “Ms. Torres, there is someone you should meet,” he began.
“Riley Cullen-Sawyer! It’s me, Eva. Don’t you recognize me?” She grinned at him, his shocked expression all the answer she needed.
“Eva? Oh, I didn’t know that this was your show. The artist was named Lou…” He blushed and her grin grew wider. “I guess…I guess you saw me and Anthony arguing. I’m so very sorry.”
She waved that away. It was none of her business until Tony decided to share. “Don’t worry about it. Now, who did you want me to meet?” She scanned the room curiously.
“Oh, umm. Well, Mr. King – Matias King. He is a very important man and the gossip is that he’s decided to make Beach City his new home. It would be very prudent to get to know him, I think.” Riley pointed the man out to her.
She leaned up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Right then, I’m off to go schmooze. It was good to see you again Riley. I hope we can grab lunch soon, okay?” He gave her a faint smile and nodded.
Matias King stared at the swirl of paint on the canvas in front of him. He didn’t know why he attended these things. He only knew that his company, uGenex, had purchased a ticket package to this show. Since he needed to meet the important people of the town, he’d come as a representative.
He felt the presence of another person and half turned to see a beautiful brunette standing next to him. He couldn’t get a good look at her from his angle, her hair was in the way, but he liked what could see. A café au lait complexion; small, straight nose; high cheekbones and a hint of a smile. He wanted to see her eyes. You could tell a lot by a person’s eyes.
“So, what do you think of this one?” She asked, looking up at the painting.
“It’s really well painted. I’ve heard good things about the artist. Although, if I meet him, I might suggest a few things.”
“Really? Like what?”
“Like a name change. What ever happened to using full names like Pablo Picasso or Claude Monet?”
She laughed; a low and sultry sound that tugged at his gut and his memory. Had they met before? He tried to get a better look at her face.
“It’s not like it’s ostentatious. Don’t you like the name Lou?”
“It’s such an uninspiring name…‘Lou’. I think that’s the name of my plumber. He could have at least livened it up.”
“Wow, you feel really strongly about this, don’t you?” She laughed again and he was about ready to force her to turn around just so he could see her face.
“Branding is kind of my thing. My name’s Matias King, by the way.” Turning fully towards her, he held out his hand, hoping she would take it and give him his first glimpse of her eyes.
“Nice to meet you Matias, I’m Lou Torres.” She turned around then, hand outstretched and her eyes widened.
His must have been just as wide, but he recovered faster than she did. He grinned and took her hand. “Nice to meet you, Lou.”
They stared at each other for a while, her fingers still wrapped in his. The night had become much more interesting.
She licked her lower lip and he remembered all the wonderful things those lips could do. He pulled her closer and pressed a kiss to backs of her fingers. “It is very nice to meet you, indeed.”
Her eyelashes lowered, blocking her beautiful amber eyes from his view and he knew she was remembering that night too.
He’d woken up the morning after meeting her in a warm bed that was not his own. He’d met the most amazing woman the night before, but she wasn’t in the bed with him. He got up and found his clothes neatly folded on a dresser by a bathroom door. He took a quick shower and got dressed. As he looked around the room, he tried to get a sense of what kind of person his mystery woman was. She had a sketchbook on a table in the corner closest to the windows. An artist then. Before he could snoop some more, he smelled coffee and followed the scent down to the kitchen.
She was sitting at the counter, a cup of coffee in front of her, a magazine lying open next to it. But she wasn’t reading, instead she stared out a window, lost in her own thoughts. She wore an oversized shirt that was hanging off her body. The sun was shining in and made her bright citrine eyes glow.
“Good morning beautiful.” He walked towards her and kissed her on the shoulder.
She looked up at him, a stiff smile on her lips. Uh oh. “I made you some coffee. I didn’t know how you like it, so I made it black. There’s milk and sugar if you want.”
“Black is fine. Thank you.” He poured himself a cup and stood on the other side of the counter, sipping on the hot liquid and watching her. For whatever reason, he couldn’t get a read on her and that was frustrating as hell – he could read anyone. It was what he did. As he was walking down to her, he’d decided he’d enjoyed the night before and would very much like a redo. Perhaps they could even come to some arrangement; he was in town for at least a week.
Before he could say anything, though, she cleared her throat. “So, I’m sure you have other plans for the day and I have a class in an hour. I don’t want to be rude, but…” she let the sentence hang and he got the message. She would definitely not be interested in anything more.
He shrugged. “Nothing much, but I should get going anyway. Thank you for the coffee.”
He walked around and leaned down to give her a parting kiss. He’d meant for it to be a brief meeting of the lips, a small thank you for the night before, but the moment he touched her he wanted more. And she clearly felt the same because she wrapped her arms around his neck and deepened the kiss.
Pulling away finally, he dragged in a ragged breath. “Wow.”
She laughed. It was a rich, sensual laugh and he wanted nothing more than to kiss her again. But she was getting up, putting distance between them. Sighing, he winked at her and headed for the door.
You win some, you lose some, he thought to himself as he walked down the front steps. Except he knew she was different. He would remember her.
Eva made a sound in the back of her throat that sounded nothing close to the human language. Clearing her throat and licking her lips, she tried again. “Hi.”
Matias King laughed and the sound washed over her like a waterfall. A pulsing rush of energy traveled from the hand still holding hers and shot down her spine. She blinked and pulled her hand away. This was so inappropriate in so many ways!
“Stop it,” she whispered, even as she felt her body start to lean toward him. She had never forgotten her one night with this man almost four years ago. One, because she didn’t have one night stands with strange men she met at clubs, and two, because he’d been different. She’d missed her morning class daydreaming about this man.
She’d spent the next few weeks in a sort of daze. Her friends attributed it to her breakup, but she wasn’t thinking about Glasgow. She was remembering the man who’d spent one night with her and redefined everything she thought she knew about passionate and lovemaking and dear lord…she couldn’t get him out of her head. Eventually, she took her frustrations out on canvas.
She’d been like that for a month before something completely different grabbed her attention.
She looked up at him now and found herself at a loss for words. She’d somehow managed to get closer to him and he was watching her, a smile on his face. She’d never expected to see him again yet here he was, at her art opening. “What are you doing here?”
“What are you doing later?” He leaned down and whispered in her ear.
That snapped her out of her stupor. She wasn’t a college student without any real responsibilities anymore. “I’m going home to Alistair.”
As he frowned and backed up, she took a breath, grateful for the space. “My apologies,” he said.
Smoothing down her dress, she cleared her throat. “That’s alright.”
They spent the rest of the evening avoiding each other. When she got home, exhausted, she wanted nothing more than to sink into her bed and pass out. Instead, she thanked and paid the babysitter and tiptoed into the nursery to check on her sleeping toddler.
Sighing as she watched him sleep, she thought of Matias King.