Authors: Willa Thorne
I sat down on the black leather sofa and let out a deep breath. “Mason’s father tried to bribe me to stay away from him. This was a few months ago. It doesn’t make any sense and nothing came of it. Mason doesn’t know about it, and I keep the check to remind myself why I can’t think of him.”
This is only one of the many reasons why I can’t think of him.
Elyse gave me a direct stare. Her blue eyes were fiery. “You mean to tell me that you let his prick of a father push you away?”
She can be so feisty and confrontational sometimes.
She looked at me with hands on both hips.
I could see her defiance and rebellion simmer, and I took the ripped check from her hands. I shoved it back into my bag, and then handed her two pieces of gum.
“What, like they think you’re not good enough for him? That’s why you broke up?” She was getting wound up. I was talking to someone who has spent more than half her life dealing with rejection. This struck a bad chord with Elyse.
“No,” I responded crisply. “I don’t want to talk about it. Not tonight, okay?” My tone wasn’t sharp; I was asking for understanding. I couldn’t talk about this without breaking down and tonight wasn’t about wallowing. Tonight was about going out and having a good time with my friends.
She nodded, visibly relaxing, and then gave me a smile just as
Skylar Grey’s album began to
play over the surround sound in the living room.
“This is our song,” Elyse grinned as she took my hand and forced me to dance with her. She twirled me around, which was difficult to do since I was wearing strappy black heels and they almost got caught on the rug a few times. Elyse swayed her hips. She had such good rhythm and moved her body with such fluidity. I felt like a stiff robot next to her, and we both giggled at my lack of dance skills.
Our song ended and Skylar Grey’s cover,
Love the Way You Lie
, quickly began.
I grimaced as I skipped over this song. It used to be one of my favorites, but it just reminds me too much of Mason.
Elyse rolled her eyes. “Seriously?”
I gave a shrug, and then slipped into the bathroom to check my makeup. I could still hear the music from the living room as I examined my reflection in the mirror. My dark auburn waves were perfectly tousled this evening and I was wearing an electric blue silk dress I found on sale in a department store. I wore strappy black heels to match. I didn’t feel stunning, but I had to remind myself that tonight was about having fun and nothing else.
I left the bathroom and found Piper and Elyse sitting on the white sofa in the living room, talking while they waited. Piper wore a fitting black, v-neck dress with matching heels. Her chestnut hair was pulled back into a high ponytail and she opted to wear her frames this evening. The club scene wasn’t exactly her style or mine, but we were going to support her brother’s grand opening.
Dinner with the girls was so much fun, and the mojitos were excellent. It was great to have a
, where I could meet with friends and have a
. I rolled my eyes as I thought of Mason’s contract.
, I reminded myself as I banished all thoughts and memories of that man.
“To Jillian on her birthday, and one month away from graduation!” Elyse announced as she clinked her mojito with Piper’s and mine.
I giggled as I kept my drink in the air while we sat in the booth. “And Jax isn’t here, but here’s to him on the success of his club opening!”
“And letting us in free,” Elyse added as Piper smirked slightly.
Jackson’s new nightclub is called
. He loves investing in real estate, but he owns a piano bar in SoHo, which has become very popular. I’ve never been to the piano bar, but I’ve heard him refer to it as
. There has been so much hype surrounding the grand opening of
in recent weeks. The outside of the club was buzzing with hungry gossip columnists and other media when we arrived in the cab.
. I’d lost all respect for them after they circulated those pictures of me on the stretcher two months ago, unconscious.
The media lurked by the entrance, hoping to snag someone important for an interview. Lights flashed everywhere as I followed Piper inside, and I felt my retinas burn. I was seeing spots by the time I found myself inside, on the main floor. Half-blind, Elyse and I followed Piper over to a table in the far corner that had been reserved for us.
Once my vision was cleared of the daze, I looked around in awe. Soft magenta light illuminated the black and white checkered marble that was laid out in an open floor plan. The large, round bar station was a dark cherry wood. I could see that the most expensive liquors rested on glass shelves, which were illuminated by a gentle white light.
The scene was packed, but it wasn’t so bad that we couldn’t walk. The club boasted of four different levels, each with its own theme which gave patrons plenty of room to enjoy and explore as it pleased them.
A waitress dressed in a clingy white dress approached us. Her copper hair was pulled back into a ponytail. She flashed us a perky smile.
. Rochester, Ms. Mendez, and Ms. Pryor. What will you ladies be drinking tonight?
Piper looked up at the waitress and scrunched her nose. The mistake did not go unnoticed. “No missus, it’s just Piper. Mr. Jackson Rochester is my
The waitress looked mortified by her mistake. “Oh, I’m so sorry. They have you down as a Mrs. Rochester. I’m so sorry. I’ll have that fixed.”
“It’s alright… It’s just that there is
Mrs. Rochester,” Piper murmured. “But I’ll have a cosmo, please.”
“I’ll have a …” I took a quick glance at the drink menu. “Make that two cosmos,” I shrugged.
“I’ll take a
sex on the beach
,” Elyse gave a snarky grin, emphasizing the word
. Her face was flushed from the mojitos she already had at the restaurant.
“Of course, and again, I’m so sorry about that error.” The waitress looked at Piper apologetically, then darted away to get our drink orders. Piper looked at us with a pained look on her face.
“So gross.” She frowned.
I snorted a giggle at her facial expression. Once I got to know Piper, I found her to have a very dry wit.
