My mouth dropped open, but her smile just widened. I probably should have seen this coming, considering she was quite the opportunist.
“I don’t plan to try and move in on your action,” she assured him. “Being a third wheel is never fun. You guys could go your way, and I’d have my own bit of fun.” A pause. “Understood.” She held out my phone. “He wants to talk to you.”
I snatched it out of her hand and gritted out, “What?”
“I’ll see you at seven-thirty. Rossi will be waiting for you outside your apartment.”
“Giving me an extra half hour to get dressed still doesn’t class this as ‘advanced notice.’ I spend more time debating over what to wear than I do getting ready. And I’m still not sure I want to see you.”
“It doesn’t matter what you wear, baby, because I have every intention of taking it off. You’re pissed at me, I get it, but I can’t talk about it right now. We’ll talk later, face to face.” The line went dead.
I glared at the girl who was no longer my friend. “You did not just do that.”
She held up her hands in a gesture of peace. “Hey, look, I get that you were making a point to him—it was a point you needed to make. But why miss out on a sublime sex session just because he acted like a man and did something supremely stupid? With this Ricky Tate business, you need a distraction; you need something good. Blake Mercier is a hell of a hot distraction.”
I snorted. “You just want to see the club.”
“I admit, I wasn’t being purely selfless, but I do want you to have fun. You’ve been stressing like crazy lately. What better way to burn off stress than a night of hot sex? And it will give us an excuse to wear the dresses we just bought. Come on, Lyons, get with the program.”
I sighed. “Fine, I’ll go.” If for no other reason than I was curious about why he’d been out of contact.
Squealing in delight, she did a little clap. “Let’s go get ready.”
We went back to my place, got ready in record time, and left at 6:55pm—it was the best we were able to do, with such short notice. Rossi, who gave a whole new meaning to the term ‘road rage’ whenever anyone got in his way, then drove us to the Vault.
Before he could take us through the private garage, I said, “Just drop us here. I’d like to go through the front entrance and see what the main floor is like.”
Sarah’s eyes lit up. “Ooh, yeah!”
Rossi looked reluctant, but he shrugged his shoulders and pulled up outside the club’s entrance. When he grabbed his phone, I figured he’d be calling Blake with news of our change of plan, but I didn’t comment. Instead, I climbed out of the car and walked to the door with Sarah.
It was only as I was showing the doormen the membership card Blake had given me that I realized I’d fucked up—Sarah didn’t have a card, which meant she couldn’t get inside. Shit. I was about to call Blake, but then the doormen waved us through. My brows lifted, but I didn’t question it. Just took Sarah’s hand and urged her inside.
The place was, as Cade would say, buzzing. Dark, loud, and crowded. On the huge stage, large black speakers flanked the DJ booth. Multiple people tended the long bar that ran almost the entire length of one wall.
Multicolored beams of light lanced the air and seemed to move to the thumping beat of the music—a beat I could feel in my chest. Streaks of neon laser lights illuminated the dance area, which was a little hazy, thanks to the fog machine.
Swarms of people danced, jumped, snapped photos, and ground against each other. The DJ egged on the hooting crowd, demanding they ‘make some noise.’ Oh, and they did.
“Is this fucking amazing or what?” asked Sarah, smile bright as the sun.
A cluster of giggling girls past us, carrying highball glasses with glowing drinks, and headed to a seating area that—
My head snapped around at Sarah’s curse. “What?” I tracked her gaze. And my gut twisted. Blake was near the bar, standing intimately close to a tall brunette, their faces almost fused together. Bastard.
Fury. Betrayal. Humiliation. Jealousy—all of it blew through me. My stomach hardened, and my palms itched with the need to slap his gorgeous face. It wouldn’t be so gorgeous by the time I was done with him.
If I wasn’t so busy fantasizing about the myriad of wonderful ways I could kill the bastard, I would have been disconcerted by just how much this hurt me. I found it hard to trust, but I’d agreed to exclusivity, trusting him to keep his word. Apparently, that had been a mistake.
Intending to give him the verbal lashing he deserved, I made a beeline for them, shouldering my way through the crowd. Was she the reason he hadn’t contacted me over the past two weeks? Had he found someone else but been too chicken shit to tell me? Or maybe he’d planned to bed us both until he got sick of—
I frowned as I got a closer look at them. They weren’t kissing. No. In fact, he was hissing angrily in her face. And she was glowering at him, practically spitting words at him. They were arguing, not having an intimate moment.
The woman took a deep breath and laid a hand on his upper arm. Blake shrugged her off and tipped his chin toward the door. That was when he saw me. The mask of rage on his face melted just a little. Her eyes snapped to me, curious, and I realized she was much older than him.
The moment I reached Blake, he slid his hand around my nape and pulled me close, radiating tension and anger. “Everything okay?” I asked.
“Fine.” His mouth moved to my ear. “You look stunning, as always.” He started to lead me away, but then the woman spoke.
“Don’t be rude, Blake, introduce me to your friends.” She presented me and Sarah with a bright smile. “I’m Laurel, Blake’s mother.” He growled, and she amended, “Stepmother. But I think of him as my son.”
Yeah? There was nothing maternal about the way she looked at him. The fond smile seemed fake and practiced—especially while her eyes gleamed with embarrassment, frustration, and a greediness that disturbed me. She looked like a woman who’d just been thoroughly rejected. As for the way Blake looked at her … so much distaste in his expression.
Her mouth thinned at Blake’s proprietary grip on my neck, but she flashed me another polite smile as she asked, “Who might you be?”
“A friend of Blake’s,” I replied, reluctant to give her my name.
Blake pulled me flush against him, protective. “Greg will escort you out, Laurel.” A bald, heavily muscled guy sidled up to her with a tired sigh that told me they’d done this dance before.
Her face tightened. “I don’t need an escort.” She smoothed a hand down a very revealing dress and forced a smile for me and Sarah. “Hopefully we’ll meet again.” She then teetered her way through the crowd on ridiculously high heels, pointedly ignoring Greg.
“Well,” said Sarah. “She’s a gem, huh?”
Blake let out a long breath. “Sarah,” he greeted simply.
“This place is awesome,” she told him, excited.
He released my neck and held his hand out to me. “Come.” It was an order, not an invitation. And that chafed a little, but I placed my hand in his. The lines of strain eased on his face, and his mouth quirked in masculine satisfaction.