“I don’t know.” Megumi picked up her new drink and sucked at her straw with a sad face. “I’m afraid to ask.”
Grabbing one of the four shot glasses in the center of the table and a lime wedge, I shouted, “Let’s do shots and dance!”
“Fuck yeah!” Shawna tossed back her shot of Patrón without waiting for the rest of us, then shoved a lime in her mouth. Dropping the juiceless wedge into her empty glass, she shot us all a look. “Hurry up, laggers.”
I went next, shuddering as the tequila washed away the tang of cranberry. Lacey and Megumi went together, toasting each other with a loud “Kanpai!” before downing theirs.
We hit the dance floor en masse, Shawna leading the way in her electric blue dress that was damn near as bright under the black lights as the club uniform. We were swallowed into the mass of writhing dancers, quickly finding ourselves pressed between steamy male bodies.
I let go, giving myself over to the grinding beat of the music and the sultry atmosphere of the rocking club. Lifting my hands in the air, I swayed, releasing the lingering tension from the long, pointless afternoon with my mother. At some point, I’d lost my trust in her. As much as she promised that things would be different without Nathan, I found I couldn’t believe her. She’d crossed the line too many times.
“You’re beautiful,” someone yelled by my ear.
I looked over my shoulder at the dark-haired guy curved against my back. “Thanks!”
It was a lie, of course. My hair clung to my sweat-damp temples and neck in a sticky tangle. I didn’t care. The music raged on, songs sliding into each other.
I reveled in the utter sensuality of the venue and the shameless drive for casual sex that everyone seemed to exude. I was pressed between a couple—the girlfriend at my back and her boyfriend at my front—when I spotted someone I knew. He must have seen me first, because he was already working his way toward me.
“Martin!” I yelled, breaking out of my bump-and-grind sandwich. In the past, I’d only crossed paths with Stanton’s nephew during the holidays. We’d met up once since I moved to New York, but I hoped we would eventually see each other more.
“Eva, hi!” He caught me up in a hug, then pulled back to check me out. “You look fantastic. How are you?”
“Let’s get a drink!” I shouted, feeling too parched to hold a conversation at the decibel level required in the crowd.
Grabbing my hand, he led me out of the crush and I pointed to my table. The moment we sat down, the waitress was there with another vodka and cranberry.
It’d been that way all night, although I’d noted that my drinks were getting darker as the hours progressed, a sure sign that the vodka-to-cranberry ratio was slowly becoming more cranberry than not. I knew that was deliberate and was suitably impressed by Gideon’s ability to carry his instructions from club to club. Since no one was stopping me from supplementing with shots, I didn’t mind too much.
“So,” I began, taking a welcome sip before rolling the icy-cold tumbler across my forehead. “How have you been?”
“Great.” He grinned, looking quite handsome in a camel-hued V-neck T-shirt and black jeans. His dark hair wasn’t nearly the length of Gideon’s, but it fell attractively across his forehead, framing eyes that I knew were green although no one would be able to tell in the club’s lighting. “How’s the ad biz treating you?”
“I love my job!”
He laughed at my enthusiasm. “If only we could all say that.”
“I thought you liked working with Stanton.”
“I do. Like the money, too. Can’t say I love the job, though.”
The waitress brought his scotch on the rocks, and we clinked glasses.
“Who are you here with?” I asked him.
“A couple friends”—he looked around—“who are lost in the jungle. You?”
“Same.” I caught Lacey’s eye on the dance floor and she gave me two thumbs up. “Are you seeing anyone, Martin?”
His smile widened. “No.”
“You like blondes?”
“Are you hitting on me?”
“Not quite.” I raised my brows at Lacey and jerked my head toward Martin. She looked surprised for a minute, then grinned and rushed over.
I introduced them and felt pretty good about the way they hit it off. Martin was always fun and charming, and Lacey was vivacious and attractive in a unique way—more charismatic than beautiful.
Megumi made her way back over and we did another round of shots before Martin asked Lacey to dance.
“You got any other hot guys in your pocket?” Megumi asked, as the couple melted away.
I was wishing I had my smartphone in my pocket. “You’re miserable, girl.”
She looked at me for a long minute. Then her lips twisted. “I’m drunk.”
“That, too. Want another shot?”
