Kate rolls down the window. “Goodnight, Drew. And thanks…for everything.”
I give her a smile despite my growing desire to smash her fiancé’s face in. “Any time.”
And the Thunderbird roars away. Leaving me, for the second night in a row, aching for Kate Brooks. I rub my hand down my face as a voice comes from behind me.
“Hey, cutie. I just got off. Want to get off with me?”
It’s Shot Girl. She’s decent-looking—nothing to write home about—but she’s there. And after seeing Kate take off with the spineless weasel she’s marrying, I refuse to spend the rest of the evening alone.
“Sure, baby. I’ll get us a cab.”
It’s a lousy lay. Some advice: Being as still and silent as a corpse when a guy is f**king you will never be remembered as a stellar sexual experience.
The other reason it sucks is because I can’t get Kate out of my head. I keep comparing Shot Girl to her, and the former, of course, comes up disappointingly short.
You think I’m a sleazeball for saying that? Come on—are you going to tell me you never imagined that it was Brad Pitt sticking it to you instead of your beer-bellied husband? That’s what I thought.
Still think I’m a scumbag? Then you’re in luck. I’ll be getting just what you think I deserve very soon.
MY FATHER WAS NOT PLEASED with how I handled the Anderson situation. I’d been rash, unprofessional, blah, blah, blah. And because of my seniority, he held me more accountable for losing the client than Kate.
But the fact that I was on the shit list at the office for a while didn’t hit me as hard you’d think. Mostly because I have no regrets over how I’d reacted. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. So, maybe my father was disappointed in me, but to tell you the truth, by the time he got done reaming me out, I was pretty f**king disappointed in him too.
Also, in the four weeks following that disastrous meeting, things between Kate and I have continued to evolve. We still trade punches at work, but they’re more jabs to the chest, meant to sting, rather than right hooks to the jaw, designed to knock each other on our respective asses. We share ideas, help each other out. My father was right about that, at least. Kate and I complement each other, balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Somewhere along the line, she’s become more to me than just a set of legs I want to crawl between. More than a pair of pants I desperately want to get down.
Now she’s Kate—a friend. A friend who causes my dick to stand at attention every time she walks into the room, but that’s my cross to bear, I guess. Because as much as I still want her, and as sure as I am a part of her wants me, Kate is just not the cheating kind.
At least not the kind who could live with herself afterward.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: But what happened? How did a self-assured, handsome, wickedly charming young man like myself become the flu-infected, sloppy shut-in you first met?
We’re getting there—trust me.
To show you the whole picture, there are a few more players you need to meet in the shit-pit soap opera that is now my life. You’ve seen Dirtbag Warren. He’ll be back later, unfortunately.
And now you’ll meet Dee-Dee Warren. She’s the jackass’s cousin. But you shouldn’t hold that against her. She’s also Kate’s best friend. I’ll show you.
“I saw you talking to the brunette with the nice rack. You go back to her place?” Matthew asks me. He, Jack, and I are having lunch at a diner a few blocks from the office. We’re discussing our most recent Saturday night.
“We didn’t make it that far.”
“What do you mean?”
I smirk, remembering what an exhibitionist the girl had been. “I mean that cab will never be the same again. And I think we scarred the driver for life.”
Jack laughs. “You’re such a f**king dog, man.”
“Nah, I saved doggie-style for when we were actually inside her apartment.”
Don’t give me that look again. We’ve been over this.
Guys. Sex. Talk.
Besides, despite the wild eagerness of Taxi Girl, the sex was sub-par. She wasn’t even Colgate. She was more like some generic brand of toothpaste they stock in low-grade hotel rooms whose name you can’t even remember after you brush with it.
“Hey, Kate,” Matthew says, looking behind me. I didn’t see her approach us.
We’ll stop here for just a moment. This is important.
See the look on her face? The thin line of her lips? The slight wrinkle of her brow? She heard what I said. And she doesn’t look too happy about it, does she? I missed this the first time around, but you should make a note of it. This moment will come back to bite me in the ass later on.
I turn to look at her. Her expression is now blank and passive.
“You want to join us?” I ask.
“No, thanks. I just finished having lunch with a friend, actually.”
And up walks her friend. She’s wearing ankle-high black boots, black tights that are ripped at strategic places up and down her legs, a miniscule skirt, a strapless hot-pink top, and a short knitted gray sweater. Her hair is long, strawberry-blond, and wavy, her lips a shiny red, and her quick amber eyes look us over beneath a curtain of thick dark lashes.
She’s…interesting. I wouldn’t say pretty, but striking in a sexy street-fashion kind of way.
“Matthew Fisher, Jack O’Shay, Drew Evans, this is Dee-Dee Warren.”
On hearing my name, Dee-Dee’s eyes turn sharply in my direction. It feels like she’s analyzing me—sort of how a guy would look at a car engine right before he busts it up.
