“Trust me. It’s not. Anyway, the kid heads up the work. Runs a team of people to get it off the ground. I pay the salaries. Eventually, when the site gets monetized, I’ll receive a large percentage of the profits.”
“So you come in town every week to check up on how the work is going?” I was beginning to understand the travel.
“Among other things. Yeah.” He pointed at me with a bundle of celery. “But back to you. How did you end up nightclubbing?”
“Both my bachelor and master’s degrees were in restaurant management. There was an opening at Eighty-Eighth after I graduated. I took it.” Talking like this felt amazing. Almost as amazing as sex. His genuine interest in me was palpable, and I stopped worrying whether or not I sounded eager and instead simply rode the exhilarating wave of information sharing.
“A bachelor’s and a master’s? Look at you go, Ms. Smartypants. And before you ask, I don’t even have a bachelor’s. I dropped out when I made my first multi-million dollar investment. I was twenty.” He was cute when he was bragging. Like he thought he had to impress me. Like I wasn’t already impressed with everything about him. “Do you ever want to work anywhere besides the club? Or are you happy there?”
“I’m happy. Why, will you help me fund my own nightclub if I ask?” I’d stopped even pretending to look at produce.
JC stuck his hands in his jean pockets and shrugged. “If you’ve got an innovative concept, sure.”
“I’m not that kind of innovative. I’ll stick where I am. The club’s the best in town. I can’t think of any reason why I’d leave.” And because I hoped that maybe he’d give me more information on his relationship with my employer, I said, “And Matt’s a good boss.”
JC turned to look at the onions, even though we’d already picked out what we needed. “You’d only want to work at a club?”
He’d skipped over Matt completely. Well, it had been worth a try. “I think so. I know the business. And I’ve always been a night owl.” I moved to stand next to him, my shoulder grazing against his.
Even through my coat and his, the brush of our bodies made my blood start to simmer.
“I don’t know.” He bumped his arm lightly against mine. “I’d call you more of a panther than an owl. I’ve heard you screech like a wildcat in the night.” He turned toward me, a single finger on his chin. “Come to think of it, I’m sure I’ve also heard you purr.”
I met his eyes. “Only with you.”
“I’m okay with that.” His eyes were absent of the lust that I would have expected, which made the comment more intimate than he’d probably intended.
Even if it was giving away too much, I meant it when I said, “I’m okay with that too.”
We didn’t say anything else until I’d paid for my items. While the grocer bagged up my vegetables, he said, “You know, it’s nice to see you in a different atmosphere. You’re less uptight than you used to be.”
“Your mad plan is working,” I said. He was right, of course. I was much less uptight, but it had more to do with being with him now than it had to do with the sex we’d had. “And you knew that. You’ve seen me loose.”
He took the bags from the clerk and tucked them inside the La Perla bag. “I have indeed. I didn’t know if it extended outside of the bedroom.”
I was surprisingly not humiliated that the clerk had heard the statement. I thanked her then stepped out of the way so the next person in line could check out. We had our vegetables and could leave, but I was too caught up in my next thought. “But isn’t the bedroom the only place it matters?”
“Hardly,” JC said. “Your life is the only place it matters. The bedroom’s just a gateway.” He spotted something behind me. “Oranges. I didn’t see those.”
He walked over to examine the fruit. I trailed behind, considering his statement. It brought on another round of confusing emotions. Had he always intended to eventually make this more than just about sex? Because if so, I had to call a time-out. I could do non-commitment fucking. I couldn’t do non-commitment real life. I knew that about myself. It was why I made sure I didn’t spend time with many people in the first place—so that I wouldn’t have anyone to get attached to.
Maybe I’d misunderstood. Maybe he meant that what we did in the bedroom was supposed to spill over into my daily life without him and spending time together today was just a fluke.
I knew I should clarify.
The word rang in my head the same way his “except” had rung in the air when he’d spoken it. Except I didn’t want to clarify. I didn’t want to find out that today was just a fluke. I didn’t want to put an end to spending personal time together outside the bedroom.
I didn’t want to not get attached.
Because, honestly? I was pretty sure I already was.
Shocked by my realization, I looked up from the oranges and happened to catch his gaze. There, I saw a flash of something. Something unfamiliar but engaging. Something that called me to move toward rather than pull away. Something that seemed more like an open door than the brick wall that JC always met me with.
It was only a flash.
Then it was gone.
“You know, we should test how far you’ve come.” His voice had the edge of naughtiness that it did when we were naked together.
It made my skin prickle with awareness and my heart pound with nervousness. “What do you mean? Do you want to bang over there behind the market banner?” I hoped he’d say, no, but let’s go bang back at the Four Seasons.
“Actually…” He shifted to study the banner I was referring to, as if considering it. Then shook his head and turned back to me. “Well, good idea. But that wasn’t where I was going with that. Though I like the way you think.”
“I don’t think that way. I was making a joke.”
“Ah, see? We haven’t come as far as I’d like then. If you were truly more relaxed, you would have been serious.”
“I…” I didn’t finish my sentence. I realized that it was pointless to argue with JC about this. There was certainly a difference between being uptight and having a reasonable appreciation for propriety, not to mention the law. Surely a person could be laid-back and chill without having to lose her sense of decency.