Up in Flames(Rosemary Beach #14)(3) by Abbi Glines
I walked from my room at the Bellagio to a club called Hyde, where some of my friends had a VIP table reserved for the next three nights. I could feel the stares that followed me, which only confirmed that I looked as stunning as I’d felt when I’d looked in the mirror. I was ready for a night of vodka and forgetting.
Knox was the reason I was here to begin with. She was a friend from my brief stint at a Swedish boarding school and was dating Ezra Kincaid, the heir to the Kincaid hotels. This was Ezra’s birthday weekend, and the guest list was exclusive. When I’d received the invitation from Knox, I hadn’t been sure if I wanted to go. I hadn’t wanted to leave Major. But during our lunch date, I’d felt like he was being forced to spend time with me. So I decided to get out of town, which turned out to be a smart move; two days later, I still hadn’t heard from Major.
Tonight I would pretend I had never let him string me along. By tomorrow, maybe I wouldn’t even remember his name.
“Nan!” Knox squealed. I could tell she’d been drinking for hours from her glazed eyes, but she still looked fantastic. Her wild, curly blond hair was pulled back by a candy-apple-red headband that matched the dress she was wearing. I needed to catch up with her cocktail count. She looked like she was having a wonderful time.
“Winter’s here, too! And she brought Roland. They’re engaged now!” Knox chatted away with a slight slur, as she looped her arm through mine and pulled me toward her table. I recognized the faces. They were all part of the circle I’d been raised in when I lived with my mother. Demi Fraser was just on my TV last week in some all-important tennis match that I didn’t keep up with. She’d made a name for herself on the court and now had her own fitness line. Her dark red hair was cropped short, and her nose and shoulders were dusted with freckles from all the time she spent in the sun. She looked great. Which annoyed me. If only I looked that good with freckles.
I walked to the table and directed my attention to the server. “Vodka cranberry.”
“It’s been a while, Nan. What have you been up to, other than shopping in Paris?” Demi was being snide, as usual. She liked looking down on the world from behind her perfect, freckled nose.
This night was meant to help me forget my issues, not bring up more shit.
I scanned the club without responding to Demi or even acknowledging Winter and Roland. Not enough vodka in my system to make me play nice yet.
As my gaze drifted over the crowd, already bored with the sight in front of me, it collided with the hard gaze of another. A pair of eyes locked on mine. Eyes that made me shiver with fear and excitement. I took in a chiseled face, its hard planes obvious even under a thick beard. My eyes traveled lower. Broad shoulders gave way to thickly corded muscular arms and a chest that looked like it was about to burst from the black T-shirt he was wearing.
Then he began to walk. Toward me. I was his focus. I stood without thinking, as if I’d been beckoned to, and my breathing became erratic. Almost like I couldn’t draw in enough air.
He was tall. The stilettos I wore brought me to six feet, but I was still forced to tilt my head back as he drew closer.
“Do you know him?” Knox asked, but she sounded like she was far away. Unimportant. I didn’t respond. I just waited.
The oxygen in the room was too thin by the time he stopped in front of me. I was sure I looked like an idiot as I tried to take a deep breath.
“Dance with me,” were the words that flowed out of his mouth. It sounded like a command, not a request. I didn’t take orders from anyone, but I wasn’t going to turn him down. I wanted to feel his hands on my body. I wanted to be close enough that I could soak in his scent with every inhalation. I also wanted to touch that massive chest of his that looked like a brick wall.
I managed to nod, and when he held out one of his hands, I eagerly slipped mine into it. The heat and strength from his touch made me tremble. If I could breathe properly, then I might be more concerned about making an idiot of myself. But I just needed to stay balanced on the heels I’d chosen to wear.
He drew me into the thick of the crowd, and it seemed to part for him. I could see other women turn and look at him with the same fearful yet excited expression that I had.
When he finally stopped, he turned, and his hand slid around my waist to press possessively against my lower back. I moved against him, wanting to cry out in pleasure when the tips of my breasts brushed against his chest. He didn’t say anything, but he began to move with an easy grace that I didn’t expect from a guy built like him. I expected him to be stiff with all that muscle, but he wasn’t. He seemed at ease on the dance floor.
His head lowered, and I could feel his breath against my skin. My nipples budded, and I grabbed his arms to keep steady. “You feel good,” was all he said, in a thick, deep accent I couldn’t place.
I wanted to reply that he smelled better than I’d anticipated, but I didn’t. I kept my mouth shut and lifted my eyes to look into his. I didn’t know this man. I doubted I’d ever see him again, and that made me feel bereft. Like I was losing something that I didn’t even have.
Country-club life wasn’t all that bad. I didn’t know why my cousin Mase disliked it so much. He complained whenever his little sister, Harlow, dragged him to Kerrington, but he indulged her by spending time in her world, like a good older brother.
I, on the other hand, was currently indulging in the hot little waitress who had been serving us earlier.