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Authors: Olivia Evans

Hollywood & Vine (8 page)

BOOK: Hollywood & Vine
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“So what do I do?”

“Back off. Don’t let the first thing that comes out of your mouth be about sex. Ask personal questions, or comment on something she won’t take as you being a pervert. It’ll catch her so off guard she’ll answer before she can stop herself. It’ll give you an opening.”

Anders cupped the back of his neck. He didn’t want to make small talk. He just wanted to fuck her. End of story.

“It’s that or give up.” Owen shrugged and took a sip of his beer. “I still don’t understand why it matters so much.”

“Neither do I,” Anders muttered. “So ask her questions? Talk to her about shit that doesn’t involve getting naked? Then what?”

“Jesus man, has it really been that long since you’ve had to do anything to get a girl to sleep with you?” The blank stare on Anders’ face answered Owen’s question. “Are you sure you want to do this? Because it’s not going to happen overnight and you’re not the most patient person.”

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Anders nodded. “It won’t take long. She obviously finds me attractive. She’s the one who approached me. I just need to back off a little. I can do that.” Anders had a plan, an idea of what he needed to do. “How do you know all this shit anyway?”

“Anders, here’s the thing.” Owen leaned back and took a long pull from his beer before continuing. “The difference between us is the reason we refuse to settle down. For instance, you fuck different girls because you don’t want to get attached. Which is understandable after the bullshit that happened to you. But me? I love women. All women. That’s why I won’t settle down. Not because I have issues with relationships, but because there are a lot of women in need of love I’m more than happy to give.” He swept his arm out toward the crowd of women on the dance floor, their long silky hair flowing down their backs, their short dresses putting miles of glistening, sweat-slickened skin on display. “Who am I to deprive the world of love?”

Owen poured two more shots and slid one across to Anders. “You good?”

Anders chuckled. “I’m good.”

“I’m going to piss.”

Anders nodded, the motion causing the room to spin. He looked at the scattered empty beer bottles and shot glasses in front of him and shook his head in disbelief.

One of the girls who’d kept a close eye on them used Owen’s departure as her opportunity to approach their table. Undeterred by the spiteful glares from other girls not brave enough to approach, she crossed the room.

“Hi.” Smiling, she trapped her lip between her teeth, causing Anders’ gaze to zero in on her mouth.

Turning to face her, he flung his arm over the back of the booth. “Hey.”

“I’m Clare.”

“Uh-huh,” was his only response.

“Want to buy me a drink?”

“What do I get out of it?” His tone was playful, his expression roguish as he slipped back into his comfort zone, the place where he hid behind bright lights and a bad reputation, where emotions were non-existent and the endgame was always the same: predictable and safe.

“Whatever you want.”

Anders chuckled and motioned for the waitress keeping an eye on their table. He tilted his head toward Clare. “One of whatever the lady would like and a shot of tequila in a shooter tube.”

As Clare ordered her drink, Anders took a moment to look her over. Her hair was dark blonde and her legs were long and lean. Without conscious thought, an image of Josie flashed in his mind. He blinked hard, trying to wipe away her image and focus on the easy conquest in front of him.

“Come here.” He slid his feet together and pulled her closer until she straddled his legs. “Why don’t you have a seat while we wait for our drinks?”

Clare giggled and did as he asked. Anders wrapped his arms around her and cupped her ass before pulling her flush against him. As soon as the waitress arrived with their drinks, he plucked the shooter full of tequila from the tray and grinned.

Without a word he leaned forward and ran his tongue over her swell of cleavage. He grabbed the saltshaker, sprinkled it over her skin, and then he slid the shooter between her breasts, unable to stop himself from imagining his cock sliding in that exact place. “Cheers.” He chuckled. Dragging his tongue over her salt-covered skin, he wrapped his lips around the rim of the shooter and dropped his head back. Setting down the empty glass, he grabbed a lime from the tray and sucked it between his lips. Just as he pulled the tart fruit from his mouth and moved in for a kiss, the sound of Owen’s laughter rang out beside him.

