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Sienna stood up after we ended the song and took a dramatic bow, her unruly curls flopping all over as she flipped her head up and down. “Cover for me for a while Lenny.” She turned and spoke to the regular piano player as if she was the employee and he was helping her out. I was also pretty sure his name wasn’t even Lenny.

We laughed our way up to the bar and ordered our usual tequila shots. I told her about Mr. Heston coming to see me sing and his offer for me to sing at their shareholder meeting instead of the previously booked boy band. She was excited and told me about a potential gig that she was working on for us to sing together at the wedding of one of the NY Yankees.

A tall dark haired man approached as we spoke and stood next to me. He was polite enough to wait until a break in our conversation before he interrupted. “You ladies were great, can I buy you both a drink?” His question was directed at both of us, but he spoke to me directly.

“Thank you, but not tonight. We are having a girls night.” He pretended to clutch his heart in pain. “That’s too bad. But you ladies have a good one anyway.” He politely excused himself and walked away. Most men didn’t take rejection well, especially in a bar after a few drinks when their friends were nearby, so I never knew what to expect.

“So Syd, are you still lusting after Jack, you didn’t even notice that one was cute?” Trust Sienna, to always be direct.

I sighed. “I’m trying to move on, but it’s not that easy. When I left Michael, I felt a loss for the routine, the normalcy, but not really for him as a man. I didn’t crave his touch or wake up in a cold sweat after dreaming I was still with him.” Sienna looked at me wide eyed.

“Shit Syd, you got it bad. I thought it was just emotional because he was your first after Michael. Are you in love with him?” I thought about our night under the stars, lying on our backs holding hands and talking. I thought about our sweaty bodies slapping against each other as we furiously tried to get closer as we came together.

A dazed smile crept across my mouth as I stared at the mental images burned into my brain, but I didn’t give her an answer.

Sienna took a cigarette from the pack in front of the man sitting next to her and smiled. He turned and flicked a lighter, flaming the cigarette that she bummed without asking.

I leaned over Sienna to the man next to her. “Can I have on of those please?” I extended my two fingers to him to place the cigarette between.

“You don’t smoke.” Sienna stated matter of factly with one eyebrow arched quizzically.

The man lit my cigarette and I took a deep inhale, letting out a long puff of smoke on a deep exhale. “Neither do you.” We both smiled at each other.

Chapter 13

The Heston annual shareholder meeting was held at the Heston Grand in Times Square. The event was being held in the main ballroom of the five star hotel. I had expected gaudy and extravagant, but was pleasantly surprised to find eloquent and understated. Lyle had told me that President’s usually stayed at the hotel when they were in town, which often hosted fundraisers for wealthy donors. The contract came earlier in the week, as Mr. Heston had promised, and I was pleasantly surprised at the generous fee that I was being paid for my services. It was more than three months of pay for my regular job singing at the Heston hotel, but I wasn’t going to complain even though I did think it was excessive for the three songs that I was hired me to sing.

The event coordinator had contacted me the week before and informed me that the gala was black tie and that I was expected to wear an evening gown. I was relieved to find out that the cost of the gown was borne by Heston Hotels, because although I had some really nice dresses, nothing could be classified as an evening gown.

I still had a light tan from our trip to Hawaii, so I picked a light blue sequin dress that was form fitting. The front was simple and had a V-neck that showed some cle**age, but couldn’t be described as plunging. The back, however, was the showstopper. It plunged deep into my back, barely covering the top of the crack of my ass. It was beautiful and sexy, yet elegant and classy. The sales clerk had assured me that the sequins would reflect the stage lights and dazzle the audience. The color reminded me of the strapless dress that I wore in Hawaii, and I smiled thinking back to Jack’s reaction when he saw me in it.

I watched from the side of the stage as the ballroom filled up with men in tuxedos and women in beautiful ball gowns.

It struck me as odd that an annual shareholder meeting would be so formal, but the fancy clothing gave the ballroom a magical feeling and the celebration was, after all, for a high-end hotel group.

When the MC announced my name, I suddenly thought it may have been a mistake to pair the dress with five-inch stilettos, but I made it to the microphone un-scathed. I knew the ballroom was packed, but the size of the crowd never bothered me.

The lighting usually blinded the audience from me anyway. Something about being unable to see people’s faces made it easy for me to get lost in a song and allow myself to feel the music through my body.

I performed two songs at the beginning of the meeting and then the final song was a repeat of the Aretha song that Mr. Heston had requested and it closed the meeting. The crowd was gracious enough to give me a standing ovation, but I figured they were also anxious to get up from such a long conference.

Backstage, the conference producer looked way more relieved than she had a few hours earlier. She was laughing and smiling and finally had that awful headset unglued from her head. All of the stage crew and the MC gathered backstage and opened a few bottles of champagne to celebrate the success of the conference. I was mingling with some of the lighting crew, enjoying my post show high with a glass of good champagne when I felt a hand on my bare back.

“Sydney, you were fantastic tonight. Thank you for putting on such a great show on such short notice.” Mr. Heston spoke with impeccable grammar that screamed expensive private schooling and made me stand a bit straighter.

“Mr. Heston, thank you very much that is very kind of you. I had a great time and it looks as though your conference was a rousing success.” The hand holding my champagne motioned to the crew, happily celebrating.

