A glass of red wine might work for an evening out with the girls, but not for tonight. Not right after the night that shall not be named. The worst and best night of my life. The epic dumping.
Who dumped whom was up for debate. I was the one who threw the 15th century blue and white porcelain vase at Marc’s head and kicked him out of the house. Ming schming, the thing was a cliché... and so was a fiancé sleeping with a girl’s best friend.
I was tired of being a cliché. So, tonight was a whisky with a tequila chaser kind of night. A drink alone at the end of the counter in a dark corner of a bar way below my pay grade kinda night. A drunken one-night stand night, if ever there was one.
I yanked on the door handle to get out of the back of the limo only to find it locked. I flicked the switch to unlock and it clicked right back down. Coño.
“Damn it, Grayson. Let me out of the car.” Stupid, sexy bodyguard.
He turned his head to glare at me. “Angel, listen to the words coming out of my mouth. This is a stupid idea. There are better ways to get revenge. I could kill Marc, for example.”
“That’s a sweet offer,” I said, trying to keep the enthusiasm for the idea out of my voice.
Most likely he meant it. He was an ex-super-secret-sneaky-military-man, and I had no doubt he could murder my former fiancé, slowly and painfully, chopping him up into teeny-tiny pieces and then hiding the body where no CSI: New York, Miami, or Cyber would find it.
Maybe next time.
This was my revenge and my plan, and it was going to feel so good. Not only when I saw the look on the asshole’s face the second he found out about my naughty night out, but I intended to have fun during the actual revenge sex part too. “I know what I’m doing, and you agreed to help me. No backing out now.”
He raised one eyebrow by about two degrees. He thought he had such a great poker face. “I agreed to help you have some fun celebrating your freedom from that dickhead.”
“Right, and I can’t think of a better way than to do all the things Marc never wanted to and better yet, with a random rebound guy.”
Random and short-term. That way there was no chance of real rejection from anyone I thought was an important part of my life. Like Gray.
I flicked the switch to unlock the door again. It instantly flipped back down. Sigh. Apparently, my lecture wasn’t over yet.
“Your father will want to kill me.”
I was determined to blithely sit while Gray reproved all the ways going out tonight was a security risk, but that comment was a low blow and he knew it. I glared at Gray hoping he could feel the steel of my daggers of death for even thinking about bringing my family into this. My father and his need to hire a bodyguard for me was and always had been sore point.
You’re vulnerable and naïve, Angelina.
Everyone will take advantage of you and your money, Angelina.
A million trillion kazillion dollars isn’t too much to spend on you for my peace of mind, Angelina.
At least the bodyguard turned out to be Grayson, usually kind, easy-going and he was hot to boot.
But tonight was not about my father or about Gray. It was about revenge and sex.
“If this is about the sex, a one-night stand isn’t—” He knew me too well.
I held up a hand. “It’s not about the sex.”
I didn’t want to talk about my shitty sex life with the man who inspired more than one dark fantasy of mine. If it was just about the sex, I wouldn’t have thrown Marc out. I had already resigned myself to the façade of a happy once-a-month missionary style marriage. Lord knows I wouldn’t have been the only Upper East Side woman grinning and bearing life without orgasms.
If Gray really thought it was as easy as all that, he would have taken me to bed when I threw my drunken self at him that night.
I wasn’t his type. Gray’s women were all exotic beauties with perfect bodies, not a boring, big-bottomed girl trying to be the perfect Susie Socialite.
The extra ten degrees of eyebrow lifting said Gray didn’t believe me.
“Fine.” I swallowed and rolled my eyes at myself for thinking I could get anything past him. “It’s a little bit about the sex.”
His expression changed. He wasn’t smug, but instantly back to bodyguard mode.
“Let me take you somewhere a little more suited to your needs.” With the way his voice dropped, he was either being overprotective and demanding or this somewhere else was a sex club.
Both gave me a tingle low in my belly.
A sex club. With Gray. Only in my dreams. I waved him off.
“Let’s just go in.” Before I lost my nerve altogether.
Gray stared at me for longer than I liked. I hated when he tried to get inside my brain. There were too many secrets there, even from him. He turned and flipped the lock and I let go of the breath stuck in my throat.
