I’d heard once that the best things in life are free. And even though I was pretty sure they didn’t mean glitzy useless swag and an open bar, I was in complete agreement. Working as a glorified list-maker at the website ChatBuzz didn’t come with a great salary or any prestige, but hey, a girl couldn’t look a gift martini in the mouth.
“To clocking off.” I raised my glass in a toast. “And a whole . . . twelve hours before I have to write another list of the Top Five Pets Who Look Like a Kardashian.”
“Only five?” my friend Cassie teased, taking a long sip of her martini—and drawing every straight, single male gaze in the bar as she toyed with the olive in her drink.
“Easy there,” I warned her. “The bartender is about to spill something trying to look down your shirt.”
“Serves him right.” Cassie looked over, then paused, assessing him. “On second thought . . .” She winked, and the bartender was so distracted, he dropped his shaker with a crash.
If I wasn’t friends with Cassie, I might have hated her. She was smart, pretty, and ambitious as hell. The kind of person you didn’t want to compete against. Luckily, the two of us had become fast friends at work, sneaking off to the kitchen to drown our sorrows in vending machine snacks and gossip. Sure, ChatBuzz was a hot website, but we both not-so-secretly wanted to be doing something more—I wanted to write in-depth interviews with fascinating people, while Cassie’s law degree was pretty much sitting useless while she vetted all our writing for libel. We both swore that one day we’d make the break, but until then, we were paying our dues—and our student loans—and occasionally reaping the benefits of our job by attending launch parties with free swag and open bars.
Tonight we were at the celebrity-filled launch for a new cellphone that promised to be better than all current smartphones currently on the market. So far, the only thing that seemed different about it was the handle it had on the back to make taking selfies easier.
“I see Paris Hilton,” Cassie said, leaving the poor bartender to clear up his mess.
“Saw her already,” I told her. “And she doesn’t count anymore.”
We were playing our favorite game at these events—spot the celebrity.
“You know who she is by name,” Cassie countered. “Therefore she counts.”
“I wish I didn’t know who she was by name,” I argued.
“Doesn’t matter,” she said. “Those are the rules.”
I looked around the crowded room, searching for another famous face, but also on the look-out for cute guys. It had been a really, really long time since I’d been on a date. And a really, really, REALLY long time since I’d had any date-related fun. Though it didn’t seem like I was going to find any relief in this crowd; it was all Soho hipsters, and some Wall Street bros, and way too many fedoras in the room.
“Slim pickings tonight,” I told Cassie, who nodded.
“What did you expect?” she asked.
“Chris Pine to drop by and be stunned by my wit and beauty?”
She laughed. “I still say Hemsworth is the superior Chris.”
My phone buzzed in my pocket, distracting me from Chris-centric combat. I checked the screen. “Uh oh.”
“What?” Cassie was already pulling out her phone to check the messages.
I read out loud. “We are pleased to announce that Richard Watkins, formerly of Vice, has joined the ChatBuzz family, effective immediately.”
Cassie shivered. “Ugh, I hate it when they call us a family.”
“I know.” I wrinkled my nose. “If it’s a family, I hope I’m adopted.” I skimmed through the rest of the message, but it was all corporate double-speak. “What do you think happened to the last guy?” I asked, scanning the email for our former boss’ name. There was no mention of him.
“Obviously they canned him,” Cassie said. “Not that I can blame them—our traffic numbers have been terrible for months.”
Michael had been a terrible boss, but at least he had been terribly predictable. “Do you think this guy can change that?” I wondered out loud.
Cassie shrugged. “There are only two things I know for certain in life, and one of those things is that ChatBuzz will continue to undervalue you and me, no matter who’s in charge.”
“I’ll text Luke, see if he knows anything,” I said, wondering what my brother was up to this month. “He did some work for Vice last year.”
Cassie perks up. “That extreme sports documentary? That was great. How is Luke?”
I hit her on the arm. “Don’t say his name like that.”
“Like you want to do things to him that his sister really doesn’t want to hear.”
“But he’s soooo hot.”
I hit her again. “What?” Cassie gave me a wicked grin. “Not my fault,” she said. “Blame your parents.”
“Trust me,” I said. “I definitely do.”
It wasn’t the first time a friend of mine had swooned over my big brother—and sadly, it wouldn’t be the last. Now, thankfully, he spent most of his time out of the country working on documentary films, but growing up with him had meant a steady stream of girls trying to be friends with me to get closer to him—and guys running the other direction when they realized Luke took his whole “protector” role way too seriously. And even when Luke didn’t have a clue about my romantic life . . . well, then he screwed it up, just by existing.
“Remind me never to put Luke and you in the same room together,” I told Cassie.
“Meanie,” Cassie fake-pouted. “If I had a hot brother, I wouldn’t keep him from my friends.”
