Authors: Jessica Hawkins
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Her face was passive. At some point, her eyes had glossed over, vacant. He doubted she’d even heard what he’d just said. “I’ll dance topless for you all night if you like,” she said. “That’s what I can give you.”
Everything in his body coiled around itself. Did she not see the lines forming around his eyes from the stress, from staying up until three o’clock every night, his retinas burning, Brigitte sleeping peacefully in the next room, the words blurring on the screen, but only a few more minutes before he would shut everything down? All that, night after night, building, destroying, adding, subtracting, fixing, rewriting, overwriting, burning, burning, burning—his eyes in his skull, his life before his eyes. How could that mean nothing to her? What was
more small thing—just that slippery thong sliding a little lower over her hips? Just her, a
inches closer, so his neglected cock could find home between her angelic legs?
Beau’s breath was coming too fast. He gripped his knees.
She continued to dance, slow, sexy, but her heart wasn’t in it.
“Stop,” Beau said. “Just stop.”
She stopped, looking at him. He stood up in one jerky movement.
“But you haven’t used your entire hour,” she said, turning sideways so he could pass.
He looked at her from under his eyebrows. What a fickle little kitten. His hands twitched. He was the one in charge—not her. Didn’t she know that? Did he need to show her how to bend to his will, how to be thankful for what he was offering?
Beau had the thing people fought over, dreamed of, salivated, killed and died for—and this young girl in cat ears, who was already nine-tenths naked—she didn’t give one fuck about this money that’d taken him over a third of his life to earn. She couldn’t give him this one thing on the most important day of his life.
The buttons of his dress shirt pressed against his chest with each deep inhale. Beau had to leave before he exploded. He yanked his wallet from his jacket and left his last hundred dollars on the seat. He didn’t look back once on his way out, afraid she’d be there in the doorway—smug, superior, laughing at him.
Ten years later
Beau vowed this would be his last trip to Sunset Strip without his driver. He hit his brakes a little too hard when he passed a free parking spot, twisted around and backed into it.
“You’re good at that,” said Kirk, the twenty-two-year-old in the passenger’s seat. “Parallel parking.”
“I grew up around here.” Beau straightened out his Range Rover. He put it in park and got out, brushing off his Armani suit. They knew he was wealthy, Kirk and his business partner, Nathan, but Beau didn’t want that to be anything other than background noise. That was why he’d given his driver the night off and was on his way to a rundown bar on Sunset, where he hadn’t gone for drinks in years.
The kids had been polite during dinner, but Beau didn’t want polite. Not from them. He was considering investing in their startup, and he needed to know exactly who he was dealing with.
Kirk and Nathan waited on the sidewalk, both of them in plaid flannel, jeans and tennis shoes. Beau had told them to dress down, choosing a pricey spot to eat, but one with the atmosphere of a hole-in-the-wall.
Beau glanced to his left quickly, a familiar, hot-pink gleam catching his eye. He hadn’t been to Cat Shoppe or any strip club since the night he’d sold his first company to VenTech, who’d fucked up the whole thing. He turned in the opposite direction, pushing that memory down like always when it tried to surface. He signaled for the two of them to follow him.
“Have you been to this bar before?” Beau asked about Hey Joe. “A co-worker recommended it.”
“We don’t get out much,” Kirk said.
Beau looked back at them, arching an eyebrow. “I didn’t either when I was your age. Let me guess, people tell you all the time that you work too hard?”
“Our friends and family call us freaks.”
“They’re fools.” Beau shook his head. “I don’t regret a minute of it.”
The boys exchanged glances. “We live for it.”
“Then I think this will be a good arrangement for us.”
“Really?” Kirk asked. “Does that mean—”
Beau waved him off. “Listen, if you pick one night to take it easy, it’s tonight. Only because it could be very good for your career. Let’s just have a couple beers and get to know each other. We’ll get to business.”
As they crossed the street, a couple drag-racing cars parked in front of Hey Joe revved their engines. Beau waited for the noise to stop. “You guys up for a game of pool? Play any sports?”
“Mostly video games,” Nathan said, “but we love beer.”
Beau laughed a little. “Beer it is, then.”
The commotion started again. One of the cars spun his wheels against the pavement, burning out, clouding the sidewalk with smoke. Beau looked over when he heard an angry female voice and watched a young woman kick the Subaru’s fender and yell, “Get the fuck lost.”
“Oh, shit.” Nathan snorted. “Did you see that?”
Beau had seen it, loud and clear—a beautiful girl with nerve always caught his eye. The teenage driver jumped out of the car, fuming. Beau did a quick scan of the area and picked up his pace. A crowd had begun to form, but it looked like the woman was alone. Beau shouldered between two gawkers, about to step in the middle, when another man appeared behind her, stopping the boy in his tracks.
Beau also came to a skidding halt as he got a better look at the girl. The whole street seemed to die away, the noise level dropping. She had black hair, stood tall with her shoulders back. Her straight nose ended with a sharp tip, her lips full, but what Beau liked most about her profile was that it was familiar—like he’d found something he’d been looking for. She was graceful
rough around the edges, a rare combination he’d only seen a few times in his life.
The man’s hands were possessively on her as the teenager flipped them off and got back in his car. By her apron and the rag tossed over his shoulder, Beau guessed they worked at the bar he was heading into.
The familiar feeling intensified, urging him to get a better look. He squinted at the woman.
Beau started, looking back at the guys with him. “What?”
“Is this the place?”
“Yeah.” He cleared his throat. “Go in, and get a table. I’m right behind you. And call me Beau.”
They left, but Beau stayed where he was, watching the couple interact. The man was tall, slightly heavy with a ponytail. He touched her hair, kissed the back of her head and went inside. Just left her on the sidewalk for anyone to scoop up. The two cars took off, making as much noise as they could. Everyone else scattered down the sidewalk.
