Linton nervously adjusted the lapels of his jacket. “Yes, of course. We’re just talking. And you are?”
Cade hummed. “Seems to me like Kensey doesn’t want to talk to you. Am I right?”
Linton’s mouth thinned. “Yes, but—”
“Then I’m going to ask you to get off my property and leave her the fuck alone.”
Linton looked from Cade to me and then drew himself to his full height. “Miss Lyons, I do hope you’ll reconsider speaking with me. I gave you my number in the voicemails I left you. Feel free to call me anytime.” With that, he walked over to the cab that was idling at the curb.
Cade crossed to me. “You okay?”
I nodded, watching as the cab disappeared down the road.
“Is that the guy you told my dad about? The true crime writer?”
“Is he also the reason you’ve been acting shifty lately? You and Sarah seem to do a lot of whispering these days.”
Guilt tugged at me. Cade was a good friend, and I didn’t like keeping anything so big from him. The problem was that he was also an extremely overprotective friend, so he’d completely overreact if he heard about Ricky Tate. Unless or until I absolutely had to tell him, I didn’t intend to do so.
“I thought it might have been something to do with Blake Mercier,” Cade added, watching me carefully. “Nancy told me that you had coffee with him at the diner.”
Shit. I’d forgotten that she was a real Chatty Cathy. “He and I were just resolving our differences.” I hadn’t seen him since. “Anyway, I have to get to work.”
“You doing anything later?”
“I’m going out with Sarah.” She was intent on making me have fun and forget about Ricky.
“I don’t know.” My brow furrowed. “She’s been very mysterious about it.”
It wasn’t until later that day, while she and I were getting ready at her apartment, that she finally spilled the beans. “Edilio’s going to sneak us into the Redwater Golf Clubhouse.”
I gaped, not quite sharing her excitement. “The Clubhouse?”
“Yep. You’re welcome!”
“The place is exclusive to paying members. Even if your cousin did successfully manage to sneak us in, we wouldn’t be able to afford drinks.” The prices would be outrageous.
“Duh, Edilio’s the bartender—he can give us drinks for free.” She planted one hand on her hip. “Tonight, I am not Sarah, and you are not Kensey. No, you can call me Zara, and I will call you Keeley.”
I shook my head, incredulous. The girl was insane.
The Clubhouse was, in a word, opulent. A far cry from Chrome Canvas Bar with its glossy marble floor, high ceiling, tiered chandeliers, and panel moldings. It wasn’t the décor that made me feel out of place, though. It was the glitter of expensive jewelry, the gleam of designer shoes, and the slick and perfectly styled hairdos. I didn’t fit there. Not even with my red satin dress and pretty high heels. Well, Sarah’s dress and heels—I’d borrowed them for the evening.
I was grateful for the dim lighting. I wanted nothing more than to blend into the background … but it was damn hard to do that when your friend insisted on sitting at the bar, where many people had gathered. Others mingled around high tables or milled around the outdoor pool, though none appeared to be in the pool.
Me? I was bored out of my mind.
As Sarah and Edilio laughed over childhood memories, I sipped my mojito, wishing we were at a real club with some decent music, dancing, and an upbeat atmosphere. Everything was too serene here with the soft background music and quiet chatter and gentle clinking of glasses.
Sarah turned to me, beaming. “Isn’t this place fabulous?”
She rolled her eyes. “You know, you could at least smile. It’ll help those guys who’ve been ogling you to get up the courage to come over. Blondie’s practically hanging on the edge of his seat, but he’s holding back. So smile.”
She chuckled. “Edilio’s kind of cute, right?”
Now I was the one rolling my eyes. “Is that what this is about? You want to set me up with your cousin?”
“He’s a nice guy. Not your usual type, in other words. You have to admit that you have a tendency to go for total dicks. My cousin’s a fucking treasure.”
I rubbed my temple. “I’m sure he is, Sarah. Really. But …”
Her face fell. “You’re just not feeling it.”
“No,” I admitted. “Maybe it’s because I’ve known him since we were kids, I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t think he’ll care.” I gestured at the flurry of women at the bar who were flirting with him.
Sarah snickered. “Such is the life of Edilio. He could charm just about anyone. Except you, evidently.” Her eyes darted over my shoulder and twinkled with delight. “Ooh, Blondie’s finally making his move. I’m going to the restroom. See ya.”
“Wait,” I hissed, but she was gone before I could even slide off the stool. Then an eleven feet tall blond, Viking-like guy appeared in my line of vision. Okay, he wasn’t eleven feet, but he was damn tall.
“Hi,” he said, smile wide.
My own smile was a little strained. “Hi.”
“I saw you while I was sitting at the end of the bar. I knew if I didn’t at least come and say hey, I’d be kicking myself for the rest of the weekend.” He offered his hand. “I’m Oliver.”
I shook his hand. “Kensey.” I pulled back when he held on too long. He immediately let go. Not like a certain Maserati owner who wouldn’t have let go until he was good and ready, I thought.
Oliver tilted his head. “I haven’t seen you here before. I’d remember you.”
“I’m new.” And currently wishing I was at home.
“I’d ask if I could get you a drink, but you’re already nursing one.” He leaned against the bar. “So, do you think it’s weird that men wax their backs or what?”
I chuckled, taken off-guard.
“You have a great laugh.” He pursed his lips. “I noticed that your friend seems involved with the bartender. Does that mean you’re going home alone?”
“Hey, Oliver,” a woman purred from behind him.
Eyes hardening, he ground his teeth. “Just excuse me one second, Kensey.” He turned and hissed something I couldn’t quite catch at the woman. She didn’t walk away. She peeked around him, narrowed her eyes on me, and then started hissing right back at him. Stifling a smile, I bit the inside of my cheek, thinking—
A mouth grazed my ear just as someone pressed against my back. “Kensey Lyons, what a surprise.” The deep, authoritative voice was pure liquid sex. It also belonged to Blake fucking Mercier. Great. Just freaking great.
I took a calming sip of wine, trying to ignore the pleasant chill that came from his cool breath on my ear. “So, you’re a member here.” Fuck.
“You could say that.” He moved so that his front was pressed against my side. “You, on the other hand, are not a member.”
I didn’t meet his eyes, not wanting to get caught up in one of his sexually charged looks. “You going to tattle on me?”