Chapter Ten

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The car ride to the lounge was even tenser than the one to the restaurant. Yet, Jada didn't care. The frustration and awkwardness were on Tristan's shoulders, not hers. Seriously! Where did he get off snapping at her and cutting dinner short? Not that she had particularly WANTED to be there, but the food had been good. She'd at least wanted to stick around for that. Obviously, Tristan was touchy about his mother, which piqued Jada's curiosity.

What had his mother done to make him so angry? How long had he been holding this grudge against her? Jada was annoyed with herself for being so interested, because after all, why should she care about the intimate details of Tristan's life? However, those very questions kept her occupied until they reached the club.

As they arrived, Tristan hurried to open her door. She wasn't as impressed by the gentlemanly gesture as she had been before. Similar to their time at dinner, a few photographers snapped pictures as they entered the lounge, forcing Jada and Tristan to plaster smiles on their faces. Not to mention, Tristan touching the small of her back territorially—something she didn't appreciate. Like at the cafe, his touch unsettled her in a way that was both unnerving and enticing all at once.

When they passed through the lounge's doors—and out of the paparazzi's sight—Jada immediately separated herself from him. Glancing around the room, she took in the smooth lilac walls and gleaming white furniture. It was low-key, but still radiated a sense of excitement with an open dance floor and a large bar. Yes, the bar specifically looked enchanting, with its wide array of shimmering bottles behind the counter—waiting to help Jada escape the confines of tonight's "date."

"So, where's this producer?" Jada asked, cutting to the chase. Tristan gave her a dry glance in response.

"I don't have a magic wand, Jada. I can't make him appear the second we walk into the place. We'll have to look around a bit."

"I need a drink first. You rushed me out of the restaurant so fast, I didn't have time to order one," Jada lied.

"If it will help you loosen up, then yes. Please, let's go buy some drinks. I could use one myself."

"You're driving,"

"I can handle one drink. It won't make me a reckless driver." Tristan ignored Jada's disapproving stare and headed to the bar on his own—forcing her to trail behind him.

"I'd like a scotch on the rocks," Tristan told the bartender, then waved towards Jada. "And for the lady...?"

"Sex on the beach, please," Jada replied innocently, because why the hell not?

Tristan had screwed her around enough on this date. It was time for her to do some teasing of her own. Sure enough, Tristan's gaze flickered down to her lips with heated interest before he repeated the order. When the drinks came at last, Tristan took a swig of his. As if the sip gave him resolve, he spoke up.

"You can't stay mad at me all night."

"And why not?"

"Because for this whole agreement to work, we have to at least tolerate each other. You know I'm not happy about this either, but I'm willing to try and make it work."

"Which is why you keep yelling at me." Despite her tough demeanor, Jada couldn't help being slightly petulant. Tristan was so touchy, that whether Jada intentionally pushed his buttons or not, he always got pissed off at her. So why not be hostile herself? But deep down, she realized he was right. They had to get through their contract without killing each other.

"Can we call a truce for the remainder of this thing? I'd prefer it if we could handle it without you strangling me," Tristan said with a grin. Somehow he managed to be charming. Jada felt herself smiling, no matter how hard she fought it.

"Fine. Truce," Jada said. At her acquiescence, Tristan raised his glass to tap it with hers.

"Truce," he said before setting his drink back down.

"Which MEANS you have to dance with me," he added, grabbing onto her hand.

"I didn't agree to that," Jada said.

"It was implied," Tristan shot back as he pulled her along.

Giving in, Jada let him drag her onto the center of the dance floor as a new song began to play. She hoped for something that they could dance energetically to, but since it was a more laid back lounge, the song that played was Crush by Jennifer Paige. Jada remembered the 90s pop hit. As Tristan held her close in his arms, Jada listened to the lyrics.

And for some reason...for some inexplicable reason, Jada could relate to them while she danced with Tristan. The attraction between them was there, no doubt. But it couldn't be anything more than a "crush." She refused to faint over him, to let her heart flutter. But nevertheless, being with him made her feel exhilarated, young...free. Just like the song said.

At first, Jada had been staring down at her feet as they moved across the dance floor, but at this realization, she instinctually looked up at Tristan—only to find he was looking at her too. Intently. A deep, indescribable emotion in his eyes. Was the same intensity reflected in her eyes as well? Slowly, instinctively, she felt her head tilt and he did the same. Her lips entrancingly drew closer to his...close enough to...

Jada pulled away from Tristan, yanking herself out of the moment. Her sudden jerk backward startled Tristan out of...whatever that had been.

"It's getting late. Maybe we should look for that guy now." Jada diverted them from the situation. She certainly didn't want to discuss it. Why it began or why she had ended it. Neither of those questions were ones she planned to answer any time soon.

"You're right," Tristan agreed, clearing his throat. "We'll find him."

He began to reach for her hand, probably so they could stick together as they traversed through the crowd. However, as if his better judgment kicked in, he refrained from touching her. After a few moments of peeking into different tables, Tristan whistled in victory.

"I got an eye on him."

"Where?" Jada asked, glancing around Tristan's shoulder.

"I'll show you," Tristan said. He really did clasp her hand now so she would follow him. However, Jada's reluctance sunk in and she tugged back—staying put.

"Tristan, I don't know if I'm ready yet. What do I say? What if he doesn't like me?"

"He'll like you, and let me do the talking. I'll show you what to do. So come on, grasshopper, it's time to network."

With that last remark as her only instruction, Tristan escorted Jada towards her fate. Amongst her imaginings for the outcome, Jada hoped her destiny would be benevolent.



*** And if you've never heard the iconic song that sparks their "almost" moment, here it is:



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