Home > Temptation After Dark (Gansett Island #22)(8)

Temptation After Dark (Gansett Island #22)(8)
Author: Marie Force

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

Gigi drove them slowly and carefully through town to Mario’s, located behind the Beachcomber.

“We were supposed to end up there.” Cooper pointed to the iconic white hotel that anchored the Gansett downtown. “Sorry to mess up our night.”

“It would’ve been an even bigger mess if you and/or the car had gone off that cliff, so thanks for not letting that happen.”

“Ha,” Cooper said with a grunt of laughter. “That’s the truth.”

“Can I have a rain check on the Beachcomber?”

“Of course you can,” Cooper said, immediately feeling a thousand times better to know they’d have a do-over.

“And how about we take my car next time?”

“Sounds good,” he said, smiling.

“It’s an automatic, so no clutch to worry about.”

“I’m an idiot for wanting to impress you with my brother’s car,” Cooper said, sighing.

“You impressed me with the wildflowers and the way you risked your own safety to save something that means a lot to your brother.”

Cooper wished he felt well enough to celebrate those victories. “I know it seems silly that I risked myself for something Jared could buy a thousand of and never feel the hit. But the car was the first thing he bought for himself when he struck it rich. He set us all up for life, paid off my parents’ house, my grandparents’ reverse mortgage, the mortgages of all our aunts and uncles, set up college funds for all our cousins. And only after all that was done did he do something for himself.” Cooper looked over at her. “I couldn’t let that car go off the cliff.”

“That’s amazing,” Gigi said, “how he did those things for your family.”

“He’s super generous, sometimes to a fault. A few people in our family and his group of friends have tried to take advantage by treating him like a bank.”

“That’s so lame.”

“It is, but he tries not to let it get to him. He says his conscience is clear after what he did for everyone.”

“So, you’re set for life, huh?”

“Yes and no. Jared put most of what he gave me in a trust until I’m thirty so I wouldn’t end up useless, as he put it.”

Gigi laughed. “I love that.”

“I was pissed about it at the time, but he was right. If I’d had access to that when I was younger, I would’ve gotten into trouble. Jared gave me just enough to pay for college and grad school and let me live in his New York apartment while I was in school. And he set me up with an investment account that I’ve used to learn the market. He’s a great teacher. I’ve managed to grow that account significantly.”

“He’s a good brother.”

“He’s the best. We’ve always been close.”

“What’s the age difference between you guys?”

“Twelve years. He was good to me when I was a pesky kid, always had time for me, took me places. I’d do anything for him.”

“That’s sweet. I don’t know him and Lizzie as well as you do, but they’ve seemed off lately.”

“If I tell you why, do you promise not to repeat it to anyone?”

“Of course.”

“They’ve been trying to have a baby for a long time, and another round of IVF failed recently.”

“Oh no. That’s terrible. They’d be such great parents.”

“They would. It’s been so hard for them.”

“It’s weird how we all spend so much effort when we’re younger trying not to make babies,” Gigi said, “and then when we want them, some people have such an awful time.”

“I know.”

“And it’s proof there are some things all the money in the world can’t buy.”

“True. Jared is worried about Lizzie getting involved with the new mom and baby.”

“I can see why. Lizzie is the sweetest person I’ve ever met. At first, I wondered if she was for real.”

“She is,” Cooper said. “She’s exactly how she seems. There’s nothing she wouldn’t do for anyone.”

“I wish I was more like her.”

“We all need to be more like her. Jared is always after her to be as good to herself as she is to others, and he says how she loves to spend his money on her causes—never on herself. He learned early on not to try to give her extravagant gifts. Once, he gave her a Louis Vuitton purse. She made him take it back and give her the money he spent on it, which she donated to a food bank.”

Gigi reached for the purse she’d propped between the seats and put it down on the floor. “I’ll be consigning this and my luggage when I get back to LA and donating the proceeds to a food bank.”

Cooper laughed. “Lizzie would be proud of you.”

Gigi pulled the car into the parking lot at Mario’s and brought it to a smooth stop before the car stalled, lurching forward.

Cooper grunted through the pain.

“Sorry.”

“No problem.”

“I suck at driving a stick. I always have.”

“Now you tell me,” Cooper said with a laugh. “It’s fine. Better you than me all doped up.”

“I’ll just run in and pick up the order.”

Before he could tell her to wait for him to get his credit card from his wallet, she was out of the car and on her way into the restaurant, teetering on crazy heels that did wondrous things for her sexy legs.

Could this night become any more of a disaster? Now, she was paying for dinner, too. His only goal in life would be making amends for letting this night turn into such a train wreck. No other date in his extensive dating history had ever gone so wrong. Figured it had to happen with his dream woman.

She returned with a pizza box and brown bag that she handed to him to hold for the ride home.

“That was supposed to be my treat.”

“Don’t sweat it.”

“I’m sweating it. This has to be the worst date you’ve ever been on.”

“Haha, nowhere close to the worst. This one will be memorable. That’s for sure.”

Cooper wished it had been memorable for better reasons than a near catastrophe that involved EMS and a trip to the clinic, not to mention she was driving and had paid for dinner.

Thankfully, she managed to back the car out of the parking space and drive it out of the lot without stalling.

“So what’s the worst date you’ve ever had?”

She glanced at him as if deciding if she should be truthful. “I dated this guy for a month before I realized he was a celebrity stalker who I’d let into my house and my life. I had to get a restraining order to get him away from me, and I have to testify against him when I get home.”

“Damn, Gigi. That’s horrible.”

“People suck. That’s kind of why I’m dreading going home. He’s out on bail awaiting the trial.”

“Do you have security?”

“Yeah, I have to have it when I’m there. He’s got an ankle monitor that keeps him from leaving the area, so I’m safe here.” She let out a nervous-sounding laugh. “The downside of pseudo-celebrity.”

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