Home > Womanizer (Manwhore #4)(11)

Womanizer (Manwhore #4)(11)
Author: Katy Evans

I’ve enjoyed contemporary art ever since the time he invited me to New York, where he bid on a huge collection for his new apartment. He bought mostly Impressionist works and the best Van Gogh on the block, but we lingered in Manhattan for a few days, and I ended up falling in love with the contemporary art auction most of all.

I love new artists, so bold, trekking where no one has trekked before. I wonder when we look back on our generation, what we will see. Not just technology.

We head into the spacious gallery. It’s peppered with masterpieces spaced strategically apart, giving the viewers the perfect space to contemplate one artwork at a time. “How’s work?” he asks me.

I avoid making eye contact. “Good.”

“You’re with Henry Lincoln, right?”

I stare at a painting. I refuse to think of him, our talks and our cigarettes and our night of mind-blowing sex.

“Carmichael told me he’d check in on you this week.”

I scowl. “I don’t want him to, remember? I don’t want special treatment.” Especially when I already got some. Oh god.

I stare at a Warhol work—a self-portrait.

We start discussing some of the pieces as we go along, but I only seem to be agreeing and I’m frustrated that I don’t even seem to have any personal input to offer.

“Livvy,” he finally says, drawing me over to a nearby bench.

“Yeah?”

I can’t breathe. Guilt does that. Everything seems to be about “it,” that thing you did that you never, ever should have.

“I’m proposing to Regina.”

It takes me a moment to register his words, and then they hit me like a truck at full speed. “What? Tahoe!”

“Keep it down.” He’s grinning ear to ear—the fool—as he draws me back to my feet and into the next gallery. And when I cannot talk, when I cannot say a thing, he says, “You’re going to cry, aren’t you?”

“No.”

“You sound like it.”

“Well I’m not. It’s such a big deal! Shit. Well. Maybe I am going to cry, but I’m not going to do it here. God—is that the ring?”

He opens a velvet pouch and lets the ring slip into my palm. I just blink. He lifts it and shows it to me up close. A huge, brilliant round diamond set in a sleek platinum Tiffany band, mesmerizing, classic and timeless, the quality better than I’ve ever seen in my life.

“You picked it yourself?”

“That’s right.”

And it is so hard not to cry right now.

I fluff my brother’s hair, then hug his big body against mine. “I love you, Tahoe,” I say a little emotionally. I kiss his jaw and his beard pricks my lips.

“Love you too.” He rumples my hair and stores the ring back in the pouch and shoves it into his jeans pocket.

I get the phone call from Gina later that night. She tells me the news and that their friends are throwing them an engagement party and Tahoe and she would like to pick me up on their way there.

I don’t usually dawdle on my looks that much, usually I’m easy about it, but being in a corporate suit all week really makes it enjoyable to have an excuse to pull out a cute white lace skirt and a gold shimmery satin spaghetti-strap top. I’m also nervous because I’m afraid I’ll see him there, and I need to look good to cover the fact that I feel utterly stupid.

I wear my hair loose, add a dab of lipstick, and slip my feet into my four-inch gold heels, then I head downstairs.

I climb into the back of my brother’s Ghost, and from the backseat, I reach out and hug Gina and tell her, “I always wanted a sis!”

She squeezes me back meaningfully and I grab my brother’s face and smack a noisy kiss on it. “You brute. I’m so happy for you!”

“That makes two of us.” He smirks, and Gina laughs and elbows him. He playfully elbows her back, starts the car, and then we’re pulling into traffic.

I reach out and make Gina show me the ring. I’ve always wanted a classy engagement ring—round, with no little sister or brother diamonds anywhere, just the main deal in all its blingy glory. “Ohmygoodness! It’s huge on you.”

“It’s flawless too. Like my girl,” Tahoe boasts.

Gina snickers. “Let’s just say it’s the only thing flawless about me.”

He takes her hand and kisses it near the ring and I feel a pang of something. My brother is getting married even though I was sure he’d never commit to anyone again up to his dying breath.

I suppose I do have a romantic side. I see couples who love each other walking down the sidewalk, or holding hands across a table, and something in me yearns. When my brother playfully tugs on Gina’s hair, I get warm inside. Even when my dad still does stuff for my mom, like cook her breakfast when she sleeps late, I melt. But I’m smart enough to know relationships like that are an exception, not the rule.

We head into the upscale Gold Coast neighborhood, and although I’ve heard it equates to the Upper East Side of Manhattan in terms of luxury, my mouth drops when my brother pulls up to a huge wrought-iron gate and waves at the guard.

We’re allowed inside and drive up to a sprawling white mansion that’s about as contemporary as contemporary gets. My modern-loving heart starts whizzing happily as I take in the expansive windows and the double steel doors. We walk up a set of limestone steps and then enter the modern Architectural Digest paradise.

Circular chandeliers made from some invisible material that allows a glimpse of the lights inside hang from thick, dark wood rafters, and strategically placed warm yellow lights illuminate a living room the size of Carma’s lobby. But while Carma’s lobby is always at 10 percent capacity, this place is packed. The huge windows at the far end of the living room have a view of an endless terrace and several leather-upholstered lounge areas outside. I see the place is scattered with white roses in vases set at intervals across the low, modern glass tables, and I hear Tahoe tell Gina, “Those are all for you.”

I feel another pang as their friends yell and clap when they spot them. They start congratulating both of them. I’m introduced to Malcolm Saint, Rachel’s husband—my brother’s other best friend.

“So you’re Livvy,” he says with a sparkle in his green eyes.

“The very one.” I grin back.

I listen to the story of how Tahoe proposed at Navy Pier, by the water, just the two of them there, by putting the engagement ring in a bottle of beer. Music plays in the background and I snag a glass of wine from one of the passing waiters.

Tahoe and Gina look comfortable and happy. I start to wander around the house, loving the bronze sculptures and guessing the artist—Anish Kapoor?—when I hear his voice behind me.

“You fucking loser, come here.”

I tense and turn around but I really don’t think I was ready to see him, no matter how much I told myself I was as I dressed for tonight.

He sounds both happy and irreverent as he hugs Tahoe and slaps his back with three loud thumps.

I feel my stomach shudder and my spine shoot up straighter as he congratulates Gina and his eyes sort of trail past her shoulder to find me.

I swallow.

“Callan!” A short brunette waves at him as she walks inside, and then she hurries over to say hello.

He leans down to kiss her on the cheek, his hands on her waist, and she turns her head and tries to kiss him on the mouth, but he lifts his head and tells her something and starts toward me.

I look away and try to wade through the crowd.

I spot Wynn sitting with a drink and contemplating the liquid, and my heart sinks when I think of how difficult it must be for her to know that both her best friends will be married before the year ends.

I drop down beside her. I steal a glance in his direction when he’s not looking and thank god someone else seems to have stopped him in his tracks. I look at the way he stands, the way he laughs, everything he does is with a masculine sensuality that tugs at me in some primal way.

That girl is hanging onto his side like it’s her place. All the chemistry I feel toward Callan instantly goes in the opposite direction with her.

They’re flirting I think because she looks dopey-eyed at him, but he appears cool and collected glancing past her shoulder.

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