We did a shot each, polishing them off just as Shawna came back with Lacey, Martin, and his two friends, Kurt and Andre. Kurt was gorgeous, with sandy brown hair, square jaw, and cocky smile. Andre was cute, too, with a mischievous twinkle in his dark eyes and shoulder-length dreadlocks. He focused on Megumi, which cheered her right up.
Our expanded group was roaring with laughter in no time.
“And when Kurt came back from the bathroom,” Martin finished his story, “he sacked the whole restaurant.”
Andre and Martin started howling. Kurt threw limes at them.
“What does that mean?” I asked, smiling even though I didn’t get the punch line.
“It’s when you leave your sac hanging out of your fly,” Andre explained. “At first people can’t figure out what it is they’re seeing, then they try to figure out if you just somehow don’t know your nads are swinging in the breeze. No one says a word.”
“No shit?” Shawna nearly fell off her chair.
We got so rowdy, our waitress asked us to tone it down—with a smile. I caught her by the elbow before she walked away. “Is there a phone I can use?”
“Just ask one of the bartenders,” she said. “Tell them Dennis—he’s the manager—okayed it and they’ll hook you up.”
“Thanks.” I slid off my seat as she moved on to another table. I had no idea who Dennis was, but I’d just been going with the flow all night, knowing Gideon would’ve set up everything flawlessly. “Anyone up for water?” I asked the group.
I got booed and pelted with wadded-up napkins. Laughing, I went to the bar and waited for an opening to ask for Pellegrino and the phone. I dialed Gideon’s cell number, since it was the one I had memorized. I figured it was safe since I was calling from a public place he owned.
“Cross,” he answered briskly.
“Hi, ace.” I leaned into the bar and covered my other ear with my hand. “I’m drunk-dialing you.”
“I can tell.” His voice changed for me, slowed and grew warm. It captivated me even over the music. “Are you having a good time?”
“Yes, but I miss you. Did you take your vitamins?”
He had a smile in his voice when he asked, “Are you horny, angel?”
“It’s your fault! This club is like Viagra. I’m hot and sweaty and dripping in pheromones. And I’ve been a bad girl, you know. Dancing like I’m single.”
“Bad girls get punished.”
“Maybe I should be really bad, then. Make the punishment worth it.”
He growled. “Come home and be bad with me.”
The thought of him at home, ready for me, made me even more eager for him. “I’m stuck here ’til the girls are done, which looks to be a while.”
“I can come to you. Within twenty minutes, you could have my cock inside you. Do you want that?”
I glanced around the club, my entire body vibrating with the hard-driving music. Imagining him here, fucking me in this no-holds-barred place, made me squirm with anticipation. “Yes. I want that.”
“Do you see the skywalk?”
Turning around, I looked up and saw the suspended walkway hugging the walls. Dancers dry-fucked to the music from twenty feet above the dance floor. “Yes.”
“There’s a section where it wraps around a mirrored corner. I’ll meet you there. Be ready, Eva,” he ordered. “I want your cunt naked and wet when I find you.”
I shivered at the familiar command, knowing it meant he’d be rough and impatient. Just what I wanted. “I’m wearing a—”
“Angel, a crowd of millions couldn’t hide you from me. I found you once. I’ll always find you.”
Longing seared my veins. “Hurry.”
Reaching over to replace the receiver on the business side of the bar, I grabbed my mineral water and drank until the bottle was empty. Then I headed to the bathroom, where I waited in line forever in order to get ready for Gideon. I was giddy with booze and excitement, so thrilled that my boyfriend—arguably one of the busiest men in the world—would drop everything to … service me.
I licked my lips, shifting on my feet.
I hurried through the ladies’ room to a stall, ditching my panties before hitting the sink and mirror to freshen up with a damp napkin. Most of my makeup had melted off, leaving me with smudged eyes and cheeks reddened by heat and exertion. My hair was a mess, both wildly mussed and wet around my face.
Oddly, I didn’t look half bad. I looked sexual and ready.
Lacey was in line and I stopped by her as I inched my way through the crowded bathroom threshold.
“Having fun?” I asked her.
“Yeah!” She grinned. “Thanks for introducing me to your cousin.”
I didn’t bother to correct her. “You’re welcome. Can I ask you something? About Michael?”
Shrugging, she said, “Go for it.”
“You went out with him first. What didn’t you like about him?”
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