Five Card Studs
Mailing List Sneak Peek
I groan, sinking gratefully onto the barstool and feeling my calves relax. My legs ache, my ears ring, and my feet are actually squelching in my shoes — soaked through with probably enough booze that they’re a fire hazard.
“You did pretty damn good tonight, you know.”
I can’t even pretend to stop the heat that sizzles through me as he rests his muscled arms on the bar and leans into me. I chance a glance up and immediately feel my pulse skip as I lose myself in those piercing, gorgeous, wickedly tempting blue eyes.
As insane as the night was, and as obnoxiously loud, and crazy, and demanding the club crowd was, and as much as I feel like I just ran a marathon in a dance party, this has been my saving grace all evening.
Ridiculously good looking. Confidently cocky, in that charming way that makes girls lose their ability to speak or make rational thoughts. Funny, witty, and an unabashed flirt. Working behind the small, cramped, fast-paced bar, trying to hear over thumping club music, has been made infinitely better with Gaige here. He has made everything about this night way better.
The close proximity has also gotten much more than my shoes soaking wet, if we’re being completely honest.
But, it’s not just the thrill of working all night with a staggeringly hot guy -- rubbing against him, and feeling those muscled arms of his brush across me as he reached for a beer or a glass. No, if I can get out of my own dry-spell-induced lust for this man, working with him tonight actually totally saved my ass. My companion behind the bar -- tonight, my first freaking night working here -- was supposed to be some girl named Jenna. Except, Jenna never showed. So it was Gaige, the acting bar manager, who ended up stepping in to make sure I didn’t drown in the sea of thirsty club-goers all night.
Oh, right, the gorgeous, sexy-as-hell, flirty-as-sin guy with the tight white t-shirt, the sleeve tattoo and the smile that does all sorts of things to certain parts of my body?
Yeah, he’s my boss. And he’s really really my boss, too. The bar manager thing is just him filling in until they can find a replacement for a guy who left a few months back. In reality though, Gaige is one of the owners of this place -- Lume, one of the hottest new nightclubs in New York. Getting a gig bartending here was a miracle, not to mention an insanely lucrative one given how popular the place is. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to work for it though, like I did tonight.
But like I said, the hustle and grind of slinging drinks for cash all night is a whole lot less grinding when you’ve got someone like Gaige King, well, grinding you all night.
“You kept your head, you kicked ass, and you really only stepped on my feet like, four times.”
I grin, trying to hide the blush and trying not to stare at him with googly eyes as he leans across the bar, grinning that insanely charming smile at me.
“Coughlin’s law, never show surprise--”
“Dude, enough with the Cocktails quotes. Jesus.”
I laugh, turning my head to glance at the other person responsible for making my night a whole lot better than it could have been: Dane, Gaige’s best friend and also a business partner in Lume. Dane who’s gorgeous -- blond to Gaige’s tousled dark hair with dark, smoky eyes. When he’d first shown up and reached over the freaking bar to help himself to a bottle of tequila and a glass, I about lost it. Until Gaige laughed and explained who he was. So, great, my first night here and I meet two insanely attractive men, and both of them are most certainly off-limits because they’re my bosses. Just my luck.
Dane chuckles, shaking his head and running his fingers through his hair. “I mean, it’s a great movie, but you have got to stop quoting that fucking thing all the time.”
Gaige flips him off. "You need schooling on classic Tom Cruise movies, bud."
He winks at me before sliding a clean, empty glass my way.
“What are you drinking?”
I exhale, my eyes dancing over the bottles behind him. A drink honestly sounds necessary after the insanity of the night.
Gaige chuckles as he takes his hand away from the vodka it was resting on. “Shit, pegged you wrong. But that’s right, you’re a country girl, right?”
“Oh that’s right! Dane smirks at me. “This is your first time living in the big city, huh? You’re like, from a farm or something?”
They’re teasing me, and I know it. I roll my eyes at the two of them as Gaige pours my drink.
“I’m from Nashville. You know, tall buildings, highways, electricity, running water, lots of country music? Maybe you’ve heard of it?”
Dane strokes his chin. “Nah, not ringing a bell.”
I roll my eyes again as he grins at me.