I looked around at the club. The music provided a pulsating energy and I could see people on the dance floor moving to the rhythm. Lights danced fluidly over the checkered marble. Within five minutes, the floor had become more packed, and the round bar station was now brimming with business.
“Well there’s the birthday girl,” a sultry male voice crept up behind me and I felt a firm clasp on my shoulder. The unexpected greeting was enough to make me jolt. I gasped, startled.
“Oh my God, Jax.” Piper admonished. “Why do you always have to sneak up on people like that?”
Jackson only grinned. He stood as tall as Mason, but looked nothing like his cousin. He wore a crisp light gray suit with a matching dark and light gray pin stripe tie. His wavy chestnut hair was combed away from his face and he was all business in appearance. I always found there to be a very commanding presence about Jackson. There was something very strong, yet dark, about the way he carried himself. He exuded an air of confidence and power, but it was very different than the way Mason commanded such attention. Jackson was always smiling and could be very outgoing and sociable when he wanted to be. Then, there were times when he prefered to remain in the shadows and watch people from afar. Like his cousin, he was an enigma. Still, I found it easy to feel comfortable around him. Elyse was another story.
His light green eyes were friendly as he made his rounds at the table, greeting us. Then, his eyes fixated on Elyse.
“Well, hello there, Ms…?”
Elyse seemed to visibly freeze up around Jackson. Her face was pink. She remained stiff, and he waited patiently for her response.
“Ly.” She gave a short response. I didn’t understand her strange behavior around Piper’s brother. She was always so bold. Her behavior made zero sense.
Her face continued changing shades until it was a dark pink under his scrutinous gaze. He seemed to be enjoying his level of intimidation as his green eyes bore down on her with a smirk.
“Oh for the love of-” Piper suddenly spoke up. “Jackson, leave Elyse alone.”
He paused momentarily, and then chuckled. He then removed his gaze from Elyse, and looked at his sister, then to me.
“What do you ladies think? This might be
my pride and joy
.” He gestured around the open layout.
“This place is amazing. Congratulations,” I gave him a big smile.
Ever since the accident down the stairs, Jackson has checked on me frequently. I think he felt responsible because the accident happened in his home, during his party.
“Thanks, Jill,” Jax grinned. “You look fantastic by the way. Happy Birthday. Drinks are on me. Anything you want. You too, sis.”
He looked at Elyse, who still remained uncharacteristically flushed and quiet at the table. “And you- don’t be shy. Let me know if you need
.” He winked at her, and her face became the color of a beet.
He walked away to make his business rounds, and Elyse sat quietly at the table until he was gone from sight. Piper and I looked at her with raised brows.
At that moment, our drinks arrived and Elyse took it and drank deeply.
“Are you okay, Ly?” I asked.
She looked up with a bright, fake smile. “Oh yeah, I’m fine. This is the best
Sex on the Beach
I’ve ever had.” She took another deep sip and soon downed the contents of her glass.
“It’s okay, honey. He has that effect on most women,” Piper gave a sympathetic smile. She patted Elyse’s shoulder as she stood. “I need the restroom. I’ll be back.”
When she walked away, Elyse clasped my hand. “Let’s dance!”
“Oh, no… it’s too crowded!” I said, suddenly very mortified. The last time I danced around strangers, it was at Jackson’s party and it was not this crowded. It was also slow dancing, something I’m much more comfortable with. I can’t dance and I feel like a clown jumping up and down senselessly.
I pulled my hand away from hers, but she already had too many drinks in her to care. She took my hand more firmly and pulled me over to the dance floor. Violet strobe lights danced around our heads as Elyse began to move her body to the beat of the music. The music reverberated around us as I stiffly and uncomfortably moved next to her. She was already into the beat of the music but I wasn’t drunk enough for this. Someone tall and strong bumped into me on the crowded dance floor and I nearly fell into Elyse, who remained oblivious.
“Hey, easy there,” A male voice said as strong hands reached around to steady me.
I looked up and saw six feet of lean muscle grinning down at me. Actually, it was more like a smirk. His light brown hair fell into his blue eyes. He wore a black pinstripe button down, untucked, with dark wash jeans.
“Whoa, thanks,” I laughed nervously as he steadied me back on my feet.
His eyes darted over to Elyse briefly. She was preoccupied, dancing with herself. He looked down at me with another charming grin as his eyes roved over my body and then fixated on my breasts before he looked at my face. He was a smooth talker. A real charmer. I could already sense it.
“Let me buy you a drink.”
“Thanks, but I already reached my limit for tonight,” I smiled.
“I doubt that. One more won’t hurt, doll face.” He winked down at me.
“Do you typically push drinks on women without knowing their names?” I asked with a flirty grin.
“I can push a lot more than a drink, doll.” He bestowed a half-smirk and then winked.
I admit- he was hot.
I felt myself flush slightly and I looked away from his smirk.
“I had a few mojitos already, earlier.”
Seems they didn’t work much, did they?
His blue eyes were entertained as they assessed me keenly.
I shrugged and smiled. I do not have much practice in flirting and never considered myself much of a vixen, but this guy seemed to make flirting easy.
I opened my mouth to give him a coy response, but stopped as my eyes fell on the rounded bar just off to side, behind the stranger.
My heart did a triple leap in my chest when I spotted
. Not only did I spot him, but he had been watching my interaction with the handsome stranger. Mason’s gaze burnt into me. He wore a crisp white button down and dark gray pants. He was overdue for a haircut and his hair was longer than he usually kept it. He sported a possible week-old scruff.