As I hunted for clues, the bride squeezed the maid of honor’s shoulder, then draped an arm around her. She shot her a sympathetic smile.


Typically, the bride squad bestowed all its attention on the bride. But this was a reversal, and it was all the info I needed.

“What is hot sex with a stranger?”

Lily blinked.

Nina emitted a “Whoa.”

I owned my answer, and not simply because stranger sex was one of the best kinds. “The bride wants to find a hot guy for her maid of honor. She wants to get her friend laid tonight. I can sense it. That’s what their body language is telling me.”

Lily narrowed her eyes at the bride and maid of honor, and Nina did the same, both watching intently. A few seconds later, they snapped their gazes back to me. “Damn. You are good,” Lily said. “I’m getting that vibe too.”

“Yeah, I’m just going to say it now. There are no two ways about it—I’m voting for you as the winner,” Nina said. “And you better pick a good dessert.”

Lily raised a hand in question. “I like your answer. But would the bride stop at just the maid of honor? Why doesn’t she arrange for hot sex for all the single members of the bridal party?”

Nina waggled her chopsticks, reaching for a roll. “If she’s a magnanimous bride, she should make sure all her available ladies-in-waiting are taken care of,” she added, pointing her eel roll at me. “And I’m happy to find a hot guy for you if that’s what you’re getting at . . .” she trailed off, like she wanted me to jump on the tantalizing offer.

I shook my head. I wasn’t truly tempted. “I’m not angling for either of you to supply me with a man.”

I didn’t have time for relationships or their attendant complications, not when I had a kick-ass job demanding more than 100 percent of me.

A job that paid well, I might add.

Being well paid was a critical necessity, considering the way my ex had left.

Lily wiggled her eyebrows at me. “But someday we can set you up?”

“You have such a matchmaker in you. But you know the answer to that. I’m not in the market for accouterments.”

Nina laughed. “Is that what we call sex? An accouterment?”

I smiled, patting my bargain-basement Coach purse. “Like a fabulous handbag or a great new pair of shoes.”

“So, sex is an accessory,” Lily said, deadpan.

“It dresses up any night, any weekend, any event,” I said, stopping to take a drink of my wine. “Or so I hear. It’s been a while.”

Nina shot me a sympathetic look. “You’re almost there though?” She knew I’d been man-free for the last year as I worked to claw myself out of the pile of debt my ex left behind in my name.

Such a lovely parting gift.

I held up my hand, crossing my fingers. “Just a few more thousand, and I’ll be done.”

Lily patted my forearm. “You’ve done an amazing job.”

I shrugged. “Didn’t have any other choice, but I’m glad the end is in sight.”

That was why I dove into every work challenge Trish tossed my way. The better we did, the more I earned, the closer I came to moving all the way on from the grip of the past and the specter of my own mistake in getting involved with Damon.

I should have seen it coming.

Should have studied Damon a little better, observed him more closely.

Maybe if I’d been more cautious, I wouldn’t have wound up saddled with his money problems while he was off gallivanting in the Caribbean. Or wherever it was that asshole exes went to gallivant.

“And that’s why this meeting tomorrow is important. This campaign might give me just enough to be done with Damon’s baggage. Your ideas for the bachelorette party’s plans might be useful when it comes to market research tomorrow. So thank you for helping,” I added.

“I’m glad you have some fodder for your girls’ night out meeting,” Nina said, then checked the time on her phone. “Especially since ours is about to turn into a mixed night out.”

“And on that note, I need to pop into the ladies’,” I said.

I grabbed my purse and excused myself for the restroom.

Along the way, my phone buzzed with a text. Stopping in the hallway, I slid my thumb across the screen, a sliver of a smile tugging at my lips when I saw the name of the sender.


He’d been the best man at Lily’s wedding, since Jake was great friends with Lily’s husband and they ran a law practice together. Jake and I were friends, too, and had grown closer in the last few months. We’d worked on a few projects together recently when some of Trish’s clients needed entertainment lawyers.

Jake: On my way to meet everyone now. Just need to take these gloves off first.

Tags: Lauren Blakely The Gift Erotic