It’s a bit different for Elena. She comes from a working-class background, a single woman who owns her own business and lives a modest life. She has the misfortune of having a best friend who married into riches and a new lifestyle, and, to her consternation, wanted her to be part of that life, too.

I’d wanted to drive to Henderson to pick Elena up, but she felt that was silly given we planned to stay at my new apartment the evening after the event. So she drove here to me. It offended my notions of gentlemanly manners, but I don’t know why. We’re just friends with benefits. Nothing wrong with Elena driving here to meet me so I can escort her to an event, right?

I choose to meet her in the parking lot of my apartment rather than letting her come in. If she comes in, chances are I won’t let her out and we’ll miss the event.

She doesn’t disappoint as she steps out of her little car that has almost a hundred thousand miles on it. Her ivory cocktail dress is strapless and incredibly elegant as it hangs in soft folds almost to her ankles. Her only jewelry is a pair of pearl earrings, and I’m wishing I had a strand of pearls to put around her neck. It would complement the dress and her skin tone, and my need to step up and accept this as something more than just friends with benefits.

I move toward her, my cane clicking on the concrete walkway. For the first time since I met Elena, I’m a little self-conscious of it. Before, I didn’t give a fuck what anyone thought because I wasn’t trying to impress a goddamn person.

But now, I wonder if Elena thinks it makes me less of a man. She’s never said a word. Never even looks at it when we’re walking together. She doesn’t shy away from the scars on my leg, even spends time lovingly stroking them when she’s sucking my cock.

She speaks first as we come face to face. “Don’t you look handsome.”

“Had to make an effort just so I could legit stand next to you and hold my head up high,” I reply smoothly, taking in her dress a second time. “You’re stunning.”

I’m pleased when Elena blushes from my compliment, and it seems to chase my insecurities away. I hold my arm out, and she moves beside me to take it. She even thrusts her hip to the side, tapping it against mine playfully. “We do make a good-looking couple, that’s for sure.”

Yes, we do.

I lead Elena to my Audi, help her into the passenger seat, and I can feel the heavy press of her stare through the windshield as I walk around the front toward the driver’s side.

When I get in, she turns in her seat to face me, putting her hand on my thigh. “Thank you again for going with me.”

I smile back as I start the engine. “The evening has just started, but I’m confident in saying it’s my pleasure.”

“Why is it the Vegas elite give me the heebie-jeebies?” Elena asks out of the side of her mouth as we stand next to each other, sipping at our drinks. Wine for her and a bourbon for me, although my limit is two tonight since I drove. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t care about drinking past that limit and just take an Uber home, but for some reason, that just doesn’t appeal to me.

I’ve got it in my mind that driving Elena to my new home in my car at the end of what I’m just going to go ahead and admit is a date is going to be fulfilling for some reason. I can’t overanalyze, and I decide to just go with it.

“As a former member of the heebie-jeebies club,” I say dryly as my gaze scans the room, “I think it’s because they’re so unapproachable. So into themselves.”

Elena’s laugh is light and tinkling. “I’m glad you renounced your membership.”

It’s true I’m no longer a member of the inner circle. I let my country club membership expire, I don’t golf with the “guys” anymore, and my social game got flushed because I had no interest in it. Throwing dinner parties was sort of April’s thing, so I don’t miss that in the slightest.

Maybe the golf. I truly did love that.

“I imagine it was difficult watching Jorie enter into this world,” I say.

She tilts her chin, eyes meeting mine, and shrugs. “She’s still the same old Jorie. And Walsh is cool, but when you’re a member of this level of society, you do have to play along with these folks. I get it. Walsh does business with most of them, and a lot of back scratching goes on.”

That’s true. Most of these social events are just cover for the genuine business that happens among the Vegas elite.