EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: THE ASSIGNMENT COMING MAY 20TH!
She’d chosen to wear a red strapless dress that evening, one that barely covered her. It fell mid-thigh and didn’t leave much to the imagination. Truth was, I couldn’t care less what she wore. However, the skimpier her clothes, the more I had to deal with unwanted attention from the fuckers who’d be gawking at her, the ones who’d bravely approach. Or should I say stupidly approach her?
“Goddammit,” I mumbled, my long strides placing me right next to her in seconds. When I met my brother’s stare, he smirked, which only served to sour my mood. As we approached the front of the building, it was clear to see the club was popular, the line curling around the corner a dead giveaway. As we drew closer, I overheard people gasping then mumbling. They recognized Cara and Emily. So, not only was I going to be on high alert because we were going to be surrounded by a multitude of strangers, but I also had to deal with possible admirers of the women. And let’s face it, people were crazy, and some would do whatever it took to meet someone in the public eye. Cara didn’t have to give her name to the bouncer out front. He glanced from her to Emily to the rest our party, squinting at Owen and me before removing the classic red velvet rope to allow us inside.
“It’ll be fine, man. Don’t stress so much.” Owen slapped my back. “Nothing is gonna happen. Besides, I doubt we’ll even be here long enough for anything to pop off.”
“You’re not helping.” We’d only just arrived, and the fact we were going to be club hopping, as Cara had mentioned earlier on the ride here, already exhausted me. I was hoping they’d settle in and decide to spend the majority of their celebration in one place, eliminating multiple spots to God only knew where.
“You want a drink?”
“No. And you better not have one either.” Owen shook his head in what I could only assume was amusement.
“I know, you ass. I meant do you want some water or club soda or something like that.”
“Not right now.” I should’ve known my brother wouldn’t be so careless as to drink on the job. Although, truth was, we’d been on the job since the first day we’d arrived at the Dessoye residence, only partaking in a single shot to calm the nerves after the women had settled in for the evening.
Owen and I found a place to stand and keep watch over everyone in the party, particularly Cara and Emily. They were our responsibility, but because their friends were present, as well, we had to make sure nothing went down that would inadvertently affect them. The first hour passed without incident, everyone drinking in moderation and enjoying themselves. Well, everyone except me, of course. I swore people probably viewed me as some sort of statue, but I had to give off the perception of a serious guy, which I was, most of the time. Besides, this was my job, and there was no room for error. One slip could be catastrophic. I had to constantly be on my game, something I envied about Owen. Even while taking his post seriously, he looked like he was enjoying himself. I glanced around the club, observing all the other patrons. With so many people crammed into one space, I was surprised there wasn’t a fire-code violation. I had no idea why people wanted to spend their night bumping into others, spilling their drinks, and getting all sweaty in the process. I had other ideas of how to get all worked up, and it had nothing to do with grinding on unsuspecting strangers to the beat of the newest pop song.
As if she could read my suddenly dirty thoughts, my eyes caught Cara’s, and while she was in full conversation with Benji, laughing at something he said, his girlfriend and her best friend smiling right along with them, she locked her stare on me, her grin momentarily faltering. She waved the bartender closer, leaning over the bar to speak into his ear. The hem of her dress rose higher, and I swore if she moved any closer toward him, everyone would be able to see the bottom of her ass cheeks. I studied the interaction between the two of them and didn’t like the smug look on that bastard’s face. He leered at her when she pulled back, his eyes devouring her like he had a shot at fucking her. Which he most certainly did not, not while I was around. A sudden heat traveled through my body when he reached over the bar and pulled her back toward him, planting a kiss on her cheek as if it was the most normal thing to do to a patron. Then a thought dawned on me. Did he know her? Had she been here before? She lived in New York, but I highly doubted this was her first trip to the West Coast, especially since her parents owned a house here. She could very well be acquainted with the bartender. Hell, she could have slept with him, for all I knew. While his occupation didn’t seem like the type of person Cara would go for, I’d come to discover there was no rhythm or reason when it pertained to that woman. I completely forgot Owen was standing next to me, too involved with paying attention to the blatant flirtatious behavior between Cara and that man-bun-wearing shithead. So, his voice startled me.
“What’s the matter?” he asked, following my line of sight. I grunted in response, having no patience for words. “Stop being so paranoid, Ford. She’s fine. They all are.” He leaned against the wall, completely oblivious that I wasn’t worried about her well-being. Or rather, I was concerned about her welfare, but not because I thought someone was going to swoop in and snatch her up, but because I thought there was a great possibility that she’d try and leave with either that bartender douchebag or someone else entirely. Cara was young, gorgeous, and came from money. She wasn’t tied down to anyone, so she most certainly could hook up with whomever she wanted. I knew that. I truly believed in her right to do it. But something wasn’t sitting easy with me, and I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. While my rational thoughts should’ve prevailed, all I could focus on was getting her away from that guy and shielding her from anyone else who might take it upon themselves to walk up to her and start flirting. Was I overprotective? Was I just trying to prevent a situation before I had to jump into action and get involved? “Wait. Are you jealous she’s talking to that guy?” Owen’s voice annoyed me more than ever before, and it had nothing to do with his tone, but rather his question. An absurd one at that.
“Not a fucking chance.” My harsh reply gave everything away, making me come to grips with the fact that I was indeed jealous. Although, I couldn’t fathom why.