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Cocky Fiance(4)

By:T.L. Smith & Melissa Jane



"You know your sister," Hawk chimed in, bringing me back to the present, a playful challenge in his eyes. I raised my eyebrow at them. "She will think of some excuse not to go. She always does."

He was right, but I was out to prove him wrong. Work was not an excuse. It was a legitimate reason.

"For your information, I have-" Slate covered my mouth with his hand preventing any further words.

"Not one excuse," he warned. "Everyone asks about you every time you say you're coming and then back out last minute. They're beginning to think you don't like them anymore. And your brothers miss you... so, therefore, you're coming."

Rolling my eyes, I pushed his hand away and stood, smoothing my skirt.

"Fine, I'll come..." I finally conceded and was rewarded with gleaming smiles. "For a little bit at least," I added. "Then I'm leaving."

Turning, I started for the door when Hawk's husky voice caused that familiar pang between my legs.

"She'll come all right..."

Slate laughed but again was none the wiser with the insinuation. I, however, heard it loud and clear and almost needed the door for balance.

That man was a menace.

A delicious, uncontrolled menace.





MY PHONE HADN'T STOPPED ringing.

Slate had sent me five messages since I'd been home demanding to know what was taking so long. He expected me at the party as soon as I left work. Of course, he would. Typical man.

Granted, I was last to leave the building, but before I made any sort of appearance, I needed a hot shower to resist the ever so tempting urge to crawl into bed.

Staring with a sudden distaste to the beautiful yet currently offensive dress on the bed, I was about to pick up my phone and call in my absence when I heard a knock at the front door, followed by someone yelling my name.

I froze, hoping if I remained still, they'd go away and leave me in peace.

No such luck.

Again, there was a thump at the door, and this time I could make out the voice yelling my name.

Damn you, Slate!

He knew my game.

Sighing heavily, I pulled on my dressing gown and walked down the hall.

Goodbye bed.

Goodbye soft pillows.

See you later dreams.

Walking to the door, I pulled it open to a very smiling Slate.

"I've come to drive you."

Could I flip him the bird and slam the door in his face? Probably not, so I turned, walking back to my room.

"Five minutes, Britta, we're already late as it is."

Closing the door, I dropped the gown and slipped my little dress on then fixed my hair before walking back out to Slate who was looking down at his phone.

"Is it a small one?" I asked, referring to the party. He lifted his face up, his eyebrow raising, then a smirk appeared on his lips.

"Do we do anything small?"

I should have known the answer to my question.

"I'm not staying long, I'll Uber it home."   





 

He shook his head as we walked out.

"Crash in the spare room," he replied.

I ignored him, wanting to walk back to my bed already before we'd even left.





Chapter 4


Hawk





The same crowd was here. A group of men who'd grown up together through college and partied hard as fraternity brothers. Now they were all working various jobs, as hotshot lawyers, businessmen, or thinking of ways to revolutionize their family business.

And among them were an equal number of women, some from the same Sorority house, others newly acquired through business relationships. The party was in full swing, and Britta was nowhere to be seen. In fact, neither was Slate.

The host was Jarod Thickle, a former frat brother, who still lived the bachelor life, but in his loft overlooking the better half of New York. Jarod worked at his father's law firm, yet his partying lifestyle would always prevent him from making partner or being equal share in the family business. He took his father's disappointment and vented through partying, too stupid to realize the vicious cycle.

Stupid or not, he put on a good party.

"Hawk Carnage?" came an unfamiliar voice. "Is that you?"

I turned away from the city view off the balcony and faced a woman who stood to stare wide-eyed at me. She was tall and leggy but a good head shorter than me. With her curves and red hair, she reminded me of the Jessica Rabbit sort. Sultry and fully flirtatious. The good-time girl who'd been every man's fantasy, but certainly not marriage material. She had high cheekbones and Angelina Jolie lips, and as she talked she knew men would be thinking about them. She was the type of woman I'd both like to bed and avoid. She also seemed slightly excited to stumble upon me.

"Yes," I confirmed. Before I had the chance to ask her name, although it seemed I should have remembered, the strange woman continued, "I haven't seen you in forever, stranger."

