“Oh good,” she said. “You’re home. I’ve been keeping dinner warm for you. Here. Let me take your jacket. I want you to be comfortable.”
She pulled his jacket off and removed his tie with slow, seductive movements. Hanging them neatly over the back of a chair that should have been in his living room and not in the bedroom, she went on and on about the food she’d prepared. “I made your favorite, roast beef and potatoes with creamed spinach on the side. I also made rolls from scratch. Of course, the meal would have tasted better if you’d come home earlier, but it will do. Next time you’re going to be late, please call.” She lifted up on her tip-toes and planted a kiss on his tight jaw. “Even though you’re in the same building I worry about you.”
He gaped at her, halfway wondering if he’d dropped into theTwilight Zone. How did she know his favorite meal? He gestured to the room with a violent jerk of his hand. “What happened here?”
“Oh dear.” Smiling, she shook her head. “You’re not one of those territorial control freaks, are you?” She strode over to the bed, sat on the edge, and patted the spot beside her. When he didn’t follow her lead, she shrugged it off. “I know you’ve lived alone for a very long time, and you aren’t used to sharing your space, but we’re engaged to be married, sweetie.” She held up her left hand, showing off the big sapphire ring as if he hadn’t seen it. “You have to expect me to put my personal touch on this place. I mean, someday we’ll move, of course, into a nice house. I like Connecticut.”
Connecticut? Was she stark raving mad?
“I am not moving to Connecticut!”
Her smile didn’t falter an inch. “Let’s go eat. You get grouchy when you’re hungry.”
Steaming anger bubbled up from his gut. Either Bianca was messing with him or she was certifiably insane. He didn’t know which option made him angrier. He calmly walked to the door, pulled it open, and motioned for her to get out. “I need to make some calls.”
Her lips pursed together in a sexy little pout. “What about dinner?”
“I’ll be a while. You should go to bed. I can warm it up tomorrow.”
She pressed those sultry lips against his before exiting his bedroom. Once he was alone he gave Sullivan a call. His assistant couldn’t stop laughing long enough to speak until Christian threatened to have him castrated.
“That girl is a pistol,” Sullivan said. “She was upset over your model.”
Tight-lipped, Christian filled in the blanks. “She didn’t like it that I dared suggest she use Shari on the cover, so she decided to scare the life out of me.” He sighed. “Wait a second. Are you absolutely sure she isn’t angling for a real marriage?”
“She confided in me that her first marriage was her last marriage. She’s vowed to never allow another man to control or manipulate her. The domestic goddess routine was to get even with you for forcing the model on her.”
“So she wants to play, huh?” Christian grinned. “Okay. Let’s play.”
“What do you have in mind, sir?”
Christian knew how to get even. Maybe Bianca would like a taste of her own medicine. “Let’s see how deep her fear of marriage goes.”
“Can I help you set something up, sir?”
Christian’s eyes narrowed as he wondered if Sullivan had helped Bianca with her little surprise. “I need you to make a few phone calls for me.”
As his assistant listened carefully to every word, Christian filled him in on the plan. Sullivan laughed louder than he probably ever had before. Christian knew he was on the right track. If Bianca wanted to push the marriage idea, he would help her do it.
His beautiful houseguest thought she could mess with him, the king of pranks? Obviously his buddy Zach hadn’t told her about his days at boarding school. Nobody could top him when he put his brilliantly mischievous mind to the task. He couldn’t wait to see the terrified look on her face when she thought he actually intended to push their fake engagement all the way to the altar.
The next morning, Bianca felt lighter on her feet. She danced her way to the elevator and took it down to Marketing first to get a list of potential advertisers for the next issue. Last night she’d made a decision. She and Christian were both consenting adults, and they could have a sexual relationship if that’s what they both wanted. It didn’t have to mean anything. It didn’t have to lead to a lifetime commitment.
Later, she would try to have an honest talk with Christian about their future. If she could convince him she wasn’t angling for a wedding, things might work out between them. He obviously didn’t want marriage any more than she did. If he would just believe her when she told him she didn’t want it either, they could enjoy their time together.
After picking up what she needed in Marketing, she got off on her floor and immediately froze to the luxurious gray carpet. Bridal gowns wereeverywhere! It looked like a bridal shop had exploded inside of the magazine’s lobby. Her eyes darted around the large room that seemed smaller with all the wedding clutter. There were six racks of dresses, but most of the gowns weren’t hanging on them. Yards of satin, organza, tulle, chiffon, and lace covered every available surface.
Her stomach flipped.
Sullivan stepped out of her office, clipboard in hand.
“What’s going on here?” she asked. “We aren’t doing a bridal spread for another three months.”
Sullivan grinned. “The wedding gowns are for you.”
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what was happening. She smiled ruefully, eyes rolling up, and a sigh parting her lips. “He knows, doesn’t he?”