Hi again! Hope you enjoyed Chapter One of The Unyielding Bachelor. Without further ado, here's Chapter Two 😉
“Ow,” Lexie said under her breath as she gingerly walked towards the elevators.
“You okay?” Rick asked, clasping her arm in assistance.
“My feet are killing me,” she said with a rueful laugh. “I should have sat out that dancing marathon game. These heels weren’t right for it.”
“Mine are killing me, too,” Jade said, her steps as short and slow as Lexie’s as she hung on to Lucas.
“I’ll make sure Drew’s already waiting for us at the front,” Lucas said, fishing his phone from his jacket pocket to call his driver.
“Thanks, Lucas,” Lexie said, grateful for the thought and the fact that she and Rick were getting a lift with the couple.
In the past, she hadn’t taken full advantage of the time she’d spent with Rick whilst in the company of their friends. When surrounded with other people, she’d toned down her flirting, not wanting to appear as desperate as some of his admirers.
Right now was a case in point. Rick still had his hand on her arm, ensuring she had some support while she tried to walk with dignity. But what was she doing with this unexpected benefit from her aching feet? Nothing.
Well, that was about to change.
“Ow,” she said again—deliberately—and clung to him.
“Not far to go now,” Rick soothed.
That was a shame, because she was now hugging his arm. She only had to rest her head on his shoulder and they would look as sweet as Jade and Lucas.
“It’s funny how women’s shoes are so expensive, yet can be so uncomfortable,” Rick said.
“The things we do for fashion,” she murmured, wondering if Rick was minding the way she was grasping his bicep.
“And how do you know how much women’s shoes cost, bro?” Lucas teased.
“Try having a fifteen-year-old sister who’s starting to want to dress up like a grown-up,” he said dryly. “I tell Shelley she’s too young for high fashion and she tells me I’m too stodgy.”
“You sound more like a dad than a brother,” Lexie said with a chuckle.
“I do, don’t I?” he murmured. He had been both a brother and father to Shelley ever since their dad passed away three years ago.
“Have you seen her much lately?”
“Last time I saw her was almost a month ago,” Rick said wryly. “Funny how she used to be my shadow when she was younger. Not anymore.”
They made it to the hotel entrance, where the limo was already waiting for them. Drew opened the back door and Jade walked in first. Lucas stood aside so Lexie could follow but she pretended not to notice his gesture. She continued to hold on to Rick’s arm and patiently waited until Lucas took the hint and got in the car.
She could feel herself blushing. She was being obvious. But so what?
She rolled her eyes at herself. What happened to the promise she’d made not to chase after a man or fight over one ever again? Since finding out that the ex-boyfriend she’d set out to win back had been cheating on her for so long, that had been her motto.
But, no. She didn’t think she was softening her stance with Rick. This was a different situation. Besides, simply letting him know how she felt wasn’t exactly chasing after him.
She climbed into the limo and was grateful to see that Lucas and Jade were already cuddling inside. That meant she was definitely sitting next to Rick.
“I’m so tired,” Jade said, yawning.
“Well, you’ve had a bit to drink,” Lucas murmured, kissing her forehead.
“Hey, maybe Drew can take you guys home first,” Rick said to the couple as he settled himself next to Lexie. “Your place is closest from here.”
“Good idea,” Lucas said, then gave instructions to his driver.
Lexie cheered silently. She’d be alone with Rick at the back of the car for at least fifteen minutes.
Lexie smiled as she felt Rick’s lips against her hair.
“Hm,” she said, keeping her eyes closed to savour the moment. It was nice hearing him say her name so softly. She shifted so she could snuggle against him even more, snaking her arm around his waist.
Rick chuckled. “Maybe I should carry you inside. I don’t think we can stay in here. Drew has to go home.”
The fog of sleep lifted and she bolted upright, reddening as she realised how she’d practically wrapped herself around Rick as she snoozed.
“Sorry,” she said, glancing at Jade’s and Lucas’s empty seats. “Have they gone?”
“Yes. You slept through the goodbyes.”
“Oh.” Great. She’d wasted her alone time with him.
Drew opened the door from the outside and she didn’t have a choice but to get out. To her delight, Rick followed.
“I’ll walk you to your door,” he said.
“I thought I heard you say you’ll carry me,” she teased.
Next thing she knew, he was sweeping her off her feet and into his arms. She let out a high-pitched shriek, clinging to his neck in surprise.
“Never let it be said that I disappoint a damsel with distressed feet,” he said with a grin as he strode towards her apartment building.
She giggled, suddenly shy and speechless. She tried to think of something funny or sexy to say, but all that ran through her head was how Rick must be hearing how hard and fast her heart was hammering in her chest. Gosh, she wasn’t expecting this.
With a sigh, she rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes.
“You’re not falling asleep on me, are you?”
Was he kidding? Fall asleep when she was in his arms? “No,” she answered. “Just enjoying the ride.”
He chuckled. “Well, we need your key,” he said as he stopped by the main door of the building.
