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Authors: P. T. Michelle

Tags: #romance

Gold Shimmer (3 page)

BOOK: Gold Shimmer
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Talia’s cheeks explode with color. “Put that away,” she hisses, smacking my hand.

As I fold it under my fingers to ring the bell, I can’t help but laugh at her muttered “Classy” comment.

While the chimes ring alongside the upbeat dance music playing inside, and Talia’s distracted with her own nervous thoughts, I slip the condom into her cape’s pocket. I do it partially in the hopes she’ll discover it and finally get laid—I can’t believe she’s still a virgin at twenty-one—and partially to keep myself in line.

I learned a long time ago that sex can be as easy as breathing. It’s like playing a game of pool or watching a movie. It’s no big deal, so long as I control the
, with
and the
. Without protection, I’ll only be able to get “Celeste” into so much trouble tonight. No wrapper, no body slapper. I have standards.

The real Celeste might deserve more for her part in humiliating me the way she did back then, but I didn’t come here to completely smear her reputation. I’m not evil. I just want to rub away some of that gold, “better than the rest of you” veneer she projects to the world, and reveal her “common person” gritty metal underneath.

Talia and I arrived at the party forty minutes late on purpose. That way it would be in full swing and people would be less likely to pay attention to our entrance. As the butler pulls open the door, my best friend and I exchange knowing glances. He notices our well-chosen “costumes of lowly status,” but doesn’t skip a beat in inviting Celeste Carver and her friend inside.


ll the guests should have arrived by now. I open the car door, excitement thrumming through me.

Tonight I’m taking full advantage of this exclusive costume party’s strict “mask and anonymity” rule. Maybe I’ll frolic and play a little.

Through the darkness, two girls walking up the Blakes’ driveway draw my attention. A blonde and a brunette.

I frown and close myself back in the car with a soft click. I don’t recognize the blonde, but the brunette…surprise tightens my chest. At first anger flares, but then I calm down and mutter to myself, “Look who decided to show up after all. Tonight just got a
more interesting.”

With her face plastered on all the society pages, Celeste Carver is recognizable anywhere, even with her mask. It’s the way she carries herself, that better-than-others stick up her ass, the arrogant tilt of her chin. The girl has the attitude down to a science. My gaze narrows.
Pretentious bitch. But no one knows her like I do.

The girls disappear inside and the door closes behind them, muffling the party sounds. Before they showed up, I’d been content to just mingle.

When others don’t know they’re being watched, that’s when their true selves rise to the surface. I could learn a lot that way.

But Celeste’s presence changes everything.

I open the door and slip out, heading to the side of the house, my movements quiet and sure-footed.

I need to know what happens.

I must see her every move.

Study her. So I can

he Blakes’ gorgeous “beach” house, with its sweeping dual stairwells and opulent Italian villa style, is an open floor plan that spreads over to a bank of French doors, where a covered porch, a custom designed pool and private beach stretch beyond. The massive house highlights the wealth of one of the most prominent families in the country. My father’s business didn’t take off until I was in high school. Even now our family business isn’t anywhere near this level, but we now have a house in the Hamptons ourselves.

I grin when the youngest Blake son, Damien, walks straight up to me. His black mask highlighting dark eyes full of wicked intent, he sweeps his short black cape back. Clicking his tall, shiny boots together, he reaches for my hand in an exaggerated formal bow.

Oh the doors Celeste’s face so easily opens.
I’m going to enjoy making her have to knock before entering after tonight.

Spinning me around, the rapier at his trim waist swinging with his movements, Damien says, “Celeste, my love. You’re going to be very distracting tonight.”

“Ah, ah...” I wave my finger and drop my voice to bedroom husky. “It’s Naughty Maid Yvette.”

A confident smile crooks Damien’s lips. “Ah yes, Yvette, then. I’m so very happy your plans changed. Would you allow this fox the first dance?”

I internally snicker at his affected Spanish accent, since the Spanish word for fox is zorro. This Blake definitely has a sharp wit. I bat my lashes. “Ah, Z, how can I deny a wily hero such a simple request?”

Gesturing toward Talia, I say, “I’ve brought a plus one. I figured you wouldn’t mind. This is Scarlett.”

