He laughed and leaned over me, pulling my fingers back, exposing my pained eyes. "You don't need to be embarrassed. Trust me, Safirre has seen a lot crazier, though we typically try to keep that behavior out of the club."


I groaned miserably, closing my eyes. "What was I thinking?"

"You weren't - the tequila was." His hand moved from my face down, sweeping over my breast and played with the exposed skin between my shirt and the top of my jeans. "Besides, I liked watching you."

"With Montana?"

"Not necessarily with her. Just you, in your element - having fun and being turned on. You are very sexy, Julia."

I blushed and moved his hand, sitting up and tossing my hair dramatically. "I am quite sexy, it's true."

He laughed and looked skyward, rolling his eyes. "Oh.. the ego."

"Where were you? You weren't at our table when we got back."

He looked away, out over the dam. "I was with Alexis."

"Getting a dance?"

"Sort of."

I tossed my half eaten carrot at him, which he blocked easily. "God, you are a pig. No wonder you've been such a "gentleman."

He looked at me carefully, taking a small sip of lemonade. "You mad?"

"No. Just understand that my drunken playtime with Montana was due to me being left unattended. When the cat’s away…." I grinned mischievously at him and took another bite of carrot.

"So, not jealous?"

I shook my head. "Not jealous. Guess that means I don't care huh?"

"Guess so, Julia. Guess so." He looked back over the dam.

We munched along in silence, Brad opening up a bag of Salt and Vinegar chips and diving in, the bag making a loud sound in the quiet landscape. I wrinkled my nose and looked at him. "Those chips are going to give you vampire breath."

"Vampire breath? Is that the cool term right now?"

"No, but it's true. I'm not kissing you after this. Probably all part of Evelyn's plan. Separate us with the power of bad breath."

"I think Evelyn liked you."

"I don't know… she's a hard read. I take it you two are close?"

"Yes. I'm not close with my parents - they weren't exactly the nurturing type. Evelyn takes good care of me, and she needs someone checking in on her, making her feel important. That was one of the reasons I brought the Club proposal to her. I could have easily covered that nut alone, but the Club makes her feel important, gives her something to think about. I get her down there every once in a while and she loves being backstage, taking over as house mom for the evening."

"So you're basically a saint - that's what your saying? Saint Bradley?"

"God, you are a pain in my ass."

"No, I just call you on your crap."

He leaned over and placed a soft kiss on my lips. "You are a mess, you know that?"

I pushed him off - "No kisses! I told you - vampire breath!"

Beaming at me, he grabbed an extra large chip and chomped down, chewing noisily. I looked at my watch and started to pack up the cooler.

---

On the way back to Vegas, Brad insisted we stop back by Evelyn to return the cooler.

"She said we could keep it!"

"Yeah, she also said we could throw it away. She can say whatever, but she wants that cooler back. Trust me."

So return it we did, winding our Vipers through the suburban streets once more until we were crammed into her tiny cul-de-sac again. I waited in my car as Brad took it up to the front and rang the bell. I watched a gushing Evelyn hug Brad about five times before he finally detached from her grip and walked back down the drive. Stopping by my open window, he leaned in.

"I was gonna take the scenic way back. Ready to open them up?"

I revved my engine in response. At the sound, at least two curtains moved in the homes surrounding us. We excited the cul-de-sac carefully and respectfully, and began to head back to the open road. We reached it in two and a half songs, and I raised both hands and cheered into the wind as we hit the highway. I amped up the radio and pressed my foot on the pedal. The car instantly responded - literally jumping forward and throwing my head against the seat. I up shifted and began to fly. Brad and I leapfrogged each other, and flew past cars as we traveled through the desert. I felt alive, liberated, and as the car drove, all thoughts of anything rational left my mind.

CHAPTER 26

Rule 5: No socializing or communication out of the experience.

"So tell me about the intern you slept with."

"Which one?"

I coughed on a sip of Dr. Pepper and shot him a look of disgust. We sat in Rick's Roadhouse, a chain restaurant located off Terminal D. We had about 45 minutes before our flight, and were killing it there instead of the overcrowded concourse.

"I'm kidding! There was only one. Blond, with a tight little gymnast body. She was my intern, a colossal mistake by HR. Second week she started wearing short little skirts and tighter tops. He dipped a fry in some ketchup and popped it in his mouth.

“You know me, keeping my eyes to myself isn't my strong point. I started looking, she started bending over more. I lasted another two weeks before we went for drinks after work. Drinks led to sex, which she loved and I didn't."

"Why not?"

He shifted uncomfortably. "I don't like to kiss and tell."

"Oh please. I think we passed the polite conversation stage a week ago. We have moved into full disclosure and then some."

"Still…"

"Okay, answer my questions and I'll open the door wide open for any questions about my past lovers."

"So you do kiss and tell."

"You seem trustworthy. Plus, it doesn't appear like you have any friends, so there is no one for you to giggle and share this with."

His eyes rose amusedly and he stood for a moment, surprising me.

"Where are you going?"

"Just a minute." He strode away from the table and went up to the bar, where he was drooled over by a bleach-blond 40 year old who, by the look of her skin, should have worn sunscreen and stopped smoking about 20 years ago. He returned to the table a few minutes later, with two shots of a golden liquid. He set them down, one in front of me. I crossed my arms and raised my eyebrows at him.

"Come on. It's the last day of our fun." The lizard skin waitress from behind the bar appeared with a glass of limes and set them down, hovering a moment too long before smiling at Brad and heading back to the bar. "Tequila," he said.

"Trying to get me to hook up with your bartender?"

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