I laughed. “Why don’t you put those fluttering eyelashes to work and go get us some more drinks?”
“It’s a plan.” She got up and smoothed down her shirt. Even though she was wearing a similar outfit to me—short shirt, V-neck shirt—her curves were doing a lot better job of filling it out. I followed her to the bar, and watched as she did her signature lean so that the bartender could stare down her shirt. It worked, and within a minute, we had two fresh martinis on the bar in front of us, the bartender’s gaze focused solely on Cassie’s boobs.
“So,” he said to them. “Having fun?”
At least he was cute.
I excused myself while they flirted. Unfortunately the line for the bathrooms was snaking around the perimeter of the crowded dance floor. I definitely couldn’t wait that long, so I looked around—and saw the velvet rope leading to the VIP area. Bingo!
Making sure no one was watching, I quickly stepped over the rope and hurried down the hallway. Thankfully, the bathroom back there had no line . . . and was downright luxurious, with marble counters, plush towels, and little soaps in gold dishes. I ducked into the stall to find that it was just as fancy, with a little ledge just for my purse. They probably planned it to protect people’s Birkins, but my Target clutch appreciated the spot, all the same.
One day, maybe, I could afford to upgrade all the way to Topshop.
I had just flushed when I heard someone else come into the bathroom. Or, rather, more than one someone. From the sound of it, I had just been joined by a couple. A clearly horny couple.
“What if someone comes in?” A feminine voice asked, then let out a squeal.
“Shh,” the guy replied. “Nobody will see.” It didn’t work. Instead, it actually seemed to make things worse as the girl began giggling almost uncontrollably, each giggle punctuated with a breathy moan.
Great. Apparently one half of this couple got the giggles when she was turned on.
I stood in the stall, debating whether or not I should cover my ears. Because it became immediately clear that while the two of them weren’t having sex, they were definitely doing sex-adjacent things.
I heard feet moving and clothes rustling, all mixed together with the unmistakable wet, smacking noises of people kissing. I wasn’t hearing much from the guy, except the occasional attempt to hush his partner, but the girl was making more than enough sounds for the both of them. Apparently, she was having a great time.
“Oooooooo,” she moaned.
My eyes widened, and I couldn’t help ducking down a little to peer under the small space beneath the stall door. All I could see was a pair of beaten up men’s boots—a very, very large pair—and a pair of stiletto heels. Without any feet in them.
Apparently this guy had hoisted his partner up onto the counter of the bathroom and was doing some very, very interesting things to her.
“Wow,” she giggled, followed by a lusty sigh. “That feels so good.”
The guy didn’t respond, and it seemed that the pleasure—at least for now—was one-sided, as the sound of the woman’s enjoyment built and built and built. And she was not a woman who took her pleasure quietly.
“Oh god,” she cried out, the sound echoing through the bathroom. “Yes! Right there. Oh yes!”
Jesus. Just my luck that this was the most action I’d experienced in years. If that didn’t sum up my love life at the moment, then I didn’t know what did.
I had never considered myself an exhibitionist, nor was I in the habit of listening to other people get it on, but I couldn’t help the rush of heat that pulsed through me. Apparently, I had been celibate for way too long. The whole thing made me feel extremely horny and jealous. Didn’t I deserve to get off by some dude in scruffy boots in the bathroom?
Thankfully, before I had time to think about that any further, the tryst came to a loud and explosive climax on the other side of the bathroom stall.
“Oh yes!” the girl screamed.
I heard both of them catch their breath, followed by the rustling of clothes getting put back together.
“Mmmm,” the girl said, and I could hear the purr in her voice. “I heard you were good with your hands.”
There was a non-committal grunt from her partner.
Bending down, I saw her feet slid back into her heels. They were really high, really sexy shoes.
I looked down at my cute, but still sensible booties. Maybe if I wore better shoes I’d have a better chance of having an orgasm in public. I made a note to go shoe shopping during the week.
“Thanks for the good time, babe,” the girl said, and her toes turned towards the stall.
I straightened and went completely still. The last thing I wanted was for one of them to try to use the bathroom. Thankfully, she spoke again:
“Guess we should get back to the party.”
I didn’t hear what the guy said, and held my breath until I heard their footsteps cross the room and the door open and then close. As soon as it shut, I relaxed.
“That was close,” I muttered to myself as I opened the bathroom door.
“You can say that again,” a voice said.
A very familiar voice.
I looked up, and found Mr. Scruffy Boots himself leaning against the sink. But the self-satisfied smirk on his face disappeared the moment he recognized me.
My heart stopped. There he was. The person I had never been able to escape—whose face had been plastered on billboards and TV shows for the past several years. The person who had given me the best kiss I’d ever had—and then promptly ruined everything.
Rock star. Sex god.
And my brother’s best friend.