Great. Let’s do this. I wiped my hands on my Seven Jeans denim skirt with the brand-new frays and holes hoping for the hundredth time my butt didn’t look too big. I was relying on my Marilyn Monroe hair to distract from my too wide hips and lack of Spanx. I’d had my roots touched up right before the engagement party. Marc liked it blonde.
My former best-friend Mindy was a natural blonde.
I was dyeing it back to my own dark brown on Monday.
That thought fueled me enough to shore up my resolve to go inside the bar and find that rebound man.
“Let me go in first so it doesn’t look like we’re together.” Not that anyone would believe we were a couple. But I didn’t need Gray’s intimidating, yet delicious, physical stature scaring off any potential flirtations.
I stared at the door for at least a count of ten while Gray climbed out of his side. No problem. I could do this. One thing I was good at was faking it until making it. No way I believed I could walk into a bar and get any man I wanted to have sex with me, but dammit if I wasn’t going to pretend that was exactly what was going to happen.
I took one last strengthening breath, tugged at my low-cut sweater, and reached for the car door latch.
The door popped open before I got to it.
“Don’t get into any trouble in the twelve seconds I leave you alone.” Gray leaned against the door and smiled. He offered me his hand and I slid out of the back of the limo.
“I can take care of myself.” I told myself I believed that and strutted across the parking lot to the dingy door of the bar. This was not the kind of place with room for a limo to drop one off at the front. It didn’t have the pulsing music, scads of scantily-clad singles behind a rope and a giant bouncer letting in only the rich and beautiful.
What it had was a parking lot and building façade straight out of a small-town Wisconsin, or Ohio, or some other Midwest town in my imagination. I fully expected there to be a football game on and peanuts at the bar.
I opened the steel door and drank in the sweet stench of smoke, spilled beer, and desperation. The place was dark and dirty and filled with people. It was totally gross.
And completely perfect.
A seat opened up at the bar, so I hurried over and grabbed it before anyone else could. A haggard waitress walked past me three times before I got her attention. “Can I get a—”
The waitress raised her hand. “Don’t order, one of these schmucks will buy you a drink as soon as they get over how glossy you are.”
Mierda, I specifically dressed down. Nothing I had on was even this season or cost more than a thousand dollars. “Uh, okay. Thanks.”
I picked at the frayed threads on my right thigh. Maybe I should have gone somewhere more upscale, slept with some slimy Wall Street type, and let the rumors spread from there. Slumming it had a dangerous mystique to it that sure sounded good in my head. What if none of the so-called schmucks bought me a drink?
“Told ya.” The waitress slid a beer and a shot of amber liquid in front of me. “But be careful. That sexy piece over there is trying to get you drunk.”
I glanced toward the wall she pointed at, anxious to see who had sent the drink. Gray stood right in my line of sight and raised his beer, winking at me.
My mouth was so dry. It wouldn’t hurt to take the drink even if he was trying his best to screw with my plan. I took several big gulps of the beer.
Gray sauntered up to the table and set his drink down. “You’re supposed to drop the whiskey into the beer, Angel.”
“Oh well, you know cosmos are more my style.” I looked anywhere but at him and smiled in a friendly go-away kind of way.
“This isn’t a pink drink kind of place.”
Apparently, the message my faux smile gave didn’t come through because he leaned against my part of the bar and took a sip of my beer.
Between my teeth I asked, “What are you doing over here, anyway?”
“I’m hitting on you.” His voice was that low husky invitation that makes a girl’s brain go a little swirly.
I hadn’t drunk enough yet to feel that kind of rush. Don’t go there, I told myself. Gray was only kidding. “You’re going to scare off the other guys.”
“Who?” He turned his head right and left.
“Him.” I motioned to the bar. A couple of swivel stools down sat potential one-night stand candidate number one, beer gut and a wife beater. I'd need a whole keg of this alcoholic beer-flavored water to do him.
Moving on to bachelor-not number two, desperation in a business suit. “Or him.”
Probably out looking to cheat on his missus. Bastard. No chance.
Gray stared at me, making me wriggle in my seat. I strengthened the prescription of my new beer goggles with a sip from the shot of bottom-shelf bourbon before I perused the rest of the male offerings in my hole-in-the-wall dive of choice. I needed the hot burn of liquid courage if I was going to do this revenge sex thing with anyone here.
