red-and-white hearts. A tiny square of paper, half-crumpled, where Kamille had tossed it as Sadie made her way to the front of the room. Jake scooped it up and opened it.
Sadie hadn’t truly won at all.
What was Kamille up to?
When he turned to look at his boss again, she was still watching him, this time with one side of her mouth quirked up in a grin.
She winked and blew him a kiss, then turned on her microphone and took over the room again. “Okay, everyone. We need to clear out the room to get ready for our next event. But be sure to stop by the prize table on your way out—we have parting gifts for everyone who stuck around for the whole party. Thanks so much for joining us today.”
With all of the models posing for photos with the fans, Jake was left to hand out the gift packs himself as the women filed out of the room.
By the time the last reader left, Sadie had sneaked out another door.
So had Kamille, apparently, leaving Jake to direct the hotel staff members to box up the few remaining supplies and send them to Kamille’s suite.
The instant he had them sorted out, he was going to track down his boss and find out just exactly what she thought she was doing.
Sadie stood out in the silent hall behind the ballroom, wiping tears from her eyes.
She had managed to keep her game face on while she was standing in front of that mob, but only by pretending she was standing in front of her own class. She knew how to handle those people.
And these men could have been her students, coming to the front of the room to ask questions after class.
She had stood up there, blushing like a fool, stammering incoherently when Kamille Stone asked her about her idea of a perfect Vegas date. Bad enough that all she could think of was that she’d never been to Vegas before and had planned to see the Bellagio fountains and a show. She had actually said it out loud.
Several of the people in the audience had laughed.
I’m an idiot.
When the women started filing out of the room, Kamille had gotten her contact info. Then as soon as she’d seen an opportunity, Sadie had escaped.
I’m going to hunt Amelia down and kill her for putting my name into that drawing.
Inhaling a deep breath, she used the back of her hand to dash away the tears of embarrassment that had gathered in her eyes. She couldn’t help but replay the scene over and over in her mind, starting from the moment Kamille Stone called out her name and Sadie walked up to the dais. “More like ‘staggered banged with terror through / a million billion trillion stars,’” she said aloud, shaking her head.
“Are you okay?” The deep voice behind her made her jump, and a squeak of surprise escaped her.
Jake Blaine. Of course.
Could this day get any worse?
This close, she could smell him, clean soap and a hint of something that shot straight to the back of her brain, bypassing logic altogether.
She could stand here inhaling him all day long.
If only I wouldn’t look like even more of an idiot.
“I’m fine,” she said. Straightening her spine, she blinked away the last of the tears, then gathered herself together to turn and smile up at him.
And if the smile felt strained? At least she was no longer standing in the hallway sniveling like a lost child.
Jake took a breath as if he planned to say something, but after a moment, he blew it back out. “Can I walk you to the elevator?” he finally asked, his brows creased in concern.
Sadie managed a tiny laugh. “Oh, I think that’s probably a bad idea.”
His own laugh was rueful. “You don’t trust me in elevators any longer?”
“No,” she almost whispered. “I don’t trust myself.”
Tentatively, almost reverently, he reached out and swept one finger down her cheek. The touch sent ripples through her, and she shivered, but she couldn’t pull her gaze from his.
This is a terrible idea, Sadie.
Even worse than going on a date with a model.
You have a