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Casual Encounters (Men of the Vault Book 6) by Aria Grace (1)

1

Johnny

“Of course, man.” I close my eyes and hope my voice doesn’t break in frustration. “I’d love to be a groomsman.”

Simon, one of the guys who worked at The Vault for a few months, is just the latest of a long list of people I know who are getting married. I’ve had more wedding cake in the past year than in my entire life put together.

“Thanks, Johnny. You and Tanner took care of me when I had no one else. If it weren’t for you guys, I never would’ve found my way to Colorado where I truly belong.”

And there it is.

Yet another match made in heaven, brought to you by The Vault. I’m happy for anybody who can find love and happiness, but with each couple and sometimes thruple, that forms, it gets harder and harder to ignore the fact that I’ll probably never find what they have.

It might be self-sabotage, but I always seem to set my sights on men who are unavailable. Either they’re interested in someone else, or they just use me to get what they want without having any real feelings for me. At least, that’s been the case for most of my adulthood. There’s obviously something wrong with me because everywhere I turn, another person I know is falling in love and settling down.

“I’m happy to do it, kid. You deserve to be happy.”

I don’t know what he hears in my tone, but his voice lowers a few octaves. “You do too, Johnnie. You’ll find what you’re looking for when you least expect it. I know it.”

“Yeah, maybe.” I chuckle. “Or maybe I’ll just be the perpetual bachelor my mom always feared I’d become.”

“No, there’s someone out there for you. You’ll see.”

“Alright, Simon.” I clear my throat to make sure he knows the topic is closed for discussion. “I’ll talk to you later.”

As soon as I hang up with Simon, I find some busy work to pass the time while I cover the front desk for Blake. Our new office manager is so damn efficient there’s never much to do when I sit up here while he’s on lunch.

It’s close to nine in the evening, but as we approach the holiday season, things are slowing down. November and December tend to be quiet tourist times in Vegas. Fewer conferences and more family commitments make it harder for our clients to sneak away for an evening fuck.

Before I go out of my mind from boredom, Zeke walks in. He’s one of our newer clients and he’s carrying a large duffel bag over his shoulder.

As he adjusts the weight of the bag so it’s behind his hip, I smile and scoot out from behind the computer. “Hey, Zeke. How’s it going? You’re moving in?”

Zeke chuckles as he pats his bag. “No just need extra props tonight.” He places his thumb on the biometric reader we use to scan guests as they’re coming and going.

Our new security system is state of the art and almost infallible. Of course, I don’t like trusting the safety and well-being of my staff and our clients to almost infallible, but considering the systems we had in place just a year ago, I’m very confident in the fortress I’ve designed for The Vault.

“So, how are you liking our little establishment, so far? Are you satisfied with your visits here?” The biggest aspect of my job is keeping people safe, and part of that means making sure everyone has a good experience. If clients or staff start to feel threatened, everything will fall apart real quick.

His grin is response enough. “Definitely. I’m having my second appointment with Danny tonight because things went so well the first time.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” I type a few keys into the application that will page Danny to let him know his client has arrived. For most clients, we usually just send them back, but since Zeke is still new here, I don’t want him getting lost. There are several intense scenes set up in the main warehouse tonight, so the lights will be low, and it’s easy to get turned around with so many naked bodies in various forms of play surrounding you. “I just pinged him. He’ll be right up.”

Zeke reaches for one of the business cards on display at the corner of the front counter. “Can I take one of these?”

“Of course. Put my numbers in your phone in case you ever need me. Things rarely go bad, but I want you to feel free to contact me immediately if they ever do.”

The door to my left opens, and Danny walks out in nothing but a pair of tiny black shorts that leave nothing to the imagination. “Hey, Zeke. I’m all ready for you.”

Zeke’s attention is fully on Danny as he follows behind the beautiful man like a puppy chasing its master. I smile at that thought. I’d be surprised if that was the kind of relationship they were building, but anything is possible. Fuck knows you can’t judge a book by its cover around here.

Just a few seconds after the door closes, it opens again, and Ronin Cree walks out.

He seems distracted, and it’s not until he has his thumb on the scanner to check out that he looks up and notices me. “Oh, Johnny. Hey, didn’t realize it was you.”

“Yeah, Blake is on his break right now. How’s it going?” Ronin comes in about once a month with very specific needs. He’s a Dom through and through, but like most of our clients, he isn’t able to fully express his preferences at home, so he uses his visits to The Vault to scratch that itch.

Ronin shrugs and adjusts the duffel slung over his shoulder. “Same. Nothing really changes for me.” He reaches for one of the business cards on the table and raises an eyebrow. “But it looks like you’ve had some big changes lately.”

I roll my eyes and reach for the stack of cards. I don’t know why they were even put on display in the first place. If someone has an emergency, we have panic buttons installed throughout the facility. Only the staff ever call me on my phone, and they all know my number by memory. “Yeah, Tanner thought those would make me feel better about working eighty hours a week.” I’m exaggerating, but barely. It feels like I never go home. Technically, I’m only required to be on site Thursday through Sunday since those are the busy nights, but most of the time, I come in every day because I don’t have anywhere else to be.

“Chief Security Officer sounds pretty impressive.” Ronin taps the card on the counter and looks me right in the eye. “Congratulations. That’s a worthy accomplishment.”

“Thanks.” I don’t know why I feel shy around Ronin, but there’s something in the way he looks at me that makes me wonder if he can really see me. Like, deep inside me.

He holds his gaze for another second before taking a step back. “Well, I guess I’ll see you around, Johnny.”

I nod and watch him walk away. “Yeah, man. Have a good one.”