Sins from Her Past (Scandalous) (7 page)

BOOK: Sins from Her Past (Scandalous)
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She had to get these emotions under control. This was her life and she damn well was going to remain in control, no matter what skeletons came tumbling out of her closet.

“Pathetic,” she muttered to her reflection.

Between her dark circles and her nappy hair on the one side, she was the epitome of haggard. And here she’d prided herself for years in keeping it together and presenting a strong front.

So much for being strong. She’d felt a hand on her leg in the midst of a dream about a piece of her past and she’d freaked out. Poor Vin. He wasn’t the type to sit back and remain quiet. He’d expect answers and he deserved them if they were going to be spending so much time together.

He also deserved the right to replace her since she was apparently a little crazy.

After applying a bit of concealer and a sheer gloss, Evie pulled her hair back into a low ponytail at the nape of her neck. She straightened her dress and padded barefoot out onto the balcony.

Vin stood against the railing, feet crossed at his ankles as he was working on his phone. As soon as he spotted her, he slid it into his pocket and straightened.

Squaring her shoulders, she clasped her hands in front of her and stood in the open doorway.

“I owe you an explanation,” she started before he could say anything. “But I’m sorry, I can’t tell you that part of my life. I understand if you want to use another designer for this project.”

Vin’s brows drew together as he stepped forward. “Evie, do you really think I’d replace you because you have some obvious issues with intimacy? Or because I caught you at a weak moment? You must really think I’m a complete asshole.”

Evelyn released a sigh and smiled. “I don’t think you’re an asshole, Vin, but I do know your business is your life.”

“I’d never throw a friend under the bus just because they have some problems.” He moved around the table and pulled out her chair. “So what do you say you sit, eat and tell me what you were working on earlier?”

Evelyn took the seat he offered, pleased he hadn’t pushed and surprised he was taking her lame explanation in place of an answer he wanted.

“I’d like to take the Maui resort into an exotic, yet sultry theme,” she told him as he wheeled the cart over and uncovered several dishes. “Good Lord, Vin, how many more people are dining with us?”

He smiled and set the silver-domed lids aside. “Just us, but you skipped lunch and I ordered all your favorites.”

The sweet gesture touched her. “You know my favorites? That’s one hell of a memory you have.”

“Not hard to remember,” he told her. “We have the same taste in food.”

“So you ordered
favorites,” she joked as he put a healthy dose of fruit and fruit dip on her small plate.

“I’ll have you know I ordered coconut cream pie, which I hate, but I know you love.” He flashed her a smile as he placed a plate of filet mignon and mashed potatoes in front of her. “Now eat up. You’re going to need your strength if we’re going to tackle this design because I hate exotic themes.”

She froze with a strawberry at her lips. “You’re kidding.”

“Did I mention I’m difficult to work with?”

When he only winked and grinned, Evelyn knew this was going to be one project that may be infuriating, but it would probably be the most interesting of all her work thus far.

Working with Vin would no doubt bring them even closer and with his obvious interest in her on a personal level, Evelyn wondered if this was the man she was meant to open up with. Was he the one who would help her overcome her fears, her nightmares?

Vin had always been a big part of her life and she worried about the risk involved in letting such an important figure take over an extra piece of her heart. But she had to try because she knew Vin would rather die than hurt her purposefully.

And she felt the same way about him, which just proved to her that Vin was worth the risk of laying her heart and vulnerabilities out there for him to see.

Now she just had to come up with the courage to confront him and come clean about her past.

Chapter Six

Back on his own turf, Vin waited for his houseguests. Though Dylan, Evelyn and Alan were hardly guests. Dylan and Alan had shared an apartment with him the last three years of college and another year after. And Evelyn certainly wasn’t a guest, considering he’d fantasized about her, tasted her and spent the past week with her. Mostly clothed, which was a damn shame.