“What. The. Fuck.” The growl came from behind me and sent my body into an instant frenzy. I didn’t have to turn to know it was Jack, but my eyes were suddenly desperate to catch a glimpse of him again. I turned and saw the beautiful creature stalking towards us. At first I didn’t even notice the woman following behind him, struggling to keep up with him.

Mr. Heston turned with me, his hand still on my bare back. For a second I thought Jack might leap forward and attack the poor man. Jack came to a screeching halt before us and his eyes shot daggers at Mr. Heston, tracing the hand now pressing harder on my bare skin. Was he jealous?

The man made no attempt to contact me for almost three weeks and then shows up where I am working and makes a scene live a raving lunatic.

“I’ll ask one more time. What the f**k is you doing?” Jack spoke directly to Mr. Heston and his tone made me nervous of what was about to happen.

I finally found my voice and it was more than a little angry. “Jack, this is Mr. Heston, he owns this hotel and hired me to sing tonight.” I attempted to offer as an explanation.

His eyes never left Mr. Heston’s when he spoke. “He owns HALF of the hotel. And I don’t know what kind of game you are playing, but maybe you should remember who owns 51% and who owns 49%, Dad.” Jack uttered Dad with so much hatred and disdain, it was as if a blow had physically been thrown.

“I don’t know what you are talking about son.” Mr. Heston spoke low in a cool as ice voice. He was obviously concerned with people hearing, as Jack’s tirade had already caught the attention of most of the crew backstage, whereas Jack was not.

Their words took a moment, but finally registered in my stunned brain. “This is your father?” My voice trembled as I spoke.

Jack took one step forward and spoke in Mr. Heston’s face. “Get your filthy f**king hands off her now.” Mr. Heston immediately removed his hand from my back, which I had forgotten was even there still. The two men stared at each other for a moment in silence, unspoken threats passing. Then Jack put out his hand to me. I looked at his face and knew I didn’t have a choice, even if he was scaring me. I put my hand in his and he clamped his long fingers around my hand and turned to walk.

He said nothing as I trailed behind him, my hand cupped so tightly in his that my fingers began to get numb. When we passed the woman that had followed him backstage, he spat at her, “Go home Jenna.” I eyed her as we passed, she was wearing a red dress that was incredibly revealing and her huge obviously fake br**sts looked as if they may burst out at any second. She was attractive, but in an odd, overly made up sort of way, the kind of look that is done on purpose, to stand out and scream that you aren’t the girl next door.

Jack raced through the hallways with purpose, only slowing enough to let me catch up so that I wouldn’t fall on my face.

Men in tuxedos passed as we walked by, each tried fruitlessly to catch Jack’s attention or exchange a greeting. But Jack ignored them as if they didn’t exist. We arrived at the elevator banks and waited in silence. As the car arrived, Jack put his hand on my bared back to direct me forward and that jolt of electricity I hadn’t felt since Hawaii ran through me. He put a key into the elevator and I watched as he pressed the button for the penthouse.

The elevator doors opened directly to an apartment and Jack attempted to lead us inside, but my feet were frozen in place. I still hadn’t looked at him. “Where are we?” I whispered, needing assurance about something.

“My apartment, I live here.” He stood in place behind me and waited with the elevator doors open. He wasn’t going to force me inside. I hesitantly stepped forward and out of the car.

I stayed just in front of the elevator doors as they closed behind me. My head was reeling and I was confused at all that had happened. Jack’s father is Mr. Heston?

Jack clearly didn’t know I was performing at the conference, so was it just a coincidence that his father hired me? Somehow I didn’t think so. And why was Jack so angry, I felt like a pawn in a game that I never agreed to play.

Eventually Jack walked around me and into the open space. I looked up to see where he was going and watched him walk into a huge open modern kitchen. He leaned against the island counter, his hands behind his neck clenched. My eyes took him in, I hated that I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful he looked in his tuxedo. His wide shoulders filled the black jacket and I knew that hidden beneath was a thick strong mus-cular body that I wanted to touch.

After a few minutes in silence, he looked up at me. His green eyes piercing straight through to my heart. He studied my face, as I studied him. “Did you know he was my father?”

“No.” My voice was merely a whisper. “Isn’t your date going to look for you?”

“I only brought her to piss off my father. It’s what I do.” Jack’s voice was filled with regret.

He took a deep breath in and studied me for another minute. I watched as the battle within his mind played out on his face. He was angry and struggling with something. He stalked to me and picked my up, lifting me at the knees into his two hands. I let him. Neither of us said a word as he carried me and kicked open his bedroom door and laid me on the bed.

Jack’s face was still angry and tense as he hovered over me. I was angry and mad and wanted to tell him to go f**k off, ask him why he hadn’t tried to contact me for three weeks. But every nerve in my body was electrified, a traitor to my brain. I wanted to ask him if he missed me, as much as I missed him, but I was afraid of the answer.

I couldn’t take his intense stare anymore, I knew I was ready to break. All of my emotions were flooding me fast - anger, hurt, confused and the worst of them all, turned on at the sight of the gorgeous man. I turned my head just as the first tear in my eye escaped. I suddenly wanted to run away from him, to run and hide and not let him see me that way. But just as I turned my head away from him, he turned his too and his mouth closed the inches between us and covered mine. It wasn’t a soft building kiss, it was as if gas met a fire. The outpouring of all of the pent up emotions in one hair rais-ing, hard, deep frantic kiss. Somehow we managed to pull off each other’s clothes, without every breaking for air. The minute my hands touched his bare back, all thought escaped my mind, except having him inside me.