"I know, it's been a while," I replied, still drawing a blank.

Her sultry eyes cast a languid glance down the length of my body before meeting my gaze once more. "You haven't changed a bit," she said, taking a step closer, a well-manicured hand resting on my arm. "And I see you've been working out."

"Always."

"I've just bought a new apartment a few blocks away. Perhaps I can show it to you later?"

As her hand slid over my chest, I saw a flash of color that belonged to someone else. I moved to look past a group of people in the way, mystery woman following my gaze.

"Or..." she continued hoping to gain my attention, "... we could find a quiet spot here."

And there it was again, the flash of color before her face came into view.

There, inside the loft, having just arrived and looking unimpressed, was Britta Valentino.

We locked eyes, and she bit her lip.

Damn her.

"Excuse me," I said, gently removing the woman's hand.

Her perfect pout widened in shock at the abrupt dismissal.

Crossing the patio, I walked inside, fielding off those wanting conversation. I was only ten steps away when Jarod Thickle approached Britta from behind, startling her. She looked at me, then back at him, his arm wrapping around her waist before pulling her into the dense crowd.

One minute she was there, the next gone.

"You don't remember me, do you?"

A hand clutched mine, and I turned to see the mystery woman with her sculptured furrowed brows.

"I don't-"

"Perhaps this will make you remember."

She clutched my face, stood on her toes and pulled me into a kiss. Although she was a great kisser, it certainly wasn't ringing any familiar bells. Wrapping my fingers around her tiny wrists, I pulled her hands free.

"I'm sorry," I said, before once more leaving her side. She was the type not used to rejection. In fact, most would call me insane for walking away.

Wading through the crowd which was now starting to become loose as the tequila shots were passed around every fifteen minutes, I went in search of Britta who had seemingly vanished.

A familiar voice sounded over the music, and I cut a path to Slate who was holding the attention of eight sets of ears as he retold a story. Slate was a natural-born storyteller because he loved being around people. It was where he thrived. Me, on the other hand, gave no fucks about anyone except for those I called family. And he just happened to be one of them.

His attentive crowd broke into hysterics at the joke I just missed, and then they each raised their red cups in cheers. Gripping his upper arm, I pulled him to the side. Slate was still smiling, but when he saw my face, he quickly grew serious.

"What's up, bro?"   





 

"Did you see where Britta went?"

"No, we parted ways as soon as we walked through the door. She better not have left already."

"She hasn't left, she's with Jarod Thickle." Even saying his name made me sick at the thought. Jarod was in our circle. He was liked by some and tolerated by many. Jarod still had the mindset of a horny teenage boy who didn't give a shit who he hurt. He trash-talked women thinking it'd boost his street cred. He'd reveal intimate details about their bodies, and follow it with a laugh none of us saw funny. Seeing him zero in on Britta caused my blood to boil. He knew better than to mess with someone in the circle.

"Jarod?"

"Do you see the issue?"

"He wouldn't be so stupid." Slate shrugged his shoulders, always seeing the best in people. I was the complete opposite. "He's probably just being a good host. But hey, on an interesting note, the redhead-"

Leaving Slate, I pushed through the crowds and headed directly down the hall to the bedrooms.

Pushing the first door open, I saw nothing, but then her soft giggle filtered down the hall and all I had to do was follow. She was leading me straight to her without even trying. I pushed the door open a little harder than intended, and all eyes went to me, including Britta's older brother, Brock, who was on his phone but had ceased his conversation to look at me.

Brock rarely attended these types of parties, being married with kids. On the bed sat Jarod, who was too close to Britta for comfort, their thighs touching. He nodded his head, eyes narrowed with some warning, and then turned back to Britta, unwilling to lose the traction he'd made. While he chose to ignore my presence, Britta was finding it hard to do so. Her eyes were locked on mine, unsure on how to read me, and if I wasn't mistaken, she even made a discreet effort to break contact with Jarod. When she moved, so did he, bridging the gap. His persistence, and knowing his dirty history, had my fists clenching at my sides. I'd be damned if I let him sink his filthy teeth into her.

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