e going to feed me before you shout at me, right?" Rosie clarified as soon as Cedric got into the drivers seat.
"Put on your seatbelt," Cedric commanded and she quickly obeyed. He started the engine. "And Im not going to shout at you."
She doubted he wouldn .
"But you are going to feed me first, right? Before we..." she hesitated for a brief moment, "discuss whatever it is you wish to discuss with me?"
Cedric didn look at her as he drove out of the building. "I don know. Are you a good listener fed or not fed?"
"So yes. I have to feed you first."
"Where are we going?" she asked curiously, gaze wandering out the windows.
She looked startled but was quick to recover. "Excuse me?"
"Where else will we have our discussion?"
"There are lots of private dining rooms in restaurants and hotels nowadays."
"I don like the idea of spending money on you," he answered with a shrug.
"You already did," she pointed out. "You paid for both dinner and drinks when Aiden and I went to that fancy hotel—."
Cedric cut her off with a disgruntled look. "Its because its MY fancy hotel. And Aiden never pays."
She had to take more than one deep breath upon hearing that. "Oh, my God. How billions rich are you? You don have bodyguards. Why don you have bodyguards? Aren you afraid youll be kidnapped for ransom? Or beaten up especially because of that mouth of yours?"
"I wonder the same with you," he deadpanned.
"Im not kidnap material. Im not rich."
For a moment there, she thought she saw his body stiffen. Then he said, "I meant your mouth, idiot."
"Oh." She took a few seconds to think. "Do you have bodyguards?"
He nodded abruptly. That appeased her.
"Are they following us?"
"In one separate car and two motorcycles, yes." She gasped loudly and he gave her an irritated look. "Im this close to throwing you out while driving."
"Shall I stop talking?"
"Ill only do it because you said please."
He pinned her a look that need not interpreting. She pursed her lips and looked out her window, trying to guess which cars and motorcycles were his people. Trying not to think about this handsome arrogant man beside her who was spiriting her away to his home.
"Is this appropriate?" she asked aloud after a while.
He barked out a laugh, surprising her. "Youve only realized that now? Tell me. Were you going have dinner at my place just because I told you to?"
"Yes," she replied without thinking.
His hands on the steering wheel noticeably tightened and the dark expression on his face told her he didn like hearing her answer. "Do you always follow men into their homes just because they told you to?"
He glanced at her when they were stopped at a traffic light. She tilted her head to the side.
"I feel safe with you. Thats why."
He was at a loss for words. He looked quite astonished too. It was as if this had never occurred to him.
"No offense but you
e so... domineering," she ended instead because she couldn call him a jerk to his face. "You always call me names. You
e always criticizing me. So I don think youd take advantage of someone you consider below you. Right?"
He turned his head and moved the car forward when the light turned green. "Perhaps," he muttered.
"Perhaps?" she repeated with a start.
A grin appeared on his lips. "Maybe you
e not that unattractive to me."
For a long minute, Rosie stared at him dumbly, distracted by his wonderful smile. Smiling was a rarity for him, especially when he was working. There was no question that Cedric was a workaholic.
Then she asked, "Aiden told me you
e probably acting like a kindergartener with a first crush."
He took a deep breath. "Im going to kill him."
"And don think highly of yourself, Miss Conley. I was just kidding."
The censure in his voice had her quitting her laughter immediately.
"Okay," she whispered, leaning her head back. She didn know why but she felt a little hurt hearing him say he was just kidding.
Rosie thought Cedric lived in a high-end super penthouse or one of those modern bachelor pads with the cutting-edge electronics and other luxury touches. She did not expect him to live in a gorgeous Mediterranean style home in a wealthy neighborhood.
"Wow." Rosie looked around as she entered the elegant foyer of his home. "Your house is nice, Mr. Orion."
Cedric handed his briefcase and her bag to a pretty blonde woman who seemed to be the housekeeper. "You think so?"
"Yes," she nodded, staring at the beautiful high ceiling and lovely wall decors of the great room. Though his home looked upscale and sophisticated, it still managed to retain a down-to-earth and livable feeling that she liked. "Its feels very homey."
"Im glad you like it."
"Whats not to like? It would be a dream to live in a place like this for me. Did your girlfriend decorate the place for you?"
He removed his tie and glanced at her. "No. I don have a girlfriend."
"Your mother then?"
"I hired an interior designer, Rosie."
She grinned, not put out by his sarcasm. "If you call me Rosie, can I call you by your given name too?"
"No," he countered dryly.
She shrugged. "I tried."