“So, you’re Drew? I’ve heard about you.”
Kate told her friend about me? Interesting.
“Oh yeah? What’ve you heard?”
She shrugs. “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” She points her finger at me. “You just keep on being nice to my Katie-girl here. You know, if you’d like to keep your balls attached to your pecker, that is.”
Although her tone is light, I get the distinct impression Dee-Dee isn’t f**king around.
I smile. “I’ve been trying to show her how nice I can be. She keeps turning me down.”
She chuckles. Then Matthew interjects smoothly, “So, Dee-Dee…is that short for something? Donna, Deborah?”
Kate grins mischievously. “Delores. It’s a family name—her grandmother’s. She hates it.”
Delores gives Kate the stink-eye.
Shifting into pick-up mode, Matthew replies, “Delores is a gorgeous name, for a gorgeous girl. Plus, it rhymes with clitoris…and I really know my way around them. Big fan.”
Delores smiles slowly at Matthew and runs one finger across her lower lip. Then, she turns to the rest of us and says, “Anyhoo. I have to jet, gotta get to work. Nice meeting you, boys.” She hugs Kate and throws Matthew a wink as she walks away.
“She’s got to get to work?” I ask. “I thought the strip clubs didn’t open until four.”
Kate just smiles. “Dee’s not a stripper. She just dresses like that to throw people off. So they’re shocked when they find out what she really does.”
“What does she do?” Matthew asks.
“She’s a rocket scientist.”
“You’re f**king with us.” Jack voices what all three of us are thinking.
“Afraid not. Delores is a chemist. One of her clients is NASA. Her lab works on improving the efficiency of the fuel they use in the space shuttles.” She shudders. “Dee-Dee Warren with access to highly explosive substances…it’s something I try to not think about every day.”
After a beat, Matthew speaks up. “Brooks, you’ve got to hook me up. I’m a nice guy. Let me take your friend out. She won’t regret it.”
Kate thinks a moment. “Okay. Sure. You seem like Dee’s type.” She hands him a business card. “But I have to warn you. She’s the love-’em-and-leave-’em-with-bruises type of girl. If you’re looking for a good time for a night or two, then definitely call her. If you’re looking for anything deeper than that, I’d stay away.”
We’re speechless. And then Matthew rises from the table, walks up to Kate and kisses her on the cheek. I suddenly have the urge to put my hand down his throat and rip his tonsils out.
Is that wrong?
“You…are my new best friend,” he tells her.
Kate misreads the scowl on my face. “Don’t pout, Drew. It’s not my fault your friends like me better than you.”
She means Steven too. A few days ago, he was frantically trying to find the perfect place to take The Bitch for their wedding anniversary. Apparently, Kate’s neighbor is the maître d’ at Chez, the most exclusive restaurant in the city. She was able to get him a table for that evening.
Alexandra must have done things to Steven that night that I don’t even want to contemplate. Because ever since, Steven Reinhart would happily take a bullet to the chest for Kate Brooks.
“It’s the boobs,” I tell her. “If I had a set like yours, they’d like me better too.”
A few weeks ago, that comment would have pissed her off. Now she just shakes her head and laughs.
The night before Thanksgiving is officially the biggest bar night of the year. Everyone goes out. Everyone is looking for a good time. Usually, Matthew, Jack, and I start the night at my father’s day-before-Thanksgiving office party and work our way out to the clubs afterward. It’s tradition.
So you can imagine my surprise when I enter the large conference room and see Matthew’s arm around the woman who I can only assume is his date for the evening—Delores Warren. Since he met her two and a half weeks ago, Matthew’s been MIA on the weekends, and I’m starting to suspect why. I’ll have to talk to him tomorrow.
Beside them are my father and Kate.
And for the second time in my life, Kate Brooks leaves me breathless. She’s wearing a deep burgundy dress that hugs her in all the right places and strappy heeled shoes that send my imagination spinning into X-rated territory. Her hair falls around her shoulders in soft shining waves. My hand twitches to touch it as I walk toward her.
Then someone in the middle of the room moves—and I see that she’s not alone.
Everyone brings their significant others to these kinds of things. I shouldn’t be surprised that the dickwad is here. He pulls at the tie of his suit like a frigging ten-year-old, obviously uncomfortable in it. Pussy.
I button the jacket of my own perfectly tailored Armani and make my way over.
“Drew!” my father greets me. Though things between him and me had been tense for a few days, they’d quickly gone back to normal. He never can stay pissed at me for long.
Look at this face. Could you?
“I was just telling Mr. Warren,” he says, “about that deal Kate closed last week. How lucky we are to have her.”
Have her? The word lucky doesn’t even come close.
“It’s all an act,” Delores teases. “Beneath her corporate suit and that good-girl persona beats the heart of a true rebel. I could tell you stories about Katie that would put hair on your eyeballs.”