I am so excited to share Evey and Griffin’s love story. Every story has two sides. Here is Griffin’s.
The doors open at seven, but the action doesn’t start until well after eleven.
From my usual spot on the second floor, hidden in the shadow of a corner, I scan the crowd below for the mystery woman from last night. She caught my interest with her understated appearance, the determined set of her jaw, and her hot-as-fuck dance moves.
I’m not seeing her.
My gaze shoots to the front entrance. People filter in through the double doors in an orderly fashion. I dip my head and speak into the mic attached to my collar. “Nice job with crowd control, boys.”
Joey and Andy have been with me since I opened this joint three years ago. They understand my rules are to be followed to the T. One of those rules is we never go over capacity. It’s dangerous should there ever be an emergency.
Not that my guys and I won’t be ready. We’ve trained for emergencies, big and small. Have dealt with our fair share of rowdy drunks, jealous exes, and a fire in the women’s bathroom. What I hope never to experience again is a bloodbath. That night set my moral compass back so far, I quit my father’s security business and went off the grid for a year.
Tossing that shameful part of my life to the recess of my mind, I search for my mystery woman. As I do, a different woman sidles up to me.
“Hi there, Griffin. You’re looking good tonight.”
My signature black dress shirt and black slacks is “looking good?” Half the guys here are in black attire, but I’m betting they’re not loaded like I am. And I’m not speaking of packing firearms.
“I’m not interested, Monica.”
“That’s not what the other girls say.” Her manicured nails skim up and down my arm. “Come on, Griffin. Say yes for a change.” She circles her fingers around my bicep.
Before mystery woman caught my eye, I would have taken Monica up on her offer. I am all about the physical without the complication of emotions getting involved, and Monica is of the same mindset, her hand lowering to my crotch.
“Boss, I see her in the back of the line.” Joey’s excitement is palpable in my earpiece. “I’ll have her escorted inside now.”
Joey and his romantic notions this woman is the one for me. I grab Monica’s wrist before she can touch my junk. “Enjoy your time here.”
I walk away from her and take the stairs to the first floor. Mystery woman weaves through the crowd. She is wearing an identical outfit to what she wore last night. Ratty jeans torn at the knees. A body-hugging black T-shirt that shows the obvious—she has small breasts and flat abs.
She makes her way to the edge of the dance floor and catches me watching her. I tip my head. She acknowledges me with a slight dip of hers. I home in on her face. Dark arched brows. A sultry curve to the arches of her cheeks. A pert nose. Full lips. She isn’t the most beautiful woman here, but she stokes something inside me I lost a long time ago—anticipation.
I stay in the periphery of the dance floor and watch guys avoid her. They aren’t here for plain and understated. They are here for women like Monica with her skin-tight little black dress and sizeable rack.
But when mystery woman takes the dance floor and moves that lithe five-foot-five body of hers, the guys take notice, just like they did last night. She’s sexy as fuck swaying her hips with her hands high above her head, her fingers tapping in time to the beats as she sings softly to the music with her eyes closed.
Moving like she does, she doesn’t have a care in the world.
Two guys move in, and it takes willpower not to step in and demand they step away from her. Mine. That’s what I’m hearing in my head. All I’m feeling deep in my core as they sandwich her between their large bodies.
Why does my body respond so viscerally to hers?
I haven’t had a taste of her, that’s why. I want her moaning and writhing beneath me. Then I can get her out of my thoughts and out of my system.
She’s all I have thought about since she caught my eye last night. From across the room, our gazes locked and with a defiant tip of her chin, interest grabbed ahold of me. No woman’s turned me down with look alone.
She and the guys dance and grind through two more songs. Half-way through the third song, she takes their hands and leads them toward the entrance.
Fuck no will I let her make a decision she’ll later regret. The women who work for me are familiar with the guys she is with. Those douchebags are into rough sex.
“Stop them, Joey.”
Joey stops the trio at the door. Words are exchanged. Joey points to me. The guys glance my direction and glare. I shrug. My club. My rules. I gesture for them to move along.
They leave mystery woman’s side and find a different woman to slather their attentions on. Mystery woman has more words with my guys before she meets my gaze. We assess one another from across the room.
I dare her with my intense stare-down to walk over and give it to me straight. For her to inform me of how pissed off she is. She doesn’t do jack shit other than tear her gaze away and grabs a seat at an empty table.
My interest piques ten fold. I watch her from the bar where I have an unobstructed view. Her legs are crossed, feet tapping air, and her body is tipped forward with her elbow on the table and chin rested on her open palm.
She stares back at me. I ask one of my servers to offer her a drink of her choice and whatever she would like off the food menu. With how much energy she’s burning off with that attitude of hers, she must be parched and starving.
Chris returns. “She’s not interested. Said you should do the heavy lifting rather than have someone do your dirty work.”
I chuckle. “Thanks for taking the brunt of her words. How’s Annie?”
“Chewing up every piece of furniture in the place though I spent a shit ton of money on toys of every shape for her.”
I shake my head. “Puppies, can’t live with them, and can’t live without them.”
He smiles. “Yeah, it’s hard to be mad at her when she gives me puppy eyes. Good luck with that one.” He jerks his head in mystery woman’s direction and returns to delivering drink and food orders.