Rosie watched as he dismissed the bodyguards who came in with them and listened as he told the housekeeper that she may leave. Then she started to panic.
"Why is everyone leaving?"
He grabbed her hand and pulled her to the classy dining table set across the great room. "Why shouldn they? They have their own homes."
It took her a second to see that their dinner was ready on the beautiful oak table. It took her another second to sit on the chair Cedric pulled out for her. And it took her another to get over her worry when her stomach made a low rumbling sound.
"Wow, did your housekeeper make this for us?" she asked him, hoping he hadn heard that.
"No," He sat on his chair at the head of the table and gestured for her to start eating. "The chef."
She looked at him with admiration. Then did the same at the plate filled with a huge portion of roast beef, potatoes and broccoli in front of her. She hadn had roast beef in so long and it smelled so good her mouth was watering.
"You have a chef too?"
"I was kidding," he answered, pouring her and himself a glass of red wine. "It was my housekeeper. She used to be a chef."
Then he did have a chef.
Rosie decided she was through trying to have a decent conversation with him. She picked up her knife and fork, cut off a small chunk of roast beef and shoved it in her mouth. It tasted delicious as well. She let out a small groan of pleasure as she chewed. Then she tasted the wine. It was, by far, the best wine shed ever had. When she looked at Cedric again, she saw that he was staring at her.
Surprised, she blurted out, "Why are you staring at me?"
His lips twitched yet he kept his eyes fixed on her. "Why are you?"
She hesitated for a brief moment, then said, "Im just worried youll stab me with your knife if Im not looking."
"Are you feeling nervous?"
His question was ridiculous. He was staring at her with such intensity that was making her want to blush.
"No," she lied. She couldn quite look him in the eye so she stared intently at his collarbone.
"Are you sure?"
Sighing, she raised her gaze and opted for the truth. "Fine. I guess I am. Maybe because I still don know why Im here."
"I thought I was supposed to feed you before we start our discussion?"
"But can you give me even a little hint?" she begged. "Are you going to be angry and do a lot of yelling? Because I need to brace if you are."
He sighed. "Fine. Im not going to do any yelling. Im not going to be angry. Happy now?"
Relieved, she smiled at him. "Very. Now, please eat. You were so busy today you probably didn have lunch, did you, Mr. Orion?"
"I will if you stop yammering away," he grumbled.
She mimed locking her lips and throwing away the key. He shook his head and started eating. She gave him the occasional glance as they ate silently. Though he was rude, he had very refined manners. In fact, hed always been the perfect gentleman.
"Like what you see?" he asked, wiping his lips with a napkin.
She flushed. She remembered. He did too, unfortunately.
"You know that I was drunk that night, right?" she giggled awkwardly. "I don even remember half the things I said."
He smirked. "Would you like me to tell you?"
"No!" she half- shouted. "No," she repeated in a softer voice. "Its fine, Mr. Orion. You don have to be that thoughtful. And don you dare smile."
His brows rose. "Why not?"
"I don like you smiling."
"Why the hell not?" he scowled.
She didn want to answer so she looked at the empty plates in front of them. How could she tell him she was afraid that his smile would drive her to distraction again? It would only make his day.
"Your housekeeper isn going to come back, is she?" she stated after a while. "Whos going to wash the dishes?"
The turn in the topic didn fool him and only served to annoy him. "I swear to God, you try my patience."
"Do you have the patience to endure one more question?"
Cedric continued to scowl at her. "What is it?"
"Can you tell me why Im here now?" she pleaded, clasping her hands together. "Ive had a trying day. And night. The suspense is going to kill me. So just please tell me already.
He snorted. "Jesus, you really haven changed."
Her brows lifted. "Excuse me?"
"Nothing," he muttered.
Then he leaned back, crossed his arms and studied her for a brief moment.
Rosie tried not to stare at him as she waited for him to begin or hed only call her out on this behavior again. She was beginning to wish he wasn so handsome
"Do you like clutter, Rosie?"
She blinked at the sudden and strange question. "Not really, no. Why?"
"Do you listen to loud music?"
"I listen to instrumental music while Im doing yoga and to pop songs when Im in a cheerful mood. Why are you asking me all this?"
Again, he didn answer and continued on with his strange questions. "Do you like dogs?"
"Im more of a cat person but I like all animals in general if they don bite or scratch me." She let him see her exasperation. "Are you looking for a pet sitter? Is that why you
e asking me these questions?"
"You said my house is homey," he reminded her.
"And beautiful," she added with a nod.
"You like it?"
"Good. Because you
e going to live here from now on."