The answer was that I hadn’t been. Not truly. David had been a nice option when I’d been too afraid to go after any men who really turned me on. I’d thought I could have a future with him. I’d figured that being with a man like David was the cure to my obsession—not actually caring for him kept me from the outrageous behavior of my past.
And he’d been cute enough. We’d never gone all the way, but we’d come pretty close, and becoming aroused had never been a problem.
All thoughts of David had disappeared when Hudson entered my life. I gave up the safe bet for the real thing, and, even with the ups and downs of loving Hudson, I didn’t regret it one bit.
David regretted it, however. He wanted something more between us and had told me so just the day before. But he knew where my feelings lay. He knew whom my heart belonged to.
Now he brought his pen up to his mouth and bit on the already chewed end. Pen between his teeth, he asked, “How do you expect to draw people to book the rooms for that?”
“Marketing.” Obviously. That had been my emphasis area of my newly acquired MBA, and I was anxious to use it. It was what I had to offer the nightclub—my expertise. “We’ve never advertised those rooms to any specific market. They’re underutilized and wasted space compared to what they could be used for. And if we bundled the rooms in packages designed specifically for soon-to-be-married brides, I think we could really attract some attention.”
“Yeah, I see some potential.” Finally. “What’s your strategy?”
“I need some time to put it all together into a formal plan, but I’m thinking I could book some meetings with wedding planners. If I can offer a good deal, they’d tell their clients. Maybe we can give them referral bonuses or offer them a certain percentage of our booking fee as a kickback. But first we need to design some packages. Include some party trays and a certain dollar amount from the bar and we’ve got something to sell.”
Behind me, my phone beeped with an incoming text. It had died on my way to the club right after I texted Hudson my plans for the afternoon. Luckily I had a spare charger I kept in the office by the file cabinets and I’d plugged it in as soon as I arrived. “So what do you think?” I asked as I crossed to my phone.
“I think you’re onto something. Let’s do it.”
I grinned triumphantly before glancing down at my message.
“I’ve arranged the cook. Will you still be home for dinner?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I responded, his use of the word home making me as giddy as it had that morning.
David’s question broke through my euphoria. “Yeah, it’s Hudson.”
I hadn’t realized I’d been smiling until then. “Everything good.”
Leaving the phone to continue charging, I returned to the chair I’d been sitting in. “I’m meeting him for dinner. Don’t worry, I’ll be back by the time my shift starts.”
“Actually, I wanted to talk to you about changing your schedule.” David stood and came around the front of the desk, leaning on the corner. “I promoted you so that you could do this kind of stuff. We have enough managerial coverage. If we need someone else—which I’m sure we will if your plans work out like I know they will—Sasha’s ready to be a manager. Your gift, what you bring to The Sky Launch, is your business ideas. I need you to go work magic. That’s not my department.”
“So,” I furrowed my brow, “what are you saying?”
“I’m saying make your own schedule. I need you on the clock forty hours a week—not a problem for you, you work addict—but you can put it in whenever you need it. Set up those meetings with the wedding planners. And I’d like to go forward with your idea of expanding hours and our services. That’s going to take a lot of daytime planning as well. You’ll need to meet with cooks and additional staff. It’s going to be a lot of work.”
It felt like my eyes were going to pop out of my head. “Seriously? I mean, seriously do all that amazing stuff and make my own hours?” This was my dream job coming to fruition. All the hours of fighting with my brother Brian about wasting my education and the job opportunities I’d turned down with Fortune 500 companies—this made every doubt and heartache worth it.
“Yes, seriously. I wouldn’t joke about this shit. Start with taking tonight off.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t run the upstairs bar with one person.”
“Liesl’s coming in. It’s already covered.”
Of course Liesl would agree to work a shift for me. She was pretty much my one and only friend in the city. Half space cadet, half genius, she was everything I wasn’t—free and laid-back and flirtatious without having to worry about becoming attached. Even though we were complete opposites, she understood me like no one else and was much more generous to me than I often deserved. “She worked for me the whole time I was in the Hamptons. I can’t make her do that.”
“She volunteered. We hired that new waitress, and Liesl’s determined she be trained right—her words, not mine. And if you’re going to set up some meetings for tomorrow, you’ll need to adjust to being awake during the day. Right now you’re sort of a vampire.” He moved his eyes down my legs. “A tan vampire, but a vamp nonetheless.”
I laughed, hiding my unease at the obvious lust in his stare. I stood to put us on the same level. Otherwise it felt like he was looking down at nothing but tits. “Thank you, David. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m…” There weren’t words for how grateful I was for this opportunity. “Just thank you.”
“You deserve it.” He straightened from his leaning position and threw his arms out to his sides. “Hug it out?”
“That got me in trouble last time.” Hudson had walked in on that and been pretty pissed. He wasn’t a man who shared. I’d managed to talk him down, convinced him my hug with David had been innocent, which it had been, as far as I was concerned. Still, Hudson suspected there was something more between me and David. And, like a chicken-shit, I hadn’t been able to bring myself to admit he was right. David and I did have a history. But compared to what I felt for Hudson, it seemed like an insignificant detail.
I stuck my hand out toward David. “Settle for a handshake?”