She waited for him to put her down. But he didn’t.
“Key, Lexie,” he said, staring at her expectantly.
“Oh.” She hid her grin as she fumbled with her purse while still hanging on to his neck. “Here it is.”
Rick angled her so she could insert the key in the lock. Together, they managed to open the heavy front door with Rick still carrying her.
“You don’t have lifts,” he observed, looking around the foyer for the elevators.
“No. There’s only three floors in the building.”
“What floor are you on?”
“Second. So I guess you’ll have to put me down now.”
With a sigh, he did.
Holding on to him for support, she unstrapped her stilettos and dangled them in her hand. “See? Next best thing for distressed feet,” she said with a grin.
Rick chuckled. “Well, I guess you don’t need me anymore, so I better go. See you tomorrow night for dinner at my place,” he said. Then he waved and started to walk away.
She stared at his back in hurt disappointment. That was it? There was nothing more to carrying her than being a gentleman who was helping a friend with aching feet?
“Rick,” she called out.
He looked back just as he was about to open the door.
“You can’t go without getting your thanks.”
Rick raised his brows.
With as much sexiness as she could muster, she sashayed to him and slung her arms around his neck. “Thank you,” she whispered, then kissed him on the lips. Lingeringly.
Her heart was galloping, but at the same time there was calmness about her. He had to know. No more being coy about it.
She ended the kiss and watched his face for his reaction. His eyes were wide, his breathing shallow.
“Wow,” he said. “You’re very welcome.”
She smiled, staring into his eyes.
Rick cleared his throat and stepped out of her embrace. “Well, goodnight, Lexie,” he said in a too-loud-and-cheerful-for-the-moment tone. “That was a great way to end the day. Bring your appetite tomorrow night.” Then he left.
She exhaled her chagrin. There was no way anyone could have mistaken that kiss for a friendly gesture.
She waited to see if Rick would at least turn back and wave. But no. He got into the car and closed the door without a backward glance.
He was plainly and simply not interested.
She took one long, deep breath to compose herself before she turned around and trudged up the stairs. When she opened the door to her apartment, a sleepy Erin Baker was walking out of the bathroom.
“Hi, Erin,” she said glumly to her other best friend and flatmate.
“What’s wrong?” Erin asked in a drowsy voice.
She smiled sadly. “Nothing.”
Erin frowned. “Nothing? When you and Jade called earlier to say that we’re all celebrating their engagement at Rick’s house tomorrow night, you sounded super excited. So what—or who—burst your bubble?”
She plopped on the sofa. “The same man. Rick.”
“What happened?” Erin asked, sitting next to her.
“You know how I’ve decided to be more overt with my feelings for him?”
Erin nodded, now seemingly wide awake.
“Well, I kissed him downstairs. And now I don’t have to wonder anymore. He’s not interested in me.”
“Oh, Lex,” Erin said with sympathy, putting a hand on her arm. “Did he push you away?” she asked softly.
“He didn’t kiss you back?”
Lexie’s brows furrowed. “Actually, he did. There was even some tongue there.”
“So he did kiss you back and he didn’t pull away?”
She nodded. “But when I ended the kiss, he just said goodnight as if the kiss meant nothing.”
“He didn’t say anything else?”
“Well, he did say ‘wow’ and that I was very welcome—because I thanked him first before I kissed him.”
“He said ‘wow’?” Erin asked, her brows lifting.
“So he did enjoy the kiss.”
“I guess. But like I said, after that, he brushed it off.”
“Hm. Maybe because it’s late and he’s tired and you surprised him?”
She stared at Erin. “You think? But that’s how he always reacts every time I flirt with him. I thought before that I just haven’t done enough to make him notice that I like him. But this kiss was different. It definitely wasn’t friendly.”
Erin sighed. “I don’t know then, Lex. Sorry.”
“But do you think kissing me back and saying ‘wow’ could be something?” she asked, wanting to hang on to whatever possibility was left. “Plus, he carried me to the door.”
She told Erin the whole story.
“Geez, it’s hard to tell, Lex. But if you’re game, why don’t you keep persisting with your flirtation plans? Who knows what might develop from there?”
She chewed her bottom lip, worried and uncertain.
“Alexia, I know what you’re thinking,” Erin said with soft censure. “But you’ve gotta be a little more flexible with this no-chasing-after-a-man thing. I think you’re backing away too early. Why don’t you see how he interacts with you tomorrow night and go on from there?”
“Okay,” she said, marshalling her courage again. “I guess I could just have surprised him tonight. Tomorrow might be different.”
“I’ll be watching his reaction, too,” Erin said.
She nodded, eager and apprehensive for what was to come.
“Hi, Rick,” Lexie said with a bright smile, preparing to tiptoe and kiss him as close to his lips as she dared with people watching.
But she wasn’t fast enough. Rick had already leaned down to plant a peck on her cheek. A very light, almost-nothing peck.
Well, what should she make of that?
