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Mark snagged two glasses of champagne and returned to her side. They touched glasses in a silent toast, and each took a drink. She delicately wrinkled her nose at the taste, and he was chuckling when something knocked his arm. He had to maneuver quickly to keep from spilling any of the champagne on her dress. He had time to think it was a good thing he’d taken a nice swig from the glass when he turned and saw Cynthia standing there.
He knew instantly, and without a doubt, that the hit to his elbow had been deliberate, and she was disappointed he’d managed not to ruin Lori’s dress. “Cynthia.” There was no way he could accuse her, and she knew it.
“I’m surprised to see you here, Mark. I know you don’t like this kind of thing.”
“We thought something like this would be fun, since it’s not an every night occurrence.”
She met his eyes; hers were cold. “Aren’t you going to introduce me?”
He didn’t see a way to avoid the meeting, so he nodded. “Cynthia, this is Lori Sullivan. Lori, Cynthia Broome.” There was no relationship mentioned with either name, and he saw Cynthia’s lips tighten. He looked at her then, really looked. She was so different from Lori. Her hair had been artistically put up, but it was too … fancy. Her dress, which she probably thought would bring out the blue in her eyes, was too busy. There were ruffles and angles, and it was about one size too tight, especially over those expensive breasts. Of course she was wearing the three-inch heels, but she still wasn’t tall enough to carry off the dress. Her makeup was too heavy, her eyes too smoky. He realized with a start that Lori wasn’t wearing any makeup at all, not even lipstick. Her lips were that beautiful natural color all the time; and her lashes were long and full, even when she woke up in the morning. Cynthia looked blousy next to Lori’s sleek sophistication, and no doubt she was aware of it, hence the attempt at sabotage with the champagne. Mark stepped closer to Lori to protect her, and Cynthia’s eyes narrowed.
Mark spotted Dennis Helms behind Cynthia. They had met him a few times when he had been dating Cynthia. “Dennis, did you enjoy the movie?”
They spoke for a few minutes, Mark’s hand now resting on the warm silky skin of Lori’s back, his thumb lightly caressing her warmth, his body carefully between the two women. Maybe it had been a mistake bringing Dennis into the conversation, because he quite obviously couldn’t take his eyes off Lori, and that was only making things worse.
“Well, if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to get a little food before we leave.” He nodded to the couple and watched Cynthia snap at Dennis, though he missed the words. He guided Lori toward the table and picked up one of the small plates.
She didn’t take the dish from him. “Does she sell real estate?”
Mark looked her directly in the eyes. “She does.”
“She seemed quite angry.”
“She is. I was seeing her, and I broke things off rather abruptly. She has the right to be angry with me.”
“Why did you break things off so abruptly with her?”
“I met my soul mate.” He hadn’t planned to say that, especially not here in this crowd, but her eyes widened.
“Do I know her?”
“Yes, maybe slightly better than I do, but I hope not for long.”