This was it.
Zoe carefully packed her suitcase, making sure she did not leave anything out. She was sure she was forgetting something; it always happened. Each time she traveled somewhere, she forgot a toothbrush, toothpaste, contact solution…something important. Hopefully, she didn’t forget anything too important. Whatever she did forget, it would be easily replaced. The only thing that mattered was what she carried on her.
She was up all night picking out the best ones, changing her mind several times over. For the past couple of months, that’s all she thought about. She’d created a fall/winter and spring/summer lines and only needed some real-life inspiration to start sewing. Did she think she would meet with a fashion house while she was in New York? No, but the possibility of meeting one didn’t escape her mind. Maybe she could stop by a fabric store and pick out some new patches, fleeces, and quilts. She had been in a bit of a creative funk lately and seeing some new fabrics might jump-start her creative juices.
Zoe collapsed on the sofa and stared at the smooth inclined ceiling in her living room. It seemed like it was just yesterday that she was playing with her Barbies and driving her mother insane over which outfit she wanted them to wear. Her Barbie collection must’ve had close to 50 different outfits – no, they were ensembles – and Zoe would spend hours mixing and matching, coming up with different clothing ideas.
When she became older, her enchantment with fashion grew, styling her mother and father to their high-society functions and personally picking out all of the bridesmaids dresses for London’s wedding. It wasn’t a doubt in Zoe’s mind that being a nanny paid the bills, but she had higher aspirations to climb.
Was she lonely? Maybe. She could admit that much. But her ambition wasn’t going to take a backseat to being someone’s girlfriend. If a man wanted her, he would respect what she wanted to do and Zoe found that particular pool of men not only shallow but sometimes nonexistent. She was hopeful, however, that she would find that mind-blowing, toe-curling love one day.
She just hoped her eggs weren’t dusty by the time that day came.
If he’s this commanding in the boardroom, I wonder what he’s like in bed.
Catalina Stevens eyeballed Joey as he negotiated prices with her. As the owner of Dreams Unlimited, a premier event-planning service in Manhattan, she was determined to get the best deal possible for her and her clients. Catalina was nice and sweet in public, an image she worked very hard to portray and keep up. But to those who knew her, Catalina was a cold, calculating, and scheming woman, going as far as sabotaging another event planning company with false rumors about shoddy service and unhappy clients.
Although her nickname was Cat, it had a double-meaning as well: sneaky, underhanded, and stealth just like the feline. It didn’t help that she looked like a black panther with her long, dark mane and hazel eyes complimenting her Sicilian heritage.
Catalina knew of Joey’s reputation around New York. Love ‘em and leave ‘em. The forever bachelor. He was highlighted as one of New York’s most eligible bachelors in the Post and it seemed each time he was featured, it made the frenzy surrounding Joey that much higher. It might have been his dashing good looks. It might have been the D’Amato name. It might have been his eight-figure net worth that seemed to grow each year with a flurry of smart investments.
Whatever it was, many women were determined to be the one that would make Joey settle down, though he made it very clear he was content being single, which was fine by Catalina. She was content with him being single.
For the time being.
Catalina had known Joey for several years, going back to their undergrad days in NYU. He was always business-like back then and it was a quality Catalina found attractive. It was a shame that Joey was more caught up in books than her, otherwise she would’ve given him a reason to not study so hard.
She could remember the beat-up Mercedes he drove around, proud of the vehicle despite the obvious wear and tear of it. Who else do you know has a whip like this? she could recall him boasting. Even when Nicola won the lottery, Joey merely upgraded his Mercedes to a newer version and drove it for years before finally trading it in for the BMW.
A smart man who’s even smarter with his money.
She’d heard of Joey’s sexual reputation through the gossip mill, bringing each of his conquests to multiple orgasms and daring to be a bit kinky with light BDSM play. His fingers and tongue made a woman’s body sing while his cock pistoned in and out with wanton need and abandon. His reputation as a voracious lover with an insatiable appetite only made Joey that much more desirable. It was as if he fulfilled every woman’s fantasy and all he did was blink.
“So are we done here?” Joey quickly glanced down at his watch. If he hurried, he would be able to hit the gym just before the after-work crowd rushed in.
“Yes,” Catalina closed her folder and watched Joey put away his notes.
“Cool. All right, Cat, we’ll be in touch. Just let me know…”
“Why is it that we never dated?” Her eyes danced at him.
Joey paused for a moment, trying to figure out where on earth Catalina’s sudden question came from. “What?”
“We’ve known each other for what…fifteen years, give or take?” She prodded.
“That sounds about right,” Joey agreed.
“And yet, we’d never dated. Why is that?”
Oh, there were plenty of reasons why the pair never dated, unbeknownst to Cat. For one, Joey thought she was just a little too much like him. He loved name-brand and designer things just as much as the next person, but it always seemed Cat was a walking advertisement for Saks Fifth Avenue. Secondly, their mothers were great friends, which gave Joey more the reason not to hook up with her. If they broke up, he could only imagine the ripple effect he’d feel from his mother. Lastly, there was something about Cat that he just didn’t like.
Oh yes, that reason. Cat, simply put, was a bitch. Joey loved assertive women. He loved aggressive women. He did not, however, love bitches. Cold, heartless, ruthless were just her nice qualities. If she didn’t see the purpose of someone in her life, they were out with quickness.
“We didn’t date because you didn’t want to date me,” Joey replied, matter-of-factly. “That’s pretty much it.”
“I was young and naïve back then,” Cat shrugged, “I didn’t know a good thing when I saw it.”
“That’s one way of putting it,” Joey smirked.
Cat glanced over at her longtime friend with a twinge of a smirk forming on her lips. “I probably shouldn’t entertain you but exactly what did you mean by that dig?”
“You wanted to sleep with my brother,” Joey didn’t bother to meet Cat’s gaze. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if it was just one brother; it was just plain insulting that it was all four.
“I didn’t,” Cat replied.
By the time Catalina expressed any interest in Joey, it was because she was shot down cold by Nick and Kieran. Eli was already engaged to Faith and Tony had a steady girlfriend at that point. “Not by choice,” Joey countered as he got up and began to gather his items.
“You can be a bully when you want to be,” Cat said.
“If you think this is me being a bully, you really don’t know me that well.” Joey finally looked back at her. “Are we done reminiscing on why I didn’t play Hop on the Catalina?”
“Fuck you, Joey,” she shook her head.
“You wish you could.”