The food is already served and on the table. Collins picks up a bottle of wine and fills my glass before filling his own. He doesn’t offer any to Tatianna. In fact, she doesn’t even have a wine glass.

Dinner is a baked chicken breast with grilled vegetables. Collins looks at it for a moment as if he’s psyching himself up for it, and then picks up his silverware and starts cutting the chicken into pieces.

“When did you start liking poultry?” I ask as I cut into my own. I’ll eat almost anything, but Collins had always been a bit of a picky eater, and disliked pretty much all fowl. He’s more a red meat kind of guy. As I take my first bite, I notice Tatianna looking at him coolly, but not saying anything. Crap. Maybe I offended her. “Not that I don’t love it, I just meant...I guess we change with age, right?”

Collins finishes chewing, and chases his bite down with wine, then says, “Tatianna doesn’t eat red meat, so we don’t really keep it in the house.” He looks as if he’s talking sadly about a battle he’s lost.

I guess it makes sense if they live together, they must eat a lot of their meals together. But as I glance at her plate I notice she’s not even eating the same thing. Her plate is smaller, and piled with baby spinach and a small cherry tomato that’s been quartered and spread around the edge to give it color. I have to hide my shock. If she’s not even eating it, why should she care? It angers me that she would force her food preferences on him. Especially if they don’t even eat the same thing. Why does she feel the need to change him? He was perfect to start with.

Collins eyes her plate, then looks up at her meaningfully, but doesn’t say anything.

I wonder if he’s realizing how stupid it is, too. I stab a piece of chicken a bit harder than I need to with my fork, and take a bite. Chewing it, I mentally talk myself out of glaring at her throughout dinner. This is her house too after all.

I take a deep breath and ask Collins more about his business as we eat. It’s a bit weird. I was always the numbers girl, and yet, here he is, the owner of an investment firm. Being a bit of a numbers geek, I prod him all evening with questions about the inner workings of it all.

“Collins,” Tatianna jumps in while he takes a bite. “As fascinating as this is, I’m about finished, and I have to call my agent. You don’t mind if I leave you two, do you?” At this point, I realize she’s tuned out virtually the entire conversation. If her phone hadn’t been there to distract her, I wonder if she might rather count the individual pieces of spinach in her salad than talk about his work.

“No, go ahead,” he says. He kisses her cheek as she kisses the air next to his. I look at his hard square jaw, and smooth tan skin. How could she not want to brush her lips against that jawline?

“Nice meeting you, Mia,” she says glancing at me briefly before turning back to her phone and wandering off. She probably figures this is the last time she’s going to see me, and hell, maybe it is. Collins has a good life, a serious girlfriend, I can’t just come barging in.

By dessert, I have a pretty good snapshot of how the money flows through an investment firm. Collins geeks out almost as much as me, and we lean over our chocolate lava cake as we talk about the inner-workings of his company. His eyes are vibrant as he talks about his business, and I can tell he really does love his work. The life in his eyes is something I haven’t seen in a long time, and it fills me with warm energy.

When dinner is over, he walks me back up to my room, leaving me at the door.

“I’ve got some business to attend to before bed, but we’ll be going out on the yacht tomorrow. I hope you’ll join us. I think you’d love it.”

Just the idea of being on a boat with him brings images of that night back to me. I wonder if he’s thinking about it again, too.

He looks down at me. We stand a foot apart, but there’s a desire in his eyes to move closer. To be alone with him on his yacht sounds delicious. I think of his perfectly built adult body taking command and riding me and feel a throb between my legs.

I swallow, and remind myself that he invited me to go with him and his girlfriend. “That would be fun,” I say.

He smiles and his eyes flit down my body briefly, making my cheeks flush. He didn’t look at Tatianna that way. In fact, during dinner they’d hardly exchanged a look, let alone talked to each other. I have to wonder if he’s happy with her. I mean he must be, they live together. But this evening at dinner, he didn’t seem happy, at least not with her.

“Night,” he says.

“See you tomorrow.”

I close the door and my head is spinning. My pulse racing just from the thrill of being near him. I fall back on the bed and stare at the ceiling. He may not seem overly excited about the promise we made each other when we were ten, but he does seem genuinely happy to see me. It won’t hurt if I stay a few days. I roll over and dig in my bag—which is still on the mammoth bed—and pull out my laptop, opening it up.

Maybe I can look for a job here. If he’s really with Tatianna, I can’t expect him to put me up forever. I need an exit strategy.

Just in case.

Chapter Five

Collins

I park my car in the marina lot and lead the way toward the docks. Tatianna's eyes are downcast on her phone, while Mia's are wide and her neck is craning to take in every ounce of her surroundings.

“Oh wow, this is…” She chews on her lip, searching for the word.

I know this is much different from how we grew up, but I don't want her to feel intimidated. “I have a thing for boats.” I grin at her and wait for the double meaning in my comment to hit. Her cheeks flush pink and my dick throbs eagerly at the memory of her tight little body. I'm thankful for the cover of my aviator-style sunglasses. “We'll have fun today,” I add, recovering.

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