Chapter 2 : Moving On

2054 Words
**Cat POV “If you’re having trouble with securing a room, I’d be more than happy to offer some assistance,” the man said, flashing a gold credit card held between his forefinger and middle finger. My cheeks grew hot and I looked away. “No, that’s fine. I’ve got it.” I pulled out three other credit cards and laid them out on the concierge desk. “Hmm. You do seem like you can take care of yourself. I like that in a woman,” he smirked, playfully. I bit my lip and glanced at him again, quickly. His eyes were still so deep and penetrating. I got the sense that he could see right through my clothing. It made my skin crawl a little, and my cheeks got even hotter. I imagined my eyes were red and puffy from my crying. It probably wasn’t the most attractive look, but he didn’t seem to care. “Thank you, Miss Walker. Your room is all set,” the concierge said, handing my card back. Nodding, I packed my cards back in my wallet. It was a little embarrassing that some guy in an expensive suit had seen me struggling and offered to pay. Suddenly, I wondered what he would have asked for in return, and my stomach dropped. Swallowing, I turned to face the stranger. “Well, it looks like I’m ready to go now. Thank you for the offer, but I should be okay,” I said. “Can I at least entice you to come out to dinner?” he asked, holding his hand out and grinning a handsome, wolfish grin. I eyed his hand nervously. “Why?” “Does there have to be a reason?” he asked. I put my hands on my hips. “We’re strangers, why are you offering to help me?” He shrugged. “You looked so miserable when you walked in. I’m just trying to make your night.” He shrugged his shoulders. My stomach did a backflip, and I felt my cheeks get hot again. This guy! “O-okay. Can I at least get my luggage to my room first?” I asked. He nodded and held an arm out toward the elevator. Then, he grabbed both my bags and carried them for me. “I’m sure a hotel like this has people that do that,” I pointed out, hurrying after his long strided steps. “Of course, they do. This way, I get to see where your room is,” he said, laughing. I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. Laughing nervously, I got in the elevator with him and pushed the button to my floor. We hurriedly dropped my luggage off in my room, making small talk about things like the weather, and then went back downstairs. Back at the bar, most of the tables were full. It was close to dinner time, so it was filling up. My new “friend” led me to the bar, the only place we could get seats. He ordered himself a bourbon and told the bartender to put whatever I wanted on his tab. “No, really, I don’t want a drink right now,” I said, holding up my hands. “You’re going to make me drink alone?” he teased, glancing sideways at me. I giggled and nodded. “You just said ‘dinner.’” “Well, you can order that too,” he told me. There were menus on the bartop, and I grabbed one, looking it over quickly. I ordered myself a plate of honey-glazed salmon with roasted brussel sprouts. My companion ordered himself something to eat, too. “I don’t even know your name,” I said as the bartender brought our food out. “Luke,” he said, simply, ordering another drink for himself to pair with his medium rare filet minon. “I’m Catherine, or Cat,” I said. “What are you doing here, Cat? This is a very high end hotel, and you look like you just graduated from college,” he said observantly. I scoffed and shook my head. “So, a recent college graduate can’t have a successful career?” I countered. Luke shrugged and sipped his bourbon. “Yet, you’re a new arrival in town. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be staying in a hotel.” I looked down at my barely touched dinner and absently rolled my engagement ring around on my finger. I hadn’t taken it off yet. There was a part of me that still hoped what I’d seen was some horrible nightmare. I knew it wasn’t. Those images were too strongly burned into my mind to be anything less than reality. “You’re engaged,” Luke said, pulling me from my thoughts. I sighed and pulled the ring off, setting it on the bar between us. I flagged the bartender down and ordered myself a cocktail. “Oh, this sounds like an interesting story,” Luke teased. He put my ring on his pinky finger and wiggled it up and down. I rolled my eyes and took a big gulp of my cocktail. “I wasn’t supposed to be living in a hotel,” I burst out. “My fiance and I had a house. He was getting things set up. But then… I walked in on a scene I never want to see again. Needless to say, we are no longer engaged.” “That’s… too bad,” Luke muttered, his brow creasing. I couldn’t tell if he meant to sound apologetic or remorseful, but it wasn’t coming across that way in the slightest. “Yes, you really sound broken up about it,” I grumbled. Luke laughed, throwing his head back. He closed his eyes and clutched his chest. “Well, if your engagement wasn’t broken, then I wouldn’t be sitting here enjoying dinner with such an… interesting woman.” My cheeks flushed, and I looped my arms around my churning stomach. Aaron was the only man I’d ever been in love