Chris started with me a year after opening. He’s in his thirties, a down-on-his-luck guy who panhandled on a street corner my driver drove us past each morning. Rather than give him money, I took a chance and asked whether he would rather earn it. He said yes and the rest is history.
I lean against the wall and look anywhere but at her, missing the signature dark shades of my days as a personal bodyguard. I could observe without being too damn obvious.
Women approach me asking for my number. Or a spin on the dance floor. I give them the same line, “thanks, but not interested.” They walk away, hips swaying, glancing over their shoulder with promises of a smoking hot time with the smolder in their eyes.
Mystery woman though . . . She is eyeing me from across the room. Were her sexy eyes on me the whole time? I give her a two finger salute. She dismisses me with a flick of her hair and a view of her profile as she looks the other way.
Anticipation courses through my veins like water over a broken dam—fast, hard, and loud. Before the sun rises over the horizon, I will have her in my bed. First, I need for her to drop her attitude long enough for me to get in an introduction. Then we’ll go somewhere private to continue our conversation.
She hasn’t been sitting for five minutes before a guy approaches her table. He’s a regular. Tall. Spends too much time at the gym. Tatted. Runs with a rough crowd. He is bad news all around.
What is it with her attracting the wrong types of men? Resting his hands on top of a chair next to her, he leans in and says something. She nods. Fuck, not again. I scowl and head over there, ready to make it clear she is mine.
Except mystery woman doesn’t leave with him. He takes the empty chair and carries it over his head to a table overflowing with people. Setting it down, he offers the beautiful blonde standing against the wall a seat. My scowl fades.
Ready for breathing room, I return to my private spot on the second floor and hunker down for a night of keeping watch on the crowd and her. My phone in my back pocket pings. I grab for my cell and stare at the screen.
Unknown number: Killjoy
Smirking, I add her number to my contacts. Later I’ll have words with Joey for giving out my number without running it by me first. I put my cell away. There are different people sitting at the table and mystery woman isn’t among them. My body goes on high alert. Where the fuck did she go?
“Cockblocker.” I hear from the other side of the column.
I shake my head and chuckle. Who is this woman with her fire and ice? “What’s your name, sweetheart?”
“I’ll give it if you dance with me.” She steps out from behind the column, and up close and personal she is even more beautiful.
She has long, full lashes that can whip a man into a frenzy, a constellation of freckles across the bridge of her nose and cheeks, and a slight tilt to the corners of her eyes. I am wrong. She isn’t the most beautiful woman here, she is the most beautiful woman.
“I can’t dance worth a damn,” I admit. “Believe me, we’ll both be embarrassed.”
“Is that so?”
“How bad do you suck?”
“How about Running Man bad?”
She sputters laughter. “Okay, that is horrendously bad.”
“How about a private dance along this stretch of the room?”
She checks out the “stretch of the room,” or more like narrow strip of carpet, and smiles. “I can go along with that.”
I smile back. “Thank fuck you’re so accommodating.”
Her green eyes beam. “Your name?”
“You didn’t ask the guy that gave you my number?”
She shrugs. “It would kill the fantasy of making out with a stranger.”
“Ah, so it wasn’t me you’re interested in. You came here looking for a guy, any guy. Or did your plan change to guys?”
“Don’t sound so disappointed. It was always you I wanted. I was testing the degree of how much you wanted me.”
“You mean did I want you enough to order my men to stop you and the douchebags at the door? Is that the testing you’re speaking of? I’m not into playing games,” I warn.
“Then I’m sorry to have wasted your time.”
She heads for the stairs. I step around her and block her path. Her chin inches up a notch.
“Out of my way.”
“Not until I have my say.”
She crosses her arms. “Go ahead.”
She’s brave and stands her ground. Admirable. However, in this situation, mystery woman needs a good spanking. “What you did down there is unsafe. Testing me is unwise. Keep playing these games and someday you’ll get seriously hurt.”
“You have no right telling me what is unsafe or not. My life. Anyway,” she waves her hand, “I had a crappy week, and this is my way of giving the crappiness the middle finger. Thank you for the advice, though.”
Attitude one minute. Gracious the next. She gets my head spinning. I look at her. Like really check out her face. She can’t be older than twenty-one, twenty-two. Jesus. I have a good twelve years on her. Give the girl a break, old man.
“Tell me why life’s a shit storm?” I ask.
“I don’t want to get into the details but I haven’t any money to finish my last year of college. I had private funding but lost it recently.”
A slow burn of annoyance starts at my core. She’s like the others, after one thing—a guy with deep pockets.
“And you came here looking for a different benefactor?”
“I . . . No. I’m here to dance my troubles away.”
What comes out of my mouth next blindsides me. “I can be your new funding.”
Her eyes narrow. “In exchange for what?”
“What did you give your prior benefactor?” I ask as though we’re discussing the weather.
“Did that include sex?”
“No,” she says, offended. “He was like a father to me.”
“I am not a father-figure,” I make clear. “I want your nights and only your nights. There will be no promises of a commitment.”
Her eyes widen. “Your proposition is indecent.”
“I am not a decent man. What will it be?”
I expect her to cuss me out. Instead, she surprises me with a counter-offer.
“If you get my nights, I get your days. Spend the day with me and you can have my nights. But only three.”
How can I refuse?
“You have a deal . . .” She gives me her name. It’s unusual and beautiful like her. “Evey with a short E.” I like. “Nice to meet you. Griffin.”