He turned, confused to see Owen staring at him. “Anders, you’re a fucking idiot. That”—he laughed, pointing at the girl occupying Anders’ lap—“cannot happen if you ever plan on fucking that chick.”

Anders’ brows pulled together as he wrapped his hands around Clare’s waist and pushed her off his lap. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

Owen shook his head. “You really are stupid. More than a dozen pictures were just taken of you. Those shots will end up online or in a magazine in less than two days.”

“Yeah. And?” Anders shifted his eyes to Clare, who stared at him with a mix of confusion and embarrassment. He lifted a brow, his expression making her dismissal clear.

Owen tsked and grabbed his beer. “The girl—Josie? The one you’re so determined to fuck? She’s going to see those pictures and then it’ll be even harder to get into her pants.”

“Wait a fucking minute,” Anders stammered. “You mean I can’t fuck around with other girls while trying to hook up with her? What the fuck?”

“Anders. She’s already turned you down for a second round. If you’re trying to show her you want more, fucking around with these bitches isn’t going to help convince her.”

Anders scrubbed his face with his hand and blew out a harsh breath. “Goddamn it.”

Owen raised his brow. “Still worth the trouble? Or the lack of pussy?”

Anders hesitated. He wasn’t sure. Her image from earlier—defiant and strong-willed in her certainty of never sleeping with him again—flashed in his mind again. The answer was clear.

He downed the rest of his drink and stood. With a humorless chuckle he shook Owen’s hand. “Well, it looks like I’m going home to jerk off for the first time in years. Have a good night, asshole.”

Owen’s laugher trailed behind Anders as he walked out of the club. He kept his head down, not daring to make eye contact with any of the women as he passed. Instead he pulled out his phone and scrolled through his contacts until he got to the one listed as Ivy. Without giving any thought to how she would react to finding out he had her number, he typed out a text.

Who’s your favorite band?

Sitting in his car, a feeling of apprehension twisted his stomach at the thought of getting involved with Josie, even if it was all an act. The last time he opened up any side of himself that wasn’t carefully orchestrated, he got screwed over in every way. It didn’t matter that this was different; it felt the same. That fact both pissed him off and scared the shit out of him. His phone chimed, snapping him out of his head.

That’s a very personal question. I don’t share those details with just anyone. Who is this?

He started his car and flipped on the lights before typing, hoping to keep his identity hidden a little longer.

Depeche Mode is one of my top bands. Corrupt is perfection.

He shifted his car into drive, the road blurring when he accelerated. He shouldn’t be driving, but unlike Walker, if he got pulled over, the incident would never see the light of day.

In a house across town, Josie tucked her feet under her and studied the text. It was past two in the morning. None of her friends would text so late, especially about such a random topic. Something about the song her mystery texter mentioned caused her heart to beat a little faster. Deciding to play along, she typed out a response.

What an interesting song choice. It’s very similar to one of my favorite Muse songs, Undisclosed Desires. You still haven’t told me your name.

As he waited at a traffic light, he read her reply, grinning when he realized she was just as tenacious with strangers as with him.

There’s something freeing about anonymity don’t you think? And you still haven’t told me your favorite band.

Josie read the text and shook her head. The flutters in her stomach felt like the wings of hummingbirds. She typed a response, staring at the words for several seconds as apprehension rose within her. She traced the outline of her lips that still burned from the venom of poisoned kisses. Somehow she knew her mystery texter and the person invading her mind were one in the same. She had no intention of getting burned again.

In my experience people who prefer anonymity are hiding something. What’s your secret?

Powering down her phone, she set it on the table and stood from the couch. Once in her bedroom she stripped and crawled into bed. As she stared at the ceiling and waited for sleep to claim her, she wondered how long it would be before one of them snapped.

osie grabbed a towel and wiped the sweat from her neck as she pulled out her earbuds. She’d hoped a workout before breakfast would clear her mind, but it had been the opposite. Moving toward the kitchen, she stopped when her phone beeped. Unease twisted in her stomach. She approached her phone as if it were a bomb.

