My parents had prided themselves on their frugality, and even my modest weekend warrior lifestyle had earned me a number of well-meaning lectures from mom and dad. I wondered what they’d think if they could see me today, drinking last night’s champagne at seven in the morning, topless in a hot tub that belonged to a rock band.
I made a mental note to text them later. I’d have to tell them I was busy with my accounting work in Manhattan, a comforting lie that would hopefully keep them from calling back until the two-week stint was over.
The wind picked up with a massive gale that made the bus' top deck sway. I held my glass tight, eyes closed, relishing the feel of the currents. The wind slowly died down and I opened my eyes again.
Then I saw him standing there on the roof deck.
The bikini top lay in a crumpled heap beside Jax’s black flip flops, blown halfway across the deck by the wind. His dark eyes were piercing straight into me.
"Eeep!" I squeaked as I quickly turned the bubbles to HIGH and sank into the water, mortified by the situation.
He was dressed in a t-shirt and slate gray shorts that sagged slightly at one side of his hips. His long hair was more than a little tousled like he’d been tossing and turning in bed. This new side of him was surprisingly hot and it only added to my shock.
Does he see the top? Please be no. Please be no. After the stunts he’d already pulled on me, I dreaded him discovering how much of an advantage he could have over me right now.
He nodded at my mimosa. "You start drinking early, I see."
His eyes were on me rather than his feet, which made me think that maybe, just maybe, he didn’t see the purple bikini. "You’re awake," I said, as if to confirm to myself that this nightmare was really happening. "I thought you’d be sleeping for a long time." My arms hugged against myself tight. I was silently praying he’d leave soon so I could get my top back.
"Never got the hang of sleeping," he said casually. His feet shifted slightly as he ran a hand through the sexy mess of his hair, fixing a problem spot.
My heart was pounding in my chest. I swallowed to clear a lump that had developed in my throat. "Okay, well . . . if you don’t mind, I’m trying to relax. If you want to talk about counting sheep or something, we can do it later in the day."
He paused for a moment, staring at me with a skeptical look. I kept a firm expression on my face until he eventually shrugged then turned to leave. I watched in anticipation as he got as far as the sundeck entrance, where he stopped.
"You know what," he said, "drinking in the morning does sound like a good idea." He turned back around and walked toward the bar. He inadvertently stepped on my top as he did so, sending a spike of fear through me. He flashed a smirk at me. "I think I’ll join you."
My stomach sank. Goddammit, Jax! He approached a barstool a few feet away from me and plopped his ridiculously nice ass down on it, making himself comfortable while I stared ruefully at the purple fabric like a child who’d dropped a prized possession down a grate. "Jax, I’m kind of busy right now—"
"So am I," he said with a heart-stopping smile as he poured from two bottles of amber liquid into a cocktail glass with ice cubes in it. "What are you drinking?"
"A mimosa," I said through gritted teeth, "since your band doesn’t seem to think good champagne is worth finishing."
He smiled nonchalantly. "Sounds delicious. Mine’s a Godfather. Scotch, amaretto. Brando’s favorite. Want some?" He took a sip of the drink, never taking his dark eyes off me.
"No," I said, barely concealing my irritation then nodded toward the towel cabinet beside him. My voice lightened. "Hey, can you throw me a towel?"
He looked briefly at the stack of towels. "You’ve got arms, grab one yourself." He raised the drink back to his lips and took a leisurely sip.
"Why are you up, anyway?" he asked. "I’m usually the only one awake at this hour."
"Yeah, well, makes sense since you’re a vampire," I snapped, feeling like I was cornered and running out of options. I focused on keeping my eyes away from the bikini top, no matter how much I was tempted to make sure it didn’t blow further away. I had one last resort and that was to keep him distracted. "No need for sleep."
He nodded toward the rising sun with a wry half-smile on his face. "Your theory’s got some holes in it."
"No it doesn’t. Sun or not, you still suck."
His smile widened. "So why aren’t you asleep?" he reiterated, ignoring my barb.
I rolled my eyes and sighed. I sensed that the more I pushed, the more his interest in me grew. "Can’t really get a good night’s sleep on the couch, at least not yet. Combination of my internal clock and the hard seats."
"You could always sleep in my bed," he said so matter-of-factly that he might as well have been saying, you could always get a Diet Coke from the fridge.
"In your dreams," I replied, the memory of the crazy New York concert and Jax’s run from an angry mob still fresh in my mind. "I don’t get in bed with guys who almost get me killed twice in a week."
The wind picked up again, and the bikini top rolled end over end further away. Damn it. Fate was so cruel.
"You’re kidding yourself. I know you liked the danger. After all, you’re the most badass tour accountant I’ve ever met."
"Save the lines for someone else." I rolled my eyes again even though a small part of me was delighted by his compliment. Whatever game Jax was playing, it wasn’t one I wanted in on. Besides, if we played now, I’d be starting with a handicap of one item of clothing and a whole lot of dignity.
Without warning, he set his drink down, stood then walked over to the scrap of purple-and-green cloth. A wave of dread passed over me as he casually bent to pick up the bikini. He looked at it curiously as he dangled it between two fingers.
My eyes widened in horror.
"Did you see this?" he asked, waving the bikini.
Shit shit shit.
I was a wreck of negative emotions. "What?" I spluttered.
He tilted his head to the side for a moment, studying it. "One of the groupies must have left it behind."
My pulse leaped. Did he seriously think the top belonged to some other girl, or was he just playing around? I swallowed hard. "Yeah, must have."
"Then there’s no reason to keep it on the bus." Jax held the top over the ledge. Clenched in his fist, the bikini strings blew wildly in the wind.