This was the absolute last time she kissed anyone under the mistletoe. At least it would be if Aaron Knight had any say in the matter—which he didn’t.
Standing alone near the buffet table on the other side of the conference room, he took a gulp of his drink. His eyes watered from the alcohol laced punch. Unless, of course, Tyne Darling chose to kiss him under the sprig of holiday greenery. Hell, a kiss from Tyne wouldn’t just make his night. It would make his whole damn year.
Aaron narrowed his gaze on the lip lock still underway near the Christmas tree in one corner of the room. For tonight anyway, the place was decked out in enough holiday cheer to make him see red…and green. That idiot Northrup from accounting had Tyne bent backward over one arm like some silver screen movie idol from the Golden Age. Typical of a man who considered himself God’s gift to women.
As the kiss ended and his two co-workers headed toward a small table by the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Los Angeles skyline, Aaron set his drink down with a thump that sloshed its contents onto the white tablecloth. After finally completing the ad campaign for a romantic comedy scheduled to release early in the New Year, he had Hollywood on the brain. The project had been a rush job that kept him and Tyne working until well after midnight most nights for the past week. He’d hoped the long hours spent alone together would change the way she looked at him. Apparently that hadn’t happened.
A sigh slipped out as he swirled the ice cubes in what was left of his drink. Kissing him under the mistletoe wasn’t something the woman he was crazy in love with would even consider. After all, he was her buddy, her pal, the one she came to with her man-problems. His fault entirely for falling into the role of best friend instead of romantic lead. If he wanted to change her perception of him, drastic measures would be necessary.
“What’s with the intense look, Knight? This is supposed to be a party.”
Aaron glanced over at the CEO of Gentry Advertising who ladled cranberry punch into his cup then took a swallow. The holiday libation resembled the Kool-Aid Aaron had drunk as a kid but tasted like someone had spiked it with a gallon of vodka.
“It’s pretty potent. I wonder who’ll be the first to lose all their inhibitions after drinking that stuff.”
Steven Gentry flashed a toothy smile. “Let’s hope it’s Darling. The woman is smokin’ hot wearing that little red number.” He gave her curvy figure a slow up and down perusal as Tyne pushed back her chair and stood. “Hey, she even matches the punch.”
Aaron couldn’t argue with the sentiment, but he clenched his fist at the leer accompanying his boss’s words. “Tyne is always in control. She stayed cool even with those producers breathing down our necks all week.”
“And your Christmas bonuses will reflect the superb job you did getting that package together in record time.” He slapped Aaron on the back. “Your work is appreciated.”
His scowl deepened as Steven walked away. Tyne also appreciated his work ethic and talent. Not to mention his sense of humor and ability to listen. For all the good that did him…
The object of his intense scrutiny spun on one high black heel. A sleek fall of dark hair swung around her shoulders as she scanned the room. When her gaze met his, relief filled her big blue eyes. She skirted groups of chatting coworkers to head straight to his side.
He raised one brow as he took a sip of his drink. “Problem?”
“Why do I suck so much at choosing men to date?”
“I don’t know.” His lip curled as he set down his glass. “Couldn’t be because you go for glitz over substance, could it?”
A sigh was her only response.
He opened his mouth then shut it. The tears she blinked away melted any urge to say I told you so. “What did that idiot Northrup do now?”
“He’s not an…oh, who am I kidding? Heath is definitely an idiot. A complete ass.” She gritted even white teeth. “He baled on going to Yosemite with me for Christmas. At the last stinking minute, no less.”
She crossed her arms over her chest, which drew his attention straight to her breasts pressing against the scoop neck of the red dress. With an effort, he dragged his gaze upward. “That’s such a bad thing?”
“It pretty much sucks.” She touched the punch stain on the tablecloth next to a platter of shrimp and frowned. “My sister—make that my little sister—is getting married in the little chapel in Yosemite Valley over the holiday. Can you imagine anything more romantic?”
“Uh, am I supposed to answer that?”
Tyne rolled her eyes. “Anyway, now I don’t even have a date for the wedding.”
“Did Northrup break the news before or after mauling you under the mistletoe?”
She grimaced. “After. Definitely after, or I probably would have bit him. Damn, I should have known something was up yesterday when he hedged about what time he wanted to leave tomorrow morning.”
Aaron slid an arm around her to guide her away from the buffet table as several members of the management team approached. “Did he at least give you a reason for backing out?”
“Apparently he’s decided to go home to San Diego for Christmas, something about an old friend being in town.” Her scowl grew. “I got the distinct feeling this old friend is female.”
“I hope you told him to drop dead.”
Her breasts rose on another deep breath. “Yep, I made it crystal clear we were over. Done. Kaput. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out finished.”
Aaron could hardly believe his good fortune. Tyne was never single. She was so freaking gorgeous, men would swarm the second news spread she’d ditched Northrup. If he ever planned to make a move, now was the time. Except he sucked at making moves. Still, he had to try.
“If you want a date for your sister’s wedding, I’ll go with you. Yosemite during the winter must be spectacular.”
“We’re staying at the Ahwahnee…or whatever it is they’re calling it now. The Grand something. At any rate, the hotel is breathtaking, all decorated for Christmas.” She stared up at him with wide eyes. “You’d do that for me?”
“Sure. I’ve got nothing special going on. I’m not flying back to New England, so if you want—”
She grabbed him and planted a great big kiss…right on his cheek.
“You’re the best. What did I ever do to deserve a friend like you?”
He gave her a long, slow perusal. “Maybe we’ll find out this weekend.”
* * * *
Stop by tomorrow for Part Two of All The Right Moves! For information and buy links for my books, check out my WEBSITE. And for those of you curious about how my photo shoot went, the finished product is below. Not too bad, despite the wind off the lake blowing my hair all over the place. It took about 50 shots to get a decent one, and I don't plan to update it ever!