On to bachelor-maybe number three. The bartender. He was kind of cute. But I'd have to wait until closing time and I planned to be long since passed out and tucked into my own bed by then. Unless he'd be up for a quickie in the back room. Hmm.
It was the perfect way to start my new life as the fat-whore-rich-bitch Marc had accused me of being as he tumbled into the street. One more thing well-muscled ex-army bodyguards were good for.
I gave the bartender my best come hither look which he responded to with a wink and a just-a-minute-while-I-serve-the-yahoos gesture.
A tiny, giddy flutter hit my chest. It had been forever since I’d flirted with anyone besides my father’s cronies and even I knew they were just happy for some attention from anyone under sixty. Harmless old men until money and real estate were on the table. Then I could strip naked and give them all lap dances without being noticed one bit.
Yeah, I had daddy issues, and cheating bastard ex-fiancé issues, and I hate every man in the whole world issues. The only saving grace of the entire male species was the bodyguard slash friend and confidant that was Grayson. Even he was on shaky ground.
I tilted my head toward the bartender. Gray shook his head. “Let’s get out of here and do something fun to celebrate your freedom.”
“I am going to have fun. Sex is fun.” Or so I’d been told. Or so I had fantasized.
“So,” He leaned in. “This is about the sex.”
I absolutely, positively, unequivocally refused to blush. I watched the bartender, mostly so I didn’t have to look Grayson in the eye while lying. “No.”
He move in incredibly close and whispered so softly in my ear, his breath heated my skin. “You’re a horrible liar.”
Liar, liar, pants seriously on fire. “I am not.”
He didn’t back off an inch. “If this isn’t about sex, where did this pretty flush on your neck and chest come from?”
I could feel the heat creep up my face like the warmth from a good glass of red wine. “It’s the alcohol. Plus, why are you looking at my chest anyway?”
“There isn’t a man in here who isn’t.” His eyes rose back up to mine. “And you’ve only had about a half a sip of that whiskey and even less of the beer, so good try.”
I grabbed the shot glass, downed the remainder, and slammed it on the table. “Fine. It’s about the sex.”
The tables around us went quiet. Oops. I said that a bit too loud.
I smiled and held my beer aloft, toasting the gawkers.
If Gray didn’t like my plan, that was his problem. It had taken a lot of cajoling to get him to go along with my scheming, after several false attempts. I certainly didn’t have the cojones to do this on my own. I needed a friend...and a bodyguard to pull this off.
I lowered my voice for this go around. “So what if it is? I’m entitled to spread my wings, or in this case my legs, if I want to. If I want a one-night stand and sheet-sweaty, shouting sex, I’m going to have it. I’m not engaged anymore. I can have dirty, dirty sexcapades with anyone I want.”
Gray nodded and his eyes flicked down to my chest and back up. “Yes, you can. It’s about time, too.”
Uh, not the reply I expected. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
He chuckled. “Just that I doubt Sparky was very imaginative in the sack.”
“I have no response to that.” Mostly because the correct comeback would have been duh.
Gray searched my eyes then smiled. “What turns you on, Angel?”
This time it was no light flitter in my belly, this was a full-on hurricane of butterflies attacking my internal organs with a barrage of trembling beats. Oh no. “I’m not talking about this with you.”
“If you really want to get your rocks off, this isn’t the place to do it.”
“You’ve got someplace better?” I sipped my beer and looked around the dank bar. Okay, so anyplace was probably better than here.
“Where?” Please say the carriage house, or the back of the limo, or my room, or on one of his motorcycles. Not that I had spent anytime fantasizing about how sex on Gray’s motorcycle would work.
“Ever heard of The Asylum?”
“The BDSM sex club?” Chingada Madre. “We can’t go there. It’s members only and I’ve heard it’s practically impossible to be considered unless you are sponsored by another member. Money can’t even buy its way in. It’s harder to get in than the country club.”
He listened, nodding like he agreed with my report. “I can get you in.”
What? Even his black ops training couldn’t do that. “How?”
“I’m a member.”
And then I died. Or my brain exploded. Or other more southerly places in my body did.