Colin just laughed at her and pulled up to the valet stand at the curb. “Keep your shoes on. I doubt you’ll have need to use them as a weapon. I didn’t bring you here for the holiday chaos. I brought you here for the best steak and seafood in Nashville.”
“Oh,” she said quietly. There were some nice restaurants here; it was just hard to think about going to them in mid-December. Natalie waited until Colin opened her door and helped her out of the car. “What’s that under your arm?” she asked as they made their way through the maze of shops.
Colin looked down at the neatly wrapped package beneath his arm and shrugged. “It’s just a little something.”
Natalie wrinkled her nose in a touch of irritation. She hated surprises, hated not knowing every detail of what was going on in any given situation. Being a wedding planner allowed her to legitimately be a control freak. She wanted to press the issue with him but let the subject go since they were approaching the heavy oak doors of the restaurant. A man opened one for them, welcoming them inside the dark and romantic steakhouse. They checked in and were taken back to a private booth away from the main foot traffic of the restaurant.
They ordered their food and a bottle of wine, settling in for a long, leisurely dining experience. “So, now will you tell me what’s in the box?”
Colin picked up the shiny silver package. “You mean this box?” he taunted.
“Yes. That’s the one.”
“Not right now. I have something else to discuss.”
Natalie’s eyebrow went up. “You do, do you?”
“Yes. I was wondering what you’re doing Sunday evening.”
Natalie wished she had her tablet with her. “Sunday morning, we clean and break down from Saturday’s wedding. I don’t think I have plans that night, aside from kicking off my shoes and relaxing for the first time in three days.”
“That doesn’t sound like it’s any fun. I think you should consider coming with me to a Christmas party.”
“Oh no,” Natalie said, shaking her hand dismissively. “That’s okay. I’m not really comfortable at that kind of thing.”
“What’s there to be uncomfortable about? We’ll eat, drink and mingle. Aside from the reason for the party, you might even forget it’s a holiday gathering.”
“Yes, but I won’t know anyone there. I’m awful at small talk.”
“Actually, you’ll know everyone. It’s Amelia Dixon’s party.”
“Amelia?” Natalie frowned. “My friend Amelia invited you to a Christmas party?”
Colin took a sip of his wine and nodded. “She did. Why are you so surprised? Did she not invite you?”
Honestly, Natalie wasn’t sure. She didn’t really pay much attention to her mail this time of year if it didn’t look like an important bill of some kind. A few folks, Amelia included, always seemed to send her a Christmas card despite her disinterest. If she’d gotten an invite, it was probably in her trash can.
“I typically don’t attend Amelia’s Christmas party. I’m more curious as to how you got invited. You don’t even know her.”
“I know her well enough for a little Christmas gathering when I’m dating her close friend.”
“Are we dating?” Natalie asked.
“And more importantly,” he continued, ignoring her question, “I think she understands you better than you’d like to think. I get the feeling she invited me to make sure you showed up this time.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised.” Amelia had proved in the past that she was a scheming traitor when it came to men. She’d lured Bree to a bar to see Ian after they broke up. Natalie had no doubt she would stoop to similar levels to push her and Colin together and get her to come to her annual Christmas soirée. “Despite how much she pesters me, she knows I won’t come.”
“Well this year, I think you should make an exception and go. With me.”
She could feel her defenses weakening. It all sounded nice, and she couldn’t wait to see what kind of party Amelia could throw in their big new house with all that entertaining space. But she wished it didn’t have to be a Christmas party. The last Christmas party she went to was for kids. Santa was there handing out little presents to all the children, they ate cupcakes and then they made reindeer out of clothespins. She was pretty certain that wasn’t what they’d be doing at Amelia and Tyler’s. What did adults even do at Christmas parties? “I don’t know, Colin.”