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Home > Promised (One Night #1)(8)

Promised (One Night #1)(8)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

‘Nonsense!’ He dismisses me with a snort and a wave of his chubby hand, before returning to the chatter of his group, leaving me wondering what the hell to do.

I scan the room but I can’t see Sylvie to ask and Del is nowhere in sight, so I quickly offload the remaining glasses before heading back to the kitchens, finding Del tweaking canapés.

‘Del, someone gave me this.’ I slap the note on the counter, feeling better already for confessing, but my eyes bug when I see it’s a fifty. A fifty? What’s he thinking?

I’m even more stunned when Del starts laughing. ‘Livy, you star. Keep it.’

‘I can’t!’

‘Yes you can. These people have more money than sense. Take it as a compliment.’ He pushes the fifty towards me and continues arranging the tiny flatbreads.

I don’t feel any better. ‘I’ve only served him a glass of champagne,’ I say quietly. ‘It hardly justifies a fifty-pound tip.’

‘No, it doesn’t, but like I said, take it as a compliment. Put it back in your pocket and get serving.’ He nods at my empty tray, reminding me that it is, in fact, empty.

‘Oh! Yes, sure.’ I fly into action, stuffing the obscene tip in my pocket, ready to dispose of it later, and reload my tray before quickly making my way back into the crowd. I avoid the gent who’s just thrown away fifty pounds and circle in the other direction, halting at the back of a red satin gown. ‘Champagne, madam?’ I ask, flicking a gaze across to Sylvie. She nods her reassurance once more, smiling, but I don’t need it. I’m nailing this.

I turn my attention back to the satin-adorned woman, who has glossy black poker-straight hair falling to her pert bum. I smile as she turns towards me, revealing her companion.

A man.

Him.

M.

I don’t know how I prevent the tray of freshly filled champagne glasses from falling to the floor, but I do. I don’t, however, prevent my smile from falling. His lips are parted again, his eyes stabbing at my flesh, but there’s no emotion on his exquisite face. His dark stubble is absent, leaving nothing but perfect tanned skin beneath, and his dark hair is a little less tousled, instead falling in perfect waves to the tops of his ears.

‘Thank you,’ the woman says slowly, taking a glass and pulling my eyes away from the strange man. A huge, sparkling, diamond-encrusted cross is suspended from her delicate neck, the brilliant stones nestling just north of her br**sts. I’ve no doubt it’s real. ‘Would you like?’ She turns to him, holding up the glass.

He doesn’t say anything. He just takes the glass from her perfectly manicured hand, all the time keeping his shocking blue eyes on me.

He’s not at all receptive, and far from warm, but there’s something strange burning inside me as I gaze at his face. It’s something I’ve never experienced before – something that makes me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable . . . but not frightened.

The woman helps herself to another glass, and I know it’s time for me to leave, but I can’t move. I feel like I should smile, anything to break the staring deadlock, but what usually comes so naturally to me is completely failing me now. Nothing is working, except my eyes and they’re refusing to break from his.

‘That will be all,’ the woman prompts harshly, making me jump. Her delicate features are screwed up in annoyance and her dark eyes have darkened further. She has a stunning face, even if it’s scowling at me right now. ‘I said, that is all.’ She steps between me and M.

M? I decide right here and now that M is for mystery, because he really is. I say nothing as I finally swing my tray back onto my shoulder and slowly turn, walking away, feeling compelled to glance over my shoulder because I know he’s still staring at me and I’m wondering how that might be going down with his girlfriend. So I look, and it’s as I suspected – steely blues burning holes into my back.

‘Hey!’

I jump out of my skin, the tray tumbling from my hands, and I can do nothing to stop it. The glasses seem to float down to the marble, champagne trickling slowly from the flutes, the tray spinning in mid-air until it all comes together in a collective crash on the hard floor, silencing the room. I’m frozen on the spot as broken glass dances around my feet, seeming to take forever to settle, the piercing, drawn-out noise ringing through the quiet space around me. My eyes are cast downward, my body tense, and I know all attention is pointed at me.

Just me.

Everyone is looking at me.

And I don’t know what to do.

‘Livy!’ Sylvie’s panicked voice snaps my despairing head up, and I see her hurrying towards me, her brown eyes concerned. ‘Are you okay?’

I nod and kneel to start collecting the broken glass, wincing as a red-hot pain shoots through my knee, and the material of my trousers is sliced through. ‘Shit!’ I pull in a sharp breath, tears immediately pinching the backs of my eyes. They’re a combination of pain and pure embarrassment. I don’t like any attention on me, and I do a good job to avoid and repel it, but I can’t escape this. I’ve brought a room full of hundreds of people to an eerie quiet. I want to run away.

‘Don’t touch it, Livy!’ Sylvie pulls me up, giving me an all-over assessment. She must conclude that I look ready to break down because I’m quickly dragged to the kitchen, removing me from my audience. ‘Jump up.’ She pats the counter and I lift myself, still fighting back tears. She takes the hem of my trousers and lifts up until my wound is exposed. ‘Youch!’ She flinches at the clean slice and steps back, looking up at me. ‘I’m shit with blood, Livy. Was that the guy from the bistro?’

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