Sins from Her Past (Scandalous) (9 page)

BOOK: Sins from Her Past (Scandalous)
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“So you’re the hopeless romantic?” he asked.

“I used to be,” she murmured, glancing away and refusing to give in to the emotions that always seemed to overtake her when she thought of romance. “Um…do you want some water?”

She walked toward the kitchenette, totally ignoring the fact she’d left him standing there—she was nearly positive he’d been ready to kiss her. She hadn’t meant to make that slight confession. Any slip like that could cause an onslaught of questions she just couldn’t afford to answer. He was already way too in tune to her emotions.

“No, I don’t,” he answered. “Are you all right?”

She bent down, grabbed a bottle and uncapped the lid. “Fine, why?”

Other than the fact I’m perfectly normal one second and turn into a basket case the next. You have your friend Alan to thank for my insanity and inability to get close to men.

“No reason.” He crossed the space and gripped the edge of the bar top as if to steady himself. “Thanks for the distraction.”

She took a long drink and turned to face him. “What distraction?”

“On takeoff.” He took the bottle from her hands because he changed his mind and needed a drink. “You’ve discovered my secret.”

“That you have a phobia of flying?”

He nodded and toyed with the plastic bottle. “You’re the only person who’s ever picked up on it.”

“What about Dylan or Alan?”

“If they know, they haven’t said anything.”

Evelyn smiled, leaning onto the bar. “What about your hordes of women? When you’re flying them off to some secret getaway, don’t they say anything?”

“Let’s just say they’ve not noticed because their minds are on other things.”

Well, her mind was on other things as well, but she was still in tune to his body language because it was speaking louder than if he’d taken out a bullhorn and shouted that he was afraid of flying.

“Well, just another secret that is safe with me,” she promised as she took back her bottle. “I still can’t believe that you, Mr. Travel-Around-the-World-on-a-Whim, are afraid of flying.”

“I’ve tried to face my fears,” he confessed. “I even took lessons and have my pilot’s license. It didn’t help. I thought it was a control issue and if I was the one flying the plane the problem would be solved.”

Evelyn laughed. “Always trying to fix things and solve the problem, aren’t you?”

“Better than sitting by and doing nothing,” he told her. “Might as well face your fears rather than let them consume you.”

Evelyn knew he was talking about himself, but that advice couldn’t be more tailored to her. It wasn’t so much the fear of what she’d done—okay, yes, that time in her life had left her scarred and damaged—but she was more afraid of what would happen if anyone, Dylan and Vin especially, found out.

Evelyn walked back to her seat, thankful this was a short flight and they would be landing in a couple of hours. She wanted to concentrate on something she had total control over and that was work. In that aspect she and Vin were the perfect couple.

 

 

Vin had loved Maui since the first moment he’d stepped foot onto the beach when he’d graduated college. He’d always known this was where he’d want to put a resort, but he wanted this one to be special.

This was the very first place he’d ever been able to afford. He’d scraped and saved every blasted dime he could because this had been his mother’s home and the place he was born. He always knew he would come back, even now that his mother was gone, and start a business.

So here he was, breathing in the crisp, salty ocean breeze and standing beneath a palm-lined street with Evelyn at his side. She looked at home here too, with her long, dark hair dancing in the wind and her tanned skin. Damn, she was a sight and he never tired of looking at her.

But right now he had business, and from the looks of his building, the business was looking better than he’d anticipated. Already the pale pink stucco was applied to the building, the clay tile roof was completed and doors were being installed.

“Vin, this is stunning,” Evelyn exclaimed with a smile. “It’s absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait to get inside and see the layout.”

“Here’s the foreman now,” Vin said, taking her elbow and leading her across the site. “I’ll make sure someone gives you a tour inside.”

“Mr. Hawk.” The foreman extended his hand and shook Vin’s. “Great to see you again.”

“You too, Mike.” Vin gestured to Evelyn. “This is Evelyn Banks. She’s my designer and she was hoping to get a peek inside if that’s okay.”

“Absolutely.” Mike called for another man to come over and bring a couple more hardhats. “This is Mike. He’ll take you around.”

Evelyn took the hardhat and plopped it on her head. Yeah, even in a beat-up, old hardhat she was sexy.

“I’ll meet back up with you when you’re done,” Vin told her. “Take your time.”

Evelyn smiled and eagerly set off with Mike. Vin didn’t miss the way all the men nearly broke their necks to get a better glimpse of Evelyn when they’d stepped from the car. He couldn’t blame them. She was a sight to behold, even in her jeans and boots. He’d made her pack for walking around the construction site, and even in that low-key outfit her curves were mocking him.

So far none of the men had pulled out the clichéd wolf whistles. Vin silently dared them to. He’d lay into their asses so fast they’d never whistle again.

Vin had no hold over Evelyn, but that didn’t mean he wanted to see her treated like just another woman—because she wasn’t. Evelyn was special and damn it— No. She wasn’t his.

Vin settled his own hardhat on his head and turned to Mike. “I’m ready to see what’s been going on since I was here last.”

As Mike discussed the project, how it was a little over budget but still within the time frame, Vin was pleased with how well the work was coming along. No major setbacks, which was a miracle for a resort of this scale.

After about an hour Evelyn came back with her escort and was near beaming. He knew she’d fall in love with this place. Knew she’d get that giddy feeling that always settled in him when he worked on a project.

And he refused to feel guilty for taking her on just because Dylan had asked him to. Evelyn was more than holding her own and if being with her day in and day out was part of the deal, then he was so coming out of this favor on top.

“What did you think?” Vin asked as she came to stand by his side.

“I think this is more than I ever thought it would be. My mind is working overtime.”

