“Friends with the owner,” he says, his smile growing with a shade of arrogance.
“Nice.” I don’t mind a little arrogance in a man. It usually means they’re confident, and I find that attractive. “I’d appreciate the help, considering it looks like it would take about an hour for the bartenders to move through that crowd.”
“They’re faster than they look.” He chuckles. “What would you like?”
“Hmm.” I tap my finger against my lips, notice that his attention goes right to my mouth. He is definitely on the prowl. I’m not sure if he’s my type, but a little flirting never hurt anyone. “I’m not sure.”
“Do you have a preference? Something you like in particular?” He steps closer, his voice lowering as he reaches out and settles his hand on my bent elbow. I feel nothing at his nearness or his touch and I’m disappointed. I’d love to feel a spark, a zing, anything.
But there’s only one man who seems to have my interest on this island and he’s nowhere to be found.
“You choose.” Though I don’t usually like to give up control, when I first meet men, I know they love showing off in any way possible, including picking out something to drink for me. “Surprise me.”
“All right. I will.” He releases his hold on my elbow and offers his hand. “Russ.”
“Lily.” I take his hand and shake it, careful of my still-wrapped palm. Again, there’s no spark, not even a pleasant buzz, and I struggle to keep my smile in place. I shouldn’t get so hung up on a man who I clearly rejected only a few hours ago. It’s my own damn fault I’m alone tonight, chatting up another guy I have zero interest in.
“Give me a few minutes. I’ll be right back.” Russ releases his hold on my hand, his gaze intense as it locks with mine. “Lily.”
He leaves me standing there on the fringe of the crowd surrounding the bar and I glance around, searching for a face that I just can’t find.
Within minutes Russ is bringing me a glass of white wine—not a lot of thought behind the choice, but I’m impressed enough by how quick he was so I can’t complain. I take the glass from him with a coy smile and a murmured thanks, noticing how close he stands next to me, a beer bottle clasped in his hand.
“Have you been to this club before?” he asks, dipping his head so his mouth is close to my ear. Almost too close.
I take a step back. “This is my first time,” I say just before I take a sip from my glass. The wine is almost bitter and I make a face. Did he buy me the cheapest shit they have or what?
“Ah, so you’re a virgin.” The sly smile he offers makes me laugh.
“Not quite,” I say, making his eyebrows rise. “I haven’t been called a virgin in a long time.”
“Well, you’re a virgin to Vice.” He invades my space once more; his voice is low but I can still hear it above the din of the crowd. “And I’m looking forward to popping your Vice cherry.”
Ew, gross. What the hell is he talking about? I shift to the side, giving us some breathing room. And I need it, what with how strong his cologne is. “What sort of club is this place?”
“Have you never heard of Vice?” When I shake my head, he continues. “It adheres to the meaning of its name quite closely, if you know what I mean. Your every immoral, wicked fantasy come true.”
Oh. I try my best to keep my expression neutral because I don’t want him to know I’m shocked. I’ve been to a few, hmm … alternative clubs in my past. I’ve never partaken in anything, though. More like I’m always an observer.
“Kinky,” I say with a hint of laughter, making him chuckle as well.
“You’re not shocked?” he asks just before he takes a sip from his beer.
“No. I had my suspicions, what with the name of the club and all,” I say breezily. I’m really good at faking it when I need to. And right now? I’m totally faking it.
“So what’s a beautiful woman like you doing in Maui all alone?” he asks, his voice casual, his gaze … predatory.
A shiver moves through me, and not the good kind.
And what is it with men being so surprised at a woman traveling alone? “I needed to get away.” I don’t say anything else. I’ve discovered over the years the less said, the better.
“From life?” He smirks. It’s vaguely smarmy and I tell myself to knock it off. He’s just being friendly. I’m making too big a deal over this.
“From stress.” I smile and sip from my wine. It really is terrible, with that bitter aftertaste that still lingers in my mouth. I don’t really want to finish it, but I also don’t want to be rude.
“Ah.” He nods, like he completely understands the need to get away from it all. “Stress. It’s a killer.”
“It is,” I agree. “So can I ask you why you’re in Maui all alone?” A pause. “You are here alone, aren’t you?” If he’s married and the wife is down at the beach or pool or whatever, I’m going to smack this asshole upside his arrogant head.
“I’m here on business.” He chuckles when I send him a skeptical look. “A retreat of sorts. Training and meetings all morning, then fun in the sun during the afternoons.”
“Nice. You must work for a great company.”
“They’re pretty good.” He shrugs, looking ready to burst. I know he wants to tell me what he does for a living or who he works for. He’s dying to show off.