Exposed to You (One Night of Passion 2) - Page 22

“Everett who?” Wilkie asked, his youthful face tightening with incredulity, as if he was sure he must have been mistaken in what he’d heard.

“The man himself—Everett Hughes,” Seth said with dry amusement. He nodded toward the direction of the escalators, where everyone’s attention seemed to be turning. Joy caught a glimpse of Everett’s golden head. Like her uncle, he rose above the crowd.

Wilkie blanched. “What? You go crazy and abandon us by moving to Chicago, and the next thing I know, you start looking like you were born on the red carpet and dating Everett Hughes? What is going on? Someone has got some storytelling to do.”

Joy was laughing at the thought of offering a highly edited explanation of how she’d ended up as Everett’s date when she heard her named called.

“Katie,” she greeted her warmly. Katie breezed up to her, looking lovely in the floral chiffon, her hair spilling around her shoulders. She gave Joy a quick hug.

“You look fantastic. I knew you would,” she told Joy confidentially under her breath. “Joy Hightower, this is my husband, Rill.”

“Hello. It’s such a pleasure to meet you,” Joy greeted him breathlessly, shaking hands with Rill Pierce. Katie’s husband looked ruggedly handsome in his tux, but he seemed tense.

“Don’t pay any attention to him,” Katie told Joy in a subdued voice that managed to carry. “He’s just grouchy because Ellie Granolith was badgering him a moment ago about putting her in Razor Pass, Rill’s latest project. When he told her he’d already chosen Jennifer Turner for the part, she told him Irish whiskey must have killed his sense of taste. Rill told her vodka must have done the same for her sense of reality if she really thought there was a chance he’d cast her.”

They all glanced at Seth when he made a snorting sound.

“Oh, this is my uncle, Seth Hightower, and Wilkie James, one of Hightower Special Effects artists,” Joy said. “Rill and Katie Pierce.”

“I’m sorry,” Seth said, trying to hide his laughter. “It’s just . . . I worked with Ellie. The comment about the vodka was dead-on.” Seth shook Rill’s hand. Joy blinked at the sudden appearance of Rill’s brilliant smile. Katie certainly was a lucky woman.

“I’ve been wanting to meet you for a long time,” Rill told Seth. “I would have tried to contact you sooner, but Katie suggested I might meet you in person tonight. Would you consider working on my next film?” Joy heard Rill ask Seth.

A thrill of excitement went through her for Seth. Working for Rill Pierce was something he’d always hoped to do. Someone touched her bare shoulder. The shiver that went through her told her who it was. She turned.

“Have I missed anything?” Everett asked, his gaze on her face. She shook her head, struck momentarily speechless by the sight of him. Her heart throbbed against her breastbone when he put his arm around her and caressed the bare skin of her upper arm.

“No. We were just waiting for you. Should we go up?” Katie asked, glancing from Everett to Joy over to Rill, who was too busy conversing with Seth and gesturing broadly to notice her question. She cupped her husband’s elbow and tapped Seth. Both men blinked distractedly and glanced down at her.

“Come on, you can talk business on the way up to the theater. It’s showtime, folks.”

Everett’s hand slid down Joy’s arm and he took her hand. For once, she didn’t have the wherewithal to hide her excitement—or her attraction—when he glanced back at her and gave a slow smile.

* * *

Several hours later, Joy slid into a circular leather booth, highly conscious of Everett following her. The premiere had been a huge success, the audience’s approval of the groundbreaking film evident in the ebullient mood of the crowd and the standing ovation after the final scene. Seth’s makeup had been stunning. Everett’s performance had been riveting. She’d lost herself in the film, her rapt focus only breaking when Everett caressed her hand or shifted slightly in his seat, his trousers brushing against her thigh.

It was a little like waking up from one fantasy to find herself in another, even more compelling one.

Joy couldn’t believe she’d survived the difficult part. The glitter and manic energy of the premiere were over. Now Everett and she were alone in a private, draped-off room at the Capital Grille, and the euphoria of the evening mingled with a heart-racing sense of anticipation.

Everett touched her neck. She turned, only to find that he was close. He kissed her, his lips firm and hungry.

“I like you like this,” he said a moment later, his mouth hovering near hers.

“Like what?”

“You seem happy . . . Available.”

She laughed. “Available? I think I’ve made it pretty clear I’m available, haven’t I?”

He didn’t reply immediately, just studied her closely while he caressed the juncture between her neck and shoulder, his hand moving seductively over the single strap of her dress.

“I suppose,” he murmured after a second. He leaned back. “But your guard is up at times.”

Joy opened her mouth to ask him what he meant, but the waiter entered the curtained-off area of the private room. After they’d placed their orders and were alone again, Joy spoke.

“What did you mean, my ‘guard is up at times’?”

Tags: Bethany Kane, Beth Kery One Night of Passion Erotic
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