“Hmm, what?” She was distracted. How did Micah confound her so completely? How could she feel totally bereft of him one moment and then consumed by him the next?
And she still didn’t know if he was glad to see her there. How had he seemed? Surprised. Appreciative of her attire, maybe. What else, she couldn’t guess. And she wouldn’t be able to find out for hours, probably, since she couldn’t have a real conversation with him until they were alone at their hotel.
Yeah, the secret thing sucked.
But, if they decided to keep seeing each other, eventually it wouldn’t be secret. And then Maddie could walk in with him, though she’d likely still have to watch him pose with his costars while she stood off to the side as Lulu did now. No two ways about it, dating a celebrity was tricky.
Maddie moved her focus to Lucille Preston. Not surprisingly, she was as beautiful as her son. Her dark hair was coiffed short, framing her oval face. Her body, from what Maddie could see through the crowds, trim and fit for a woman her age. She appeared completely at ease in her short black formal dress and her son the center of attention.
Could Maddie be like that? Could she stand aside and watch her lover be pursued and pounced on by the press? It seemed…awkward and kind of a drag.
“It just doesn’t look very fun to be all paparazzi’d like that,” Sam said, continuing a conversation that Maddie kept forgetting they were having.
Joe returned then with a plate full of shrimp cocktail and a few other members of the crew. “Look who I found.”
Maddie let the group surround her, grateful for the number so she could dissolve into the background. Minutes passed where she smiled and nodded automatically to whatever was said, not knowing what she was smiling and nodding at. All the while, she snuck peeks at Micah and his mother, always aware of where he stood and who he stood with—more often than not with Heather.
Maddie wanted to poke Heather’s eyes out with her stilettos. It would be a shame to ruin such a nice pair of shoes though, so she shut the thought out of her mind.
“Are we all sitting together?” Sam asked no one in particular.
“We’re together in the balcony,” Joe said. “The actors are in the orchestra, I think. Or they have box seats.”
Surprise, surprise. Segregation of cast and crew. Again.
Usually she wouldn’t think twice about it. Now it felt like a punishment.
“Oh, look, it’s our production crew.”
Maddie looked to the source of the voice and saw Heather pointing at their group.
“Familiar faces, Micah. Let’s go say hi.” Heather pulled Micah toward them with Fudge and Lulu following close behind.
Maddie’s heart pounded and her palms began sweating while they approached. She couldn’t decide if she was jealous or nervous or excited or all three mixed up into one impending anxiety attack. Whatever it was, Micah was getting close and her skin goosed as it always did in his presence.
But Micah didn’t look at her once. Not even a sideways glance. Shit. Was he mad?
“Hey, guys,” Micah said, jabbing at his phone. “Excuse me just a minute, please.”
And he was gone, stepping aside to privately take or make a call. She wasn’t sure which.
She closed her eyes, squelching threatening tears.
Her phone buzzed inside her clutch and she scrambled to grab it. Normally she’d ignore it, but Micah was on his phone—was it ridiculous to think he was calling her? She looked at the caller ID. Micah from the party.
She swallowed then answered, her body tensed in preparation for his anger or disappointment or whatever he was about to deliver. “Yes?”
“Baby, you look so f**king hot, I’m struggling to not pull you into the coat room and take you right now.”
Well, she hadn’t been prepared for that.
His voice was tight and full of need. She flushed, searching the crowd for where he’d wandered off to, and found him standing alone, eyes locked on her.
“Turn around,” he said hungrily. She did and he groaned. “Fuck, those shoes… As amazing as you look in that dress, later I hope to see you wearing nothing but those shoes.”
She was never taking off those rhinestone stilettos again. God, he made her hot.
“Gotta go.” He pocketed his phone and gave his attention to a couple that had just approached him for an autograph.
Relief mingled with her arousal. Really, what had she expected? That he would be angry that she attended an event she had every right to be at? He hadn’t wanted her there for the same reason she hadn’t wanted to be there—because it made them ache to be together. That was all.
“You look like you’re enjoying yourself,” Sam said, bumping her shoulder with his.
Maddie realized she’d been beaming since her phone call. She relaxed her smile. “It’s probably the wine. I’m a lightweight. I should follow it with some coffee.”
“I’d be happy to get you a cup.”
“Thanks, but I’ll get it. I’m very particular about my mix of cream and sweetener.”
She returned to the bar and ordered her coffee. Then she crossed to the condiment area to dress her beverage the way she liked it. As she filled her cup with creamer, a familiar arm reached around her for a packet of sugar.
“Excuse me,” Micah’s voice hummed.
Maddie glanced sideways at him, saw the mischievous grin he wore and the twinkle in his eye as he prepared his own cup of coffee. They were alone—as alone as they were going to get. She risked a hushed conversation. “So you’re not mad that I’m here?”
He reached around her again, this time for a stirrer. She leaned back into the momentary closeness of him, inhaling the musky scent of Micah—a mixture of his aftershave and body wash and his own unique aroma. Maybe secret wasn’t so bad.
“Not at all. I always want you near.” She felt his hand lower behind her to shift his bulge. “Even if it makes me a bit uncomfortable in the pants.”
Maddie smiled as she busied herself with stirring her coffee longer than necessary in order to prolong their interaction. “Your mother is beautiful. You look so much like her.”
He swiveled to view Lulu. “You think? I mean, I think she’s beautiful too, but I don’t know how much I look like her.” Lowering his voice he added, “And thank you for mentioning my mother. You’ve effectively cured me of my semi.”
She giggled. “One way or another, I’m always glad to relieve you.”