As I fumble in my purse for a tissue to wipe my eyes, the energy around me shifts and I begin to sense… something—some presence coupled with a charge of electricity…
The hairs stand up on the back of my neck and goosebumps prickle down my arms as I spot a shape out of the corner of my eye. Mustering the courage to look, I turn to my left and let out a breathy gasp as I see a man—a tall, beautiful, dark-haired man—standing between me and
the door I came through.
A man that I know—or at least that I once knew.
Scion of the O’Neill dynasty.
My heart beats out of my chest.
Finding yourself alone with one of New York’s most breathtaking eligible bachelors is something that most women in Manhattan would kill for, but seeing the man I used to be so close to, and that I still feel so betrayed by, see me in this pitiful state is one injury too many for my battered self-esteem.
A shadow darkens his features and he frowns as he watches my tear-streaked face. “I’m… sorry. I didn’t realize anyone was up here,” he says taking an unwelcome step towards me, his voice deeper and richer than I remember from our college days together.
I wipe the tears from my eyes, barely able to speak. I loathe crying in front of anyone, never mind this ex-friend who has a history of hurting me.
Despite my embarrassment at being caught in this pitiful state, I can’t help but be taken aback by the intense, impossible beauty of this stunning man. A mop of thick, wavy dark-brown hair caresses the golden skin of his forehead and jaw. His strong hairline frames a chiseled, heart-shaped face with cheekbones so sharp they cut shadows beneath them. His mesmerizing, almond-shaped brown eyes are large and his irises a swirl of deep amber tones, visible in just the moonlight and the pale glow of the light above the roof door. His stubble is thick, clearly not having been touched for a couple of weeks. He seems taller than I remember too; he must stand just under six foot three, about the same height as Jack. He has a look of anguished concern on his devastating face, my attempts at concealing my distress having obviously been in vain.
“Jess, I… didn’t mean to disturb.”
It’s surreal to hear him say my name—annoying almost—as though he should no longer have the right to use it. I wipe my face and try to compose myself. I hate that the man who spent so long warning me about Jack may now think that Jack is the reason I’m upset and that he was right all along.
“You— I— You’re not disturbing. I just needed to… get some air,” I stammer, starting to get up. “I didn’t think anyone would be up here. I can go—”
“Stay,” he says firmly. “I mean, you can stay, as long as you need. Please.”
I sit back down. In the state I’m in, I’d better not try to go back down those stairs unless I want to be surrounded by people asking me what the problem is. I look up at him, half expecting him to turn and leave me to my misery.
But instead, he stays.
Suspended moments pass between us as he peers into me in awkward silence, studying my face with intent, his eyes wandering over every inch of my features“Jess, I don’t want to get too personal, but… are you sure everything’s okay?” he asks.
“Yeah,” I shrug. “It’s just been one of those days.”
“Sure,” he indulges me. “Believe me, I often feel like crying after a night with some of these people.”
I shoot him a smile of gratitude at his gracious attempt to downplay the situation as my eyes float over his impossibly beautiful face. The moon emerges from behind wisps of blue clouds and lights up his unflinching eyes, leaving me skipping a breath. Cameron was one of my best friends for several years, but he never once made me as jittery as he’s doing now in all that time. In my defense, the guy truly is breathtaking. It’s no mystery why most women lose all rational thought around him. Plus, he looks so much more like a man now than when we were students together at college, and not just because of how amazingly well he’s grown into his masculine features or how much
broader his shoulders are and stronger his arms look, even under his white shirt and expensive-looking black suit. His whole energy is different. The youthful exuberance has gone, and in its place is a man who looks poised and collected and unnervingly confident. His gaze is impenetrable, his face composed. He wears the body language of a man that is confident about his physical strength and social position.
He looks determined. And powerful. And dangerous.