Not to mention she’d fueled his fantasies for the past several years. With her cool exterior and quick wit, he wanted to dig deeper to uncover more. But he had no right. He wasn’t her boyfriend, wasn’t even her lover—they’d been friends through her brother and Alan and that certainly didn’t give him the right to learn any more than she was willing to share.

Just as he was lighting the grill, Dylan and Evelyn came through the patio doors.

“You mean you don’t have my dinner ready?” Dylan growled. “What kind of host are you?”

Vin flipped Dylan the finger. “Grab a beer and munch on the chips and salsa while you wait.”

“I’m good with the appetizers,” Evelyn said as she set her tote and pool towel over a lounge chair. “I’ve been working all day and totally skipped out on lunch.”

“You’ve got to stop that,” Dylan told her. “Remember what your doctor told you?”

Vin jerked his head around. “Doctor?”

Evie rolled her eyes and shook her head. “He’s overreacting.”

Dylan rested his hands on his hips as he stood over the cooler. “An ulcer isn’t something to be taken lightly, so quit skipping meals and popping antacids.”

Evelyn squinted and glared at her brother. “I’m fine. Can we drop it? Besides, losing about ten pounds wouldn’t hurt me.”

“Your damn weight is fine, so eat up, and if you’re going to argue I’ll toss your ass into the pool,” Vin threatened. “Dyl, go into the kitchen and grab those steaks from the fridge.”

“What do you need me to do?” Evelyn asked.

Get naked and wait for him in his room? She looked too tempting with her black, tank-style dress, which was used as a cover-up. He wondered what her suit looked like and prayed it was one of those skimpy ones with triangles and strings. But he knew better. Too bad. He’d love to see more of that shapely body.

Vin moved to the cooler, opened the lid and took out a bottle of water. “Just enjoy yourself and relax.”

She took the water he offered, twisted the lid off and took a long drink. The column of her throat mocked him as he envisioned kissing his way from her lips down to her breasts.

In a small area of his mind he knew she was purposely torturing him. How could she not know that he was in a constant state of arousal around her?

And the fact she harbored secrets only added to her sex appeal, because he wanted to uncover every layer, every piece of her until he had his fill of the beautiful, alluring Evelyn.

Vin was thankful when Dylan came back with the meat. At least he had something other than his teen-style hormones to concentrate on.

“Where’s Alan?” Dylan asked. “Thought he was coming.”

Vin shrugged. “He said he was, but I’m starving, so he can eat when he gets here.”

They all worked together getting dinner set up on the glass patio table. Vin purposely sat across from Evelyn so he could have a beautiful view. Her sweet lavender scent followed him, her rich laughter mocked him and her sparkling gaze that locked onto his now and then only proved that she wasn’t immune to this chemistry.

“That was so good, Vin,” Dylan said, leaning back in his patio chair. “You’d make someone a great wife.”

“Kiss my ass.”

Evelyn stood, started stacking the plates. “If you two want to swim, I’ll clean up.”

Vin came to his feet. “You’re not cleaning up. Go ahead and get in the pool.”
Torture me some more in a bathing suit that will be wet and plastered to your body.
“I’ll pick up and be right out.”

“But you cooked.” She eyed him across the table with the stack of dirty plates in her hands. “That’s hardly fair to do the cleanup too.”

“While you two argue over who gets to be the maid, I’m taking a dip in the pool,” Dylan said as he toed off his shoes and ripped his shirt off over his head. “If you’re still bickering when I’m done cooling off, I’ll do it myself.”

Without another word, Dylan walked to the edge of the pool and dove right in with hardly a splash.

Evelyn turned toward the house and Vin filled his arms with cups, napkins and the large salad bowl. He entered just behind her and shut the glass patio door with his foot. When Evelyn put her stuff down, she turned toward him.

“Here, I’ll take the bowl.”

“I got it,” he told her.

She backed away and leaned against the island counter. “You are one stubborn man, Vin.”

He set everything down and faced her. “Are you the pot or the kettle?” he asked.

