I ordered one round of sake, and then another. The waitress didn’t card us until I ordered beer. I knew America had a fake ID, and I was impressed when Abby whipped hers out like a champ. Once the waitress looked it over and walked away, I grabbed it. Her picture was in the corner, and everything looked legit as far as I knew. I’d never seen a Kansas ID before, but this one was flawless. The name read Jessica James, and for some reason, that turned me on. Hard.

Abby flicked the ID, and it popped out of my grasp, but she caught it midflight to the floor, and within seconds it was hidden away inside her wallet.


She smiled, and I smiled back, leaning on my elbows. “Jessica James?”

She mirrored my position, leaning on her elbows and matching my stare. She was so confident. It was incredibly sexy.

“Yeah. So?”

“Interesting choice.”

“So is the California Roll. Pansy.”

Shepley burst into laughter, but stopped abruptly when America chugged her beer. “Slow down, baby. The sake hits late.”

America wiped her mouth and grinned. “I’ve had sake, Shep. Stop worrying.”

The more we drank, the louder we became. The waitstaff didn’t seem to mind, but that was probably because it was late and there were only a few others on the far side of the restaurant, and they were almost as drunk as we were. Except Shepley. He was too protective of his car to drink too much while driving, and he loved America more than his car. When she came along, he not only watched his intake, but he also followed every traffic law and used his blinkers.


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The waitress brought the check, and I tossed some cash on the table, nudging Abby until she scooted out of the booth. She elbowed me back playfully, and I nonchalantly threw my arm around her while we walked across the parking lot.

America slid into the front seat next to her boyfriend, and began licking his ear. Abby looked at me and rolled her eyes, but regardless of being a captive audience to the peep show, she was having a good time.

After Shepley pulled into the Red, he drove through the rows of cars two or three times.

“Sometime tonight, Shep,” America muttered.

“Hey. I have to find a wide space. I don’t want some drunken idiot dinging the paint.”

Maybe. Or he was just prolonging the tongue bath his inner ear was getting from America. Sick.

Shepley parked on the edge of the lot, and I helped Abby out. She pulled and tugged at her dress, and then shook her hips a little bit before taking my hand.

“I meant to ask you about your IDs,” I said. “They’re flawless. You didn’t get them around here.” I would know. I’d purchased many.

“Yeah, we’ve had them for a while. It was necessary . . .”

Why in the hell would it be necessary for her to have a fake ID?

“. . . in Wichita.”

The gravel crunched under our feet as we walked, and Abby’s hand squeezed mine as she navigated the rocks under her heels.

America tripped. I let go of Abby’s hand in reaction, but Shepley caught his girlfriend before she hit the ground.

“It’s a good thing you have connections,” America said, giggling.

“Dear God, woman,” Shepley said, holding her arm before she fell over. “I think you’re already done for the night.”

I frowned, wondering what the hell it all meant. “What are you talking about, Mare? What connections?”

“Abby has some old friends that—”

“They’re fake IDs, Trav,” Abby said, interrupting before America could finish. “You have to know the right people if you want them done right, right?”

I looked to America, knowing something wasn’t right, but she looked everywhere but at me. Pushing the issue didn’t seem smart, especially since Abby had just called me Trav. I could get used to that, coming from her.

I held out my hand. “Right.”

She took it, smiling with the expression of a hustler. She thought she’d just pulled one over on me. I’d definitely have to revisit that later.

“I need another drink!” she said, pulling me toward the big red door of the club.

“Shots!” America yelled.

Shepley sighed. “Oh, yeah. That’s what you need. Another shot.”

Every head in the room turned when Abby walked in, even a few guys with their girlfriends were shamelessly breaking their necks or leaning back in their chairs to get a longer look.

Oh, fuck. This is going to be a bad night, I thought, tightening my hand around Abby’s.

We walked to the bar closest to the dance floor. Megan stood in the smoky shadows by the pool tables. Her usual hunting ground. Her big, blue eyes locked on me before I even recognized it was her standing there. She didn’t watch me long. Abby’s hand was still in mine, and Megan’s expression changed the moment she saw. I nodded at her, and she smirked.

