Pregnant On The Upper East Side?(2)By: Emilie Rose
“Other people pay me for my services.”
“That’s what it takes? I have to hire you?”
“Good to know.”
Trying to ignore him, she flipped through her mail and grimaced. Bills, bills and more bills. No surprise there. Her business, Affairs by Amanda, continued to grow, but unfortunately not fast enough to cover the balloon payment coming due on her bank loan.
If she didn’t land a lucrative and highly visible event contract soon she’d have to consider closing her doors or—a fate worse than death—beg her parents for a loan to tide her over. Either way, her father would need a larynx transplant because he’d wear out his voice box lecturing her about disgracing the venerable Crawford name. Not that she hadn’t heard that speech a thousand times already.
The elevator opened. She exited with Alex’s shoulder bumping hers. The contact acted like a blaring alarm clock on every cell of her being. She absolutely detested his ability to affect her this way.
Honestly, the man had nothing going for him…aside from being rich, smart and gorgeous. It had even been rumored he had a sense of humor. But she could and would continue to resist his advances.
She dug her keys out of her Carlos Falchi python tote bag and shoved them into 9B’s lock. It turned smoothly. The building might be prewar, but the security was modern era. If not for her friend Julia’s connections, Amanda could never have found herself at such a prestigious uptown address. The real question was how long could she afford to stay without a significant boost in income.
“I’d love to come in. Thanks.” Alex’s chest bumped her shoulder when he reached past her to push open the door. The usual unwanted frisson of awareness hit her.
Why him? Why did Alex Harper have to be the one to ring her chimes?
She stared at him for five seconds, debated the wisdom of letting him in and then decided it wasn’t worth arguing. He’d be gone in minutes. She left him behind and crossed the living room to the brushed stainless basket where she’d piled Julia’s magazines and mail. When she turned with the bundle in hand, Alex was right on her heels. Her breath caught at his nearness. She shoved the mail forward, jabbing him in his flat belly, in an attempt to make him back off.
“Here you go. Thanks for picking it up. I’ll show you out.”
He stayed planted, his big body blocking her path to the door. His gaze held hers as he accepted the stack of letters and magazines. His fingers grazed hers. That fleeting contact hit her like a speeding subway train, quickening her pulse, shortening her breath and knocking her silly with lust.
And then he blinked his ridiculously thick lashes, releasing her from his spell. He scanned the pale pink and white high-tech decor of her living room. She could swear he zeroed in on each new addition. The votives, the trio of bubble-glass vases she’d picked up at an estate sale for next to nothing, the lime-green-beaded sari she’d draped over the back of the white sofa and the new raspberry tasseled lampshade.
“You’ve made some changes since Julia moved out.”
“A few.” He’d been in the apartment dozens of times, but not recently and never without Max or Julia as a buffer. Funny how he seemed to take up more space and air when it was just the two of them. “You don’t want to be late for dinner.”
“I have time.”
She gritted her teeth in frustration.
“I want more than Julia’s mail from you, Amanda.”
As if she didn’t know that already. Nevertheless the words sent a quick thrill through her. She’d considered more with Alex a time or two during her weaker moments. More would probably be pretty darn good with him considering all the practice he’d allegedly had. But the man and the timing were all wrong. She had to work on organizing her life before she could allow someone else into it.
She folded her arms and rocked back on her heels. “Really? Now there’s a surprise. But there’s this little word. No. N. O. I’m sure you’re familiar with it since I’ve shared it with you so often.”
The corners of his mouth twitched as if he fought a smile. She would bet a month’s rent—which she didn’t have to spare—he enjoyed their little verbal duels. Why else would he provoke her every time they met?
“You’ll change your mind when you hear my proposition.”
A proposition. Again, no surprise. Nonetheless, her mouth dried because she really was going to have to say no. Again. And each time it was a little harder to squeeze out that single syllable. “I doubt it.”
He took off his coat and draped it over his forearm, revealing a charcoal Brooks Brothers suit, blinding white silk shirt and ruby power tie. “I need Affairs by Amanda.”