“No but seriously, you’re picking this up fast.” Gaige nods slowly, sipping his beer. “You kicked a whole lot of ass tonight. We’re lucky to have you here.”
“Well, I’m lucky to have had you here. I think I might have lost it flying solo.”
“Nah, you looked great back there.” Dane winks at me. “I think this asshole was just getting in your way.”
I laugh."Well, it’s a new bar space to me. I think I was mostly getting in his way.”
“Yeah I seriously doubt he minded that.”
Dane’s words come out in a growl, and I catch a flicker of something heated in his eyes as they slip over me before I quickly turn away. I flush, feeling the lingering effects of that look, and the drink in my hand, and the adrenaline from the night coursing through me. I can feel his eyes lingering on me, setting my skin on fire through the tank-top and jeans I’m wearing.
The three of us toast to the killer night. And there’s a moment of quietness where I’m trying to act natural and not like I’m hanging out in a mostly dark nightclub having drinks with two of the hottest guys I’ve ever met.
This is all withdrawal, that’s all. It’s fucking pheromones is what it is.
I say it three times to myself, trying to calm my raging hormones -- like even being near the two of them is doing something primal to me. This is the result of being single for as long as I have, and being trapped in the garbage relationship I was in for as long as I was before that. Originally, I moved here to New York City with Nathan, my boyfriend of going on four years. Except it seems dear Nathan had other plans.
And by “plans” I mean “women.”
The worst part is, I never even had the blistering vindication of finding out. It’s not even like I caught him and got to chew him out. He told me, which sounds noble, except he mentioned it literally the night before we were leaving for New York -- moving truck all packed up in the driveway and everything. I still left the next day, but it was sans my douchebag boyfriend. I ended up finding a tiny freaking basement apartment, and I’ve been trying to hustle bartending or waitressing jobs ever since while I try and get my grad school applications together. So, six months single, and probably at least that amount of time without Nathan touching me before that, since he was too busy putting his pathetic dick elsewhere.
Good. Fucking. Riddance.
I mention all this not for sympathy, but for an explanation. This is why my freaking skin is tingling at being near these two guys. This is why there’s a pulsing, aching heat between my thighs, and why knowing their eyes are right on me as I sip my drink isn’t doing anything but making it worse. This is why when Dane stands, jumps behind the bar, grabs the iPod plugged into the stereo system and asks what I want to dance to, I feel a spark of something hot burn right through me.
Gaige grins at me as he vaults onto the bar top and then slides over onto my side, leaning against the it and letting his piercing blue eyes drape over me.
“Not yet we’re not, but we should fix that.”
“Your feet aren’t killing you?”
He grins. “Hey, if they call it quits like this in Nashville, I guess you can go ahead and--”
“Alright, alright, alright,” I laugh, sticking my tongue out at my gorgeous, dripping with sex appeal boss as he teases me. “How about anything but club music? Please?”
Dane laughs from behind the bar. “Fuckin’ amen to that. C’mon, country girl. What’ll it be?”
I think for one second before I shrug. “Something classic rock?”
The two of them glance at each other and grin.
“Atta girl,” Gaige purrs. He slinks into me, and my breath catches as he pulls me out of my bar stool and onto the darkened dance floor behind him. I swallow thickly, my pulse skipping as his powerful hands slide over me, cupping the small of my back in this possessive way that gets my body sizzling.
"Guess that means you're first?" I tease, making jokes to try and clear the raging heat in my face and coursing through my veins.
"First?" Gaige raises a brow, those perfect lips of his pulling back in a curious grin.
"First to dance with me?"
But my gorgeous, insanely sexy boss just grins wider as he shrugs. His firm hands pull me onto the dance floor as Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar On Me starts to throb through the sound system.
"First makes it sound like we're going to take turns."
God. Something about the way he says it make my entire body throb with wicked desire. The way he lets the words "taking turns" drip from his lips has the heat pulsing between my legs as all sorts of dirty thoughts swirl through my head.
"Nah, we don't take turns, Tess." The sound of Dane's voice growling lowly in my ear from behind has me shivering, my breath gasping again at the feel of the second gorgeous man moving right behind me.