My usual seat at the bar was open, but it was the only one open along the bar. Cami saw me coming with Abby trailing behind, so she laughed once, and then brought my arrival to the attention of the people sitting on the surrounding stools, warning them of their impending eviction. They left without complaint.

Say what you want. Being a psychotic asshole had its perks.


Seeing Red

BEFORE WE REACHED THE BAR, AMERICA PULLED HER best friend to the dance floor. Abby’s hot pink stilettos glowed in the black light, and I smiled when she laughed at America’s wild dance moves. My eyes traveled down her black dress, stopping on her hips. She had moves, I’d give her that. A sexual thought popped into my mind, and I had to look away.

The Red Door was fairly crowded. Some new faces, but mostly regulars. Anyone new walking in was like fresh meat to those of us who didn’t have the imagination for anything but showing up at the bar every weekend. Especially girls that looked like Abby and America.

I ordered a beer, chugged half of it, and then turned my attention back to the dance floor. Staring wasn’t voluntary, especially knowing I probably had the same expression on my face as every schmuck watching them.

The song ended, and Abby pulled America back to the bar. They were panting, smiling, and just sweaty enough to be sexy.

“It’s going to be like this all night, Mare. Just ignore them,” Shepley said.

America’s face was screwed in disgust, staring behind me. I could only imagine who was back there. Couldn’t have been Megan. She wasn’t one to wait in the wings.

“It looks like Vegas threw up on a flock of vultures,” America sneered.

I glanced over my shoulder, and three of Lexi’s sorority sisters were standing shoulder to shoulder. Another of them stood next to me with a bright smile. They all grinned when I made eye contact, but I quickly turned around, chugging the last half of my beer. For whatever reason, girls that acted that way around me made America pretty cranky. I couldn’t disagree with her vulture reference, though.

I lit a cigarette, and then ordered two more beers. The blonde next to me, Brooke, smiled and bit her lip. I paused, unsure if she was going to cry or hug me. It wasn’t until Cami popped the tops and slid the bottles over that I knew why Brooke had that ridiculous look on her face. She picked up the beer and started to take a sip, but I grabbed it from her before she could, and handed it to Abby.

“Uh . . . not yours.”

Brooke stomped off to join her friends. Abby, however, seemed perfectly content, taking man-size gulps.

“Like I would buy a beer for some chick at a bar,” I said. I thought it would add to Abby’s amusement, but instead she held up her beer with a sour look on her face.

“You’re different,” I said with a half smile.

She clinked her bottle against mine, clearly irritated. “To being the only girl a guy with no standards doesn’t want to sleep with.” She took a swig, but I pulled the bottle from her mouth.

“Are you serious?” When she didn’t respond, I leaned in closer for full effect. “First of all . . . I have standards. I’ve never been with an ugly woman. Ever. Second of all, I wanted to sleep with you. I thought about throwing you over my couch fifty different ways, but I haven’t because I don’t see you that way anymore. It’s not that I’m not attracted to you, I just think you’re better than that.”

A smug smile crept across her face. “You think I’m too good for you.”

Unbelievable. She really didn’t get it. “I can’t think of a single guy I know that’s good enough for you.”

The smugness melted away, replaced with a touched, appreciative smile. “Thanks, Trav,” she said, setting her empty bottle on the bar. She could really put them back when she wanted to. Normally I would call that sloppy, but she carried herself with such confidence . . . I don’t know . . . anything she did was hot.

I stood and grabbed her hand. “C’mon.” I pulled her to the dance floor, and she followed behind me.

“I’ve had a lot to drink! I’m going to fall!”

Now on the dance floor, I grabbed her hips and pulled her body tight against mine, leaving no room between us. “Shut up and dance.”

All the giggles and smiles left her face, and her body began to move against mine to the music. I couldn’t keep my hands off of her. The closer we were, the closer I needed her to be. Her hair was in my face, and even though I’d drunk enough to call it a night, all of my senses were alert. The way her ass felt against me, the different directions and motions her hips made to the music, the way she leaned back against my chest and rested the back of her head on my shoulder. I wanted to pull her to some dark corner and taste the inside of her mouth.

