I release a pent-up breath. Am I that transparent? “Ryle. He’s a neurosurgeon. And he wants to have sex with me really, really bad.”
“How do you know he wants to have sex with you?”
“Because he literally got down on his knees and said, ‘Please, Lily. Please have sex with me.’ ”
Devin raises an eyebrow. “He begged?”
I nod. “It wasn’t as pathetic as it sounds. He’s usually more composed.”
The elevator dings and the doors begin to open. I can hear music pouring from down the hallway. Devin takes both of my hands in his and says, “So what’s the plan? Do I need to make this guy jealous?”
“No,” I say, shaking my head. “That wouldn’t be right.” But . . . Ryle does make it a point every time he sees me to tell me he hopes he never sees me again. “Maybe just a little?” I say, scrunching up my nose. “A smidge?”
Devin pops his jaw and says, “Consider it done.” He puts his hand on my lower back as he walks me out of the elevator. There’s only one visible door in the hallway, so we make our way over and ring the doorbell.
“Why is there only one door?” he says.
“She owns the whole top floor.”
He chuckles. “And she works for you? Damn, your life just keeps getting more and more interesting.”
The door begins to open, and I’m extremely relieved to see Allysa standing in front of me. There’s music and laughter pouring out of the apartment behind her. She’s holding a champagne glass in one hand and a riding crop in the other. She sees me staring at the riding crop with a confused look on my face, so she tosses it over her shoulder and grabs my hand. “It’s a long story,” she says, laughing. “Come in, come in!”
She pulls me in and I squeeze Devin’s hand and drag him behind me. She continues pulling us through a crowd of people until we reach the other side of the living room. “Hey!” she says, tugging on Marshall’s arm. He turns around and smiles at me, then pulls me in for a hug. I glance behind him, and around us, but there’s no sign of Ryle. Maybe I got lucky and he got called in to work tonight.
Marshall reaches out for Devin’s hand and shakes it. “Hey, man! Good to meet you!”
Devin wraps an arm around my waist. “I’m Devin!” he yells over the music. “I’m Lily’s sexual partner!”
I laugh and elbow him, then lean in to his ear. “That’s Marshall. Wrong guy, but nice effort.”
Allysa grabs my arm and starts to pull me away from Devin. Marshall begins speaking to him, and my hand is reaching out behind me as I’m being pulled in the opposite direction.
“You’ll be fine!” Devin yells.
I follow Allysa into the kitchen, where she shoves a glass of champagne in my hand. “Drink,” she says. “You deserve it!”
I take a sip of the champagne, but I can’t even appreciate it now that I’m getting a look at her industrial-sized kitchen with two full stovetops and a fridge bigger than my apartment. “Holy shit,” I whisper. “You actually live here?”
She giggles. “I know,” she says. “And to think, I didn’t even have to marry him for money. Marshall had seven bucks and drove a Ford Pinto when I fell in love with him.”
“Doesn’t he still drive a Ford Pinto?”
She sighs. “Yeah, but we have a lot of good memories in that car.”
She wiggles her eyebrows. “So . . . Devin is cute.”
“And probably more into Marshall than me.”
“Ah, man,” she says. “That’s a bummer. I thought I was playing matchmaker when I invited him to the party tonight.”
The kitchen door opens and Devin walks in. “Your husband is looking for you,” he says to Allysa. She twirls her way out of the kitchen, giggling the whole time. “I really like her,” Devin says.
“She’s great, huh?”
He leans against the island and says, “So. I think I just met The Beggar.”
My heart flutters down my chest. I think The Neurosurgeon has a better ring to it. I take another sip of my champagne. “How do you know it was him? Did he introduce himself?”
He shakes his head. “Nah, but he overheard Marshall introducing me to someone as ‘Lily’s date.’ I thought the look he gave me was going to set me on fire. That’s why I came in here. I like you, but I’m not willing to die for you.”
I laugh. “Don’t worry, I’m sure that death glare he gave you was really his smile. They’re superimposed most of the time.”
The door swings open again and I immediately stiffen, but it’s only a caterer. I sigh with relief. Devin says, “Lily,” like my name is a disappointment.
“You look like you’re about to puke,” he says, accusingly. “You really like him.”
I roll my eyes. But then I let my shoulders drop and I fake cry. “I do, Devin. I do, I just don’t want to.”
He takes my glass of champagne and downs the remainder of it, then locks his arm in mine again. “Let’s go mingle,” he says, pulling me out of the kitchen against my will.
The room is even more crowded now. There have to be more than a hundred people here. I’m not even sure I know that many people.
We walk around and work the room. I stand back while Devin does most of the talking. He knows someone in common with every person he’s met so far, and after about half an hour of following him around, I’m convinced he’s made it a personal game to find someone in common with everyone here. The whole time I mingle with him, my attention is half on him and half on the room, searching for traces of Ryle. I don’t see him anywhere and I begin to wonder if the guy Devin saw was even Ryle to begin with.