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An Inconvenient Dare by Bethany Lopez (1)

One

“You seriously need to loosen up,” Ella said, her eyes narrowed as she watched Vanessa over the rim of her whiskey sour. “It’s been what … years since you’ve had sex?”

Vanessa rolled her eyes to try and play off her best friend’s statement, but her hand tightened around the stem of her wine glass. “I’ve been focused on my career.”

It was true. She’d spent the last six years working her ass off to learn as much as she could, and had worked her way up that ladder at Smithson’s PR back in Detroit. A few months ago, when a position opened up at Fine PR in Miami, she’d jumped at the chance to move closer to Ella, whom she met in college.

“More like obsessed,” Ella accused as she tossed back the amber liquid. “It’s time to get a little crazy and achieve an orgasm with another person in the room. Preferably a hot male.”

Vanessa bit back a sarcastic reply when she realized Ella had a point. When was the last time she’d been with a man? Had it really been two years? Beginning to feel the tingly glow of liquid courage, she looked around the party with a slight frown.

“I know most of these people from work, so even if I did decide to throw caution to the wind and pick up a guy, I couldn’t. I don’t mix business with pleasure, you know that.”

Ella looked at her beautiful friend. Vanessa’s rich chestnut hair was loose and flowing down her back, and the little black dress she wore showcased her killer long legs. It really was a crime that Vanessa was always so focused on moving up to the next level in her career, that she never allowed herself a little fun. Ella was determined to change that tonight.

“You never mix pleasure with pleasure,” she argued, biting back a smile when her perfectly posh friend stuck out her tongue in defense. “There has got to be at least one hot guy here who has nothing to do with your PR firm, or the Miami Thunder, and I’m going to find him.”

“Wait,” Vanessa said, her tongue darting out to lick her lips nervously. “What am I going to do while you search?”

Ella smirked at her friend and replied, “Drink up … I think you’re going to need something to grease those wheels.”

“Gross,” Vanessa grumbled, then watched with mild panic as Ella left her and began to circle the room. Taking Ella’s advice, she knocked back the rest of her red, then casually walked to the bar to order another.

“There’s the lady of the hour,” Vanessa’s boss, Derek Fine, said, reaching out a hand to stop her after her trip to the bar.

“Just doing my job,” Vanessa said humbly, even though her insides were glowing at the compliment. She’d only been with Fine PR for a few months, and she already loved working there. Mr. Fine could be a tough boss, but that only made her respect him more.

“Vanessa, you know Avery Dare.”

Vanessa turned to the striking brunette with an easy smile.

“Yes, we’ve met a few times.”

Avery smiled back and said, “It’s nice to see you again.”

The three chatted for a few moments, then Derek excused himself to go speak with Ian Dare, Avery’s brother and the President of the Miami Thunder.

“I have to say, the ideas you had for that last marketing campaign were risky, but it totally paid off. People are still talking about it.”

“Thanks,” Vanessa said, unsure of how to respond to the other woman’s praise. Derek had been skeptical about her ideas when she came on board, but she’d convinced him to give her the chance to prove herself, and luckily he’d agreed.

She’d been overjoyed when Mr. Dare had loved her campaign.

They were chatting about an upcoming project, when Ella came rushing over with an excited grin.

“I’ve found him,” she said under her breath when she reached the women.

“Avery, this is my rude friend, Ella,” Vanessa said instead of replying to her crazy friend.

Ella looked sheepish.

“Oh, sorry … It’s nice to meet you!”

“You too,” Avery replied, then looked around the room with a conspiratorial smile. “Who’d you find?”

“The man who’s going to break Van’s dry spell.”

Ella!” Vanessa exclaimed, embarrassed that her friend would bring up such a private topic in front of a client.

“Oooh, point him out,” Avery said, leaning in closer to Ella, obviously not finding the situation inappropriate in the slightest.

Vanessa took a healthy gulp of wine and tried to act like she wasn’t holding her breath waiting to see who Ella was talking about.

“Twelve o’clock, dark hair, and dimples that have panties dropping on site.”

Vanessa turned her gaze to twelve o’clock and was shocked to find a thrill run through her at the very tall, very tanned, and very gorgeous man watching her and her friends watch him. She looked down quickly, but it was too late; she’d already caught the cocky grin he shot at her. She’d felt it straight to her bones.

“Wow, you’re not kidding,” Avery said under her breath.

Vanessa had to agree with Ella’s assessment. She was ready to drop her panties at one glance. What the hell? She’d never had a reaction like that to a man before. Certainly not just from eye contact.

“Well?” Ella asked.

“I don’t even know if he’s single,” Vanessa began, her palms beginning to sweat at the thought of approaching the handsome stranger.

“He wasn’t wearing a ring,” Ella answered. “There’s only one way to find out whether he has a girlfriend or not.”

“I don’t know,” Vanessa said, then looked to Avery for a lifeline. “Do you know him? Does he work for the team?”

Vanessa’s hope for an easy out vanished when the striking brunette shook her head.

“I’ve never seen him before. Believe me, I’d remember.”

“No excuses,” Ella cajoled. “I dare you…”

Vanessa’s head shot up and she looked incredulously at her oldest friend.

“We’re not in college anymore.”

“No, but there’s no expiration date on taking a dare,” Ella said with a grin.

They’d made a pact the first night they’d gotten drunk and played Truth or Dare in college. You had to accept all dares, or face the consequence. Which meant the other person would pick out the ugliest bra and pair of granny panties, and the welsher had to strip down and streak in a public area. It was a stupid pact, but one they’d always adhered to, and since then, neither of them had ever turned down a dare. It may be childish and stupid, but it always reminded Vanessa not to take herself so seriously all the time.

“We’re adults now, Ella, I’m not playing some silly game,” Vanessa argued, even though she was really warming to the idea of breaking her dry spell. Especially with a guy like that!

“I don’t care if we’re eighty; a pact is a pact, and a dare is a dare.”

Ella had her hands on her hips now, and Avery was nodding in agreement.

Vanessa knew she was at least going to have to make an attempt. There was no way the other women were letting her off the hook, especially when Ella added, “I double dog dare you!”

Jeez, it looked like her friend was never going to grow up.

Vanessa downed the rest of her wine, handed the empty glass to her giddy friend, and took a deep breath.

Game on.

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