Riley Eames' getaway should have been so smooth that no one, not even her sister, would ever have known where she'd been. That's how it would have gone had the elevator not shuddered to a stop. The lights flickered before they went out completely, plunging the small space into darkness. Her knees buckled beneath her, and cursing out loud, she grabbed hold of the closest thing she could find—a man's arm.
The moment Riley realized what she had grabbed on to, she let go, but not before the man's other arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her upright.
"I've got you, luv," he said in a deep baritone voice, his arm steadying her as the elevator groaned and the emergency light switched on.
As he let go of her, Riley took a step away from him, embarrassed. She leaned against the far wall, watching him open the panel marked For Emergency Use and pick up a red receiver.
"The elevator's stopped," he said in a clipped English accent. "Can you get someone to fix it, please?"
"Yes, sir. We've just been made aware of the malfunction. We're doing our best to fix it right now," said the tinny-sounding voice on the other end of the line.
"How long do you think it will take?" her companion asked.
"We're not sure, but we hope we can locate the problem in the next few minutes," continued the disembodied voice. "But this elevator isn't for guests' use, sir. Didn't you see the sign in front of the doors?"
"No, there was no sign that I can recall," he said though he made a silly face at Riley, who looked away. She'd ignored the sign informing guests to use the elevators in the main landing because she'd seen a hotel staff member use it earlier. There was nothing wrong with them, he had told her. They were upgrading their elevators, nothing more. Apparently there was a large community of vintage elevator enthusiasts who loved nothing more than to go up and down in such contraptions and film the whole experience before posting them online, with full commentary.
"Anyway, I've got help coming, sir. I apologize for the inconvenience," the man on the other line continued.
"It's not a problem," he said, and Riley wondered again how English his accent was, and whether she could qualify as an expert. Her only exposure to British men was through the BBC movies she watched at her sister's house whenever she babysat her nephews, or on her laptop.
Was his manner of speech 'posh'? Riley thought though she had no idea.
He smiled. "You heard the man. We shouldn't even be here."
Riley pretended not to hear him. She could have told him that shame had led her to choose the vintage elevator that opened at the other end of the lobby over the modern ones directly in view of the bar. That way, no one would have seen her leave.
Riley shouldn't even be in the hotel. She had promised her sister she wouldn't see the man who broke her heart three years ago. But she had questions that needed answers, and so she came.
And here she was now, stuck in an elevator with a stranger. She wondered if there were cameras inside and, if so, would the footage appear online, like they did when there was a scandal, like some superstar's sister kicking her brother-in-law? Then Paige would know that she'd lied. As Riley fidgeted, she figured she might as well distract herself with something else before her guilt took over completely and made a mess of her in no time.
From the corner of her eye, Riley saw that her companion wore a dark jacket over a crisp white shirt unbuttoned at the neck. With tight dark jeans that hugged his long legs and leather boots, he cut an imposing figure opposite her petite frame. Partially covered by his jacket, a long blue scarf draped from around his neck, highlighting his deep blue eyes, a perfectly tapered nose, and a kind mouth. When he smiled, as he did to her perusal of him at that moment, his smile even reached his eyes.
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Loving Ashe - Book 1 of the Celebrity SeriesRomance
Twenty-three year old Riley Eames is still haunted by the heartbreak from three years ago. After the unexpected encounter with rising Hollywood star Ashe Hunter, will she finally open up or will her heart stay tormented by the past? *** After bei...