The Hotel Magnate's Demand(10)

By: Jennifer Rae

He had taken off his jacket now and was laughing at something Brodie said as he rolled up his sleeves. His large forearms strained against the fabric and heat settled in Amy’s core. Her skin tingled. Even after eight years she still found him attractive. She still wanted him more than any other man she’d ever wanted. Even Laurie.

A flush of heat passed across Amy’s forehead and am ache rushed to the back of her neck. She’d never forgotten Laurie’s tears at the airport when she’d left Melbourne. But she’d had to go. She hadn’t been in love with him any more. She’d known she was breaking his heart by leaving, but she hadn’t been able to keep on lying and saying everything was fine. She hadn’t wanted to be with him any more. She’d been healed. She’d needed to move on.

But now, as she looked at Luke, she wondered if she really had.

Normally Amy would be at the centre. Her stories the loudest and most animated, with just a hint of exaggeration to make everyone laugh. But tonight Luke’s presence made her retreat a little. She worried about what he thought. She couldn’t help it. Even after all this time and eight birthdays she still wanted him to like her.

‘So what else have you been up to, Amy? Besides work? Cause that’s all you seem to do, according to these guys.’

Luke was looking much more relaxed after an hour of so of drinking and swapping insults with Scott and Brodie. He’d edged closer to her, so now his knee was just inches from hers.

Amy was feeling the effects of the tequila and the vodka. She’d relaxed and was enjoying taking a back seat for once. Instead of being the one who was always up and down getting drinks, or moving between conversations, she was sitting back and enjoying watching her friends have fun.

‘Having fun. Keeping this lot entertained. You know what it’s like—there’s always a party to go to or someone wanting a piece of you.’

Amy smiled. She loved her life. She loved being busy, and having a big circle of friends was important to her. At first coming to Sydney had been hard. She’d been used to being part of a big group of family and friends in Melbourne and she’d found herself all alone. That was until she’d moved in with Jess and started to go out—and then, when she’d run into Willa by chance one night in a restaurant restroom, her social life had become manic.

Catching up with the guys from Weeping Reef was almost a full-time job—they’d all aged, and their relationships had definitely changed, but one thing hadn’t. This group loved to party.

‘I know what that’s like. It isn’t easy, being pulled in a dozen different directions. Do you miss home? How are your parents? And your brother—Antony? Does he still have all his animals?’

Amy’s brow furrowed and she leaned back a little. ‘You remember my brother?’

Luke had never met Antony. She hadn’t remembered ever telling Luke about him, and even if she had it was impressive that he could remember after all that time.

‘Sure. You told me about his obsession with saving animals. I remember you saying that every time he came home from school he had another injured animal in his backpack.’

Amy laughed. That was her little brother. When they were young their family home had always housed at least a dozen animals Antony had rescued and nursed back to health.

‘He’s a vet now—which was no surprise to anyone. At least that means the animals stay at the clinic and don’t come home. Although I was talking to Mum the other night and she said Antony had lobbed up with a wallaby for her to feed while he went away for the weekend.’

Luke smiled and his eyes crinkled. Amy watched it. She watched the way his mouth broke out into that smile.

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