Along with the guilt, I found myself growing hurt, and that hurt began translating into anger.
My own glances toward the bar were rarely returned by Craig, who was rushed off his feet and far too busy engaging in flirting with his female customers.
The first time I saw him lean across the bar and tuck a piece of hair behind a girl’s ear I thought I was imagining it. But no. I’d seen him do it for real. And from there I watched as he grinned and winked and complimented and just absolutely flirted his fine, tight arse off.
Had nothing I said to him penetrated?
How could he be the way he was with me but still flirt with other women? So it helped with his tips . . . I did not give a flying fuck if it helped with his tips! He was with me now and I was in the actual bloody room! Where the hell was his respect for me?
“You alright?” Braden suddenly asked, drawing my focus away from Craig to him.
I doubt I managed to hide my hurt or my anger. “I’m fine,” I muttered, throwing back the last of my wine.
“Another drink?” Adam said.
“It’s my turn.” I waved him off.
“No, no.” Adam stood up before I could stop him. “My round. The same?”
“Yes. Thank you.”
I watched Adam as he strode toward the bar and something behind him caught my attention.
My heartbeat did that horrible skipping thing before speeding right up.
Angus was standing near the entrance to the bar with his two friends from before.
Our eyes met, his narrowing on me.
I sat motionless, not knowing what to do.
Only a few days before I’d been berating myself for not doing anything about Angus, and here I was, with him standing right in front of me and still I wasn’t doing anything. How could I with Craig in the room? The bar was not the setting I wanted—I’d wanted to remove any thought of flirting or seduction from the Angus revenge scheme but what if that was all I had in my arsenal? What if that was what it took to get under Angus’s skin? Yet . . . if I had to get flirty to get back in Angus’s good graces, it would be unfair to do so in front of Craig.
So I sat there, paralyzed and angry that I was missing this opportunity.
Angus said something to his friends and then he started making his way across the room toward me.
I automatically looked over at the bar, but Craig hadn’t noticed. He was laughing with a customer. I could only see her from the back, but she had a great figure and was showing most of it off in a tight, short black dress.
My anger turned burning-hot. Why the hell was I worried about respecting Craig when he couldn’t even respect me? The girl at the bar leaned over and touched Craig’s chest and he did nothing to push her away.
All night he would make me sit and watch this?
No. I wouldn’t. I had to stick to my guns. I had to remember what I wanted in a relationship and I wanted a man who only wanted me. Who would respect me and treat me like I was his universe.
As much as I wanted Craig Lanaghan to be that man, he wasn’t.
He so clearly wasn’t.
And my heart started to break right there and then. All I wanted was to go home and cry. Cry hard for losing something so sweet after so short a time.
I blinked back the tears I felt burning in my eyes and looked up at Angus, who was standing in front of our table.
“Angus.” I gave him a small smile, masking my pain. I’d mastered the art a long time ago.
“It’s been a while. Last time I saw you, you just disappeared.”
Feeling Ellie’s and Braden’s curious gazes, I decided I didn’t want them for an audience.
“Excuse us.” I gave them a polite smile and stood up, edging around the table toward Angus. I touched his arm lightly, not wanting to be too forward. “Let’s talk on the other side of the bar. I can hear you better.”
He nodded and followed me. I could practically feel his eyes on my arse.
“You look great,” he said when we came to a stop a few feet from where he’d left his friends. “But you always do.”
“Thanks. You too.” I smiled and leaned against the wall. “Sorry about last time. I . . . I bumped into someone when I went to the restrooms. Someone I didn’t want to see,” I lied.
He raised an eyebrow. “Let me guess. An ex?”
“Yeah.” I smiled ruefully. “Things got a little unpleasant and I just wanted to get out of here.”
“Sure, sure.” He stepped into my body and ran his fingers along the bare skin of my upper arm. “I did miss you though.”
I swallowed my repulsion and cocked my head. “Somehow I doubt that.” I grinned cheekily. “I bet you replaced me in five seconds.”
“You’re irreplaceable,” he said smoothly.
I thought of Craig and all the women he’d have lined up to replace me. “Apparently not.”
So lost in my hurt I was surprised at the touch of Angus’s fingers on my chin, tilting my face up toward his. My breath stopped as my heart hammered away inside my chest. This was escalating way, way faster than I’d like.
“If you let me in there,” Angus murmured against my mouth. “I’d never replace you.”
I closed my eyes, hoping my expression could be mistaken for need instead of pain.
Right words, very wrong fucking man.
I froze when I felt his lips on my throat, his other hand gripping my hip.
This isn’t right! Stop him. STOP HIM!
“Do you really think I’m that stupid?” he whispered in my ear, and I heard the anger he’d been hiding all along. “I know you’re up to something . . . I just wonder how far you’re willing to take this.” His grip on me tightened to where it was painful.