“You’re coming with me.” Jenna had a smug grin. “You won’t let me go alone. Because you love me.”
Hayley rolled her eyes. ”It says here they do a background check on every guest.” She pointed her fork at her laptop. “And I never…” Hayley’s voice trailed off. No, that wasn’t accurate. The invitation said they already did a background check. “Oh my God, Jenna. Did you give them my social security number?”
“Of course not. Danny vouched for us.” Jenna frowned at her, shoving a forkful of chicken in her mouth. “Honestly, I’m insulted that you’d think I would do that,” she said, her mouth full. “God this is really good.”
“I’m not going, Jenna.”
“Yes you are.”
Sunshine warmed Gabriel’s skin. He dragged his eyelids open to see a grinning face above him.
“Reinheart,” he muttered, and closed his eyes again.
“Wake up,” his best friend said.
“Fuck off.” Gabriel kept his eyes closed. His head throbbed, hurting like it had been through a meat grinder. His throat was dry as dust, but as much as he wanted a drink, his body refused to move to get it.
“We’re going out.”
He felt the sheets roughly yanked off him. With a groan, he rolled over until he lay on his stomach.
“Gabriel. Do I need to carry you to the shower?”
He lifted a hand, the middle finger raised. Then dropped it to pull a pillow over the back of his head.
“No meetings today, huh?”
My God, the man was persistent. It was a trait that was both amusing and useful when they were younger, but at that moment it was just annoying.
“Look, it’s been a week,” Reinheart said. “You need to go out. Get laid.”
“No.” Sex was the last thing Gabriel needed right now. Not in his current state of mind. If he got close to a woman, he was likely to fall back into his old ways. Because it was familiar, and the easy way out. Which is why he chose to drown his pain in vodka. And scotch. A lot of scotch.
Fuck his head hurt.
He felt one side of the mattress dip. He groaned inwardly. Reinheart thought he was going to stick around.
“Gab, I have come to a decision,” Reinheart said. When Gabriel kept the pillow over his head and didn’t reply, he continued. “I’ve been dating the wrong women. Don’t get me wrong. Emma was… well, she was perfect. I wasn’t too happy we broke up. But now I think I need a change.”
Gabriel did care. He kept his eyes closed under his pillow, trying to go back to sleep.
“I need a break,” Reinheart said. “I need a relationship with all the benefits and fewer demands. Do you know what I mean?”
Gabriel’s headache wouldn’t let him sleep. Reinheart’s words drifted through the pillow and Gabriel couldn’t keep them out.
“What I need is someone who will agree to see me on my own time. On my terms. Someone fun to be with, in and out of bed. Someone who likes me but will be happy with whatever attention I am prepared to give her.”
What woman would agree to that? Gabriel wondered.
As if answering his unspoken question, Reinheart continued, “And in return, I give her an apartment. A lot of cash. Jewelry. I miss a dinner, she gets something shiny from Buccellati. Everybody wins.”
“You’re thinking about a prostitute,” Gabriel said, his voice muffled by the mattress.
“They’re called sex workers. Have some respect. And no, I’m talking about an arrangement. A nice relationship of convenience. She gets money, I get the perfect girlfriend.” Reinheart sighed in satisfaction.
The perfect girlfriend.
Gabriel suspected he was even more hungover than he thought because his friend’s argument was beginning to make the oddest kind of sense.
If he had someone like that, well, she’d definitely be easier to keep happy than someone like Tallah. He had a lot of money, more than he knew what to do with. She could keep him from slipping off the monogamy wagon. He could see her anytime his work allowed it. They’d have to have chemistry, of course. And it would definitely be a temporary arrangement. Maybe a month or two. Until he got his equilibrium back. Until he got over Tallah.
The memory of his ex-girlfriend’s perfect heart-shaped face and glossy curls gave him a dull ache in his chest. But his curiosity got the better of him. He peeled the pillow off his head, and rolled sideways to look up at Reinheart.
His friend was sitting beside him with his legs crossed. His arms were raised on the headboard, head resting on his hands, looking more cheerful than Gabriel had ever seen him in a long time.
“So, what’s the lucky lady’s name?” His voice came out in a croak.
Reinheart shrugged. “No idea. That’s what tonight is for.” He got off the bed and straightened the cuffs of his light grey blazer. “But first, we get lunch.”