With her arms crossed beneath her breasts, lifting them to showcase the cleavage beneath her sheer swim cover-up, he nearly drooled right there. Yeah, that would certainly make her want to jump in bed.

“Why don’t you go on out and enjoy this time with Dylan,” he suggested. “He’s really missed you. And I’m leaving the food out anyway in case Alan comes. I wonder why he didn’t call or text to say he wasn’t coming. That’s not like him.”

“Maybe he did, but I didn’t look at my phone.” Her chin tilted, arms crossed over her chest. “I don’t mind helping you.”

He smiled. “I know. Really. It’ll just take me a minute.”

“Come join us,” she told him. “We can all do the dishes later.”

“I’ll be right out,” he lied. Because if he went out now and saw her in a suit, he would have to hide his boner for the rest of the evening, but he knew if he didn’t agree she’d never leave.

Evelyn eyed him and quirked her brow. “Don’t make me come back in and drag you out.”

He waited until she was outside before he exhaled a breath. Damn. Each moment he spent with her he wanted more. He’d thought the distance between them over the past several years would squelch this burn he had for her. But it was hotter than ever.

He watched through the French doors as she slid her bathing suit cover-up off over her luscious body and slung it over a chaise lounge…and, sweet mercy, she had on a simple black one piece that dipped low in the back. With her dark hair tumbling down her back, she looked like some exotic beauty that had filled his wet dreams as an adolescent…and an adult.

So much for waiting for that chemistry to diminish. God, he was pathetic. He’d had models, actresses and beauty queens in his bed, but the thought of his sweet, guarded, curvaceous Evelyn lying beneath him never failed to make him hard.

Vin dumped the dirty dishes into the sink and tossed the beer bottles into the trash. After about five minutes, Vin thought it might be safe to head outside, now that he’d cooled off, but he was wrong. As soon as he stepped out, Evelyn was diving in.

Dylan was resting his arms on the edge of the pool, oblivious to the turmoil inside Vin. If Dylan knew half the thoughts that had crossed Vin’s mind about Evelyn, Dylan would so try to kick his ass.

being the operative word. Respect for his best friend had kept Vin from seeking any physical relationship with Evelyn. Well, that and because Evelyn seemed so…innocent. Even though they’d flirted and joked, he got the sense she wasn’t very experienced. Her kisses had been on the sweet side, which only made him more torn. He’d never been interested in a timid lover, but something about Evelyn’s delicate side made him want to see if there was an underlying passion he had yet to discover.

And even though he respected Dylan, Vin couldn’t keep denying himself what he’d wanted for so long.

Fate had given him a vast opening when Evelyn decided to move back. And the fact Dylan had asked him to hire her was both a blessing and another sign.

“You okay?”

Dylan’s question brought Vin back.

“Fine,” he offered. “Just thinking of all the work I’ve got coming up.”

“Let’s not work tonight,” Evelyn said as she came to rest her arms beside Dylan’s on the edge of the pool. “We’re supposed to be relaxing. You work way too much.”

“Things don’t get done by being lazy,” he retorted. “We’ve got a full week ahead of us. Monday we’re leaving for Hawaii. I need to have a look at the resort since it’s nearly done and the project manager will be there. You don’t have to go, but there may be some idea you can get from him once you two talk.”

Evie nodded. “I’m at your mercy.”

Not completely.

“Oh shit, I completely forgot.” Dylan turned toward Evelyn. “Alan called me and he’s having a surprise party for Rick at the end of the month.”

If Vin hadn’t been watching Evelyn so closely, he would’ve missed the way she went pale just before she tilted her chin in defiance. What was up with that?

“His birthday isn’t until next month,” she told her brother.

“That’s why Alan is doing it earlier—so Rick doesn’t suspect anything and will be distracted by the campaign. I told Alan we’d be there. I think he’s calling you to help with the guest list or something.”

BOOK: Sins from Her Past (Scandalous)
7.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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