Chapter 21: Dinner with Dario

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Emma's hands shook as she smoothed down the front of her blue cocktail dress. A Ballard design, the back of the dress plunged so low that it was almost obscene. Her car was outside waiting, and she knew she was running late, but picking an outfit had been an issue. For one thing, she didn't want to give Dario the idea that she wanted to look sexy for him. For the other, that's exactly what she wanted.

She wanted to show Dario that she was fine. That her life had blossomed since he'd abandoned her in the streets of Seoul ten years earlier. She wanted him to look at her with nothing but disgust for himself for playing her like he did.

Mostly, she wanted him to tell her what the Board was planning on doing the next day.

She'd called Delilah, the only Board Member who had shown concern when she'd fainted, instead of thinking she was executing a stalling tactic. She wished her fainting had been fake, because, really, how embarrassing. But as soon as he walked in and laid his Italian, Svengali eyes on her, she'd been toast, and for the past eight hours, he was all she could think about.

As she lined her eyes, her buzzer chimed, and her shaking hand reacted, making a mess of her makeup. "Crap," she said to herself.

She pressed the button on the speaker in her bedroom. Richie's voice boomed through. "Ms. Ballard, there's someone here for you."

"My driver?"

A female voice overtook the speaker. "Hey, hey, Memma!"

Emma stared at the speaker. "Teagan?"

"Shall I send her up?" Richie asked. She knew from his tone that he wasn't amused with her best friend.


Emma ran to the elevator and waited, pacing the foyer. As soon as the doors started to open, Teagan squealed, and when they opened fully, she jumped out into Emma's arms.

"What are you doing here?" Emma asked, embracing her friend in the hug to end all hugs.

Teagan pulled away, still holding onto Emma's arms. She studied Emma from head to toe with her blazing green eyes, her red hair bobbed to perfection just above her shoulders. "You look steaming hot." After tossing down her bag, Teagan pulled her by the arm through the penthouse. "You'll have to change."

"What?" Emma laughed.

"Come on, you can't dress like that for Dario the Dope."

"I can't?" Emma looked down at her outfit, then up at Teagan's back.

"Too sexy. He'll pounce. What are you doing with your eyeliner there, Memma?"

"Wait," Emma paused. "What are you doing here?"

Teagan stopped and turned to face Emma. "Do you think I'd let you go meet that jerk by yourself? After what he did to you?"


"I hopped a flight this morning after you called."

" have babies at home."

"And thanks to my doctor husband, I also have a nanny. I pumped the boobs, packed a bag, and even got a shower, and now I'm here for a few days, all yours."

Emma's jaw dropped as her eyes filled with tears. "You did that for me?"

"Who else is there?" she said, softly. It was their catch phrase when they worked together on jobs. They promised to be each other's other half.

With a huff, Emma embraced her friend again. "Nobody." Sadly, for Emma it was true. But for Teagan, to fly across the country just to attend a dinner date was a huge sacrifice. "Thank you."

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