Dwight maneuvered his Lamborghini into the hotel parking lot. I took a deep breath, then another. This was the first time I was doing this charity thing without Rowan.
Minnie had already hopped out of the car to join one of Dwight’s associate’s daughter who was the same age as her.
“Come find me inside, and bring your friend along. Don’t wander around.” I called out to her as Dwight led me into the lobby.
“Just relax, Alana, don’t get yourself so worked up. Remember, you’re not the guest here, you’re from the hosting family.” Dwight reminded, passing me his confident smile, I linked my arm with his.
The man had a foul mouth, a reputation for being a man-whore until his wife Katelyn walked into his life. Now, he was solely a devoted family man.
“Mr. Masters.” The woman at the lobby greeted him, and acknowledged me, “Mrs. Masters. How are you this evening?”
“Is the chairman here?” Dwight asked.
The woman had a tag that read ‘Mindy’.
“Well, sir. The entire board and the chairman are all here. If you could please walk straight through the lobby.”
I tugged at Dwight’s arm and whispered. “Did she think I was your wife?”
“We’ll leave the people to run their imagination for now. It’s always nice to have a change of wife for one evening.”
I glared at him.
I settled at a round table with all the posh ladies, playing gossip girl over outfits that looked tacky and shoes that seemed like a cheap deal. I wanted to change tables, maybe join with the girls standing near the bar drinking a chill cocktail but my mother-in-law, Rachel who was also the wife of the chairman of the Masters’ Enterprise had her eyes on me. She was a wonderful woman, don’t misunderstand me but, she’d always wanted me to play the good daughter-in-law and take part in the callous bunch of snobby bitches.
Y’know, throw in a few words like Valentino, Marc Jacobs, and Armani. Those women were your friends for life.
I spoke to the old woman seated right next to me, who seemed to be leaning towards the lesser snobby side. We talked about husbands and she talked about her grandchildren. We talked, and talked some more. Then she spoke about her grandchildren for the fifth or the sixth time. I became a little suspicious about my name tag on this particular chair.
Clearly, I had been ganged up by these women.
I texted Rowan, and he informed me that he wasn’t going to make it. If it was him, we usually had a lot of fun laughing at most things.
I took a bite of the chicken. It tasted good. Creamy, with just the right amount of crispiness. At least the food was great. I tried to get Dwight’s attention to no avail. He was too busy entertaining his associates. I noticed a man staring at me almost boldly, not that I recognized him.
He seemed familiar. Jet black hair, dark hawk eyes, and stark features. He wasn’t the ‘Oh baby, come fuck me’kind of looking but, the way he carried himself did leave you an impression. Since he wasn’t going to stare elsewhere, I returned my attention to the table.
An hour later he delivered a speech, followed by the bidding for charity. Rowan had instructed me about signing a check.
And wow, it wasn’t fun being the center of attraction, not when you knew the men in the room were literally scanning you through the clothing. I tried to yawn when Rachel widened her eyes at me. No shit, bitch. I saw her eyeballs literally pop out, the red veins running through them.
Take a deep breath, old woman. Yawning doesn’t make me less ladylike.
When people had joined their respective husbands for the evening dance, I slipped away from the table and flopped down near the bar, enjoying a non-alcoholic drink.
“Waiting for someone perhaps?”
I turned to the husky, deep voice. The man from earlier had joined me with a glass of amber liquid in his hand.
“My husband,” I responded.
“Alana Masters, right?” he asked, doing a quick once-over.
I didn’t miss the fiery lust that crossed his features. I wanted to be out of this place now and fast.
“Alana, you are one impressive bidder.” He downed the contents of his drink. “Samuel, make me one on the rocks and champagne for the lady, please.”
“No, I..I’ve had my fair share of drinks. Thank you.”
“I didn’t introduce myself. My name’s Luca Donati.”
Italian. No wonder the tan screamed at me. The name did too.
The legendry Luca Donati was talking to me. What the fuck is wrong with my stars?
“The hotel chains? All yours?” From time to time, I’d heard from Rowan about this man and his snide ways of dealing business. He was one of the richest people appearing in Vanity Fair. And that man was talking to me. I’d heard he dragged you to court with just a wrong word printed without the knowledge of his publicist. I had to measure my words with this man.
“Yes. Guess my reputation precedes my name. All mine, dear. And more.”
“I’ve heard a lot about you from my husband.”
Luca seemed charmed for whatever reasons. I wasn’t trying. “Have you?”
I nodded. “He told me how he admired you as an entrepreneur. I’ve read some of the tabloids and I must say, I’m so honored to have a chat with you, sir.”
“It’s a pleasure meeting you, darling.”
“No. The pleasure’s all mine, sir.”
He grinned, leaned in, and whispered. “Of course honey,” his next words drained the remaining blood out of my body and wiped the smug smile off his face “I could give you pleasure in ways you’ve never thought you could receive.”
I gaped at him. I literally did. I mean, this guy was probably twenty years older than I was and here he was becoming bold over a charity show that my husband and father-in-law had hosted.