‘Oh, I’m sure you do.’ Again those black eyes worked her body, and again Tabitha mentally kicked herself at the opening she had given him.
For something to do Tabitha drained her glass and accepted another from a passing waiter. But still Zavier’s black eyes stayed trained on her, making even the most basic task, such as breathing, seem suddenly terribly complicated.
‘Don’t worry.’ He smiled at her for the first time, but just as Tabitha felt herself relax his cutting voice set the hairs on the back of her neck standing to attention. ‘I mean, once you get that ring on your finger you’ll be able to hang up your dancing shoes for ever.’
Her jade eyes flashed with anger at his inference. ‘I’ll have you know that I happen to enjoy my job—very much, in fact. If you really think I’m seeing Aiden for the chance to marry into his charming family—’ she flashed a wry smile ‘—you couldn’t be more wrong.’
Her fiery response to his provocative statement did nothing to mar his smooth expression, and he stood there irritatingly calm as Tabitha flushed with anger.
‘We’ll see,’ he said darkly. ‘But something tells me I’m not going to be pleasantly surprised.’
Aiden appeared then, oblivious of the simmering tension. ‘Glad to see you’re getting along.’ He smiled warmly. ‘Isn’t she gorgeous, Zavier?’ He squeezed Tabitha around the waist as he haphazardly deposited a kiss on her cheek.
‘Gorgeous,’ Zavier quipped, his smile belying the menacing look in his eyes. ‘Now, if you two will excuse me?’ He flashed the briefest of nods vaguely in her direction as Tabitha stood there mute. ‘It was a pleasure meeting you.’
Not a pleasure, exactly, Tabitha mused as he walked away, but it had certainly been an experience; the only trouble was, she couldn’t quite decide whether it was one that she wanted to repeat.
THE meal seemed to go on for ever, the speeches even longer. Tabitha spent most of the time smarting over Zavier’s comments, pushing her food around her plate and drinking rather too much. She hated Zavier Chambers for his cruel suggestion that she was some sort of gold-digger when the actual truth was she was doing his damn family a favour: saving Jeremy Chambers from the news he didn’t want to hear.
Aiden was unusually on edge—an inevitable by-product, Tabitha guessed, of being in such close proximity to his family. His promise to stay by her side all night diminished with each drink he consumed, and rather too much of the night was spent sitting like the proverbial wallflower as Aiden worked the room, only returning to reclaim his glass every now and then.
‘Go easy, Aiden,’ Tabitha said as Aiden knocked back yet another drink.
‘I need a few drinks under my belt to face this lot.’ He gave her an apologetic grin. ‘Sorry, I’m not being very good company, am I? They just set my teeth on edge. How are you finding it?’
Tabitha shrugged. ‘Not bad, but then I’ve only got to deal with it for tonight. I didn’t realise your family was so well heeled—I mean, from what you’d told me I’d guessed that they were wealthy, of course, but nothing like this. You should have warned me.’ She gestured to the room.
The Windsor Hotel was Melbourne’s finest, and the ballroom where the wedding reception was being held was quite simply breathtaking. Everything was divine, from the icy cold champagne and the canapés that had been served as they entered, to the lavish banquet they were now finishing up.
‘Why would I do that? I had enough trouble getting you to come in the first place. If you’d known it was going to be like this wild horses wouldn’t have dragged you here.’