His eyes scanned over a tall, slender blonde with a leather choker, dancing with a shorter woman. They were staring directly at Chad and Tony, but they were regulars. He checked out a few more women but wasn’t seeing anything new. He started to turn back around when he caught sight of hair the color of dark wine.
Damn. He always had a thing for redheads.
Chad turned around fully.
The woman was standing next to a blonde who was placing a drink on one of the high tables, but his eyes went back to the redhead. She was tall—her head would probably come up to his shoulders, and he was a good six and a half feet standing straight. Her skin was like unblemished porcelain, fair and easily flushed. He couldn’t tell what color her eyes were from here, but he was betting they were green or hazel. Her lips were pouty, shaped like a bow; the kind of mouth that begged to be claimed and then would haunt men’s dreams long afterward.
Chad’s gaze dipped and, oh hells yes, his dick, which hadn’t been active all night, stirred to life. The red dress ended just below the elbows and above the knees, but he saw enough to know he liked—a lot. The material stretched across her full breasts. Chad wanted to take off the belt around her waist and use it for other things. She was rocking the kind of body pin-up models of the fifties showed off—a true woman’s body. One that demanded hands and tongues trace the curves of, if they dared, and, oh yeah, he dared.
“Hot damn,” Chad murmured.
Tony chuckled deeply. “The redhead, huh? Saw her first. Bet she could handle just about anything thrown her way.”
Chad cut his friend a dark look. “The redhead is mine.”
“Oh, simmer down, boy.” Tony raised his hands in mock surrender. “I like the blonde, too.”
He held Tony’s gaze long enough for his friend to get that he wasn’t fucking around before he turned his attention back to the redhead. She was sitting at the table now, fiddling with the straw in her drink. One of the regulars stopped by her table—Joe something or another—making a beeline for the fresh meat. Joe worked for the government, doing fuck knows what. Chad never had a problem with the guy before, but it took everything in his self-control not to get up and physically remove him.
Joe said something and the blonde laughed. The redhead flushed, and now Chad was hard as freaking granite. Man, he wanted to know if that flush traveled down and how far it went. No—he needed to know. His life depended on it.
“Fuck,” he said, glancing at Tony. “Have I told you how much I think Joe is an asshole?”
Tony chuckled. “No, but I can guess why you think so.”
Nodding absently, his eyes narrowed on the redhead. Whoever she was, she wasn’t going home with Joe tonight. She was going home with him.
The people who frequented Leather and Lace were… friendly. Already, two different men and a woman had stopped by their table, chatting casually and openly flirting. If Bridget were into girls, the flaxen-haired beauty who’d been eyeing Shell would’ve definitely done it for her, but the two men barely sparked any interest, which was weird, because they were good-looking and charming. One of them had showered her with a lot of attention, but she was feeling oh so very meh about it.
There was a good chance her vagina was broken or something.
Sighing, she finished off her drink while Shell practiced her seduction technique on some dark-haired guy named Bill or Will. The heady thrum of music easing out of the speakers made it difficult to hear what they were saying to each other, but the odds Bridget would be calling a cab later tonight were high.
Or worse, even using the Metro, which she was convinced was one of Dante’s circles of hell.
When she got home, she’d dive into that Reese’s pie she discovered in the local market earlier and that book she’d totally stolen off of Maddie’s desk when she’d left work. Bridget had no idea what it was about, but the cover was green—she loved the color green—and the dude on the cover was hot. Oh, and she needed to feed Pepsi, the alley cat she’d found in a Pepsi box when he was a kitten.
It was a Friday night, she was at a club, and a good-looking man was currently giving her the I-want-to-take-you-home-and-I-hope-I-last-longer-than-five-minutes look…and she was thinking about pie, a young adult book, and feeding her cat.
She was so turning into the cat lady at twenty-seven. Sweet.
“I’m heading to the bar,” Bridget announced, thinking she could at least be drunk and not care how her evening turned out. “Either of you two want a refill?”
Bridget waited for a response, but after a few seconds, she rolled her eyes and stood. Picking up her mauve clutch, she slipped around the table and headed toward the bar. It had gotten fuller since they’d arrived. Squeezing in next to a woman with short, spiky black hair, she leaned against the bar.
Surprisingly, a bartender seemed to appear out of thin air. “What can I get you, sweetie?”
Sweetie? How…sweet. “Rum and Coke.”
“Coming right up.”
Bridget smiled her thanks as she glanced down the bar. Several people were paired off, a few were alone or chatting with those standing by the bar. She caught sight of a guy with dark hair and eyes and thought she’d seen him before.
A tall glass was placed in front of her and she opened her clutch, reaching for some cash.
“I have it covered,” a deep and smooth voice intruded. A large hand landed on the bar beside her. “Put it on my tab.”
The bartender turned to help someone else before Bridget could politely refuse. Accepting drinks from strangers was a no-go for her. Candy was a different story.
