He gave a low laugh.
“At the clubhouse we call her Sharon,” he said softly. “Which I’ve never considered an insult, especially given that she’s named after her grandmother. But you feel free to interpret it any way you like.”
I closed my eyes and counted to five.
“Just go away.”
“Pic, you know where my shoes are?” Sharon said. She walked into the kitchen and I expected him to pull away, to turn to her with an explanation. He stayed put.
“Think they’re in the living room, babe,” he said, reaching up to run his fingers through my hair, tugging my head just enough to force me to meet his eyes.
“Thanks,” Sharon said, passing by us to hunt for her footwear.
“Isn’t she pissed off that you’re talking to me instead of her?”
“Apparently not,” he said, shrugging. “Think she already got what she wanted.”
“Let me guess, this is where you tell me how many times you made her come?”
“No, although if you want details, I guess I could give you some,” he said. “I like how you think. Dirty. But what she wanted was cash. She’s a nice girl and she’s in a bit of trouble. I’m helping her out, so she decided to help me out.”
That took me off guard.
“Is she a … prostitute?”
He shook his head. “She’s a person. Try not to be so judgmental—it’s not nice to objectify women like that, London. Don’t you know better?”
His tone mocked me, and I snorted.
“Let me go.”
“Give me a kiss.”
“We already covered this,” I said, feeling my chest tighten because I wanted him to touch me. How did he do that? Here he was trying to kiss me right after having sex with another woman, and for some reason I hadn’t kicked him in the balls yet. What was up with that? Probably the vodka, I decided. Definitely the vodka. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“Oh yes, you’re still seeing the good deputy,” he said, his voice a low growl. “You sleep with him yet?”
“I’m not, actually. Seeing him. I broke up with him yesterday.”
That caught him off guard, and he pulled back, studying my face.
“No shit,” I said firmly, taking advantage of his surprise to slip under his arm and flee across the kitchen. “I’ve got a roast in the oven. When the timer goes off, you can take it out and throw in the rolls for fifteen minutes. There’s a salad waiting for you in the fridge and I’ll invoice you for the groceries. Good-bye.”
“You really think I’ll let you drop a bomb like that and just walk out of here?”
I shrugged. It’d been worth a shot. “I have work to do, Reese. I broke up with Nate because it wasn’t right between us. That doesn’t mean it’s right with you—if anything, it just means I need to be on my own for a while. Jessica hasn’t even been gone a week. That’s a lot of change and I don’t feel like talking about it with you or anyone else.”
“This isn’t over.”
“It never started,” I told him bluntly. “I’m not like you. I can’t just have casual sex.”
Sure you can, the slutty side of my brain whispered. Just try it!
Miss Miata hasn’t even left the house yet, I reminded my brain firmly. Don’t be such a slut!
“How do you know you can’t have casual sex?” he asked. “It’s fun. When’s the last time you tried it?”
I glared at him.
“Seriously, when was it?”
“None of your business,” I snapped.
“Well, if you change your mind, you know where I am,” he told me. Sharon came back inside and smiled at me, wrapping her arm around Hayes’s waist. She whispered something in his ear, then gave him a lingering kiss before looking at me.
“Nice to meet you,” she told me with a genuine smile. “Maybe I’ll see you out at the clubhouse sometime?”
I shrugged, because saying I’d rather eat broken glass didn’t feel quite appropriate. How was she so friendly under the circumstances? It seemed wrong.
Stop being so judgmental … Reese’s words echoed in my head.
“Okay, I’m out of here,” she said. “Oh, and Pic? I think there’s something wrong with the toilet, just a heads up. That roast smells fantastic, London. I’m watching my carbs, so good thing those rolls aren’t baking yet!”
With that she gave me a perky finger wave and left, humming brightly.
Of course she was watching her carbs. Girls like her always were.
“That was just weird,” I muttered.
“That was someone who’s comfortable in her sexuality and not worried about overthinking things. You should try it. It’s more fun than pouting. Less work, too.”
“I really have to go now.”
“I’ll see you on Thursday,” he said. “Let me know what time to expect you and I’ll try to have clothes on … Unless you change your mind?”
I didn’t bother responding as I marched out of the kitchen, and his laugh followed me through the door.
Someday I’d be the one making him uncomfortable, I decided. I wasn’t sure when or how, but I looked forward to it. Seemed only fair, all things considered.
My phone buzzed as I dumped out the bucket of gray mop water. It was nine the next morning, and my crew had one more hour to finish cleaning the strip club. Hayes had kept his promise, and according to Gage—the big Reaper who managed the place—we would be getting the contract long term if he liked what he saw.
I was there to make damned sure he liked what he saw.
That meant scrubbing every inch of the place. Not that we’d have to go that far every time we came, but I wanted to start things off right. I pulled out the phone, startled to see it was Jess. Wow … Getting up her up before noon practically took an act of God.
JESSICA: Hey Loni. How are you
ME: Fine. Working, tho. Whats up?
JESSICA: Do you have time for a phone call? I want to talk to. Things arent so good here
I frowned, my throat tightening.
ME: Just a sec
Setting down the bucket, I walked out of the janitorial closet and across the empty club floor. In the distance I heard the whine of the vacuum as my crew worked their way through the VIP rooms in the back. Gage sat at one of the tables, looking up as I passed with a question on his face.