Page 19

I took the USB from my purse and handed it to him. “From Meredith Thatchwood.”

“Ah. The Thatchwood girl.” He smiled. “So the anti-heiress rumor is true after all. Tell her I regret that I couldn’t meet her tonight. In the meantime...” He looked me up and down. “You can call me Mark. What’s your name?”


“Nice to meet you, Gillian.” He sipped his drink and his eyes landed on my exposed cleavage. “Full disclosure: If my wife wasn’t here and watching my every move, I’d tell you that you are, hands down, the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen. And then I’d beg you to come home with me so we could fuck each other until sunrise.” He turned around and waved at someone in the distance. “But since that’s not possible, do me a favor and wave to my wife so she won’t come over and interrupt my few minutes of freedom.”

Confused, I turned around and waved in the same direction as him, meeting the gaze of a pretty woman in an ivory dress. She raised her glass in our direction, continuing to talk to the women who surrounded her, and then Mr. Strauss turned to face the city again.

“What type of plane do you think that is?” he asked, pointing to a black and white aircraft that was flying high above the Hudson.

“If I had to guess, I would say it’s a Boeing 737.”

“What?” He looked at me.

“A Boeing 737,” I repeated. “What would you say?”

“I would say nothing.” He laughed. “I wasn’t expecting an answer like that. I meant like, jet plane, turbo plane, but wow. That’s pretty impressive.”

“What’s so funny, darling?” His wife suddenly stepped between us. “Who’s your little friend here?”

He rolled his eyes and quickly introduced us. Then he slipped his arm around her waist and looked me over one last time before stepping back.

“Very impressive, Gillian,” he said, winking. “The plane thing.”

His wife scowled at me and he smiled one last time before leading her away. I waited until they were out of my sight and turned toward the city, hoping I wouldn’t run into either of them for the rest of the night.

“The ‘plane thing’ was very impressive.” A different man, with a deeper and more dominant voice, stepped closer to the railing. “It would’ve been even more impressive if you’d actually gotten it right...”

“Excuse me?” I turned to my left, catching him mid-sip. “What did you just say?”

“I said—” He turned to face me. “That your plane trivia would’ve been more impressive, if you’d gotten it right. Don’t you think?”

I couldn’t think at all. I couldn’t even try.

This man was the utter definition of perfection, the very template of living, breathing, sex. His stormy blue eyes gleamed beneath the party’s dim lights as they locked onto mine, and his full and defined lips were pressed into a tempting, sexy smirk. His hair, dirty-blond and slightly messy, looked as if someone had just run her fingers through it.

His suit, an all black three piece, clung to his body in all the right ways, and the watch on his wrist—a stunning silver, Audemars Piguet, let me know that he could afford to spend my entire year’s salary on something as insignificant as an accessory.

“Should I take your silence to accept that I’m right?” He smiled a set of pearly whites and I shook my head, trying to snap out of my trance.

“You should take it to mean that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.” I looked up at the plane again. It was farther away, but still easily seen. “That’s a Boeing 737, and it’s pretty rude to eavesdrop.”

“It’s pretty rude to spread the wrong information.” He smiled again and stepped closer, looking up at the sky. “That’s an Airbus 320, not a Boeing 737.” He waited for me to follow where his fingers were pointing. “The difference is in the nose of the plane and the cockpit windows...Airbus is bulbous, Boeing is pointed. 737 cockpit windows are diagonal, and Airbus cockpit windows are—”

“Square,” I said, immediately realizing he was right. “Well, congratulations. You’ve won the random plane facts game tonight. I hope you don’t think there’s a prize for that.”

“There should be.”

“How about the satisfaction of knowing you’re an arrogant eavesdropper?”

“Or,” he said, “The satisfaction of knowing you don’t really give a fuck that I eavesdropped. That you’re happy that I did it, and now you don’t want me to leave you alone.”


His smile widened and the scent of his intoxicating cologne made me take one step closer to him. He kept his eyes on mine for several seconds, as if he was daring me to move even closer, but instead, he broke the silence.

“Jake,” he said, extending his hand toward mine as the silver “J” cufflinks on his sleeve sparkled against the night.

“Gillian.” The feel of his hand over mine sent a wave of warmth throughout my entire body and I drew back, completely confused as to how a simple handshake could make all of my nerves come to life. How a complete stranger could make me wet with a simple smile and a flick of his wrist.

A waitress suddenly stepped in front of us, interrupting our moment as she gave us fresh glasses of champagne. She asked me if I was enjoying myself, if I needed anything else, and as she launched into a short spiel about how amazing the hors d’oeuvres were tonight, I felt Jake’s heated gaze moving up and down my body, felt him turning me on without even trying.