Four days later, Eva found herself ringing Griffin’s doorbell. She and Griffin had agreed to meet at his place to discuss wedding details.
She’d come straight from a business dinner with a potential client, and was dressed in a red V-neck top and knee-length beige skirt.
When Griffin opened the door, she swallowed. He was dressed casually in black jeans and a dark blue open-collar shirt and looked incredibly sexy.
“Come on in,” he said easily.
She wet her lips as she followed him. “Sorry, I’m late. Dinner went on longer than expected.”
“No problem. I had a quick meal and was just sitting back with some business reports.”
He began to lead the way through the house, but then stopped unexpectedly at the open doorway of the pool room.
“Do you play?” he asked.
Did she play? Of course, she did. She’d grown up with a pool table in the house, and she’d learned from the best: Marcus Tremont.
She’d just been sure over the years never to be drawn into a game against Griffin. A head-to-head competition with him over green felt and cue sticks would have been a battle fraught with meaning for her. When he’d visited the Tremont estate, and she’d unfortunately been present as well, she’d left him to play against her father.
“Sometimes,” she said noncommittally.
A smile played at his lips as he walked over to a wall-mounted cue rack. “Come on. Choose your weapon.”
She hesitated. “I thought we were going to discuss wedding details.”
He arched a brow. “We are. Over a game of pool. All right with you?”
She shrugged. “Okay.”
Who was she to walk away now he’d thrown down the gauntlet? There was a part of her that had been waiting for years to beat his sorry rear end.
She walked over to him and chose one of the shorter cue sticks from the rack. “I hope this game isn’t boring for you.”
“I’ll give you some pointers, if you need them,” he offered, choosing a stick himself.
She smiled demurely, her eyes lowered. “Thank you.”
She felt like a hustler, but wasn’t everything fair in love and war? Troublingly, though, things were getting murky as to whether this was love or war.
He packed the balls in the rack, and when he was done, he said, “Do you want to break?”
“Sure, why not?”
She came around and bent over her cue stick.
She felt him study her intently, and while she knew her body alignment was perfect, she was very aware that her breasts had dropped forward, her cleavage on display at the neck of her crimson V-neck knit top.
Still, she kept her concentration and broke cleanly. The number three ball dropped into a corner pocket.
“I’ll take it,” she said.
She’d have to sink the rest of the solid colors, while he’d have the higher numbered striped balls.
She studied the table.
“Four ball into the corner pocket,” she called, proceeding to sink the ball.
She saw Griffin’s eyes narrow. Clearly he’d caught on that she was going to be a worthy competitor.
Next, she hit a combination shot, sending the cue ball into the six ball, which in turn hit the two ball into the side pocket.
When she missed on the following shot, she straightened and smiled. “Your turn.”
He looked at her with wry amusement. “I was starting to think that the game would be over before I had a chance to make a shot.”
“Beginner’s luck,” she said blithely.
“Best of three,” he parried.
She shrugged. One game, two games, three. It didn’t matter. Now that she’d taken him on, she was determined to play this out.
Griffin made his first shot. Then he tried a difficult combination and sank cleanly.
He leveled her with a smile that was pure gamesman.
She set her teeth, but then acknowledged she’d hardly expected him to be a pushover.
“This match will be over before we get to any wedding details,” she pointed out. “So talk.”
“I’d like to have the wedding at my parents’ house and keep things small,” she said, knowing the location would help her feel comfortable with her crazy decision to go off a cliff and marry Griffin.
“Fine. But if we’re not eloping, I want us to get married quickly. A few weeks. Since we’re using your parents’ house, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Okay. That makes sense—we’re trying to beat my biological clock, after all,” she returned, reminding them both of the reason for their marriage.
He gave her an inscrutable look.
She cleared her throat. “About a prenup…”
He smiled enigmatically. “No need. We’re both independently wealthy.”
Her eyes widened. “California is a community property state. Fifty-fifty on divorce. I could take you to the cleaners.”
