And God help me if I try to defy him.

In the past, he hasn’t been above locking me in my room and withholding food until I give in.

“Look around, ladies,” Sophia goes on. She’s the sober one of the group, acting tonight as our designated driver. “No one here knows who we are. No one gives a shit.”

“I think that guy over there gives a shit.” Lindsey shudders, and we all follow her line of sight to the man sitting at the bar.

He’s huge and intimidating, his large body looking as if it needs two stools rather than the one he’s sitting on. With his head of dirty blonde hair, bushy beard, tattoos, worn jeans, and black t-shirt, he looks exactly like the type of guy you’d find in a place like this.

My eyes meet his for the briefest of moments and I feel this strange jolt before looking away.

Lindsey shudders dramatically. “He’s probably casing us. Sizing us up for how much we’re worth.”

“Don’t be such a drama queen,” Sophia groans and then glances at the guy. She looks thoughtful for a moment then says, “Just hold on to your purse.”

Speaking of purses, I give mine one last hard tug and it peels away from the table, leaving a swath of designer logo covered fabric behind.

“Great,” I mutter, and inspect the damage done to the purse my father gifted me for my birthday. The entire middle of the bottom has been ripped off.

“Oh, that sucks,” Lindsey says, sounding just a little too cheerful to my ears.

I shoot her a dirty look, but before I can say anything nasty, Sophia jumps in. “Drinks. We need drinks.”

She jumps up from her stool and grabs me by the arm, dragging me off of my own stool before I know what’s happening. “What does a girl gotta do to get a drink around here?”

Dragging me up to the bar with her, she mutters, “Just ignore them. They’ll loosen up once we get a few drinks in them.”

Maybe, or maybe not, I think to myself. Lindsey has always been the stick-in-the-mud of our little group. I don’t think I can remember a single time we’ve gone somewhere and she didn’t complain about something. It’s almost like she just has to find something wrong.

Amanda, on the other hand, tends to loosen up a little too much when she gets a couple of drinks in her. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have to pull her off a table before the night is over.

Sophia flashes a bright smile at Mr. Tall, Dark, and Intimidating, before turning that smile on the bartender.

“I’d like four cosmos please,” she orders sweetly, turning on her charm.

“We don’t serve those kind of drinks here, honey,” the bartender responds with a contemptuous smirk.

Mr. Intimidating snorts and takes a big drink from his beer.

Sophia’s eyes flick towards him then back to the bartender and her smile tightens. “Alright, then we’ll have four vodka cranberries.”

The bartender shakes her head and I can’t help but be amazed that her hair barely moves. “We don’t serve those either.”

Sophia scowls. “Rum and cokes?”

The bartender’s burgundy lips peel back in a sneer. “Nope.”

“What do you serve then?” Sophia groans.

The bartender opens her mouth, probably to brush us off again in hopes of getting us to leave, but then Mr. Intimidating speaks up. “Whiskey, beer, and tequila. Take your pick.”

He looks directly at me then and I feel that jolt again. Butterflies take flight in my stomach, and as if he can see it, his lips slowly curl into a smirk.

“That’s it?” Sophia asks with disbelief.

“That’s it,” Mr. Intimidating grunts, tearing his gaze away from me to look to her then back down at his beer and plate.

My face flushes with heat and finally I feel like I can breathe again.

I must be really drunk if I’m starting to feel a connection with a guy like him. He might as well have bad news tattooed right on his forehead.

Sophia looks over at me and I’m so ready to go. I’m ready to bolt like a startled rabbit.

“Sophia…” I say, but she turns back to the bartender, ignoring me. “Tequila it is!”

Oh god, I groan inwardly. I just know this isn’t going to end well. I know Sophia wants to have a girl’s night out because we haven’t had one in over a year, but I’ve got a bad feeling about all of this, and it’s not just because of the crummy place we’re in.

There’s just this dark cloud hanging over my head. A sense of dread and foreboding floating around in the back of my brain.

It could be because we haven’t been here for more than two minutes, and Amanda and Lindsey are already complaining. Or it could be because the last time my father caught me out by having his goon hack into my Snapchat, he withdrew me from college and forced me to move back home.