|Название||The Honeymoon Arrangement|
|Автор произведения||Joss Wood|
|Жанр||Современные любовные романы|
|Издательство||Современные любовные романы|
Callie took the seat opposite her and flipped her hair over her shoulder. Seeing Rowan’s irritated face, she realised that she might have gone a little too far, so she placed her hand on hers and squeezed. When Rowan’s eyes met hers Callie met her dark eyes straight on. ‘Relax—I’ll behave, Ro.’
Rowan scrunched her face up and when she opened her eyes again let out a long sigh. ‘Sorry. It’s just that I feel for this guy. I mean, can you imagine calling it quits so close to the wedding?’ Rowan picked up a silver knife from the table and clutched it in her hand. ‘What could have gone so badly wrong so late in the day?’
Callie heard the unspoken question at the end of Rowan’s sentence. And what if it happens to us?
‘Easy, Ro. Seb adores you and nothing like that is going to happen.’
‘Bet Finn didn’t think that either,’ Rowan muttered.
Finn? Callie stared at her. Finn Banning? The guy on that flight back from JFK? The one she’d never quite managed to forget? The one she’d recommended Rowan to as his wedding planner? Black hair cut short to keep curls under control, utterly mesmerising grape-green eyes and that wide-shouldered, long-legged, slim-hipped body. The man who had starred in quite a few of her night time fantasies lately.
‘Finn? You’ve got to be sh—’ Callie caught her swearword just in time. With Rowan’s help she was trying to clean up her potty mouth. And by ‘Rowan’s help’ she meant that she had to pay Rowan ten bucks every time she swore. It was a very expensive exercise. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’
Rowan placed their order for a bottle of white wine with a waitress before answering her. ‘Sadly not. Anyway, he’s the strong, stoic, silent type—not the type of guy who you can commiserate with. So don’t let on that you know.’
Of course she wouldn’t. She was loud and frequently obnoxious, but she wasn’t a complete moron.
She had a low-grade buzz in her womb at the thought of meeting Finn again—jilted or not. She still had a very clear picture of his super-fit body dressed in faded jeans, his muscles moving under a long-sleeved black T-shirt, sleeves pushed up to his elbows lounging in the seat next to her; his broad hand, veins raised, capable and strong, resting on his thigh. His quick smile, those wary, no-BS-tolerated eyes …
She had amused him, she remembered, and that was okay. He’d looked as if he needed to laugh more. And, more worryingly, those hours she’d spent with him were the last she’d spent in any concentrated, one-on-one time with a man.
Maybe she was losing her mojo.
‘So, how long are you in the country for this time?’
Rowan changed the subject and Callie sighed with disappointment. She wanted to gossip a bit more about the luscious Finn.
As a fashion buyer for an upmarket chain of fashion stores Callie was rarely in the country, constantly ducking in and out of the fashion capitals of Europe and in New York and LA. Trips back home were rarely for more than a week or two—three if she was at the end of a three-month rotation. Wasn’t she due for a three-week break soon? Hmm … she’d have to check.
‘I’m flying out to Paris in a little while and will be away for a week.’
‘Aren’t you sick of it, Cal? The airports, the travelling, the craziness?’ Rowan asked. ‘I could never imagine going back to my old lifestyle, kicking it around the world.’
‘But, honey, you stayed in grotty hostels and hotels. I travel the easy way—business class seats, expensive hotels, drivers, upmarket restaurants and clubs.’
Rowan had been a backpacker—a true traveller. Callie wasn’t half as adventurous as her friend; unlike Rowan she’d never visited anywhere that wasn’t strictly First World.
Upmarket First World. She was that type of girl.
Callie frowned. Rowan had a look in her eye that told her that she was about to say something she wouldn’t like. She’d been on the receiving end of that dark-eyed look many times since her childhood and she leaned back in her chair, resigned. ‘I know that look. What’s wrong?’
Rowan pulled in a long breath. ‘I don’t know … I’m just concerned. Worried about you.’
Callie fought the urge to roll her eyes. ‘Why?’
Rowan stared down at her hands. ‘Because … um …’
‘Jeez—just spit it out, Rowan,’ Callie said, impatient.
Rowan’s eyes flashed at her command. ‘Well, okay, then. Seb and I are concerned because we think you might be becoming … what’s the word? … brittle, maybe.’
‘You gobble up life, Cal, like nobody else. You love people and you talk to anyone. Within two seconds everyone adores you and wants to be your best friend. You are the only person I know who can walk into a party and within half an hour have everyone doing shots and then the conga. Men want you and girls want to be you.’
Well, that was an exaggeration—but it was nice that Rowan thought so. ‘So where does the worry and the brittle part come into it?’
‘Being bubbly and funny and outrageous has always been a part of you, but we sort of feel like you’ve been acting lately. It’s almost as if you’re trying a bit too hard …’
‘I am not!’
Callie instantly denied the accusation. Except that Rowan’s words stung hard enough for her to know it was the truth. And hadn’t her recent actions shown her how hard she now had to work to dredge up the flirty, party-hearty girl when it had used to be constantly and consistently easy for her?
Maybe she was getting old. Or bored. Or maybe she just needed sex. Or all three.
Rowan traced the pattern of a bold flower on the tablecloth with her finger. ‘I read an article the other day about people feeling out of sorts as they approach thirty,’ Rowan explained. ‘Maybe you’re wondering if you’re on the right path, whether your life makes sense.’
‘Of course my life makes sense,’ Callie retorted.
She earned spectacular money doing a job she could do with her eyes closed, she was constantly meeting new people, buzzing from cosmopolitan city to cosmopolitan city. Dinner in Paris … lunch in Rome. Looking at beautiful clothes and making the decisions on what to buy and for whom. She dated cosmopolitan, successful men.
She loved her job. She’d always loved her job. She still loved her job … okay, mostly loved her job. She’d been doing it for a long time—she was allowed to feel iffy about it occasionally.
Over the last six months the designers seemed to have become a lot more diva-ish, the cities a bit grimier, the hotel rooms even more soulless than normal. The men more man-scaped than she liked and a great deal more bland.
Maybe she needed a holiday. Or an affair …
‘And how’s your love-life, Cal? Who’s the lucky guy of the moment?’
There Rowan went again—reading her mind. When you’d been friends with someone for more than a quarter of a century it happened. Often.
Callie sipped her wine before answering. ‘I’m currently single …’
‘You’re always single,’ Rowan corrected her.
‘Okay, if you’re going to be pedantic then I’ll say that I’m currently not sleeping with anyone. Is that better?’
She dated lots of different men and slept with very few of them. Despite her party-girl, flirt-on-two-legs reputation she was very careful who she took into her bed. And she usually found out, during dinner or drinks, that they were married, bi, involved, arrogant or