Home > Just One Scandal (The Kingston Family #2)(8)

Just One Scandal (The Kingston Family #2)(8)
Author: Carly Phillips

“Still at the hotel,” he said into his cell. “That’s right.” He listened, then said, “None of your goddamned business, Tripp. Talk to you later.” He disconnected the call.

“Hey,” she said, joining him.

He turned. “Hey yourself. Feel better?” he asked.

She nodded. “More like myself.”

“Well, you look better, if you don’t mind my saying so.” His gaze skimmed the length of her body, obviously taking in and appreciating her curves if the glimmer in his eyes was anything to go by.

Her body reacted to his appraisal, her nipples tightening beneath her bra. She refused to glance down and see if it was noticeable.

She forced a smile at him. “I’m pretty sure the black mascara running down my cheeks wasn’t my finest moment.” Neither was how she’d unloaded all her emotional drama on him, but since he hadn’t brought it up again, neither would she.

He slid his hands into his front pants pockets and chuckled. “You deserved a good cry.”

“Which I apparently had.” She winced at the memories that had come back to her. “You went above and beyond for someone you don’t know, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it,” she said. Whatever had gone down with Linc, Chloe would always think Beck was a great guy.

“Ready to go check out your new digs?” he asked. “I live in a renovated loft downtown.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Oooh, sounds awesome.” She couldn’t wait to see it. “Are you one-hundred-percent certain you don’t mind the company?”

He strode over until they were close and dipped his head. “Your memories seem to have returned. You remember how I brought you here?”

She smelled the minty toothpaste on his breath. “You carried me up here.”

“Right. So if you keep asking if it’s okay, I’m going to have to resort to the same caveman approach.” He rose to his full height. “In other words, don’t test me.”

A weight lifted off her chest. “Okay then. Let’s go.”

On the way downtown in an Uber, Chloe called her mother and checked in, assured her she was staying with a friend, and promised to keep in touch. And once her honeymoon vacation time was over, she would deal with wrapping up the remnants of her non-wedding.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

 

Beck worried about the woman who walked silently beside him down the hall to his loft. She’d been just as quiet on the ride here. He understood she had a lot to think about and deal with, so he gave her the space to do that, but he was aware of her the entire trip. They sat close in the back seat of an Uber, the mint scent of the hotel shampoo tickling his nose and the constant fiddling of her hands drawing his attention.

“Here we are.” He stopped at the double entry doors that opened to his place, used his cell phone app to undo the lock and, once they entered, unarmed the alarm. “Welcome,” he said, pulling the suitcase he’d insisted on carrying inside.

Chloe stepped in behind him, her eyes lighting up as she looked around. “Wow. This place is incredible!”

“Thank you.” He knew what she saw, a view straight across the dark hardwood floor to windows rounded on top and surrounded by brick on each wall, overlooking downtown. Comfortable cream chairs, an L-shaped sofa, and a leather ottoman with live plants filled one corner of the living room. A foosball table sat against a wall, and a makeshift bar was in another corner.

Was it a bachelor pad? Pretty much. But he figured he’d earned it. The loft, along with his Midtown offices, were his pride and joy. That she was obviously in awe pleased him immensely. Being a decorator and in the luxury real estate business, she’d seen her share of high-end properties and had furbished many herself. Her opinion mattered and not just because she knew the industry and could spot quality and outside-the-box thinking. Beck wanted her to like his loft.

She stopped by the window and turned to face him. “I love this loft. Linc prefers a more traditional look for his listings and the décor I do for him.” She gazed longingly at the brick wall, then glanced around the room again and sighed.

He debated whether or not to bring up the memory she’d triggered for him and decided what the hell. She obviously had strong feelings about her life she needed to face. “Last night you mentioned you were stuck in a boring job because your brother wouldn’t let you branch out?” He stood her suitcase beside the hallway leading to the bedrooms and joined her by the window.

“I said that?” She wrinkled her nose in an adorable way.

He nodded. “You did. While you sat on the bed and cried.”

She winced. “I remember that now. Look, I’m sorry I lost it on you. I–”

He shook his head and placed a hand beneath her chin, forcing her to meet his gaze. “Don’t apologize. Why don’t you explain what you meant?”

She raised her hands and dropped them to her sides before striding over to the sofa and sitting down. “So don’t get me wrong. I love my brother–”

“So you’ve said,” he muttered through gritted teeth. Just hearing Linc’s name set him on edge.

Chloe shot him a curious look. “But our styles are completely different,” she said without pressing him about her brother. “He likes conservative, safe designs, and just once I want to try stylish, fun trends on a rental or model and see what happens. He never lets me take a chance.”

Sounded like Linc to him. When they’d been friends in college, he’d never been one to break the rules or push boundaries. Until that one night, that is. Beck clenched his fists and focused on Chloe.

“Take this place, for example. It’s fantastic.” She waved a hand around the room. “And it’s not that I don’t understand the concept of low risk that Linc likes to apply to business. I do. And what did playing it safe get me? I was left at the altar.”

She nibbled on her bottom lip before continuing. “What if Linc let me take a step outside the box? But no, go with what’s been selling, keep it within budget, and take efficiency into account,” she said, mimicking her brother, and Beck did his best not to laugh.

She crossed one leg over the other, drawing his attention to the sexy-as-fuck boots she wore that came up high on her legs and had a small heel. Not to mention the body-hugging outfit that showed off her curves and had had him drooling from the moment she’d stepped out of the hotel bedroom.

Clearing his throat, he said, “I’m sure it’s difficult to work for family or anyone who doesn’t agree with your vision.” He walked across the room, sat down beside her, placing a hand on her knee. “Sometimes you have to reach for what you want. Go out, grab the world by the balls, and go after it.”

She met his gaze, those blue eyes focused on him. “What if you’re afraid?”

He shrugged. “All the more reason to do it.”

She pulled her bottom lip between her teeth and released it again, making him think about it being his mouth pressed to hers, his teeth taking that bite. Their bodies coming together in a clash of…

“So … show me to my room?” she asked.

He shook his head hard, reminding himself he should not be thinking about fucking his new roommate. And she clearly didn’t want to talk about taking chances, so it was time to act like a good host.

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