With a sinking feeling, she watched as Rick gave her friends smacking kisses and warm hugs.
“Shelley’s in the kitchen. She’s excited to see you guys,” Rick said, walking towards the back of his impressive house and motioning for everyone to follow.
Erin pulled her so they lagged behind.
“He is most definitely different with you,” Erin whispered.
“What did I tell you?” she asked dryly.
“That’s a good thing, I think.”
She frowned at Erin. “How can kissing the air instead of my cheek be a good thing when everyone else got something more enthusiastic? If that wasn’t a clear hint that he’s not interested, I don’t know what is.”
“But I also saw the way he looked at you.”
Her heart jumped. “How did he look at me?”
“It’s hard to explain, but there was something in his eyes.”
“That doesn’t help, Erin.”
“Well, there was… tenderness, I think. Or warmth. I don’t know. He might have been distant with his kiss, but his eyes gave me the opposite impression. To be honest, I’ve noticed him look at you differently before. I just didn’t want to bring it up because I’m not sure what it meant.”
“Hey, didn’t Jade say that Rick could have a good reason to stay single?” Erin said. “What if he’s interested in you but just can’t act on it?”
She frowned. “So how can I find out if that’s the case? And what’s stopping him?”
“We’ll work on finding out,” Erin said with determination.
She smiled at her friend, giving her a quick thank-you hug. Even though Erin was still getting over her recent breakup with a guy she’d been with for a couple of years, Erin had remained upbeat about love. She was an incurable romantic.
“All our guests are here, Shel,” they heard Rick say as they entered a large kitchen fit for a serious chef.
“Hi, guys!” said a pretty blonde girl who ran to them with exuberance. “I’m so glad to be feeding all of you tonight.” She gave each of them a massive bear hug, with a shriek of congratulations for the engaged couple.
Lexie grinned, returning Shelley’s greeting with a tight embrace. She loved Rick’s sister. She wasn’t a brat at all, even though Rick had that nickname for her. Shelley was warm and open, with a delightful sense of humour. Tonight, she was wearing an apron that said I’m my brother’s boss.
“Nice apron, Shel,” Lucas commented.
“Well, it’s true in some ways,” Shelley said with a grin.
“Having it printed on your favourite piece of clothing doesn’t make it true, brat,” Rick said, patting his sister on the shoulder.
“I’m so excited, Shelley,” Jade said. “And we’d all love to help.”
“Yes, we’re here to get our hands dirty,” Lexie added. “Tell us what you want us to do.”
“Well, since this is an engagement dinner for Jade and Lucas, maybe the two of them can just sit and watch. I do need extra help or we won’t be eating for another couple of hours because Rick is sooo slooow with everything.”
“Gee, thanks, sis,” Rick said sarcastically. “Glad to know my efforts are appreciated.”
“Why don’t you just pour your guests some drinks?” Shelley asked him with an unapologetic but sweet smile, then proceeded to give instructions to Lexie, Erin and Cassie.
The three women happily did what Shelley had assigned to them, leaving the girl to focus on preparing some special sauces for her dishes.
Lexie was reminded why Shelley impressed her. The girl was a pro in the kitchen. At this rate, they’d be having dinner in no time. She couldn’t wait. She was starving.
But busy as she was, she made sure she took the time to give Rick provocative looks. She even gave him flirty nudges whenever the opportunity presented itself. She wanted him to know that kissing him last night wasn’t meant to be a one-off thing.
He didn’t respond in kind, though, which was a bit of a downer. But she wasn’t going to let his lack of enthusiasm get to her. For all she knew, Rick was just feeling self-conscious in front of their friends. That was a possibility, right?
“By the way, Rick,” Shelley said, looking up from her task after quietly concentrating on it for long minutes. “I was talking to Aileen earlier today. She said she might pass by here tonight to drop something off.”
Lexie noticed how Rick’s head jerked towards Shelley.
“Didn’t you tell her we’re busy tonight?” Rick asked, glaring.
“Yeah. But she said she won’t be staying long. She just wants to hand me something.”
Shelley shrugged just as the doorbell rang. “That’s probably her,” she said.
Lexie stared surreptitiously at Rick as he walked out of the kitchen. He was clearly uncomfortable with the arrival of this Aileen woman. Why? And who was she?
“Who’s Aileen, Shel?” Lexie asked casually.
“His girlfriend. I mean his ex-girlfriend,” Shelley answered, looking very pleased, like things were going the way she’d planned. It wasn’t hard to guess the girl’s intentions.
Gloom swiftly descended onto Lexie. But this wasn’t the time and place to wallow in the reasons for Rick’s ex being here, so she tried to push it away.
Lexie looked up and saw a brunette standing by the threshold.
“Aileen!” Shelley cried delightedly.
Lexie’s heart sank. Aileen was absolutely stunning.
###End of Chapter Two###
That's it for now. You can enjoy the rest of the story when it comes out on the 19th of May 🙂
Can't wait for release day! Until then, take care.
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