Jeremy is a viewpoint character in the first and Bernie is very present as well , so you might want to read that one before starting this. I kind of hated him in that book and I very nearly gave this one a pass based on his personality there. Jeremy is very much the empty jerk he was then so I knew that he would need a world of change to make him acceptable romance material. And then Bernie gets pregnant and that gives you the catalyst you know the story will hinge on. Interestingly, it only occurs to me now that I could have worried that the rest was going to be stereotype or go down a predictable path.
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She was about ten times more emotionally stable than the average person, but if she had to spend one more evening watching him pick up vacuous blond women for fun and recreation, she was going to go insane. It was about putting one more notch in his hand-carved Louis XIV bedpost. Her job was to protect him wherever he decided to go. And, of course, there was the small matter of the outrageous amount of money he paid her to put up with this nonsense, money she was going to need desperately in the coming years.
Tonight would be one of those times. Carlos pulled the limo into the driveway of the San Moritz Hotel behind a string of unusually small and sedate vehicles. Tonight, it seemed, the filthy rich of Dallas society had left their Mercedeses and Beemers and gas-guzzling Hummers in their five-car garages, opting instead for their hybrids and electric cars.
Bernie sighed. Good question. Global warming. Emphasis on diminishing polar bear habitats. Last I checked, it gets about nine miles to the gallon. People are staring. He drank the best Scotch, lived in a gazillion-dollar house, traveled the world, and dated women who were knockout gorgeous with brains the size of golf balls.
Nice to look at, Jeremy had told Bernie more than once, without all that pesky intelligence to get in the way of a good time. With that one statement, he singlehandedly set feminism back fifty years. There had been a time when total professionalism had dictated the way she dealt with Bridges. Yes, sir. No, sir. Very good, sir. But the longer she worked for him, the more she spoke her mind. It just meant she had an outlet for the irritation she felt around him just about every minute of every day.
Fortunately, because Jeremy was a bored rich guy who refused to play by the rules, a smartass bodyguard seemed to suit him just fine. Jeremy looked down at the tie dangling around his neck. If he wrote a big enough check, he could show up stark naked.
Now that he was thirty-seven years old, Bernie thought maybe he ought to knock off the eccentricities and play it straight, but hell would probably freeze over first. Over the years, the press had tried to dig up any dirt that might explain his quirkiness, but except for the basics, his background remained something of a mystery. He had grown up in Houston with his father. Mother unknown.
Graduated from Texas Southwestern University. Short stint as a software engineer before starting his own company, which eventually became Sybersense.
Except for more current professional and civic activities, that was about it. Bernie looked at the rich folks strolling into the hotel and sighed. This is a very special occasion. After all, how many times in this city does somebody have a benefit for such an outstanding cause and invite all the rich, pretty people? Not nearly often enough. Everyone should stick with what they do best.
Then he kicked the rest to the curb. Unfortunately, that had removed a lot of formerly wealthy, high-powered executives from the gravy train at their respective companies and given them a reason to want to see Sybersense fail or Jeremy dead. Or both. Bernie felt pretty certain this event would be the harmless experience it seemed to be on the surface, but there was no way for her or Jeremy to know that for sure. All Bernie knew was that every time she tried to figure out why he behaved the way he did, she realized how pointless that was and merely concentrated on keeping his body and soul together.
Going to charity events? Going to charity events, picking up Paris Hilton wannabes, and having your way with them.
You never know when some dread disease will rear its ugly head. Your concern is heartwarming. I just want you to do the world a favor and keep your genetic material to yourself. The man singlehandedly kept the latex industry afloat. Send Carlos to pick her up. We have to think of the wildlife. Polar bears are at the forefront of my consciousness nearly every minute of every day. I restocked the DVD collection. Terminator, Alien, Die Hard—all your old favorites.
You have a tendency to cramp my style. See if I care. Would you be able to abuse another client the way you abuse me? Just the sound of his voice made her heart beat a little faster. And those gorgeous green eyes. Good God, it was no wonder women fell in his wake. In the end, she was just one more employee at his beck and call, like his housekeeper or his pool boy.
And that was fine by her. Her mile-long legs protruded from beneath the hem of a sheath of silvery fabric that clung to her body like Glad Wrap, and her headful of stunning blond hair glinted in the evening light.
The car ahead of them drove away, and Carlos pulled to the curb directly in front of the hotel. A uniformed man opened the door of the limo and gave Jeremy a deferential smile. He cleared his throat. Bernie cringed. And it was none of his damned business what she was doing with Jeremy, anyway. The man dutifully held out his hand to her, as if she needed help getting out of a car.
She ignored him and climbed out, quickly scanning the area for anything out of place. She and Jeremy headed for the front door of the hotel, and she got a good look at the blond for the first time. Even though the woman wore enough mascara to sink a freighter, Bernie thought she recognized her.
Bernie also remembered a woman loitering outside a restaurant yesterday where Bridges had met his chief financial officer for lunch. Two sightings was a coincidence. Three was a pattern. Bar hopping in the West Village seemed more appropriate. Her makeup was too extreme, her dress too flashy, her heels too high. As they passed her on their way into the hotel, the woman turned slowly and gave Bridges a suggestive smile.
Not surprisingly, he matched her smile with one of his own. Then the woman shifted her gaze to Bernie. In spite of the fact that Bernie had arrived with Jeremy, there was no way on earth this woman considered her a romantic rival. Something else was going on, which meant Bernie needed to keep a close eye on her for the remainder of the evening.
Interchangeable hotels. Interchangeable causes. Interchangeable, ingratiating people who wanted his money. Mile-long buffet—check. Silent auction—check. Bar in every corner stocked to the hilt—check. Young, sexy society women looking for husbands—check. Maybe a margarita machine or a beer bong.
A rock band instead of the symphony strings. A wet T-shirt contest. Anything to keep him from being bored out of his mind. But if he showed up at these things, Sybersense held on to its reputation as a philanthropic leader in the community, and he held on to his reputation as a wealthy, eccentric bachelor. Then, at the end of the evening, he invariably had several incredibly gorgeous women to pick from to entertain himself with later.
They were all about propriety—almost all about it, anyway. In this crowd, money trumped taste, but just barely. Good evening! Genevieve Caldwell was a chunky senior citizen with silver hair, a brassy voice, and a gold-plated portfolio of oil fields all over the world. Her voice faltered, and for a split second, he saw it.
Black Ties and Lullabies