Lola and Oliver like to congratulate themselves on having the good sense to not consummate their drunken Las Vegas wedding. If they’d doubled-down on that mistake, their just-friends situation might not be half as great as it is now… or so goes the official line.
When the bartender checks in with her, Lola leans in to order a drink over the din of the crowd. He mixes it in front of her while she watches in silence, looking like she very clearly needs it. She takes the glass from him with a smile that’s returned a little too enthusiastically for my liking, and turns back to me.
Read scene from Dark Wild Night:
“So what do you want to talk about?” I ask.
“We’re at a pretty fancy party, and you just sat at the bar alone for a half hour while about fifteen executives checked you out and mentally took you home to their creepy LA sex dungeons.”
I laugh. “Lies.”
“Not lies,” she says, leaning in and making a funny face. “What’s your best pick-up line?”
“I don’t really have a line. I just sort of sit there, like this.” I shift my knees apart and give her the blue steel.
“Wide stance,” she says, with a grin. “I like what that communicates to the room.”
I make a show of straightening my glasses and motion to myself. “I mean, you put out the honey, you’re going to get some bees.”
Lola smacks my shoulder, laughing.
Nodding at her with a sexy little wink, I say, “Baby, I know we’re gonna fuck, it’s just a matter of how we get back to your place.” I lean in, for dramatic effect, whispering, “I don’t have a car.”
When Lola laughs, her head tilts back, exposing her perfect skin and long, slim throat, and the sound is higher than one would guess from hearing her sultry voice, more girlish. Her laugh, when she’s at ease, is adorable in a way Lola would never admit.
“That’s my new favorite,” she says when her laughter dies down.
I love when she says favorite. The way her mouth forms the f. She kisses the air. It makes me think about moving over her, capturing those lips in a kiss when she gasps out a pleading “Fuck.”
Her eyes meet mine and they’re smiling, unaware of how far my thoughts have taken me. “How could anyone ever say no to that?”
“Honestly,” I say, “I haven’t a clue.”
“What’s this like for you?” she asks me and then looks around the room.
I shrug, following the path her eyes have taken. “Weird, I guess. But not. It’s not altogether different from what I expected. Sort of a departure from the shop, I reckon.”
She smiles at me. “You’re the biggest geek I’ve ever known.” When she says it, I hear pride in her voice. To Lola, this is the ultimate praise.
The bartender sets another whiskey in front of me and I thank him with a nod. “This is true,” I tell her with a bit more mocking in my voice. “And yet, here you are, enjoying this evening with me anyway.”
“It must be the alcohol,” she says, sipping from her little straw.
I nod to her drink. “That’s your first one.”
She smiles. “You’re observant, I like that.”
“One of my many attributes. Along with hard-working, good at math and punctual.”
She shakes her head, swallowing a sip quickly so she can contradict me: “Hey, at the top of that list should be the accent.”
“You’re saying my accent is more important than my ability to do multiplication tables in my head?”
Lola laughs, and if I’m correct, leans just a bit closer. “Why don’t you date more?”
I hesitate with my glass perched on my lips, and then take a drink before setting it down again. Lola absolutely sounds like she’s teasing me, but there’s an edge there, like she’s inching closer to something she finds a little scary.
“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” I tilt my head, thinking. “Austin seems interested.”
Lola folds her arms on the bar and looks at me. “You’re not answering my question.”
“Neither are you.”
“And why is that?” she asks, watching.
“Probably for the same reason you don’t.”
Lola stirs the straw in her drink, using the tip of it to pierce the lime slices one by one, and just beside me, someone opens a door to a patio, letting in a blast of cold air.
“Do you want to leave?” she asks, looking up at me. “Go someplace more our speed?”
I open my mouth and the cool air hits my tongue like a spark of electricity. “Sure.” I wonder how it’s possible that the hammering of my pulse feels louder than the music around us.
Holding out her hand, Lola gives me her secret little smile. “Well then . . . let’s get out of here.”
About the author: Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates and brain-twins Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. They are The New York Times, USA Today, and #1 international bestselling authors of the Beautiful Bastard and Wild Seasons series, Sublime, and The House. You can find them online at christinalaurenbooks.com, xoxoafterdark.com, Facebook.com/ChristinaLaurenBooks, or at @ChristinaLauren on Twitter.