‘Zavier runs the business. Dad’s too sick now. I know he doesn’t look it, but he’s a walking time bomb—he needs heart surgery, but he’s too much of a risk for an anaesthetic. No surgeon would touch him, particularly with the name Chambers.’
‘But surely he can afford the best treatment?’
Aiden gave a low laugh. ‘And the best lawyers. I’m no cardiac surgeon, but I can see where they’re coming from. He’s just too high-risk to even attempt surgery. And with his heart so weak that’s even more of a reason not to tell him about me. It’s better Zavier doesn’t know—better that no one does.’
‘Well, he doesn’t,’ Tabitha said soothingly. ‘So you’ve got nothing to worry about.’
Still, as she took a sip, her eyes smarting as the liquor warmed its way down, she found her eyes instinctively combing the room, as if constantly drawn to the dark and foreboding man that utterly enthralled her.
He’d only break your heart, she consoled herself. But what a delicious way to go!
The party was getting louder now. People were dancing—kicking up their heels. Aiden swirled Tabitha around the dance floor a couple of times, but his heart clearly wasn’t in it and he was only too happy to get back to the table and his never-ending supply of alcohol.
Tabitha was starting to wonder when they could reasonably make an exit to their hotel room upstairs. Her feet were killing her in the impossibly high sandals, and she thought her face might crack soon with the effort of smiling. There were also a couple of videos on the movie channel she wouldn’t mind watching while Aiden slept off his excesses. She had more than returned Aiden’s favour, and tomorrow she would tell him this had been the first and last time she would play the part of his girlfriend. Zavier’s snide comments had seriously hit a nerve; the whole thing was starting to get out of hand. She would join the family for breakfast, make all the right noises, and then that would be it. Aiden would have to find someone else to fool his family.
Her hopes for a discreet exit were foiled, though, when Marjory descended with a grim-faced Zavier.
‘There you are, darlings. How come you’re not dancing?’
Tabitha forced a bright smile. ‘Aiden’s feeling a bit tired.’
‘Well, that’s no reason for you not to be dancing.’ For an awful moment Tabitha thought Marjory was suggesting they grab their handbags and dance around them together! The reality was far worse. ‘Zavier, why don’t you take Tabitha for a dance?’
She braced herself for rejection. Zavier Chambers didn’t look like the kind of man who did anything he didn’t want to, and after the way he had addressed her earlier she was dismally confident of one thing: dancing with a money-grabbing gold-digger wouldn’t be high on his list of priorities. Not that she wanted to dance; ten minutes alone with this man had truly terrified her.
‘I’d love to.’
She looked up with a start, and as he offered his hand had no choice but to accept. Standing, she turned somewhat anxiously over to Aiden for some support, but he really was the worse for wear now.
Zavier’s hand was hot and dry, closing over hers tightly. As he led her to the dance floor Tabitha had the strangest urge to make a bolt for it, to wrench her hand away and run to the safety of her hotel room. As if sensing her trepidation, he closed his hand more tightly on hers, only letting go when they were in the middle of the tightly packed dance floor.
Slipping his hand around her slender waist, he rested it there. She could feel the heat through her flimsy dress. A couple dancing past bumped her, forcing her closer to him. Zavier gripped her more tightly, steadying her as she toppled slightly.