Bridget couldn’t help but grin as she shook the manager’s hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, too. The event is lovely.”
“And she’s well-mannered.” The man’s white-as-snow brows lifted as he clapped Chad on the shoulder. “You’re a lucky boy. I hope to see her at the games in the spring.”
Chad replied, but Bridget really didn’t hear him. Forcing her smile to remain on her face, she hated the suddenly heavy feeling in her chest. She wouldn’t be at the games in the spring. Or if she happened to go to one—which she doubted she would—it wouldn’t be in the context the manager hoped for.
Heart heavy, she excused herself to find the ladies’ room. It was blissfully empty as she smoothed down some of the flyaways that were popping up all over her head and ordered herself to pull it together. She hadn’t wanted to do this in the first place, and she should be thrilled it was almost over.
But she wasn’t.
It had nothing to do with the glamorous life Chad lived—the dinners, the nights out, and all the attention. What she was going to miss was him.
Heading back into the ballroom, she got another glass of champagne, thinking the liquid courage could help, and scanned the glitzy room for Chad. There were so many men in tuxes it was like a sea of hotness. Shell was going to be so disappointed she didn’t score an invite.
“Excuse me,” came a soft, feminine voice.
Turning to the sound, she discovered she was surrounded by what you typically found in a sea of male hotness—its counterpart. The beach of ridiculously hot babes.
Bridget squared her shoulders, expecting an onslaught of catty remarks and probably a lecture on how bad Chad was at relationships. God only knew if he’d slept with any of these women.
“You must be Bridget.” A slender blonde extended a delicate hand. Dressed in a tiny black dress, she looked like a movie star next to Bridget. “We’ve been hearing so much about you.”
“Not from Chad. He’s not the kiss-and-tell type,” another woman said. Bridget thought her name was Tori from an earlier introduction.
“I love the dress,” another woman said, her slanted eyes heavily lined with kohl. “It’s such a beautiful color.”
Bridget opened her mouth but was unsure of what to say.
“I’m so glad he’s found someone,” a raven-haired beauty said. “Chad needs a good woman.”
Bridget was stunned.
A woman with toffee-colored skin stepped forward with a wide smile. “I’m sorry. You’re probably like, what the hell with all of us converging on you. We just get excited whenever there’s a chance we might outnumber the men. My name is Vanessa.” She extended a hand. “My husband is number fifteen—shortstop. Drew Berry.”
Bridget took the hand, recognizing the husband’s name. “It’s nice to meet you.”
Vanessa smiled broadly and made a round of introductions that were a blur to Bridget. “We should do brunch sometime or dinner—you work, right?”
She nodded as another woman grinned. “Or will Chad let you out of his sight long enough? Because he looks like the kind of man who likes to keep his woman busy.”
A flush crept across her face an instant before Chad came up behind her, slipping an arm around her waist. “You doing okay over here?” he whispered, and when she nodded, he spoke louder, addressing the horde of beautiful and surprisingly nice women. “All of you look lovely tonight.”
Vanessa’s eyes rolled. “Chad—forever the charmer.”
“He needs to talk to my husband,” Tori added, and several of the women laughed. “You know what Bobby said to me tonight? That I looked like the best cut of steak.” Her eyes rolled. “You can take the boy out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the boy.”
“Being compared to steak is one of the highest forms of flattery,” Chad explained, giving them his best grin. The one that hooked, lined, and sunk about a thousand women. “I hate to do this, but I’m going to steal Bridget.”
“Have fun.” Vanessa smiled. “I have to go find my husband. Our babysitter charges by the half hour. I’m pretty sure we’ve paid for her college by now.”
After a round of good-byes and a promise to get Vanessa’s phone number to set up brunch—people still ate brunch?—she was alone with Chad again.
He tucked back a wild curl. “You ready to get out of here?”
“Only if you are,” she said. Even though her heels were killing her, she didn’t want to rush him off. And besides, when every evening ended, it brought them one more night—
She cut herself off.
“I am.” He took the glass from her. “Let’s see if we can make a clean escape.”
She let him take her hand, and keeping to the edges of the ballroom, they made it all the way outside before anyone noticed them. A light snow had begun to fall as they hurried past the waiting photographers.
Chad buckled her in again, which caused a flurry of cameras to go off. She shot him a dirty look, which he returned with a smug, knowing grin.
Once inside the Jeep, he turned to her. “So how do you think tonight went?”
Assuming he meant his contract, she smiled as she slipped the shawl off and folded it in her lap. “I think you’re not going to have any problems. Everyone seems impressed with the new, more behaved Chad.”
He chuckled. “I wasn’t talking about that. I meant in general.”
“Oh.” Her smile spread. “It was so much fun. People were really nice.”
“Were you expecting them not to be?”