She turned halfway, her gaze following those long fingers to where a dark sweater’s sleeve was rolled up to the elbow. The material clung to a thick, well-muscled upper arm, which connected to broad shoulders she found vaguely familiar. Whoever the guy was, he was exceptionally tall. Nearing six feet herself, she had to tip her head back to meet his eyes, and that made her all kinds of giddy.
Though the moment she saw his face, all giddiness vanished, replaced by about a thousand different emotions she couldn’t even begin to separate. She knew him. Not just because everyone in the city knew who he was, but she really knew him.
One didn’t forget a face like his or the qualities he shared with his brothers. Wide, expressive lips that looked firm and unyielding. Dominant. The curve of his jaw was strong and his cheekbones broad. His nose was slightly crooked from taking a ball in the face three years ago. Somehow the imperfection only made him sexier. Thick, coal black lashes framed eyes the color of the deepest ocean water. His dark brown hair was cropped short on the sides and longer on the top, styled in a messy spike that made him look like he’d just rolled out of bed.
Chad mother-freaking Gamble. All-star pitcher for the Nationals, middle Gamble brother, and older brother to one Chase Gamble, who just happened to be the boyfriend of her boss/coworker Madison Daniels.
She’d heard a lot about him from Madison. Part of her felt like she even knew him. Her friend had grown up with the Gamble brothers and been in love with one of them her whole life, but Bridget had never seen Chad out and about, at least not up close like this. They didn’t run in the same circles, obviously. And he was here, at a club rumored to be all about sex, and he’d bought her a drink?
Was he confused? Drunk? Took too many balls to the face? And dear sweet Mary mother of baby Jesus, that was a fine-looking face.
Based on what Maddie had said about him and what the gossips reported in the papers, Chase was a well-known womanizer. Bridget had seen in the rags the women he was out and about with. All tall and insanely gorgeous models, and definitely not women who were entertaining thoughts of pie and paranormal books.
But he was looking at her like he knew what he was doing. Color her surprised and intrigued. “Thank you,” she finally managed after staring at him for God knew how long like a total goober.
Chad’s easy grin created a flutter deep in her belly. “My pleasure. I haven’t noticed you before. My name is—”
“I know who you are.” Bridget flushed hotly. Now she sounded like an über stalker. She considered telling him how she knew, but on a whim decided to just see where this went. There was a good chance once he knew of their six degrees of separation—aka “I might run into you again someday”—relationship, he might just offer her a wave goodbye. This player was not known for his longevity anywhere except on the field. “I mean, I know of you. Chad Gamble.”
The grin went up a notch. “Well, you have me at a disadvantage. I don’t know you.”
Still flushing, she turned and picked up her drink, needing a healthy dose of liquid courage. “Bridget Rodgers.”
“Bridget,” he repeated, and good Lord in heaven, the way he said her name was like he tasted it. “I like the name.”
She had no idea what to say, which was shocking. Normally the social butterfly, she was thrown for a loop. Why was he, surely a god among men, talking to her? Taking a sip, she cursed her sudden inept ability at conversation.
Chad eased in between her and an unoccupied stool behind him. Their bodies were so close that she caught the scent of spice and soap. “Is rum and Coke your favorite drink?” he asked.
Letting out a nervous breath, she nodded. “I’m a fan of it, but vodka is also a go-to drink.”
“Ah, a woman after my own heart.” His gaze dipped to her lips and her body warmed as tension formed deep inside her. “Well, when you finish with your rum and Coke, we’ll have to share a shot of vodka.”
She tucked her hair behind her ear, fighting what was probably a big, goofy smile. Though she doubted this conversation was going anywhere, she was big enough to admit she liked the attention. “That sounds like a plan.”
“Good.” His gaze moved back up to her eyes, meeting hers and holding for a moment. He leaned in, lowering his head. “Guess what?” he said in a conspiratorial whisper.
“The seat behind you just opened.” He winked, and damn if he didn’t look good doing it. “And there’s one open behind me. I think it’s telling us something.”
Laughing softly, she couldn’t fight the smile then. “And what is that?”
“You and I should sit and chat.”
Her heart was thumping in her chest in a crazy and fun sort of way, reminding her of what it had been like when she was younger and the boy she’d been crushing on talked to her at a party. But this was different. Chad was different. There was a wealth of heat in his eyes when he looked at her.
Bridget glanced over to the table where Shell was still with the guy Bridget couldn’t remember was called Bill or Will. “Well then, we must listen to the cosmos.”
She sat and Chad followed suit, scooting the barstool over under the guise of being able to hear her better, but she knew differently. This wasn’t her first time at the rodeo when it came to meeting men at bars, but Chad was ridiculously smooth. None of what he’d said sounded cheesy. His voice dripped with cool confidence and something else she couldn’t put her finger on.