Found in You

Found in You: Page 43

If I went to Japan, would that show him the extent of my love and gratitude? It would be a real sacrifice for me-I really wanted to stay in town, set up an advertising plan with Aaron Trent, and start over with another event planner.

I had come to no conclusions by the time I'd showered and dressed. Then, as Jordan dropped me off at the club a little after eight, I received a text from Brian.

"I'm headed into the city. I'll be at the Waldorf. What time can we meet?"

"What's wrong?"

I jumped at David's question. I'd known he still must be in the club-the alarm hadn't been set as I walked in-but I hadn't expected him to be standing at the top of the entry ramp.

Taking a deep breath, I tried to shake off the bulk of the weight hanging on my shoulders. "Nothing. Just overwhelmed with... stuff."

He reached to take my laptop bag from me, his expression inquisitive.

I handed him my computer, deciding what, if anything, I wanted to share with him, because obviously stuff wasn't going to cut it. Hell, maybe talking would help me put some things in perspective. "I moved out of my apartment this past weekend," I said as we made our way toward the offices. "And my brother wants to meet with me to get my key. But we're not getting along. Not since I started dating Hudson."

"Hmm." His shoulders tightened, his face contorted in...what? Jealousy?

Okay, perhaps David did like me more than I realized. He was so much easier to read than Hudson. How had I missed how deep his affection ran?

He held the door to the back hallway open for me. "So you moved in with Pierce?"

I brushed past him and led the way up the stairs. "I did." Well, better that he knew the truth. He had to come to terms with my relationship with Hudson if I had any hope of helping him keep his job. "I know. It was fast."

"That's not what I was thinking."

"What were you thinking?"

"I was thinking I should have been faster."

His words stopped me mid-step. I turned back to see if he was serious.

He was. He did look at me like Hudson did.
I'd never recognized the intensity because it was completely absent of the electricity and heat that Hudson's stare always contained.

The color drained from my cheeks.

David cleared his throat. "Sorry. That was uncalled for." He brushed past me, continuing on to the office. "Anyway, congratulations. I'm happy for you."

I fell into step behind him. "I'm happy for me, too." My voice had lost its earlier enthusiasm, still shocked from David's proclamation. Maybe we couldn't work together.

I couldn't stand thinking about it. I changed the subject. "And I'm stressed. Hudson wants me to go to Japan with him tonight."

David pulled out his keys and unlocked the office door. The room was dark, the computers off-he must have been on his way out when he met me at the entrance.

"Why are you here so late, anyway?" Usually closing managers were out by six-thirty, tops.

He shrugged. "Waiting for you. And, yeah, Hudson told me about Japan."

I flicked the office light on. "What? When?" I'd only found out about Japan that morning. I didn't even want to acknowledge the first part of his statement.

"About an hour or so ago. He wanted to make sure we'd be covered without you."

Hudson had already talked to David that morning? This day was getting more interesting as it progressed. "I haven't said yes yet."

"But you will." He didn't bother to hide the ache in his voice.

I sank on the couch and rubbed at my forehead. "Is that the only reason Hudson called you?"

David sat on the front of his desk. "Actually, he didn't call. He stopped by."

"To tell you he's taking me to Japan?" Hudson had said he had an early meeting. Why hadn't he mentioned it was with David? Or was his encounter with David coincidental?

"No, to discuss some other things."

Dread dripped into my veins. "Oh, really? Like what things?" I pretended to examine my nails, going for an aloof demeanor while really I was anything but. Which was silly, because there was no way Hudson would have talked to him when he'd promised me we could still discuss it first. Besides, David wouldn't still be there if he'd been fired.

Still, I couldn't help feeling anxious for David's response.

He shrugged, and it felt as equal of a show of calm as the one I was giving. "He said he's transferring the Party Planners deal to Fierce. Something about a conflict of interest."

The knot in my stomach loosened, if only slightly. Of course. Hudson had to deal with Paul.

"He took all the copies of the contract." David eyed me, searching for my reaction. "But he said you already knew all that."

"Yeah, I did." Boy, did I.

"Sorry you lost your deal."

I sensed David was testing me, making sure Hudson wasn't jerking around with my business just because he could. It was sweet, actually.

Also, totally unnecessary. "Nah, it's fine. The more I got to know about the company, the more I realized it wasn't a good fit after all."

David's shoulders should have relaxed, if I was reading him right, but they didn't.

"And that's all you and Hudson talked about?" I studied his expression carefully. "There's more, I can tell from your face." The ball of dread returned.

David came over to the couch and sat on the arm, facing me, with one foot on a cushion. "Well, I'm not supposed to tell you this until you get back from Japan, but I don't feel good keeping a secret from you. Plus, I'm really excited and have to tell someone."

"What is it?" My voice was barely a whisper, my hands white as I wrung them in my lap.

"He offered me a promotion." His eyes twinkled, his excitement evident. "General Manager at Adora, his club in Atlantic City."

My vision went black for half a second, and I had to lean back into the couch for support. "What did you tell him?" There was no way he couldn't see me shaking, couldn't hear it in my voice.

"I said, hell yes. Adora? That place is world famous."

Or maybe he actually was oblivious to my devastation. And I was oh, so devastated. Not just because the thought of losing David was terrible, but because of what Hudson had done, when he'd specifically told me nothing had been decided yet. I wanted to throw up.

I focused on the more immediate situation at hand-convincing David to stay. "But we're only getting started here. The Sky Launch could be the next Adora. With you and me-"

"I'm sure it will be the next Adora. Bigger even, with Pierce's money and your ideas. But I'm not a guy who builds things. I'm a guy who runs things someone else has built. Adora is the biggest career move I could ever hope for." He looked down at me sheepishly. "I'm supposed to start in two weeks."

"That's so soon. And you'll have to move to Atlantic City." My throat clogged with tears.

"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you're going to miss me." His tone was hopeful.

"Of course I'll miss you, you dope." I had enough control of myself to tack on a platonic addendum. "You've been such a great manager. It was really you who inspired me to want to stay in the nightclub business."

"Really? I had no idea." He moved to sit beside me. "I'll miss you, Laynie. And not just because I have a big crush on you, but because you're a good friend."

His unabashed flirtation made sense now. He was laying everything on the line. Why not? He would be gone soon. Gone because of Hudson.

God, my head hurt. I sighed and threw a glance at David. "You don't have a big crush on me."

"You're right. I'm totally in love with you."

The wind left my lungs. I had to stand up and walk away, putting distance between us. The man I'd moved in with hadn't even told me he loved me. And he'd gone and betrayed me so deeply. What was I even doing with Hudson? Was I crazy? Should I be running away with David?

The answer was, of course, no. No matter how much David felt for me, it didn't make up for how much I felt for Hudson. Even after what he'd done.

Thank god, I didn't have to say it out loud.

"I get it," David said. "I just really needed you to know how I feel before I go."

I turned back to face him.

"And now you realize that I really have to do this. I can't stay here with you. And Adora..."

I nodded. I got it, too.

"But I'm only a phone call away. You can dial me up anytime you need anything. Like, if you have questions about The Sky Launch, or if you want to hear my voice."

I leaned against the desk, my hands gripping the edging. "Did he tell you who was taking your place?"

"He hinted. We both know it's you." He leveled his stare at me. "Come on, we knew it was coming the minute you started seeing him."

"No, I didn't know it was coming. I really didn't." My relationship with Hudson had been complicated from the beginning, surprising at every turn. Still, in my wildest dreams, I had never imagined his intention was to put the club in my hands. I would have been far less shocked if he'd wanted me stowed away in his penthouse, barefoot and pregnant.

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