Emma heard the voices but couldn't quite open her eyes. The cool towel on her forehead felt like heaven and seemed to bring her back to life.
"Come on, Em. Time to wake up."
Andrew. She'd know that voice anywhere. "Star Nerd?" She tried to say the words, but wasn't sure if she was dreaming and if she was actually enunciating.
"Emma?" Rhonda that time. "She's okay. She's going to be fine."
"Who was that guy?" Jose's voice was clear.
As her eyes flickered open, Emma remembered the conference room at BI. Dario. Her chest heaved with thick breaths.
"Easy," Andrew said, his arm around her back as she sat up. "You're safe."
Emma looked around, rubbing her head. Andrew, Rhonda, and Jose sat around her. She steadied her breaths when she saw it was only the four of them, and that she was on her office couch. "How'd I get here?"
Rhonda looked to Andrew, chuckling. "Mooney here swept you up off the floor and carried you out, declaring the meeting over. You should have seen the look on James's face."
She looked at Andrew. "Thanks."
"No problem, Boss Lady." He looked to Rhonda. "Apparently, they've rescheduled the meeting to tomorrow."
"Nine a.m.," Rhonda added.
Andrew removed his arm from her back, and sat on the couch next to her. He took her hands in his. "So if I guessed who the fancy Italian dude was, would I be right?"
Emma nodded, and Andrew's jaw clenched.
Rhonda looked between them. "Well?"
"Mind filling us in?" Jose asked.
Emma looked to Andrew, who squeezed her hands. "He's a photographer who Emma had a relationship with in the past. It didn't end well. But as far as I know, none of the wrongdoing was Emma's fault."
They all looked at Emma, but her focus was on Andrew's hands, warm around her cold ones. "Can I have a minute alone?" She needed to get herself together, clear her mind, and focus on the task at hand, not the fact that Dario was somewhere nearby. "Rhonda, can you lock the glass door? Jose, go back to your office. Maybe we can order lunch and regroup later?"
"That's a good idea," Andrew added. "Your blood sugar may be low—"
"Not you," Emma said, her tone stronger than she felt. "I'd like you to get home to Bella."
He let go of her hands and settled back on the couch. When he crossed his arms over his chest, he looked like the print models Dario used to shoot—way too handsome in his suit, with the tie loosened around his neck, that angular jawline begging to be photographed.
Jose and Rhonda looked between them, and then said their goodbyes. Rhonda glared at Andrew on her way out, and told him she'd be bringing the menus in for our orders.
"Andrew's leaving," Emma said sternly, turning to face him on the couch.
He laughed again. "There's no way I'm leaving you."
"Bella needs you." And I hate you right now,she wanted to say, even though it wasn't true.
"She's fine. I called my father and he reports that she's sleeping soundly. We don't have any doctor appointments until Wednesday, and maybe..." He leaned forward again, his eyes studying hers. "Maybe you need me more."
"Maybe..." she said softly, holding his gaze, "...I don't want you here."
She caught the split-second twitch in his jaw, which she had learned was his tic when he was frustrated. She didn't mind that she could make it come out because for one thing, she was steaming mad at him, and for another, it gave her a sense of power over him. She affected him too, it wasn't just the other way around.
YOU ARE READING
Emma Ballard, a retired supermodel, has been the acting CEO and face of her family's clothing business for the past five years, living the busy corporate life in New York City. She meets the Jersey branch IT supervisor, theater-nerd Andrew Mooney, w...