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His Lover's Little Secret Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:54:37

This place was his attempt at a compromise and so far, it seemed to be a good choice. There wasn’t a fixed tasting menu like so many other restaurants. Foie gras and caviar wasn’t her style, and she wouldn’t let him pay two hundred dollars a head for a meal she wouldn’t eat. Here, diners got to mix and match their choice of Asian fusion dishes for the six courses.

The waiter brought their drinks, presenting him with a premium sake and Sabine with a light green pear martini that was nearly the color of her eyes. They ordered and the server disappeared to bring their first course selection.

“I’m glad we got everything worked out with Edmund. I’ve been looking forward to this night all week.” He met her eyes across the table and let a knowing smile curl his lips. Gavin expected tonight to go well and for Sabine to end up back in his bed. He’d fantasized about her naked body lying across his sheets as he lay in bed each night.

Holding up his drink for a toast, he waited for Sabine to do the same. “To surviving the terrible twos,” he said with a grin, “and everything else the future may hold.”

Sabine tipped her glass against his and took a healthy sip. “Thank you for handling all of this so gingerly. You don’t know how much I’ve worried.”

“What are we drinking to?” A nasal voice cut into their conversation.

They both turned to find a blonde woman standing beside their table. Ugh. It was Viola Collins. The Manhattan society busybody was one of the last people he wanted to see tonight. She had a big mouth, an overabundance of opinions and a blatant desire for Gavin that he’d dodged for years.

“Viola,” he said, ignoring her question and wishing he could ignore her, as well. “How are you?”

She smiled and showed off her perfect set of straightened, whitened teeth that looked a touch odd against her too-tan skin. “I’m just great.” Her laser focus shifted toward Sabine, taking in and categorizing every detail with visible distaste. “And who do we have here?”

Gavin watched his date with concern. He wasn’t certain how Sabine would react to someone like Viola. Some people might shrink away under Viola’s obvious appraisal, but she didn’t. Sabine sat up straighter in her seat and met Viola’s gaze with her own confident one.

“Viola Collins, this is my date, Sabine Hayes.”

The women briefly shook hands, but he could tell there was no friendliness behind it. Women were funny that way, sizing one another up under the cool guise of politeness.

“Would I have met you before?” Viola asked.

“I sincerely doubt it,” Sabine replied.

Gavin couldn’t remember if they had or not. “You may have. Sabine and I dated a few years back.”

“Hmm...” Viola said. Her nose turned up slightly, although Gavin thought that might be more the result of her latest round of plastic surgery. “I think I would’ve remembered this. That’s interesting that you two are dating again. I would’ve thought the novelty would’ve worn off the first time.”

“Oh, no,” Sabine said, a sharp edge to her voice. “I’m very bendy.”

Viola’s eyes widened, her tight mouth twisting at Sabine’s bold words. “Are you?” She turned to Gavin. “Well, I’ll have to tell Rosemary Goodwin that you’re off the market. For now,” she added. “I think she’s still waiting for you to call her again after your last hot date. I’ll just tell her to be patient.”

“You’ll have to excuse me.” Sabine reached for her purse and slipped out of the booth, deliberately sweeping the green martini off the table. The concoction splattered across Viola’s cream silk dress. “How clumsy of me!” she said. Ignoring the sputtering woman, Sabine bent down to pick up the glass and set it back on the table. “That’s better.” At that, she turned and bolted from the restaurant.

Viola gawked at Sabine as she disappeared, sputtering in outrage. The silk dress was ruined. No question of it.

Gavin didn’t care. Viola could use a fist to the face, but no one wanted to pick up her plastic surgery tab to repair the damage. He got up, throwing cash onto the table for the bill and pressing more into Viola’s hand for a new dress. “That wasn’t your color anyway.”

He jogged through the restaurant, pushing through the crowd waiting to be seated, and bursting out onto the street. He spied Sabine about a block away, charging furiously down the pavement despite the handicap of her heels.

“Sabine!” he yelled. “Wait.”

She didn’t even turn around. He had to run to catch up with her, pulling alongside and matching her stride.