with, the only man I’d ever been attracted to in my adult years. How was it that a perfect stranger was making my heart and stomach flutter the same way Aaron had for years. I just met this guy! “So, your finance is gone. Your house is gone. What is left for you here?” Luke asked. I shrugged and ordered another cocktail–on Luke’s tab. “I grew up in a small town, and I always wanted to live in or near a big city. Before graduating, I applied to jobs in my field that would allow me to relocate to a place like this. I still have the job, and now that I’m here, I’m not going to give that up. The house is in Aaron’s name, though. He paid for the downpayment so, that will be his to sort out.” “Very wise. A woman who looks at her career first is a woman worth keeping around,” Luke said, bouncing his eyebrows at me. Almost every other sentence that came out of his mouth was suggestive. I rolled my eyes and pulled my drink closer. My fingers were starting to tingle, and my mind was getting numb. It was just what I needed to forget about what had happened with Aaron earlier. If he was going to fool around, I deserved to have a little of my own fun, didn’t I? “This fiance of yours, I’m inclined to think that he is deaf, dumb, and blind,” Luke drawled. I glanced at him and arched an eyebrow. “How so?” “Well, he clearly wasn’t smart enough to make you happy or fight for you. He obviously has no ability to see how attractive you are. And I’m guessing he’s never heard anything you’ve had to say, either,” he explained. I gasped and took another sip of my drink. “You know, you’re awfully good at flattery. I wonder, what are you trying to get out of it?” I asked, pursing my lips. “Hmm, I told you, I just want to make your night.” He flashed another seductive smile at me, showing his bright, white teeth. “Tell me about yourself, Luke,” I said, deflecting his innuendos. Luke sighed and rubbed his chin. He tapped the bar for another drink. “What’s there to know, really? I am very successful at what I do, and it affords me a lush, comfortable lifestyle.” “And what is it that you do?” I pressed. I raked my eyes over his expensive suit. He had to be in some corporate business to afford a sleek, custom-tailored outfit like that. Luke wore that suit well. Way, too well. I licked my lips as I let my eyes wander over his muscular frame and back up to his smooth, chiseled features. “I’m in business. I guess you could say I manage a business,” he said, shrugging. “It must be a very profitable business,” I said, giggling. “Oh, it definitely is. And the perks…” Luke leaned over and rested his hand on top of mine. I pulled my hand away. “Since when am I one of your perks?” I asked. I tried to sound stern but the alcohol made my voice a little slippery instead. Luke rolled his eyes to the ceiling. “Do you want anything else before I close out the tab?” “Um…” I looked at my half-empty drink. I’d probably had enough, anyway. “No, I’m fine. Are you leaving?” I hadn’t meant to sound upset that he was taking off, but my voice trembled a little. Luke smirked at me again and my heart kicked the inside of my chest. “Are you going to miss me?” he teased. “It’s just… abrupt.” “I’ve got an early day tomorrow and need to get some rest. If you’re done here, I’ll escort you back to your room,” he offered. Looking around the bar, I realized how late it was. Almost everyone else was gone for the night. I shook my head. “I can take care of myself, remember.” I hopped off my barstool and nearly tripped over my own feet. “Ack!” I yelped. Luke’s arm came around my waist, and he held me firmly. Slowly, he helped me to an upright position, his eyes holding my gaze the entire time. “I… um… thanks,” I whispered, my hands pressed flat to his chest. “What kind of gentleman would I be if I let a woman in your condition wander the halls of this hotel alone?” he asked, arching an eyebrow. I cleared my throat and stepped away from him. It didn’t seem like he’d take “no” for an answer. “Fine, you can be my escort,” I agreed. I wasn’t that drunk–I just happened to be a klutz sometimes. We were quiet in the elevator up to my floor. My mind was clearing since I’d stopped drinking and I was starting to feel the weight of my day. I was ready to go to bed, too. At my door, I paused and turned to Luke. “Thank you for keeping me company. I wouldn’t have done well alone tonight,” I admitted softly. “You’re welcome.” “Why did you really want to help me in the lobby?” I asked. I gave him a sharp look, telling him he better not lie or come up with some flimsy excuse. “Isn’t that obvious?” he asked, grinning. I shook my head. Luke reached out and tucked a stray strand of my wavy, black hair behind my ear. His fingers traced down my cheek until he reached my chin, sending tingles all through me. He gripped my chin loosely. “Why, I find you to be a most attractive, interesting woman,” he said, giving me that hungry, wolfish smile again. My stomach exploded with butterflies. I reached for my hotel room door, pushing it open a crack. Then I stared into Luke’s eyes, the open door between us.
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