Carrie was going to be pissed at me. I’d gotten her text saying she was heading back to the hotel, but I’d been right in the middle of texting her back to let her know I’d gotten hung up and would be there as soon as possible when my phone had died. I knew she’d been annoyed at the party by how Felice had been dragging me around, but it hadn’t been like I’d had much of a choice in the matter. I couldn’t afford to piss off someone who so obviously had the ear of my potential partner. And then I’d needed to leave so I could get to Monique in time. I had a feeling that hadn’t gone over very well either, and it had only been Kelsey Larson’s presence that had stopped Carrie from saying anything right then.
My hand tightened around the package. I hadn’t realized until after the fact that my subterfuge, meant to build up to the romantic surprise I had for her would, in fact, probably just make her mad. I could only hope that she’d had a good enough conversation with Kelsey to be only mildly annoyed at my behavior. Once I explained and gave her the custom-made necklace I’d commissioned, I knew she’d understand. I hated knowing I’d upset her, though, even if it was only for a bit and for a good reason.
Based on when I’d gotten her text and how long it would take for her to get from the party back to the hotel, I knew I was probably only a few minutes behind her, and that was good. The less time she had to stew in our hotel room, the better. I was also really hoping she hadn’t changed out of that magnificent dress yet. I’d been looking forward to peeling it off of her from the moment she’d tried it on in the store.
Just the thought of her in that dress sent blood rushing south and I could feel myself start to harden. I tapped my foot impatiently as the elevator seemed to crawl along. I crossed the distance to the room in record time and my key card was already in hand when I got there. The light flashed green and I stepped inside, fully expecting Carrie to be waiting for me, wanting an explanation.
Instead, I found an empty main area. I frowned. Had she gotten into the shower already? I hadn’t thought I was that far behind her. I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t get to see her in that dress again, but considering how well the shower before the party had gone, I wasn’t exactly going to say no to another wet encounter.
I slipped the package into my pocket and headed for the bedroom. I was partway there when I heard Carrie’s voice.
“Get the hell out of my room!”
I forgot about everything I had planned and almost ran the rest of the way. I burst into the room, then skidded to a stop. My brain processed things in snapshots. Carrie standing at the foot of the bed, an expression of horrified anger on her face. In the bed were two women. Naked, limbs entwined. Then I realized it was Felice and Marguerite.
I looked down at Carrie and her eyes were flashing. “Babe, if you wanted to spice up our sex life, all you had to do was ask.”
As soon as the attempt at a joke left my mouth, I knew it was the wrong thing to say.
“Fuck off!” She snapped at me.
I heard Felice giggle as Carrie stormed out of the room, but I didn’t even bother to look down at either woman. I followed Carrie, calling out her name. She was already at the elevator when I reached the hallway.
“Carrie, wait! It was a joke! A stupid joke!”
The door opened and she stepped inside. I didn’t even need to see her face to know that it wasn’t just the fact that I’d made a shitty joke. Everything about her said she was furious. I didn’t blame her. If I hadn’t been so shocked, I probably would’ve been been angry at finding two naked women in my bed. Well, naked women who weren’t the one I wanted.
I managed to get inside just before the doors closed, but before I could say anything, Carrie grabbed the front of my shirt and shoved me back against the wall. I was so startled that she was able to move me without any resistance.
“You bring me to fucking France, leave me alone at a party for the whole night while you go off dancing with that…that slut!” She jabbed a finger back towards the room. “Then, when she finally leaves, you take off, saying you have to ‘do something.’ Like being with me for more than twenty minutes is so awful.”
My jaw dropped. I could hardly believe this was Carrie. I’d seen her angry before, but I’d never imagined I’d see that fury directed at me, not like this.
“When I finally leave, I text you, hoping you’ll say you’re on you’re way, but I get shit.” She let go of my shirt, but didn’t step away. “Then I get to the room and find two naked women fucking in our bed. So you think this is about some fucking lame joke you made?!”
Pieces were starting to fall into place, though I still had no idea why the women had been in our room or how they’d gotten there. “Carrie, I-”
“And don’t say you’re sorry!” She cut me off. “I don’t care if you’re fucking sorry! How dare you leave me alone?! You dragged me here so I could support you and the business we’re supposed to be partners in, and then blow me off like I’m excess baggage–”
“Whoa, whoa.” I finally found my voice. “Let me explain.”
“You think you can explain away all of this?” She took a step back and crossed her arms in what I’d come to recognize as her ‘not taking any shit’ stance. “Try me.”
I took a minute to figure out the best place to start. An apology was probably a good idea and I had a bit to apologize for.
Her eyes narrowed at the endearment.
“I’m so sorry for how all this has played out. It’s not what I wanted.” I smoothed down the front of my shirt. Seeing Carrie so riled up had thrown me. “And that.” I gestured towards a general space outside. “I had no idea either of those women would do anything like that.”