Now that she’d seen where he lived and had gleaned some more details about him from his friends and associates, she knew he was out of her league in terms of wealth. True, she wasn’t poor, but Occasions by Design paled in comparison to his company.
And while she was an heiress, the day she’d inherit was probably a long way off. In the meantime, she had a respectable—but from his perspective, certainly not lavish-trust fund and her own hard-earned money.
He sank another ball. “It’s a gamble I’m willing to take.”
“Griffin…” Her tone held a note of caution.
She couldn’t believe she was dissuading him from making his money vulnerable to her. And from his amused expression, she could tell he was thinking the same thing.
“So we have no prenup,” he said. “Since I credit your father with getting my money train moving, I’m not too worried about it winding up in Tremont hands.”
She gave up. If he wanted to gamble with his money, it was his business.
“Where will we live?” she tried.
He lifted a brow and looked around them. “Do you think this place is big enough for the both of us?”
She adored his house. She had the minute she’d seen it. “Okay. I’ll rent my condo, and then think about selling it at the right moment.”
“A woman after my own heart,” he said with mock solemnity.
She knew he was joking, but a tingle went through her anyway.
Before she could say anything else, however, Griffin missed his next shot, and she was up.
As they played, the conversation veered toward mundane wedding details. They discussed the guest list, and decided on the officiant. Because both their calendars couldn’t be cleared for an extended period on short notice, they decided to honeymoon for a few days only at Griffin’s getaway in Napa Valley.
As the conversation about the wedding wound down, Griffin called his shot, and the thirteen ball slid into a corner pocket.
Her seven ball, the eight ball and the cue ball remained. Griffin had to sink only the eight ball with the white cue ball to win.
She’d gone head-to-head with Griffin, and it had been a close game. She’d been in this to win, however.
Eva closed her eyes. She couldn’t watch Griffin make his shot.
“Seven ball and eight ball in the corner pocket.”
Her eyes flew open. She didn’t understand. Were they playing by rules she wasn’t aware of?
She focused in time to see Griffin very deliberately sink her seven ball along with the eight ball.
He straightened, and gave her a slow, sexy smile. “I consider this a win-win situation.”
She stared at him. “Why?”
He put down his cue, and came around the table toward her. He removed the cue stick from her limp grasp, and set it aside. “The art of a successful hustle is to get your opponents to bet the house and empty their pockets.”
Her eyes widened.
The side of his mouth lifted. “Isn’t that what you were trying to do?”
She felt herself flush. “I—”
“So I decided to oblige you. This has been burning a hole in my pocket since you walked in the door.”
He pulled something from his pocket, and grasping her hand, slid a ring onto her third finger.
She stared down at the brilliant cushion-cut diamond set in a filigreed setting. It had to be at least four carats.
Her lips parted. Oh, my…
She suddenly, inexplicably, felt like crying.
She hadn’t gotten a ring from Carter before she’d found out about his betrayal.
Griffin was obviously making a statement—in more ways than one.
Her gaze rose to his.
“If you don’t like it, we can get you something else.”
She cleared her throat. “It’s…thank you.”
His eyes burned into hers, and her breath caught.
A moment later, his lips touched hers, and she melted into him, kissing him back with all the pent-up sexual desire that had been building between them since she’d walked into his house.
His lips trailed along her neck.
“Why didn’t I ever know you played pool?” he muttered against her throat.
“I…I didn’t ever wanted to play you,” she said breathlessly. “Stakes too high.”
“Oh, yeah,” he said, and a moment later, her back met the wall.
She’d never had an adrenaline rush like this. She closed her eyes, and gave herself up to the passion between them.
He shoved her underwear down, and she heard the hiss of his zipper.
“Wrap your legs around me, kitten” he said roughly.
She complied, and he hiked her up, helping her while he kissed her deeply.
She was slick and wet, and they both groaned as he entered her.
The coming together was quick, hard and feverish. Within minutes, they found oblivion together.