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He has no wings or halo, but he’s an honest-to-goodness hero. …And his lineage is quite impressive.
When a reclusive businessman takes an interest in Haven’s artwork, she knows it’s an answer to prayer. But Jett Cestone is an enigma with a disconcerting connection to the young women in his employ. He’s by far the most unusual man she’s ever met. Haven is the most interesting woman to ever cross Jett’s path. But she’s too naïve and pure to learn what goes on in his home. Too bad he wants her more than he’s wanted anyone or anything in his life.
Haven was still thinking of Jett two hours later as she applied her makeup in an upstairs bathroom. Unlike the one in her room, this one had a large mirror that swung out from the wall.
“Why do you wear that stuff on your face?”
Haven’s hand jerked, dragging a stripe of eyeliner across her temple. She ground her teeth.
“I could have poked my eye out! And you aren’t supposed to look in the bathroom when I’m in here.” She wiped away the smudge with a corner of tissue.
“These are not your quarters, and the door is open,” Jett answered. “So, why do you paint yourself up like that?”
“It’s a mask.” She threw the answer out flippantly, but knew it was the truth.
“What are you hiding?”
She shrugged. “I guess the real me, same as you.”
“You don’t hide the real you.” Annoyance tinged his voice. “You’re the most open person I’ve ever met.”
Haven set down the pencil and shifted her feet. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” He didn’t answer and she sighed. “I guess I wear it out of habit. Growing up, girls are told they need to be thinner, prettier, sexier. It sticks with you. The world isn’t a very encouraging place. I just want the outside to be more appealing.”
“You couldn’t be more appealing.”
She hesitated, blinking while her skin heated. “Thank you.”
Jett cleared his throat, evidently as surprised by the compliment as she. “So where are you going, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“A movie, then dinner. You know, traditional.”
“This is a date, then?” Bewilderment and a definite touch of hostility colored his voice now.
The guilt was back, the same niggling self-reproach she encountered every time she thought of Chris and Jett in the same timeframe. “Yes.”
“And is this the young man you were with the night Paris went missing? The charming Christopher Andrew Pembroke?”
Haven turned to see him, which of course she couldn’t. “Don’t you respect anyone’s privacy?”
“You’re nosy. You could only have found that out by poking your nose in where it doesn’t belong. He isn’t an employee. And how did you know his full name? I didn’t even know it.”
“There is much you don’t know. Shall I enlighten you?”
“Don’t you dare!” She jabbed a finger in the air. “And I mean it!” She took a deep breath, gripping the front of the vanity with both hands. “Is there going to be a problem if he wants to come in when he brings me home?”
“Yes. You said I could have people here. Are you are going to behave yourself and keep out of my business?”
“What you do with your date is your affair. I won’t intrude.”
She smacked a hand on the counter. No matter what he said, she could tell his teeth were clenched. “You aren’t my guardian or my husband. You have no right to try to make me feel guilty for seeing a nice guy. I’m not going to sleep with him—and if I were,” she added quickly, “it would be none of your business. You and I are friends.”
“Is that what we are, Haven? Friends?” His words rang with a peculiar strain.
She swallowed. “Sure.”
“Very well. But if you think you can feel free to express to me your desire for another man, I hate to disappoint you. Our friendship will never extend that far.”
Emotions were escalating, his and hers, and she seemed unable to help it. “Great, just great.” She should shut up, but she shouted instead, arms flailing. “A friendship with conditions. Great. Tell you what? Why don’t you take your friendship and—”
“Ah, ah, ah. Don’t say something you’ll regret.” His voice held a clear warning.
Haven stopped and dropped her hands in surrender. “You’re right. So with that in mind…” She swung the bathroom door closed with a satisfying bang.