Lilly cursed not having a vehicle in the UK. The walk home from the banquet hall was over four kilometers, and the night was bitter cold, her sheer shawl offering little protection against the wind.
She knew people would question her sudden departure, but it didn’t matter. She had to get away, away from that building, and Jacob’s lips locked on his radiant, statuesque girlfriend.
A car approached, and she quickened her pace, aware she was an easy target on the darkened London streets. A knot formed in her stomach when the vehicle slowed, but she maintained a forward gaze.
The car parked on the street in front of her and the driver hopped out. “Get in the car, Lilly.”
Lilly shook her head, ignoring Jacob’s request. “I’m fine, thank you.”
Jacob moved in front of her and grabbed her shoulders, forcing her to stop. “You can be furious later. This isn’t safe, and you’re a long way from your house.”
Lilly scoffed, her accent thickening. “You forget, I’m a New York Yank. I can take care of myself, and I can certainly make my own way home.”
“Am I going to have to pick you up and put you in the car?”
Lilly gaped at Jacob’s words. “You wouldn’t dare.”
In the next moment, Lilly was slung over Jacob’s shoulder as he walked back to his car, tossing her into the passenger seat amidst a sea of curses.
Lilly’s blood boiled when he switched on the childproof lock, preventing her exit. “Are you fucking serious right now?”
Jacob shot her a look before pulling back on the road.
Lilly flounced against the seat. She was grateful she didn’t have to walk in the freezing cold, but she wasn’t about to let him know that fact. Lilly shivered, and Jacob turned up the heat before resuming his white-knuckled drive. She felt his gaze on her at every light, but she focused out the window, unwilling to look in his direction.
She was acting petulant, but Lilly didn’t care how childish she appeared. Her anger was the only thing keeping her from devolving into a puddle of tears, and she’d be damned if Jacob got to see those.
“Are you warmer?” He touched her arm, and she jerked it away, glaring at him. “At least now you’re looking at me.” He hit the steering wheel. “Dammit, Lilly, I’m sorry. I had no idea that was going to happen.”
Lilly scoffed. “What kind of idiot do you take me for—oh wait, I am an idiot.” With those words, the dam of emotions broke, and her tears won out.
Jacob pulled the car over, reaching over to cup her face. “I’m so sorry, please don’t cry.”
Lilly jerked her head away. “Don’t touch me.”
Jacob ignored the remark and pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her until she rested her head on his chest. “I understand why you’re angry. I’d be furious too. I am furious for you. You should be celebrated for your hard work and dedication. Victoria was awful for denying you that.”
Lilly jerked her head up, her eyes narrowing. “What in hell are you talking about?”
“Victoria ignoring your contribution to the charity, your charity, no less. Applauding everyone but you. I know how much work and time you’ve committed, and you deserved your moment to shine.”
“I don’t give a damn that she didn’t give me credit.” Jacob looked perplexed, so Lilly continued. “I don’t perform charity work for accolades. That’s the difference between you and me. One of many, obviously.”
“Then, why are you crying?”
Lilly gaped at him. “I’m not having this conversation. Please take me home.”
“Talk to me.”
“You really don’t know? Look, I know who you are, and I know who Victoria is, and I definitely know who I am. I feel like an idiot, but I couldn’t stay there and watch you kiss her.”
“I didn’t know how much you saw. When I looked for you in the crowd, you were gone. I prayed you didn’t see it. It was awful, like kissing a cobra.”
Lilly rolled her eyes. “Thanks for the visual. I saw everything. Why? Did you want to hide it from me?”
“Did you see me push her away?”
Lilly’s jaw clenched. She left in such a tizzy that she hadn’t watched the action play out. “No, as wonderful as I’m sure the ending was to that scene, I opted to depart early.”
“Then you missed out on quite a public squabble—go ahead, ask Sabina. Your friend had a right hook with my name on it until I threw Victoria off me. And damn, was Victoria livid when I mentioned you.”
“You mentioned me to Victoria?”
“I mentioned you to everybody. I gave you the public accolades you deserve, but you had disappeared.” Jacob sighed, leaning his head against the seat. “Trust me, angel, my feelings for you aren’t news to Victoria. She already knew how important you are to me. That’s why she failed to mention your contributions to the charity.”
“She can’t possibly think I’m a threat.”
Jacob chuckled, grasping Lilly’s hand. “You’re far worse than that in her eyes. I’m not the same man I was a month ago, and you’re the reason.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Victoria gave me an ultimatum. You or the movie.”
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