“Oh my God, who?” she demanded to know, whipping around to look at me after handing her platinum credit card—complete with her new name—to the sales clerk.
“Um . . .” I swallowed a lump in my throat. “Braydon.”
“Really?” She cocked her head to the side, her eyebrows darting up her forehead. “Braydon? Like, Braydon, Braydon?”
Why was there such shock in her features and surprise in her voice? “The one and only.” I stood my ground, waiting to understand her reaction. “Why?”
She signed the slip of paper and passed it back to the clerk. “Bray doesn’t do relationships. Ben says he’s always been more of a loner.”
Hearing her nickname for him irked me. I wasn’t sure why, but I frowned. I never said anything about a relationship. “Well, we’re not, like, openly dating,” I said, dropping my voice so the sales clerk couldn’t overhear. “We sort of have an . . . arrangement.”
Emmy’s mouth puckered in a grimace. “What kind of arrangement?”
Shit. She was going to make me say it. We meet up for sex at my apartment. I accepted the shopping bag of pillows from the clerk and turned for the door. “Come on. I’ll explain over lunch.”
Emmy’s unease was obvious as Henry, her driver, drove us to a seafood restaurant for lunch. But thankfully she respected my privacy and didn’t ask any more questions in his presence. Only when we were seated with glasses of iced tea and a basket of buttery rolls did we pick up our conversation again.
“So . . .” she prompted. “I thought it was just a one-time thing at our wedding reception . . .”
I tore into the bread, needing something to distract me. “Yeah, so did I. But we’ve begun meeting up again.”
“And . . .”
“And he’s made it very clear that he isn’t looking for a relationship—we’re just having fun and exploring the chemistry between us.”
She took a sip from her straw. “I think that’s fine as long as you’re on the same page, too.”
Yeah, that was part of the problem. I was back and forth with our agreement. I let out a soft sigh and Emmy reached across the table and gave my hand a gentle squeeze, recognition passing between us. She knew me well enough to know that it wasn’t an ideal situation. It was also similar to how her relationship with Ben had begun.
Changing the topic, we chatted about her honeymoon and placed our orders, but all the while the topic of Braydon hung heavily in the air between us.
“Have you ever been to Braydon’s place?” I asked out of the blue.
She shook her head. “No, Ben’s only been there a couple of times. He’s pretty private.”
That definitely fit with what Braydon had told me about himself. Still, I was surprised that even Ben, his best friend, had hardly been to his place. It was strange, given how open he was in other ways.
Emmy smiled softly and I stole a shrimp from her plate, trying to lighten the mood. “He really is a good guy, Ells. Just be patient with him, okay?”
I nodded, suddenly feeling irrational and overly emotional. I set the shrimp down uneaten on my plate. “Yeah. I will.” I was powerless to stop this thing developing between me and him. I only wished I knew where it was headed. “Emmy?”
“Hmm?” She set down the piece of bread she was nibbling on.
“There’s one thing I don’t understand.”
“What’s that?” she asked.
“How did you know about Braydon’s piercing?”
Her cheeks flamed red and her eyes dropped from mine to the bread on her plate.
She refused to look back up, and instead sat silently spinning the large diamond ring on her finger.
I didn’t know why my question caused her to shut down. I assumed Braydon himself had let it slip, or maybe, worst-case scenario, she’d somehow caught a glimpse of him in the buff during a quick change in between runway shows.
“Ugh,” Emmy groaned. “Shit. I’ll tell you. Just don’t freak out, okay?”
Whatever she had to say, it couldn’t be that bad, could it? “Okay,” I agreed.
“So . . . in Paris, before Ben and I started dating, we were just sort of having this intense sexual affair.”
“Yes.” I knew that. What did that have to do with Braydon?
“Well, I met Bray one night at an afterparty where Ben had had too much to drink and he helped me get Ben back up to our hotel room.” She paused, trying to let me catch up.
“And what, you and Braydon played I’ll show you mine if you show me yours while Ben was passed out drunk?”
“No. It’s not that simple.”
“Keep going,” I bit out, my jaw tense.
“Are you sure you want to hear this?”
The truth was, I wasn’t sure. “I think I have to.”
She nodded. “Well, late that night, Fiona called Ben’s phone and Ben, in his drunken state, made some comment to Bray. ‘Don’t tell Emmy about Fiona.’ I asked him about it the following day and he admitted to me that he and Braydon had been intimate with Fiona—that they’d shared her.”
Whoa. I knew that type of thing went on behind closed doors, but between my own friends? It only demonstrated how very different the world of high fashion was from my own simple life. I couldn’t believe Braydon had gotten it on with that megabitch who ran one of the top modeling agencies—and Emmy’s former boss. In one conversation with Emmy, I was learning more about Braydon’s sexual past than I had in the time I’d spent with him. This wasn’t territory we’d covered.
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