Overnight Wife

By: Penny Wylder

I wonder if I can be that brave. Before the thought is even in my head, though, I’m dismissing it. I didn’t come here to hook up with someone. I just came to celebrate my new job. End of list. But cutting loose is going to be hard to do with my mind still stuck in LA, wondering how my first day on the job will go the day after tomorrow.

Pitfire is a huge deal. They’re new, but they’re already big in both LA and New York, not to mention a few smaller cities between. They expanded fast, like startup-level fast, thanks to their extremely young CEO. The CEO who everyone tells me is the most eligible bachelor in LA.

Not that I plan on mixing work and pleasure. Tequila might burn, but that is a cocktail with disaster written all over it.

My head buzzes pleasantly as I skip back toward the bar after the next song, leaving Lea wrapped up with her new friend, intent on finding some water. This buzz is ideal, but if I dehydrate too much, I don’t want to know how bad I’ll feel in the morning.

As I walk over, I cast a discerning eye around the club. The lights, if anything, are even worse by the bar than they are in the middle of the room. You’d think that a club with as great a reputation as this one—not to mention one that pulls in so much money—would be able to afford a nicer lighting setup. Or even a stage with any sort of backdrop, instead of just a dingy, stained red curtain to hide the yucky bare black walls.

Oh well. There’s no accounting for taste. And while Vegas has been more fun than I expected, classy and tasteful aren’t exactly words I’d use to describe it.

“Buy you a drink?” asks a guy near the bar. He grins at me, but his eyes do that long, lingering up-and-down thing that tells me he’s already undressing me in his head. Then he actually has the nerve to lick his lips afterward.

“Thanks, but I’m good,” I reply before I move to step around him toward a less crowded section of the bar.

That’s when he grabs my hand to stop me. I’m staring at him open-mouthed, shocked at the nerve, while he rubs his palm against mine, his eyebrows shooting up with surprise. “You’ve got a lot of callouses for a pretty young thing.” He tugs me toward him and I try to wrench myself free, waking from my stupor at last. But his grip is too tight. He’s got corded muscles visible all up both arms. Bigger muscles than I have, despite my day job doing heavy lifting and construction work, and I’m no match for him.

“There’s no shame in hard work,” I tell him, narrowing my eyes. With one last tug, I wrench my hand free. He staggers a step, but rights himself before I can make a break for it.

“What kinda hard work do you do?” He gives me the once-over again—or I guess the twice-over now—and my stomach churns with nausea.

“The kind that’s none of your business,” I snap, already turning on my heel to leave. I storm off the dance floor, away from the bar. There’s a little corner a few steps away that looks fairly abandoned. Yes, okay, hiding in a darkened corner wouldn’t exactly earn Lea’s approval, but I need a break from this party girl lifestyle. Clearly it is not my thing.

I lean against the wall and let my head fall back against it, my eyes drifting shut. I can feel the thump of the bass through the wall I’m leaning against and through the soles of my feet. I smell the sticky scent of sweat and spilled rum and cokes, too. But at least I’ve got a little bit of breathing room now. Enough to clear my head and get the sensation of that creepy guy’s touch off my body.

Just then, I sense warmth at my arm. I crack one eyelid to spot someone approaching my hiding spot, and I stiffen, expecting that guy to try again. Guys like that don’t know when to quit.

But the man who stops in front of my hidey-hole is unfamiliar. I tilt my head back to squint up at him. He’s tall and dressed more like he’s about to walk into a board room than into a club. He’s unbuttoned his dress shirt cuffs and rolled them up far enough to give me a glimpse of his strong, veined forearms. His tie is loose around his neck. His dark eyes dance with amusement when they catch mine.

“Don’t worry,” he says, his voice low and yet still audible over the blast of the music, a trick I wish I could steal for when I’m on set and shouting into my mic to be heard over rehearsal music. “Your new friend won’t be bothering you anymore.”

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