An ex hoping to seek revenge
Man, pick one and let's get this over with," Phil stated, hoping to get the game started.
"Not yet," Daren answered as he scanned the crowd. "These women aren't challenging enough." They were beautiful enough though, he added to himself.
It was the typical game they played when they attended charity events in the city of Atlanta. Find the most attractive woman in the building and see who she would leave with. Fun times, he thought with a smile. The key was that she wasn't easy. She needed to be beautiful enough to turn every male head in the building, but independent enough to not be searching for just any man willing to talk to her. Most of the women at the party were at least mildly successful, but Daren was searching for the right one.
"Ooooh, that's her right there," Phil said breathlessly.
Daren turned in the direction he was looking, and his mouth nearly dropped all the way open. She was gorgeous. In a skin tight dress, with heels that made her legs look a mile long. A trim waist flowing into incredible hips that made his throat dry.
"That's here," Phil said again, tapping him to get his attention.
Daren just nodded, too speechless to reply. Her smile was every bit as captivating as he remembered. If he closed his eyes, he had no doubts the years would fall away and show a tender, young woman that stared at him with the most adoring eyes, but he had no intentions on closing his eyes.
He'd been cold back then. He was still a player now, but he was all about the notches on his belt when he'd known Katie. Even then, they'd been passion and fire for three weeks. And then he had moved to Atlanta. She hadn't been as physically attractive then. Sure, she had a pretty face. And that smile, he thought with a chuckle. But she hadn't cared about her body, claiming that she didn't have to fit the Hollywood standard to be beautiful.
Daren had agreed, kissed her senseless, and disappeared the next morning. Now, here she was. A goddess before him, and offering him a chance to find the love he was truly searching for. And she was about to make him the easiest one thousand bucks he'd ever made.
"You first," he told Phil, hoping his excitement didn't show.
"Ah man. You ain't even gone get to lose this time. We're about to leave."
Katie scanned the room calmly as she reached the bottom of the stairs. She nearly double back once her gaze crossed the familiar face in the sea of people, but she knew the game. Knew that if she showed weakness, she would lose. She smiled to herself as she thought of the last time they'd spent together. Losing was not an option tonight.
Finding an empty seat at the bar, she crossed the room and perched herself as seductively as possible, with an air of nonchalance that would have made her a star in Hollywood. She knew that every man in the room had at least taken a serious glance at her, so it was a waiting game now. She had thought it out perfectly. From her dress to the time she'd entered the room, she was calculated.
Her company had sponsored the benefit. The cause was youth centers across the city. She wanted to help the kids, but she also knew that youth charity events attracted the most women. Which made her little escapade worthwhile. She knew he would show up. Even if he thought he was going to seduce her, she was in control tonight. Exercise and history had given her the confidence to own the room the way she did now, and tonight, he was her slave.
"Hi, I'm Phil."
Katie had noticed him approaching in the mirror behind the bar. "Good for you," she told him, taking a discreet glance at her target.
"Awwh, don't be like that beautiful," Phil whined. "I'm just being friendly."
"Well, you should try being generous This is a charity event," Katie told him, then ignored him as rudely as possible. She was patient. She knew he would come. She could see him watching her in the mirror.
After two more attempts from other men, she gazed at him in the mirror directly, hoping he would take the hint. He literally ignore the women surrounding him as he watched her turn away man after man. A quick smile, and she was ignoring him too.
"Excuse me," Daren said a short moment later as he slid up to the bar next to her.
"Hi Daren," Katie replied instantly, recognizing the voice from her past instantly. This couldn't have happened better in her dreams. "We meet again."
"Well, you certainly have changed," Daren told her, giving his best smile.
"Hopefully you won't find this terribly insulting," Katie shot back "But you haven't."
"Only the surface is familiar. I like to think that I have more depth now. That I'm worthy of a woman like you now."
"And what makes you think I'm not looking at the man behind you while you spin your little seductive tale?"
"Because you know how incredible I am," Daren told her confidently. "How incredible we are. Together."
"Incredibly foolish," Katie told him with a glance over his shoulder.
Daren watched the most beautiful smile he'd ever seen spring onto her face and thought about a lifetime of smiles like that greeting him daily. "Only a fool for you, sweet lady," he said, not realizing how much he meant the words until he spoke them.
"You're right," a deep baritone spoke from behind him, shattering the moment like glass and snapping Daren's head around quicker than a whip. "Only a fool would speak words of passion to a woman while she smiles at another man."
The shock was so pure on Daren's face when he turned back to face her that Katie let loose a girlish giggle. "Awwwh. Bye Daren," she said, climbing off the stool.
"Let's get outta here," Michael told her, taking her hand.
As they reached the stairs, Katie glanced back to see a broken look on Daren's face. She knew the look. It made her recall the long weeks she'd sat around her apartment after he'd disappeared. Of the long nights in the gym, sculpting her body. Of the hard five years it had taken her to build the confidence she'd once had.
She wanted to feel sorry for him, but she didn't.