He grinned at me. “Okay then. What will impress you?”
“I don’t know,” I said, teasing. “But you’re not there yet.”
“Oh, I know what’ll do it.” He took me by the arm and steered me down a side hallway. For a second, I felt my heart flutter being so close to him, breathing in his musky scent, but that quickly passed. I had to remind myself that this man was my stepfather, even if it wasn’t real. I had to treat him that way.
He took me down a few hallways and through a little door marked “Exit.” We stepped outside onto plush green grass, the sunlight falling in through thick oak trees, and I gasped at what I saw.
Sculptures were everywhere in all shapes and sizes. Some there tiny, garden gnome-sized things, and one was as large as a giraffe. Some were of people and some were more abstract and colorful.
“Okay,” I said. “This is impressive.”
“Thanks,” he said. “It’s my sculpture garden. I’ve been buying these things for years, I don’t even know why anymore. I guess I think they’re beautiful.”
“Carter Green, the playboy billionaire that likes sculptures.”
He grinned at me. “You can like chasing women and fine art, you know.”
“I guess they’re not mutually exclusive.”
“You realize that I’m doing my two favorite pastimes right now, don’t you?”
His grin got huge as I turned red and stepped away from him. “You’re not chasing anything.”
“You’re right. I don’t need to chase.”
“Carter,” I warned.
“That’s right. Say my name.”
I rolled my eyes. “Come on.”
“How long are you going to pretend that you don’t want me?”
“Fortunately for me, I don’t have to pretend.”
“Liar. I can’t stop thinking about the way you looked at me the other day. It was half hate and half lust.”
“Which half do you think is stronger right now?”
“I’d love to find out.”
I sighed. “Are you like this with all your family members?”
“We’re not really family, sweetheart.”
“Sweetheart?” I nearly gagged. “Don’t be a macho asshole.”
He spread his arms, palms up, grinning at me. “I’m not macho. Look at this garden.”
“Macho with a soft side.”
“Maybe. Or maybe I’m just using this to try and get in your pants.”
“It’s not working.”
“You’re nowhere near getting into my pants.”
“Maybe not. But you’re standing here looking at my nice, shirtless body and you’re not running away. That’s a win for now.”
I shook my head at him, amazed. “You’re unreal.”
He grinned that boyish smile. “Come on. Pretend like you’re not a little bit impressed.”
“Not at all. You’re just another rich Silicon Valley asshole.”
“I’m your stepfather. You shouldn’t speak to me that way.”
“Oh, gross,” I said, turning around and walking back inside.
His laughter followed me as I stormed back down the hall. I couldn’t believe I ran into him and, even worse, I let him give me that little tour. I should have known it was just an excuse for him to hit on me some more, but I naively thought maybe he was trying to be nice.