As Damien smiles appreciatively at Talia, I notice Gavin’s sudden focused interest in my friend before he starts across the room toward us. He’s the one she’s most worried will recognize her. My stomach tenses and I keep one eye on Talia, while I flirt with Damien.

Then a very tall, broad-shouldered guy dressed in light brown buckskin pants and a matching shirt steps beside Talia just before Gavin reaches her. Clasping her hand, he lifts it to his lips and says, “I think the two ‘hoods’ should dance together for solidarity’s sake. What do you say, Scarlett?”

Once Robin Hood pulls Talia away from Gavin and toward the dance floor, I allow myself to relax and take the glass of champagne Damien hands me. “Shall we dance?” he says as he tugs me the few steps down to the level where the crowd is dancing to an upbeat song.

As we weave through the crowd, a few people apparently recognize Celeste despite the mask and call out her name. One dark-haired guy dressed as Batman grasps my free hand, grinning widely. “Hey, Celeste! I’m glad you made it after all.”

Just as I start to speak to him, a curvy blonde girl in a very revealing harem girl costume runs up, her boobs bouncing as she squeals in my ear. “Celeste!” Draping an arm around my neck in a vise hold, she spins me as she gestures to the crowd. “Look at this rocking party. So glad you made it.”

“Yeah, uh…I couldn’t stay away,” I mumble, shaking off the champagne from my hand her fast movements had sloshed from my glass.

“Ooopsie…guess I’ve had a bit too much champagne,” she whispers loudly in my ear, the smell of alcohol strong on her breath.

“Did you see Gavin, Jordan?” Damien says to the girl. “I think he was looking for you.”

“Really?” Her eyes widen and she swivels around, looking for Gavin. “Where is he?”

While Damien untangles the girl’s arm from my shoulder, then turns her in the direction of the bar, pointing out his brother, Batman guy says in a low voice, “Save me a dance later?”

“Sure,” I say with a shrug just as Damien takes my hand once more. Draining my glass, I set it on a side table, then wave to Batman as my host steers me into the mass of dancing people.

Damien has always been a flirt—I remember seeing him in action in high school, but tonight his hands have a mind of their own. While we engage in light banter about a party Celeste had supposedly attended last weekend but left before he got there, he slides his hands from my waist to my hips.

…care to pick up where we left off…” he suggests in a low voice next to my ear, his fingers trailing lightly down my spine and across the top of my rear.

Tensing slightly, I paste on a smile and tilt my head, my grip on his shoulders tightening. “When was that exactly? I’m a little fuzzy on the details.”

Damien barks out a laugh, sliding his hands back to my waist. “I don’t know if I should be insulted or not.” His voice lowers in smug confidence. “But if you need a reminder…” As he leans in close, his warm breath rushes against my neck with his kiss before his brown eyes meet mine. “I haven’t forgotten the image of you standing in that greenhouse, water glistening on your skin after the misting system came on. If we hadn’t been interrupted by Matt, I’d have made good on my promise to make you scream
name that night instead of his. Since Matt’s out of the picture now, I have to believe the fates are shining on me. I’ve enjoyed each time our group has gone abroad and the obscene money we spent, but that weekend trip to Prague last year is one of my all time favorites.”

trip to Prague? Private jets, estate homes, boatloads of money. I can’t fathom living so extravagantly, even though I can picture what it must be like in my mind’s eye. All that opulence on display. Maybe one day I’ll capture a scene like that to add to my slowly growing portfolio. I took the photography class just to fill an elective requirement, but lately I’ve found it more interesting than my business classes.

“Fate has nothing to do with it.” I breathe out a low, sultry laugh. “I’m sure all the build-up in your mind as to what could’ve happened between us would pale in comparison now.”

“I’m willing to take that risk.” While people dance all around us, he rubs a strand of my long hair that I’d curled in subdued waves instead of the big curls Celeste usually wears. “Are
?” he asks as he edges into my personal space to brush his lips against my cheek.

Before I get a chance to answer, someone taps him on the shoulder. “You’re wanted over at the bar, Damien.” The guy in a formal white military uniform jerks his chin toward the crowded bar. “Something about the beer taps being clogged.”

Damien sighs and releases me. “Keep dancing. I’ll be right back.”

BOOK: Gold Shimmer
11.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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