Clay was itching to be back on his feet and away from these people. “I’m going to get us drinks. Vodka?” he asked, resting his hand on the back of Gigi’s chair.

“Please.” She looked up and him and smiled.

He returned with drinks in hand and extricated Gigi from the conversation she had been having.

“Thank you for saving my life,” she said. “Those women were so annoying. Is it about time that we can leave?” She teetered in her high heels.

“One more sweep, and then we’ll go.”

They were walking a circuit through the room during the silent auction. A man pressed pieces of paper in their hands so that they could bid on items. Gigi tried to cajole Clay into putting money down for the seats behind home plate at the Washington Nationals baseball game. He laughed and added a sticker to the list. He was more of a basketball person himself, but any sports were entertaining to watch from the best seats in the house.

Gigi was still laughing when Clay stopped dead in his tracks. The next thing displayed for the auction was artwork with a sign next to that read, Donated by Billings Gallery.

“What?” Gigi asked, reading the sign.

But it wasn’t the sign that kept him from answering. It was the stunning blonde standing in front of him in a long black evening gown.

“Andrea,” he whispered in shock.

Gigi squeaked next to him.

“Clay,” she responded.

The energy between them crackled. He hadn’t been face-to-face with Andrea in three whole months. Three very long months. While he’d seen her beautiful face a month ago, it was different, looking at her. It was worse, knowing she was with someone else and whatever was passing between them didn’t matter.

“What are you doing here?” he asked immediately.

“As you can tell, I donated some paintings for the auction. You know I support the orphan charities. This felt like too good of an opportunity to pass up,” she said softly. Her words seemed to hold two meanings. As if she were here to see him, as if this were her opportunity, but her eyes told a different story.

“I’m just going to…” Gigi muttered behind him.

“Oh, sorry. Where are my manners? Andrea, this is my date, Gigi. Gigi, Andrea.”

“Hi,” Gigi muttered, politely extending her hand.

Andrea took it and shook it firmly. “Have we met before?”

“I don’t think so.”

“You look very familiar.”

Gigi retrieved her hand and smiled warily. “I’m sure I would remember you if we’d met. If you’ll just excuse me, I’m going to, uh…go get another drink.”

Both of them glanced down at her still full glass, but she disappeared without another word.

“Charming,” Andrea said.

“Yeah. Gigi’s great,” Clay said, not letting himself fall into the trap she was laying. “We work at Cooper and Nielson together. When did you start your own gallery?” The words tumbled out of his mouth before he could stop them.

“It’s recent. Still in the works,” she said vaguely. “Look, I really hoped I’d run into you tonight.”

“Really?” he asked.

“I just wanted to apologize for hanging up on you.”


“I know it was a while ago, but I just thought…we could still be civil to one another…even if we’ve…” She cleared her throat and glanced behind his shoulder. “Even if we’ve moved on.”

Clay clenched his hands at his sides. She’d come all the way here and cornered me to tell me that we should be civil? Is this about the wedding? Is she worried I’d do something stupid?

Well, he’d been the one to walk out of that art gallery. He wanted her to be happy. If she needed him to say that all of this was fine, that her being with someone else was fine, to get through a whole day at the wedding, then he’d do that.

He held his hands up to stop her from continuing. “It’s fine,” he said roughly. “I get it. You and I are…civil. If you’ll excuse me.”

Before she could say anything else, he turned and walked back toward Gigi, seething all the while. Worry creased her brow as he approached.

He took her arm and guided her toward the exit. “Time to go.”

“What happened back there? She looks really upset,” Gigi said.

“Nothing. She confirmed she’s with someone else and wanted to make sure I wouldn’t make a scene. That we’d be civil when we next saw each other at Brady’s wedding,” he ground out. “Fuck.”

“Clay, there’s no way that’s what she meant,” Gigi told him. “You didn’t see her face when you walked away or when she saw you with me, for that matter. She was totally jealous…totally devastated.”

“I think you were seeing things.”

“I was not,” she snapped.

“Why would she look devastated when she’s the one who is seeing someone else?”

“Look, I don’t know. But you should go talk to her. Figure it out.”

Clay shook his head. “There’s no chance of that happening. She made her point clear.”

Gigi grabbed his sleeve and stopped him in place. “Are you sure?”

“Positive. Are you coming or not?”

Gigi hazarded one more glance over her shoulder, taking in the sight of his ex-girlfriend talking to other people about the paintings, and then she nodded. “I’m coming.”

The cab back to Clay’s place was silent. Gigi seemed to be brooding, and all Clay wanted was to get his hands on the scotch in his liquor cabinet. Seemed fitting to crack it open tonight since Andrea was the one who had given it to him.

They went through half the bottle before Gigi looked like she was about to fall over at every turn. Clay was still pretty coherent, but the liquor was potent. They had been guaranteed the rest of the weekend off because of the event, which thankfully meant neither of them would have to see the office tomorrow.

“Oh my God, I need to go home,” Gigi croaked. She stumbled toward her bag and then tripped over her own feet, landing hard on all fours. “Shit!”

Then, she burst into giggles.

“There is no way you can go home right now. I don’t trust a cab for this,” he said.

He helped her to her feet, and she swayed.