The small of her back was exposed, her T-shirt hem not quite meeting her waistband. He hadn’t seen leather pants since the nineties, but there they were, clinging to her like a second skin. Smooth, shiny.
She sighed, turned, caught him staring at her. And he knew instantly. The unmistakable blue of her catlike eyes. Her lithe, lean dancer’s body. A confidence to match her attitude, coupled with the same almost submissive expression she’d worn on stage at Cat Shoppe. Figuring him out. Waiting for his instruction.
“You lost?” she asked.
He pulled up his shoulders. For a moment, it was as if he was back in that round room, looking up at her, her voice guiding him. Yes, maybe he was lost. “What gives you that impression?”
“If you’re looking for happy hour, try a few blocks down.” She pointed in the direction he’d just come from, two rings on her hand, neither of them on her wedding finger.
“There’s no happy hour here?” He looked up, temporarily having forgotten where he was. “At Hey Joe?”
“Not the kind you’re looking for.”
She was a little harder, but she hadn’t lost her spirit, that was for sure. He pulled at the knot around his neck. “It’s the suit, isn’t it? I look out of place.”
She came toward him slowly, her eyes narrowed, her footsteps light. Did she also find him familiar? Neither of them looked away. Beau didn’t move an inch except to tense his muscles. He half expected her to make a circle around him, like she had that night, but there was a brick wall at his back. She’d cornered him somehow, a man who took pride in trapping others before they trapped him.
She stopped in front of him and looked up. An LED sign in the storefront’s window buzzed and flickered, shading her a second before turning her red. He hoped she wouldn’t recognize him. If she did, she might leave, and he’d lose the chance to prove to himself he wasn’t the same wide-eyed fool he’d been back then.
“Not just the suit.”
“What then?” Beau messed up his hair. “That better?”
She looked him over briefly. “We just don’t see a lot of suits at this end.”
She would know—she’d been at this end a long time. At least ten years. He’d been a suit to her then, hadn’t he? Had she been here all along? Did she still take off her clothes for strangers? Toy with them, make them think they could have her, leave them with their dick in their hands? “You work here?”
“Not like I wear this thing to make a fashion statement.”
He laughed, looked down at her apron and shut his mouth. Her body was just right, slim but not as thin as she’d been before. She came up to his chin, and he was tall. Someone had remarked once that he wore his suit like a weapon—then her leather pants were surely capable of mass destruction. He would’ve told anyone who’d asked that he didn’t have a type, but he was beginning to think that wasn’t true. He was, without a doubt, as attracted to her now as he had been that first night. And that would be the case even if he hadn’t recognized her.
He looked at her face again to stop from reaching out for her the way he had at the strip club. Considering her temper, he didn’t think that would go over well. “You really did a number on that car.”
She flushed. “You must think I’m a real class act.”
He swallowed. It aroused him, the color rising in her cheeks, the fact that she cared about his impression of her. “Doesn’t matter what I think.”
“I guess that’s a yes then.” Her shrug was unconvincing.
Something crackled between them, and there was no way she didn’t notice. Whether she was with someone or not, Beau knew he should back off. This girl was trouble. But he also knew he wouldn’t. His interest in her was already too strong, and at its core, the anger he’d been harboring over that night.
He looked at the entrance. “That was your boyfriend?”
“Ponytail and Zeppelin T-shirt. Big guy.”
She shifted on her feet. “How do you know he’s not my husband?”
“You aren’t wearing a ring.”
They looked at each other just as hard as they had been since their eyes had met. She blinked away. “I should get back to work.”
“So should I,” he said, nodding. It was work, after all, having drinks with his potential investments. “I was actually on my way in for a drink with some colleagues. I’m here on business.”
“Here?” she asked, her eyebrows jetting inward, her posture stiffening. “This bar?”
He grabbed the door for her. “This very one. After you, Miss…?”
His skin prickled. He couldn’t remember her name, had cast it out of his memory in the angry moments following their last encounter.
“Lola,” she said. She looked unsure a moment. “Lola Winters.”
“Lola.” He smiled, remembering. Her tight tummy. Tits that made men stupid. Her, glowing above him like an angel. She still looked that way, made him feel that way—as if not even an hour had passed between then and now. “Beau Olivier,” he said. “Nice to meet you.”
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TITLES BY JESSICA HAWKINS
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THE CITYSCAPE SERIES
NIGHT FEVER SERIAL
Night Moves (3)
(NIGHT FEVER SERIAL 3)
She should’ve known better than to fall for the devil.
Beau thought getting his power back from Lola meant he’d won the game, but all he did was teach her how to play. Now, she’s ready to take on the master himself, and only she knows the rules.
In order for Lola to get close enough to hurt him, she has to love him. It won’t be easy to love the devil, but it will be worth it—if it means sending him to hell where he belongs
Lola’s heels clicked against the hallway’s hardwood floors like the countdown of a ticking time bomb. Windows lined one side, and the rising sun striped the opposite wall with sharp-cornered shadows. The house, square between the curves of the Hollywood Hills, was renowned for its modern design. But Lola didn’t see the appeal in a home that echoed her every movement. To her, it was a shell—beautiful on the outside, hollow on the inside. Just like its owner.
She crossed the foyer on her way to the kitchen. At the entryway table, under the garish
chandelier, she stopped to center a vase of Calla lilies—amongst such perfection, the slightest flaw glared. She slid a flower out of the arrangement and dragged her fingertip up its stem, bending it nearly to the point of snapping. Even the house’s feminine touches were stiff. Lola had once loved Calla lilies, especially the purple-hearted ones like this that were edged in white. But she’d learned to be wary of anything that thrived in such barren surroundings.