“So where is your date tonight?” He leaned against the balcony railing, looking at her.
“What date? Who has time for a relationship when work is so demanding?”
He shook his head knowingly. “You can say that again. But, Cambria, a woman like you should be on someone’s arm tonight.”
“A woman like me?”
“Absolutely. You are very smart, creative…gorgeous.”
She gazed up at him, challenging. “Well what about you? You are all of those things, more so than me. Where is your date?”
“I haven’t found that one yet, you know?” He watched her.
She knew he waited for a response, but a quick witty come-back eluded her. She shrugged. “How sad are we?”
He turned from her and looked out at the city below. “I know. I always regretted not asking you out.”
She raised a brow. “Really?” she asked, not able to move her feet from where she stood. She didn’t trust herself that close to him. So remained rooted, arms wrapped around her body. Even though his leather jacket offered some heat, she shivered. He turned to her, putting his hands on either side of her arms, and rubbed briskly.
She had to know. She knew if she didn’t ask the one question that nagged the heck out of her all through college, and ever since, she would kick herself in the morning. “We went to school together for four years. Why didn’t you just ask?”
“You seemed so different than everyone else. I didn’t think I had a shot in hell.”
“You should have asked,” she mumbled, looking at the ground.
“What would you have said?”
She looked back up at him. “I would have said yes.”
She didn’t know if it was the extra shot of vodka in her drink or the cold air slapping at her face that made her so bold with him now, or the fact she wasn’t that young woman afraid to let a man know how she felt. College was over; four years out of school and she knew what she wanted. It had always been Brandon.
His right hand moved from her arm to cup her chin. She looked up at him as his left hand fell to her waist. He pulled her to him, lowering his head slowly. She closed her eyes, letting his lips brush over hers. She opened her eyes to look at him.
“Happy New Year, Brandon.”
She backed away from him. He dropped his hands away from her, obviously surprised by her abrupt retreat.
“Same to you.”
She hated that she chickened out. The one moment she had been waiting for so long to experience, and she stepped away, from his warmth, from his embrace. She wouldn’t be sucked in again.
He offered her an awkward smile. “Cami…it was great to see you.”
“You, too, Brandon.”
“We need to get together some time, to have dinner or something?”
“Absolutely,” she mumbled. God, I want so much more. Damn it. I don’t even know how to tell you…yes, Brandon, dinner would be…great.
“Hey.” He took both of her hands. “I’m serious, Cambria, let’s not say we will, then I won’t see you for another four years.” He dug in his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He slipped a card from it and handed it to her. She looked down at his business card, noticing he, too, had landed a good job at one of her firm’s top competitors.
“Call me. The card has my personal cell phone number on it.”
He reached out and pulled her in for another hug, warming her completely, sending tingles to her fingers and toes. She shuddered in his embrace not wanting him to let go, but she needed to get back inside, regardless.
“It’s cold. Let’s go in,” he said, holding the door for her. The dance floor was in full swing. “Do you want to?” He looked at her, then back at the dance floor.
“Uh, no. I-I have to go.” She shrugged his coat from her shoulders.
“Are you sure?”
She smiled. “Yes. I hate to be a downer, but I’m tired.” I need to get the hell out of here before I take more than your coat off. Why does he always do this to me…
He kissed her cheek lightly. She couldn’t take this much more. She wanted to run her hands through his hair and kiss at his lips, and just lose herself in his green eyes. “Hey,” he said, grabbing at her hand as she stepped away from him. “Call me, Cambria.”
The earnestness in his request piqued her interest, but she knew better. “Okay,” she lied. She knew how Brandon McKay worked—a charmer, a lady’s man. He could have any woman he wanted. She didn't want to be just another notch in his belt. That is why she couldn’t allow the kiss. She needed to get away from him, now.