Sabine stopped and admired the outfit Adrienne had designed. The sexy sheath dress was fitted with a square neckline, but it had fun details like pockets and a bright print to make it pop. It was perfect for the summer with some strappy heels or colorful ballet flats. She’d been tempted to use her employee discount to buy it for herself, but there wasn’t much point. That was the kind of dress a woman wanted to wear on a date or a night out with the girls. She hadn’t had either in a very long time. And despite Gavin proposing one night and kissing her the next, she didn’t think her Facebook relationship status would be changing anytime soon.
“Work and life are the same to Gavin. I mean, he didn’t propose to me. Not really. It was more like an offer to buy out my company. A business merger. Just what a girl wants to hear, right?”
Adrienne turned and looked at Sabine with her hands planted on her hips. “And the kiss?”
The kiss. The one thing that didn’t make sense. She knew he was her Achilles’ heel so it didn’t surprise her that she fell into his arms, but his motives were sketchy. “Strategy. He knows my weakness where he’s concerned. He’s just buttering up the competition to get his way.”
“You really think that’s all it was?” Her boss looked unconvinced.
Sabine flopped down onto an upholstered bench outside the changing rooms. “I don’t know. It didn’t feel like strategy. It felt...” Her mind drifted back to the way her body had responded to his touch. The way her lips tingled long after he’d left. She sighed and shook her head. “It doesn’t matter what it felt like. The fact of the matter is that Gavin doesn’t love me. He never has. His only interest in me back then was as a source of rebellion against his uptight family. Now, I’m nothing more than a vehicle to his son. And when he gets tired of the games, he’ll remove the obstacle—me.”
“You don’t think he’s interested in a relationship with you?” Adrienne sat down beside her.
“Why would he be? He wasn’t interested the last time. At least not enough to so much as blink when it ended. I mean, I thought there was more between us than just sex, but he was always so closed off. I had no idea how he really felt, but when he let me walk out the door like I was nothing more than an amusement to occupy his time...I knew I was replaceable. Gavin never would’ve sought me out if it wasn’t for Jared.”
“You broke up with him,” Adrienne reminded her. “Maybe his pride kept him from chasing after you. Listen, I’m married to one of those guys. They’re all about running their little empires. They’re the king of their own kingdoms. In the business world, showing weakness is like throwing chum in the ocean—the sharks start circling. They keep it all inside for so long that after a while, they lose touch with their own sense of vulnerability.”
Her boss knew what she was talking about. Adrienne’s husband was Will Taylor, owner of one of the oldest and most successful newspapers in New York. He came from a long line of CEOs, just as Gavin had. Even then, she’d seen Adrienne and Will together multiple times, and he was putty in her hands. And happily so. Will at work and Will at home were completely different people.
But somehow Sabine had a hard time picturing Gavin with a marshmallow center beneath his hard candy shell. They’d shared some intimate moments together while they’d dated, but there was always an element of control on his part. They were together only a short time, but it was an intense relationship. She gave so much and yet he held back from her. She had no way of knowing the parts he kept hidden, but more than likely, it was his apathy. “You’re saying he let me walk away and cried himself to sleep that night?”
Adrienne chuckled. “Well, maybe that’s taking it a little far. But he might have had regrets and didn’t know what to do about it. Jared gives him a good reason to see you again without having to address any of those icky, uncomfortable feelings.”
A pair of ladies came into the shop, so they put their conversation on hold for now. While the women looked around, Sabine moved over to the checkout counter and crouched down to inventory the stock of pink boutique bags with Adrienne’s signature across the side. The passive activity helped her think.
Feelings were definitely not Gavin’s forte. Or at least sharing them. She was certain he had them, he just bottled them up on the inside. But feelings for her? She doubted that.
Gavin might be attracted to her. The kiss they shared might’ve been him testing the waters of resuming a physical relationship. They’d always had an undeniable chemistry. She knew the minute she saw him the first time that she was in trouble. It was at a gallery showing for a local contemporary artist. Sabine had gotten lost in the lines and colors of one of the pieces and the rest of the world disappeared.