“Felice said you invited her.”
Shit. Now I got it.
“I did not invite Felice or Marguerite here,” I said firmly. I locked eyes with her. I didn’t want there to be any doubt about this. “I did not state or imply that I was interested in any kind of sexual relationship with either of those women.” I sighed. I had to be completely honest with her. She deserved that. “But part of this is my fault.”
Carrie shifted her weight from one foot to the other. I reached out and hit the stop on the elevator. I wasn’t going to fuck this up by trying to rush it.
“I should’ve made it crystal clear that I wasn’t interested the first time she made it clear that she was,” I confessed. “I never encouraged her, but I let it go. I did it because I didn’t want to risk her ruining my deal with Vincent. And I need this deal.”
I could see on her face that she didn’t think too highly of what I’d said, but I continued anyway. She deserved to know the whole truth. “I haven’t been entirely forthcoming about how things were going back home. With all the renovations and changing the club from what it was…” I ran my hand through my hair. “It’s cost a lot more than I’d planned, and with that and…other expenses…”
“My business,” Carrie said. She didn’t sound happy about it.
“I love what you do,” I said. “And I love that I can help you do it, but it does cost money. Money that I’ve had no problem spending, but with the club not being open, and not taking in as much when it is, it’s not being replaced as fast as it’s going out. And we’re not even a quarter of the way done with the changes yet.”
A concerned expression overtook the anger on her face. However she thought this conversation was going to go, this wasn’t it.
“A club here is what I need to get things going again. I didn’t want to risk the deal, but I didn’t think anything like this would happen.”
“Stop right there,” Carrie said. “I just need to know one thing right now. The rest of it can wait. There are two naked women in our bed right now. Did you invite them there and then backpedal because I didn’t like your little surprise?”
“Carrie,” I said the only thing I knew she wouldn’t question. “I swear on my daughter’s life that I didn’t ask either one of those women to come here.”
A look of relief washed over her, but her eyes still looked troubled. “Why were you so distant all night? Taking calls? Acting secretive? Why did you have to leave me alone at the party?”
I smiled. This one I could answer and provide proof that she’d like. “I was trying to surprise you with this.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out the package. I held it out to her.
She took it, glanced up at my face and then down to the rectangular box in her hands. I kept my eyes on her face while she opened it. I’d been waiting all day to see her expression and I’d be damned if I’d let some stupid misunderstanding ruin this moment.
She lifted the lid and her eyes widened. Her face softened and a soft exhale came from between her lips. “Gavin, it’s beautiful.”
I smiled, relieved. I’d gotten the idea when we’d passed by a shop and Carrie had expressed a liking for the intricate workings of a gold and ruby necklace. The delicate gold filigree had been shaped like a rose. The one I’d commissioned was a heart, and not just some simple heart with gold and jewels. It was actually two entwined hearts and I knew she understood what I was trying to say. Our hearts were just as linked as those two pieces of metal.
“I had to get it from the jeweler before she took off for some sort of convention thing in Munich,” I explained.
“I love it,” she said. She closed the box and took a step towards me. She raised herself up on her tiptoes and brushed her lips against mine. “Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome.” I wrapped my arms around her waist and she leaned her head on my shoulder. “I am sorry tonight ended like this. It’s not what I had in mind.”
She sighed. “Me either.”
“Think we can salvage it?” I asked. I tried not to sound as doubtful as I felt.
“I’m just tired, Gavin,” she said. “I want to go bed.” She made a frustrated noise. “Except our bed is occupied. And I’m not sure I’d want to sleep in it now anyway.”
“Tell you what,” I said. “I’ll go in and check. If the women are still there, we’ll get another room. If they’re gone, I’ll get housekeeping to come up and change the linens.”
She nodded and when we reached our floor, I took her hand. I’d fucked up at the party, not making sure everyone knew that I wasn’t with Felice, that Carrie was mine and I was hers. It wasn’t even close to making up for it by taking her hand in an empty hallway, but I wanted her to know I felt it.
I paused at the door and looked down at her.
“I’d rather not go back in there,” she said. “I already saw more than I wanted to.”
I gave her a quick kiss and then headed inside. I walked straight to the bedroom, fully prepared to give Felice and Marguerite a piece of my mind. But, as I looked into the bedroom, I found the women still in bed and asleep, arms around each other. It’d take more energy to rouse them, get them dressed and out than it would just to go downstairs and tell the front desk we needed another room. Money would be a problem soon if things didn’t pick up, but it wasn’t now and I believed that paying for another room would be worth every penny, if just for the peace of mind that came with knowing those two women wouldn’t know where we were.
I walked back out into the room and into the hallway where Carrie was waiting. I grinned at her. “Guess we need another room.”