Abby turned to face me with a mischievous smile. Her hands began at my shoulders, and then she let her fingers run down my chest and stomach. I nearly went insane, wanting her right then and there. She turned her back to me, and my heart beat even faster against my rib cage. She was closer that way. I gripped her hips and pulled her tighter into me.

I wrapped my arms around her waist and buried my face in her hair. It was saturated with sweat, and combined with her perfume. Any rational thought disappeared. The song was ending, but she showed no signs of stopping.

Abby leaned back, her head against my shoulder. Some of her hair fell away, exposing the glistening skin of her neck. All willpower vanished. I touched my lips to the delicate spot just behind her ear. I couldn’t stop there, opening my mouth to let my tongue lick the salty moisture from her skin.

Abby’s body tensed, and she pulled away.

“What, Pidge?” I asked. I had to chuckle. She looked like she wanted to hit me. I thought we were having a good time, and she was angrier than I’d ever seen her.

Instead of letting her temper fly, she pushed through the crowd, retreating to the bar. I followed, knowing I would find out soon enough what exactly I had done wrong.

Taking the empty stool beside her, I watched as Abby signaled to Cami that she wanted another beer. I ordered one for myself, and then watched her chug half of hers. The bottle clanged against the counter when she slammed it down.

“You think that is going to change anyone’s mind about us?”

I laughed once. After all that bumping and grinding against my dick, she was suddenly worried about appearances? “I don’t give a damn what they think about us.”

She shot me a dirty look, and then turned to face forward.

“Pigeon,” I said, touching her arm.

She jerked away. “Don’t. I could never get drunk enough to let you get me on that couch.”

Instant rage consumed me. I had never treated her like that. Never. She led me on, and then I gave her one or two little kisses on the neck, and she freaks out?

I started to speak, but Megan appeared next to me.

“Well. If it isn’t Travis Maddox.”

“Hey, Megan.”

Abby eyed Megan, clearly taken off guard. Megan was an old pro at tipping the scales in her favor.

“Introduce me to your girlfriend,” Megan said, smiling.

She knew damn good and well Abby wasn’t my girlfriend. Ho 101: If the man in your sights is on a date or with a female friend, force him to admit to lack of commitment. Creates insecurity and instability.

I knew where this was going. Hell, if Abby really thought I was a criminal-grade douche bag, I might as well act like one. I slid my beer down the bar, and it fell off the edge, clinking into the full trash can at the end. “She’s not my girlfriend.”

Purposefully ignoring Abby’s reaction, I grabbed Megan’s hand and led her to the dance floor. She complied, happily swinging our arms until our feet hit the wood. Megan was always entertaining to dance with. She had no shame and let me do anything to her that I wanted, on and off the dance floor. As usual, most of the other dancers stopped to watch.

We usually made a spectacle, but I was feeling exceptionally lewd. Megan’s dark hair slapped me in the face more than once, but I was numb. I picked her up and she wrapped her legs around my waist, and then bent back, stretching her arms over her head. She smiled as I pumped her in front of the entire bar, and when I set her on her feet, she turned and bent over, grabbing her ankles.

Sweat poured down my face. Megan’s skin was so wet, my hands slipped away every time I tried to touch her. Her shirt was soaked, and so was mine. She leaned in for a kiss, her mouth slightly open, but I leaned back, looking toward the bar.

That was when I saw him. Ethan Coats. Abby was leaned in toward him, smiling with that drunken, flirty, take-me-home smile I could spot in a crowd of a thousand women.

Leaving Megan on the dance floor, I pushed through the mass that had gathered around us. Just before I reached Abby, Ethan reached over to touch her knee. Remembering what he’d gotten away with the year before, I balled my hand into a fist, standing between them, with my back to Ethan.

“You ready, Pidge?”

Abby put her hand on my stomach and pushed me to the side, smiling the instant Ethan came back into view. “I’m talking, Travis.” She held her hand out, feeling how wet it was, and then wiped it on her skirt in dramatic fashion.

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