Forever with You (Page 7)

Forever with You (Fixed #3)(7)
Author: Laurelin Paige

Just like that, our tentativeness was over. And I needed a change of panties.

***

Except for a few casual strokes and caresses, Hudson kept his hands to himself during our ride to the Firework Cruise. I had a feeling the minimal contact was purposeful. He was building the anticipation.

And, god, was it working.

The air between us was charged. His sexual promise remained ever present in my thoughts, turning me into a powder keg waiting for that one spark to light me on fire. He, on the other hand, seemed completely unaffected—as though he hadn’t uttered those carnal words to me only an hour earlier.

It was late evening, the sun just beginning to set, when we arrived at the pier. Hudson didn’t wait for Jordan to open our door. He stepped out of the Maybach and reached for my hand to pull me out behind him. He was striking in his tan pants and dark suit jacket. He’d forgone the tie, leaving his white shirt unbuttoned to expose the top of his chest. The wind blew across the river that shared his name, mussing Hudson’s hair into sexy chaos. As always, he took my breath away.

The moment was short lived. Cameras clicking and people shouting Hudson’s name interrupted the reverie. Having been to only one other event with him where media was present, I wasn’t used to the attention.

But Hudson was.

Like he had the last time when I’d gone with him to his mother’s charity fashion event, he put on a show, pulling me into his side to pose for the cameras. He tactfully ignored many of the questions, only answering some with a simple yes or no.

“Is it true you’ve bought back your old company, Plexis?”

“Yes.”

“Are you planning to break the company apart?”

“No.”

“Is this your current girlfriend? Alayna Withers, is it?”

“Yes.”

“What about Celia Werner?”

This was one Hudson didn’t answer. The only betrayal that he’d even heard the question was a twitch of his eye. The man had stoicism down to a science.

I did not. The mention of Celia’s name threw a shiver down my spine. It hadn’t only been his mother who thought he and Celia should be together. Even the press had thought they were more than friends. Hudson, not caring what people thought or said about him, never bothered to correct the assumption.

I realized then that the media would never let her out of our life. She’d always be asked about, always be linked to him in the tabloids. I’d have to get used to it if I planned on staying with Hudson long term. And I planned on exactly that.

But just because I had to live with it didn’t mean I couldn’t fight back.

Forcing a smile, I did something that surprised even me—I spoke to the onlookers. “Don’t you think it’s rude to ask that when I’m standing right here?” I paused but didn’t let the reporter get a word in before continuing. “He’s with me now. Bringing up another woman in front of me is completely distasteful. If stirring up gossip is the only way you can write a decent story, I feel quite sorry for you. Don’t bother rebutting. We have a party to attend.”

Hudson’s eyes widened. “You heard the lady.” He took my hand and pulled me with him toward the dock where The Magnolia, a two hundred and fifty foot yacht, waited for us.

I squeezed his hand. “That wasn’t so bad.” I needed his reassurance. Needed to know I hadn’t pissed him off.

“It was mostly terrible,” he hissed.

Immediately I felt guilty for my outburst. “I shouldn’t have said anything. I’m sorry.”

“Why? You were the only reason it wasn’t all terrible.”

“Well, then.” My smile widened. “Maybe I should talk to the press more often.”

“Don’t push it.” Hudson’s smile was brief. He quickly returned to his somber mood. After our pleasant day together, I had hoped that his crabbiness was over. Not the case. It was understandable. Dealing with the press and having to attend a big social event were not Hudson’s favorite ways to pass the time.

I, on the other hand, didn’t mind parties. Though I would have been just as happy to watch the show on TV from our bedroom. Or skip the viewing altogether. “Why are we going if you hate these things so much?”

He paused, mid-stride. “Good question. Let’s not go.”

“Hudson…” I tugged at him. Now that I’d gotten all dolled up, we might as well go through with the evening. Besides, even though he didn’t want to be there, I sensed he wouldn’t abandon the Firework Cruise so easily.

He sighed and let me pull him toward the ship. “I’m here because Pierce Industries sponsors this event. I have to go. If I don’t, it reflects poorly on the corporation.”

I put on an exaggerated frown. “Poor Hudson Alexander Pierce. Born into responsibility and obligation. Oh, and money and opportunity.”

He looked at me, an eyebrow raised. “Really?”

“A little, yeah. If you’re going to throw a pity party, H, I’m not planning to attend.” Frankly, I was tired of his cranky mood. I wanted fun Hudson for the evening.

The edges of his mouth relaxed ever so slightly. “I’m not throwing a pity party. It’s impossible for anyone to feel sorry for me when you’re at my side.” He pulled me closer to him so his arm could circle my waist.

“Yeah, that’s why people envy you.”

This got me a smile. “If it’s not, it’s the reason that they should.”

At the end of the dock, a man dressed in naval attire stood waiting by the plank leading to the yacht.

“Good evening, Mr. Pierce. We’re ready to cast off whenever you are, sir.”

Hudson nodded. “Then let’s go.” He motioned me ahead of him, but I heard the man, who I assumed was the captain, whispering something else to Hudson behind me.

I stepped off the plank onto the boat deck then looked back to see Hudson’s expression had grown grim.

“I’d rather not cause a scene,” he said, his voice low. “But have the crew keep an eye out for any trouble.”

“Yes, sir.”

Hudson climbed aboard, putting his hand at the small of my back when he’d reached me.

“Is everything okay?”

“Fine.” His tone was terse.

Dammit. Whatever the captain had said to him seemed to have undone the progress I’d made at ridding Hudson of his bad mood.

I knew from experience that pressing the matter would only make him grumpier. But I couldn’t help myself. “Hudson, honesty and transparency…remember?”