Sidequest for Love - Page 51

For the second time in however many minutes, we were locked in a stare-down. I yearned to know what he was thinking. There were secrets in his eyes that called to me. And I hadn’t been lying earlier; he really did smell good. It wasn’t just his fabric softener, either. Everyone had their own unique scent. It was hard to pick out the notes and determine what exactly Neil’s was made up of, but it was now ingrained in my memory. It caused a visceral reaction in me.

Footsteps sounded down the hallway, and Neil let go of my hand. He turned around swiftly and picked up his clipboard and pen. The door opened, and Michaela poked her head in. Her attention went from me to Neil, and it looked like she was attempting to suppress a grin.

“There you two are. Afric, I need your help out front.”

I cast Neil one last glance, my insides still all aflutter after the forceful way he’d tugged me close to him. He looked at me briefly, a certain brooding intensity about him that I hadn’t seen before. Then he returned his attention to his clipboard, and I followed Michaela out.

Two hours later, the bar was decorated, and everything was ready for the party. As people started to arrive, Neil appeared in front of me.

“The place looks amazing,” I exclaimed. “You and Michaela really pulled it off, especially given how little time you had to prepare.”

“Don’t forget you and your friends helped, too. But thanks. I love party planning. It can be stressful at times, but it’s also one of my favourite parts of the job.”

“You planned the screening in Notting Hill, too, didn’t you?”

“With Michaela’s help, yes,” he replied.

“Well, you certainly have a knack for planning events. If I ever decide to throw myself a big, splashy birthday party, I’ll know who to come to.”

Neil smiled. “Can I get you something to drink?”

“Sure. What would you recommend?”

“Well, there’s beer, prosecco, or wine. There are also some cans of premixed cocktails that may or may not be disgusting. The jury’s still out.”

“You haven’t tasted any of them yet?”

He shook his head. “Not sure I’m brave enough.”

“Why don’t we both try them together then?”

A grin tugged at his lips. “Fine, but if they’re horrible, I’m blaming you.” He disappeared, and I found a seat at the edge of the terrace. I couldn’t spot Sarita or Mabel anywhere, and I didn’t really know anyone else here. Michaela was over at the bar next to James and several other people I didn’t recognise.

When Neil returned, he took the seat right next to mine, which left us both facing out with our backs to the wall. His arm brushed mine as he offered me a can that purported to be a margarita, alongside a glass with ice. “Here you go.”

“Thanks. Which one did you go for?”

“Whiskey sour.”

“Ambitious choice. Okay, moment of truth,” I said as I opened my can and poured its contents into the glass while Neil did the same. We were quiet as we each took a sip.

“Well, it’s not disgusting, but it isn’t delicious either,” I said. “How’s yours?”

“It’s okay. I’m a bit jetlagged, so I don’t plan on drinking much tonight anyway. I tend to fall asleep when I get drunk, so don’t let me have anything else after this.”

I nodded and fell quiet as I took another sip. Then, my curiosity got the better of me. “So, did you go on any other nights out while you were in New York? Other than the night you already told me about?”

Neil shook his head. “When would I have found the time? I spent most of my evenings video calling with you.”

“That’s true. I’m quite an awesome distraction, aren’t I?”

He glanced at me, his eyes seeming to trace down the slope of my nose. “You’re certainly distracting.”

Tingles filled my chest. “Good distracting or bad distracting?”

“I haven’t decided yet,” he teased, and I scowled at him playfully.

“Thanks for finishing my accounts, by the way. You did an amazing job. I passed my audit with flying colours.”

“You did? That’s great. Let me know if you need a hand for next year.”

“That’s okay. I should probably get myself a real accountant next year. If I’d done that from the beginning, the audit might never have happened.”

“You’re right. You should get an accountant, though I’m going to miss tidying up your messes.”

“At least you won’t have to worry about going bright red figuring out whether my expenses are business or personal,” I said with a wink.

Neil shook his head, not meeting my gaze as he sipped his drink. “Why would you bring that up?”

“Because it’s funny. It’s also funny that you’re still embarrassed about it. Everyone buys sex toys, Neil. It’s perfectly normal.”

“Not everyone,” he said in a quiet voice.

I blinked at him. “You’ve never bought a sex toy?”

Tags: L.H. Cosway Romance
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