She simply shined. Her face had a smudge of dirt on one cheek, damp hairs clung to the side of her neck from sweat and she had absolutely no makeup on, but she was just as stunning as she was when she was dressed in a cocktail dress with her hair and makeup perfectly done.

Vin turned to Mike. “Thanks for everything. I’ll stop back by tomorrow.”

Evelyn handed over her hardhat, as did Vin. When he walked her back to the car, she was tugging a rubber band from her wrist and pulling her hair back into some haphazard-looking knot at the nape of her slender neck.

“Where to now, boss?” she asked as she opened her car door.

“Now we’re going to shower, dress and go out to eat,” he told her. “I have just the place in mind and I think it will inspire your creativity.”

Looking across the top of the rental car, she grinned. “Oh, I’ve already been inspired for years to come. But I’m not turning down food. I’m starving.”

As he watched her disappear inside the car, his gut clenched. Yeah, so was he.

Chapter Eight

Okay, so maybe coming here was not the brightest move.

Vin continued his torturous day with Evelyn as he sat cozied up next to her in—what else?—a corner booth. Why was it that when a man and woman came into a restaurant, people always assumed they were an item and wanted the make-out section?

So here they were, after dining on an amazing meal, plus a chocolate dessert he’d had the agonizing pleasure of listening to her groan about as her sensuous lips closed over the fork with each blasted bite.

“So what do you think of this place?” he asked, once they were alone and the dishes had been cleared away.

“The food is amazing, Vin. You have to try to steal this chef.”

Vin laughed. “We’re on the same page because my assistant has already been in contact with him. We’re offering him quite a bit more than he’s making here and we’ve added some other sweeteners to the pot.”

“You always get what you want,” she joked.

Not everything.

“I like the feel here,” he told her, getting back to business so he didn’t concentrate on the fact that her sundress was strapless and she had two thin white tan lines that extended up around her neck. He wanted to lick them. “The color scheme, the coziness. I feel like I’m taken back in time to when things weren’t so rushed, so hectic.”

Her eyes darted around the intimate restaurant. “I agree, but what gives you that feeling is the ceiling fans.”

Vin’s eyes immediately darted up, then back to her. “What do the fans have to do with anything?”

“See how the blades are very large and shaped like a giant leaf?” she asked, pointing. “They’ve put the setting on low so you can see each blade as it spins.”

He saw what she was talking about and a part of him wondered how in the hell he was sitting next to his best friend’s smokin’-hot sister, whom he’d hired as a favor, and instead of staring at her cleavage, he was looking at the damn blades of a ceiling fan.

Yeah, his masculine meter just plummeted.

“Also, with the earthy tones and dark wood, you’re immediately calmed when you come in,” she continued. “With that wall entirely made of a waterfall, the trickling sound soothes you. And because they only take reservations for a certain amount of people at a time, you’re not getting that rushed feel of people being ushered in and out the entire time.”

“You’re good at this,” he told her, forcing his eyes to stay on hers.

She laughed, resting her elbow on the table and shoving a stray hair from her face. “What? Did you think I just picked out paint colors and throw pillows for a living? There’s so much more to designing. Just because I worked on a team in Miami doesn’t mean I can’t do this on my own.”

“I’m not questioning your ability. And I knew there was more to decorating than pillows and paint,” he defended. “I guess I didn’t realize how much you studied your surroundings and used them to your advantage.”

“The surroundings are everything,” she told him. “Each aspect, no matter how small, plays a part in coming together to form an overall ambience.”

Vin slid his arm along the back of the booth, his fingertips coming to rest on her silky hair. Hey, he’d take what he could get as far as touching went right now. Seeing as how he still had no clue what all Evie had dealt with in her past, he’d keep things light until he had the signal to move further.

“Think we can work with something like this for the resort?” he asked. “Something simple, yet elegant.”

Evelyn beamed as a smile spread across her face. “Absolutely. This is exactly what I had in my mind. See? Exotic doesn’t have to be all palm trees. It can be elegant, not tacky.”

He wished she’d quit saying “exotic” because in his mind the word came across as “erotic”. No, he wasn’t mature, seeing as how that’s where his mind kept traveling, but he couldn’t help it. Not when he was spending so much time with Evie.

She pulled a pad and pen from her purse and began jotting down notes, all the while muttering to herself. God, she was a woman who spoke his language. When duty called…

He let her lose herself in her thoughts as he sipped his beer and studied her. When she wanted to scratch out what she obviously thought of as a bad idea, she literally shook her head as if telling the paper
no
. He hid his smile and wondered how serious he looked while working. Did he totally submerge himself into it the way she did? More than likely.

Dylan may have wanted Vin to hire Evelyn as a way to give her a boost in her new business, but Vin knew, once word of how amazing and creative she was got out among the big dogs, she would have so many clients, she’d be making more than enough money to start creating her own designs and branch out like she wanted.

When she sat back against the booth and sighed, Vin grinned. He had a feeling he’d nearly just witnessed a sexual completion.

“Finished?”

Her eyes remained on the notes and drawings. “For now.”

“Ready to head back to the hotel?”

She gathered her things together and slid from the booth. As they stepped outside, Vin instinctively put his hand on the small of her back. Besides the fact it was gentlemanly, he was really just a selfish bastard who wanted an excuse to touch her.

The warm ocean breeze enveloped them as they walked back to their hotel. He’d booked two separate rooms—adjoining, but still. He wanted her to know she had privacy, yet he also wanted her to know he was right there. Yet again, selfish on his part.

They rode the elevator up in silence and Evelyn fished out her keycard from her bag. When he led her to her door, she slid the key through, opened the door and turned with a smile.

BOOK: Sins from Her Past (Scandalous)
4.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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