Page 29 of Black Lies

“I don’t mind.” I shook off her expression. “Please. I could use the company.” The bartender slid two glasses our way and I pushed one in front of Molly. “Here.” I held up my drink, lifting it to her. “To taking opportunities.”

She giggled. “To taking opportunities.”

We sipped, then I set down my drink and offered my hand. “I’m Britney.”

“Molly.”

“You here alone?” I asked, looking around.

She shrugged with a shy smile. “Yeah. I like to get here early on Ladies Night. Otherwise it gets too crazy.”

“I can understand that. I like the quieter scene.” I watched her sip the drink, the widening of her blue eyes. “Wow! This is great.”

Drink up, baby. Drink up.

Molly was a friendly drinker. Twenty minutes and two drinks down, and I was finding out more than I ever needed to know. I steered the conversation toward Lee.

“Any hot guys come in here?”

She blushed. Shook her head. “Not really.”

I winced. “Ugh. I hate being single. You?”

She laughed. “No, I’m taken.” She smiled, as if the thought of my man was one that appealed to her. I ground my teeth.

“Where’s your man tonight?”

She shrugged. “He’s kind of flaky. Doesn’t always show up… sometimes he’s a little MIA.”

I bet. Though, his absence tonight had been carefully calculated. I had a team of three keeping him away from this side of town. I sipped my martini. Kept my voice mild. “That sucks. But you know men and their work… ” I grinned. “He’s probably slaving away to spoil you rotten.”

I saw the flicker of a frown that crossed her face. Then, Marcus entered the bar, our eyes meeting over the crowd, and I leaned forward, gripping Molly’s arm with false urgency. “Oh my God,” I hissed. “My ex just walked in.”

Her head snapped up, female bonding in full force, and craned her neck. “Where?”

“Tall, blond, and gorgeous.” I kept my face forward, hand gripped on her wrists until her eyes stopped moving and locked on one place. “Do you see him?”

“Sex in a suit?”

I groaned, fighting a smile at the unwavering lock of her stare. “Yes. Please tell me he isn’t headed this way.”

“Not yet.” She pulled her eyes off him. “What was wrong with him?”

“Him? Nothing. His residency was in San Diego, and I might have strayed a little during the time apart.” I groaned again for good measure, feeling the flex of her arm when she stopped moving.

“Residency?” she whispered.

“Yeah. He’s a cardiologist. Plus, an absolute freak of nature in bed.” I hopped to my feet, ducking my head and sliding two hundred bucks across the bar. “I’m gonna run before I ruin my self-respect and drool all over him.”

“You’re leaving?” She shot me a wide-eyed look. “You don’t want to talk to him?”

“So I can pine over the worst mistake I ever made?” I shook my head. Waved to the bartender and pointed to the cash, and then Molly. “No… I’ve beat myself up over that already.” I shot a glance over my shoulder, then held out my arms and went in for a hug. “It was really nice meeting you,” I whispered in her ear.

“You too. Maybe we’ll see each other again. Oh, and thanks for the drinks.”

I held the hug. Made sure the knife was firmly in her back, then let go. Smiled regretfully, then made my way through the thickening crowd. Winked at Marcus over the space. Go get her.

He would succeed. She was drunk. Prepped. He was charming and sexy and—as far as she knew—a doctor with the sex skills of a  p**n  star. I nodded to another member of this team, a man whose Google glass, in combination with my condo’s security cams, would properly document the entire evening.

I exited the bar and headed for my car, a genuine smile lighting up my face.

Maybe she loved Lee. Maybe he loved her. But he was mine, whether he knew it or not.

Chapter 31

I was ready for the call when it came. Feet cocooned in a moisture wrap, propped on my coffee table, a Hulu-binge in full effect, my phone rang. I glanced at the clock, and answered Marcus’s call. “Give me good news.”

“She didn’t do it.” He sounded defeated, as if he had lost a million dollar sports bet. Given that I had promised him a ten thousand dollar bonus for closing the deal, I understood the attitude.

“What?” I sat forward, my feet coming off the table. “Why not?”

“I don’t know. She just didn’t. I didn’t push it, stopped when she said no.”

I realized my mouth was open and shut it before I lost all composure. “How far did you get?”

“She came back to the condo. We kissed… her shirt came off. Not much else.”

“I thought your skills were better than that.”

“You should have tested them out.” The playful lilt of his sentence pushed me over the edge of poise.

“Fuck you, Marcus. It’s ridiculous you couldn’t close a teenage girl.”

“She’s committed. She started crying, saying she was making a mistake. What was I supposed to do, unzip and pull my c**k out?”

“Whatever. Let me know if she calls you. I’m gonna check the camera footage. I’m sticking to the original plan, unless the footage is useless. So, unless I say otherwise, carry on.”

“Will do.” He paused. “Either this guy’s one in a million or you’re a psychotic bitch.”

I smile. “Or both.”

“Yeah. Or both.” There was a pause where we didn’t know what to say. Then, “Night.”

“Night.”

I logged into the security program of my downtown condo, a three thousand square foot palace I rarely set foot into. Started the download of the evening’s files while I called Don, the PI who had trailed the couple all evening.

He answered with a yawn. “I’m downloading the images now.”

“Got anything good?”

“A few you’ll like. I’ll email them to you within the hour.”

“The sooner the better.”

I ended the call, clicked on the downloaded security cam file, and sat down to watch Marcus’s failure.

He had tried, that was for sure. Done everything right. Hadn’t chased, had let her come to him. Been aloof, yet sexual. Hadn’t bragged about the condo, let her ooh and ahh over the place. When she had crawled onto his lap he had fisted her hair in his hands, ground her hips into him enough to let her see his arousal and show her his equipment. They had kissed… she had wanted… they had been close. I could see the moment he lost. The moment her brain and guilt had kicked into action. The pull away, the shaking head, a hand pushing against his chest. Then, her movement into a chair. Crying. Hugging her body and rocking and all sorts of ohmygodwhathaveIdone drama. Marcus had stood awkwardly, at one point glancing toward a ceiling cam with a grimace. Then he sat next to her. Pulled her into his arms and smoothed the top of her hair. Let her cry into his chest until she calmed.

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