So, he didn’t go into masculine panic mode. “In my world there isn’t anything just about being a true friend.”
“I understand that. All of my so-called friends dumped me when I walked out on Art. I didn’t realize they were only interested in spending time with me if I came as part of a power couple.”
“Even though he cheated on you?” Zephyr asked in disgust.
“Art wasn’t the only one who believed that hoary old refrain he was so good at spouting.”
“Which one is that?”
“All men cheat,” she clarified.
“The jury is still out on that one, but I was not about to stay married to a man who believed infidelity was as inevitable as the tide.”
“You know I think you made the right choice divorcing that louse.” At least her family had finally come around to that conclusion as well, even if her former friends had not.
“Me, too. But unfortunately, that louse runs one of the most successful design houses in New York.”
“Hence your move to Seattle.”
“Exactly. There just wasn’t room enough in The Big Apple for both his ego and my career.” She smiled sadly.
The bastard she’d been married to had done his best to blackball her in the design community. Zephyr had returned the favor over the past two years and Très Bon no longer held its prestigious top position status. Arthur Bellingham’s word might send ripples out in the city, but Zephyr Nikos sent out waves big enough to drown in the international community.
The bastard who had done his best to ruin Piper’s life was on the slippery slope of business decline already. Art would only find himself in deep, murky waters when he got to the bottom, too.
Zephyr had never told Piper, of course. She hadn’t been exposed to his ruthless streak and he saw no reason to change that.
“Well, I am glad you came to Seattle,” he said.
“Again, me, too.” She tugged off her jacket, revealing the silky singlet she wore beneath it, and the fact she wasn’t wearing a bra. “I certainly made a better circle of friends.”
“Oh, I am round now?” he asked, practically choking on his lust as her hardened nipples created shoals in the slinky fabric of her top.
He forcibly snapped his attention back to Athens’s typically snarled traffic, lest he cause an accident or do a poor job avoiding one. He could hardly do what he was fantasizing to her body from a hospital bed.
Having her in peril of the same didn’t even bear thinking of.
“Don’t be smart.” She tapped his leg, having the opposite effect to the one he was sure she meant it to. “I have other friends.”
“She is your assistant.”
“I have friends,” Piper insisted stubbornly. “There’s a reason I’m not available every night to keep you entertained.”
Which wasn’t something he actually liked, so he let the subject drop.
Usually, Piper noticed every tiny detail of her surroundings, always looking for ways to improve her own sense of design and aesthetics. However, she barely noticed the earth tones and ultramodern, simplistic design features of the luxury spa Zephyr had chosen for their stay as he led her through the oversized lobby to the bank of elevators on the far side.
She was too busy soaking in his every feature, her senses starved for the sight, taste and feel of him.
The past month and a half had been harder than any separation they’d had to date. For her anyway. Maybe for Zephyr, too, if the number of calls and texts she’d gotten from him was anything to go on. They’d had prolonged times apart before, but not since they started having sex regularly six months ago. Still, it wasn’t as if they were a couple. They were friends, who were also casual sex partners. At least that’s what she’d been telling herself since the first time they’d passed that intimate boundary nine months ago.
That first time, she’d thought it would be a one-off, something to get the sexual tension that had been growing between them out of the way of their friendship. She’d been wrong.
They hadn’t gotten physical again until three months later, but connected sexually several times a week since then. When he made it clear, again, that he did not see the sex as anything more than physical compatibility for stress release, she’d told herself she wasn’t ready for a committed relationship, either, so that was just fine with her. Art had done a real number on her ability to trust and she had a business to build. She didn’t have a place in her life for a full-time relationship.
The only problem was: she wasn’t sure she believed her own rhetoric any longer. Her natural optimism was doing its best to overcome her painfully learnt lesson on the ways of men. The fact she was having such a complicated internal monologue on the matter was telling in itself, she thought with an internal sigh.