Relief flooded her when Madison’s name appeared on the screen. When she’d powered on her phone the day before, she’d been full of trepidation, unsure what she would do if there was another message from her mystery texter. There wasn’t.

Instead of dwelling on the lack of response, she did something she hadn’t done in a long time: spoil herself. After a much needed visit to her salon, she spent a ridiculous amount of money on overpriced fashion magazines. That night she ate sushi and surrounded herself with the magazines, not giving a second thought to anonymous texts or jackass actors.

She managed to stay in her bubble until she woke panting from her vivid dream of Anders pressing her into the mattress with his body. Disgusted, she threw on workout clothes and plugged in her headphones, but fifteen minutes into her workout Muse started playing. It flipped a switch, and everything she tried to block out came rushing back with herculean force.

Shaking her head, she listened to Madison’s message that she was going to stop by. Josie texted to tell Madison to let herself in and then headed to the bathroom for a much-needed shower.

Half an hour later, Madison slid onto the kitchen stool next to Josie. “Well, I see you’ve been busy this weekend.” She eyed the scattered magazines before grabbing one and thumbing through the pages. The two sat in silence for several minutes, Josie lost in fabrics and necklines, while Madison tried to figure out how to broach the subject that brought her to Josie’s house in the first place.

“Just spit it out,” Josie sighed, not bothering to look up from the magazine.

“Fine. Holden and I are going out tonight. We want you to come with us.”

“Okay,” Josie drawled. A distraction would be welcome.

“And well, Holden is bringing someone with him.”

Josie’s brows rose in surprise. “Is there something you guys want to tell me?”

“Oh, shut up. It’s a guy he’s trying to hire. His name is Philip. He’s supposed to be this hot new chef that just moved here. He’s got a couple of different restaurants after him, and Holden thought since he was new in town, he could take him out. Show him around and get an edge over the others.”

Josie laughed at the indignant tone in Madison’s voice. “So what, I’m supposed to help lure this guy into his clutches? Wow, Holden must really want this guy to use me as bait.”

It was Madison’s turn to laugh. “Did you drink bleach this weekend? No matter how much Holden wants this guy for the restaurant, there’s no way he’d play matchmaker. Hell, he doesn’t introduce you to guys he does know. In his mind you’re still his sweet, innocent little sister.”

“Pigtails included?”

Still laughing, Madison nodded, “Pigtails included.”

Josie tsked, her face a mask of mock sympathy. “Poor, delusional bastard.”

“So you’ll come? Holden doesn’t want him to feel like a third wheel. He told the guy you were his sister, which I’m sure translated as ‘this isn’t a double date, so keep your hands to yourself.’”

“Yeah, I’ll come. Just tell me when and where.”

“El Conquistador’s at seven?”

“Sounds perfect. I’ll see you guys then.”

After Madison left, Josie settled onto her couch and grabbed her laptop. There was no better way to kill time than browse a few fashion sites. The idea backfired when the first site she opened had a picture of Anders at the top of the page. One click led to two, and before Josie realized it, she’d landed on a gossip site featuring pictures of Anders in a very compromising position.

Across town, Anders stared at the same images. His jaw ticked with annoyance as he clicked through the pictures. He swore under his breath and closed the laptop, not wanting to see proof of his stupidity all over Perez Hilton, Hollywood Life, and TMZ a second longer.

He stared at his phone, his thoughts shifting to the last text from Josie. He wondered if she figured out it was him. He didn’t know anything about her private life, but if she treated her other one-night stands like him, he doubted she exchanged phone numbers—or maybe she did. He groaned and fell back on his chair. This was why he didn’t do relationships. This was why he kept things simple and impersonal; the alternative was too much damn work.

BOOK: Hollywood & Vine
11.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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