Roger walks over to another man who is elegantly dressed in a crisp white shirt and dark blue suit. His name, I’m told, is Johnny Engles. He’s a multibillionaire hedge fund founder who happens to be confined to a wheelchair. Johnny smiles at me and pushes his long dark hair out of his eyes. He looks at me curiously. Perhaps he’s trying to place me. We exchange pleasantries and I’m not doing so poorly right now. Rahul touched me longer than necessary, and Johnny was cordial. I think after the variety of introductions I’m sure to get tonight, I’ll just try to take everything in stride. Roger pulls me along. I’m introduced to several more men and the female head of a robotics company. Each one takes my hand and stares at me hungrily. When my glass is finally empty, I lift my eyes to find a cocktail waitress to refill it. Instead, I see Leo. Our eyes lock. The champagne flute falls through my fingers. It doesn’t shatter, it rolls along the black carpet that covers the floor in this room. He’s still beautiful. Taller than I remember, or maybe it’s that he’s more imposing. Broad shoulders contained in a perfectly tailored suit. Layers of clothing covering deeply tanned skin. My eyes take in his face, prominent cheek bones, square jaw, and full lips. Leo once said that looking at me could set him at ease or drive him wild. Now he’s looking at me hard, taking in my wig and dress. I watch his eyes slide towards Roger, who’s standing a few feet away from now speaking to a client whose name I’ve forgotten. Even from a distance, I can see Leo’s furious. His jaw’s set, and his nearly black eyes narrow. He’s recognized me. He’s recognized Roger. He knows exactly what I’m doing here. He brings his head down to whisper something to the young woman standing next to him.
She moves away and he stalks towards me. I bite my lip. I want to run away, but my feet are glued to the floor. I force myself to take a deep breath. I can’t run away. How would that look? I need this job. Who is he to judge me? He’s the one who left me to hold everything together alone. I’m not the one who ran away then; I won’t now. Instead, I square my shoulders and jut my chin out. Leo’s coming towards me. I’m more than a little afraid of what’s about to happen, but this time, I don’t plan to let myself be so vulnerable in his presence.