“My feet are gonna hurt so bad, but totally worth it,” I agreed, swaying a little. I felt my cheeks flush, which was funny, so I started laughing. Kimber shook her head at me.
“I can’t take you anywhere,” she said gravely. “Lightweight. Where the hell did Em go? I want to check out this guy of hers. I thought the deal was we’d look him over and decide whether he’s worth her time. She’s cheating.”
“No shit. Bitch. I hate her.”
“Yeah, me, too,” Kimber replied, stabbing the air with her smoke for emphasis. “How am I supposed to live the single life vicariously if I don’t get any details?”
I shook my head and shrugged mournfully.
“I’m doing my part. I tell you everything.”
“And don’t think I don’t appreciate it,” she said, tearing up slightly. We gave each other a drunken hug.
We’d hit the first bar around ten, and by ten thirty Em had disappeared to meet her online hottie, Liam. She was supposed to bring him inside to meet us, but they snuck off to a bar down the street instead. I would’ve suspected kidnapping and murder by eleven thirty, when we moved on to the next club, but she’d been sending us regular text messages that made it clear she was enjoying her evening.
Long story short—Liam was gorgeous, we’d get to meet him in a while, she was definitely going to sleep with him, and she was pretty sure he could handle her dad. Apparently Liam was Em’s perfect man.
She promised not to leave the other bar without us, so we called it good.
“Hopefully they’re in some corner booth making out,” I said glumly.
“Not too much,” Kimber said darkly. “If she f**ks him before I give my approval, she’s losing her margarita privileges.”
Talking about making out reminded me of Ruger, and thinking of Ruger made me want to drink more. I still couldn’t believe I’d f**ked him. Again. I couldn’t shake the man. Thank God we didn’t need to be back in Coeur d’Alene until noon, because I had a lot more alcohol to drink. Kimber’s husband was definitely taking one for the team tonight, watching both kids. I needed to bake him cookies or something …
“Is it creepy that I want to bake for your husband?” I asked her. She burst out laughing and I started laughing, too, and then my phone buzzed.
EM: I want to go back to the hotel. He’s defintely THE ONE
I read it and squeed, handing the phone over to Kimber. She started thumb-typing furiously.
Kimber: Dont u dare! We have to chck him out frist. Ur NOT follwing the plan
EM: Yu’ll meet him in a minut come down to Mick’s and we can head from there. We’ll wait outside
I yanked my phone back and glared at Kimber.
“That’s mine! I get to yell at her first.”
“We can’t yell at her in front of Internet Hottie!” she told me. “That’s a cockblock. We’ll yell at her tomorrow.”
I considered this.
“Okay,” I said. “But I still call dibs on first yelling once we ditch his ass.”
She sighed and rolled her eyes.
We didn’t see them outside Mick’s. It was a tiny hole-in-the-wall place we almost missed because it was next to a good-sized club with a long line. I texted Em and got no response.
“She’s probably just peeing or something,” Kimber said, eyeing a group of collegey-looking guys standing in a clump on the sidewalk. They eyed her back and she smiled.
“Hey!” I hissed. “Married, remember?”
“I’m just looking, don’t be so uptight. I promise not to touch, okay?”
My phone buzzed.
EM: Heading out
We stood on the sidewalk for another five minutes. Nothing. I started getting a little nervous. I texted again. No reply.
Another ten minutes passed and I’d had enough. This didn’t feel right.
“I’m gonna go check on her,” I told Kimber. She’d lost interest in the college boys when they’d come over and tried to pick us up. They’d been pretty to look at, but not exactly brilliant conversationalists.
She nodded, concern on her face.
“I’ll wait out here,” she said, looking up and down the street. “Just in case they show up.”
“I don’t want you outside by yourself,” I replied. She jerked her chin toward the bouncer at the club next door.
“I’ll be fine,” she said. “Anything happens, I’ll scream for him. Go find our girl.”
“All right,” I said, my voice grim. “But when I find her, we’re kicking her ass. This isn’t cool.”
The place was small and dark—just a tiny, narrow little bar, way rougher than I expected. No wonder the college boys stayed outside. The men in here would crumple them up and throw them away like used … um … something. Straw wrappers? No, something worse. I shook my head, foggy from the booze. Focus. There were more men than women, and most kept their eyes on their drinks. My quickly sinking opinion of Liam went down another notch. What kind of guy took a girl to a place like this?
We shouldn’t have let Em out of our sight, I realized.
I didn’t find her in the main bar so I wandered to the back, where a long hallway led past some grotty-looking bathrooms and an office. It ended with a fire door that had been propped open with a brick.
I texted Kimber.
ME: Any sign of them?
KIMBER: No this is bllshit
ME: Not in bar. I’ll look in the ally then com back
I stepped up to the fire door cautiously. Would Em really go out there with a guy she didn’t know? Except she probably felt like she did know him. They’d been calling each other for a while now. Hell, I’d gone on dates with guys I’d only met a few times. Still … I pushed the door open and peeked outside to find a tall, dark-haired man in faded jeans and motorcycle boots leaning against the side of a battered cargo van.
He smiled at me like a shark and winked.
Oh my God. I recognized him. It was one of the guys from that other club, the Devil’s Jacks. The ones who’d come to my apartment in Seattle.
What was he doing here? Holy shit … Coincidence?
Or were Hunter and Liam the same person?
I opened my mouth to scream when someone shoved me from behind, knocking me out into the alley. I stumbled and nearly fell. Then Hunter’s arms caught me, swooping me up and carrying me toward the back of the van. I shrieked as loud as I could—kicking and fighting as he tossed me in—but the pounding music from the club next door almost guaranteed nobody heard me. Em lay on the floor, arms cuffed behind her back, a bandana gagging her mouth. Her legs were tied tight with what looked like white clothesline.