*FREE SHORT STORY* Stripped Bare by Melissa Collins 14


Hey guys! I wanted to post this story so you all could meet Noah and Chase before As I Am releases. Noah and Chase get a full length book in As I Am, hopefully releasing mid April. Some of you have met them before. They were in Stripped Bare which was part of the charity anthology Drunk in Love. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek and hang around for the release of As I Am!

Stripped Bare

Copyright © 2017 by Melissa Collins
All rights reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of Melissa Collins, except for the use of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

Chapter 1

Noah

“You’re not going to just sit there all night and sulk, are you?” A sharp elbow to my rib accompanied her question. Both were more than a little annoying.

Twisting the cap off my beer, I answered as politely as I could muster, “No. I promise.” And I was being sincere. I didn’t want to be in a piss-poor mood tonight. Chugging down half my drink, I leaned up against the kitchen counter. After taking a deep breath, I made a promise to myself to let go of the shit month I’d had. It wasn’t her fault, after all. “Besides,” I added as I pulled my best friend to my side. “I wouldn’t want to piss off Miss Bridezilla.” I was able to pop a quick kiss to the top of her head before she shoved away.

“Damn straight!” She laughed, grabbing my beer out of my hand. “And it won’t be long before it’s Mrs. Bridezilla.” A cloud of white floated through the air as she lifted the novelty wedding veil from the island. After adjusting it on her head, she smiled at me. “Let’s have some fun tonight. Forget all about that asshole of an ex-boyfriend. You deserve more than him anyway.” As she lifted the last of my beer to her lips, the doorbell rang and she raced into the living room.

More than thankful for the abrupt end to that topic of conversation, I opened the fridge and pulled out another beer. If I was going to have fun tonight, I was going to need at least a few drinks in me. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be here, because celebrating Chelsea’s wedding was definitely important to me – even if that meant being the only man at her bachelorette party.

My sour mood had more to do with me not really wanting to be anywhere, lately.

My entire world was flipped upside-down when I came home one day, about a month ago, to find my boyfriend of three years in bed with another man. A haunting vision of that afternoon flashed through my head amidst the chatter of a few girls in the living room.

Exhausted, I fumbled with my keys. After finally getting the damn door opened, I was greeted by our golden retriever. “Hey, Katie girl.” Squatting in front of her, I scratched her head, making sure to get behind her ears. “Such a good girl,” I said against her soft fur. She wagged her tail so hard, she could barely stay upright. The house was quite, but I guess I should expect that much at six in the morning.

There was very little that was glamourous about being in med school – the least of which was the long clinical hours. After spending the last thirty-six hours at my emergency room rotation, all I wanted was a hot shower, some sweatpants, and my bed. My body ached as I walked through the house, but I knew if I didn’t let Katie outside now, she’d wake me up just as I was about to fall asleep so she could go outside. “C’mon, girl,” I called as I slid open the glass door leading to the backyard. “I’ll get you when I’m done in the shower,” I told her, as if she cared. Her attention was already focused on the squirrel invading her property

Shaking my head at her puppy antics, I closed the door and made my way toward the bedroom. I must have been so tired, I didn’t register the sounds coming from the room until I was standing in the doorway. For a split second, I thought my eyes were playing a trick on me. But nothing could blink away what was going on in front of me.

The muscles on Rob’s back bunched and pulled as he grabbed the hips in front of him. A long, low, groan filled the room as he sank into the body being offered up to him. Shock and anger raced through my veins. With his back to me, he didn’t even know I was in the room. I even debated turning around and leaving before he saw me, but there was no way in hell I was letting him get away with this.

“Having fun?” I called out, my voice booming over their moans of pleasure.

“Oh shit!” Rob yelled. Fumbling with the sheets, he rushed to cover himself which I found absolutely ridiculous. “I thought you had work today.”

Incredulity bubbled in my chest. Clenching my fists, I worked hard not to punch something – not to punch the unnamed man who was lying naked in my fucking bed. “You thought I had work?” I asked, my words laden with so much venom I could actually feel their weight as the fell from my mouth. “You’re balls deep in another man and all you could come up with is you thought I had work,” I seethed.

Before Rob could respond, the other man slid from the bed, pulling a blanket with him. Keeping his eyes trained on my bathroom door, I watched as he tried his best to avoid the confrontation entirely. “You don’t have to go,” I said to him as he froze in his tracks. Turning my attention back to Rob, I said, “I’m going to give you until noon to get all your shit out of here. That includes him.” It took all my effort to keep my voice as even and emotionless as possible as I pointed at the other man.

“But,” Rob started.

“But fucking nothing.” My voice boomed so loudly I thought a picture might fall from the wall. “I’ll be back at noon and you won’t be here.”

Turning my back on him was more difficult than I wanted to admit because even though I hated him more than anything in that moment, I still loved him. And I knew it would be the hardest fucking thing in my life to learn not to love him.

“Noah!” Chelsea yelled, pulling me from my horrid memories. “The limo is here. Get your sweet ass in here now.”

As I swallowed the last of my beer in one huge gulp, I also drank down my anger. Rob made his choice and as much as I hated that it wasn’t me, there was no point in wallowing in it.

Especially when my plans included a night at the hottest male strip joint in town.

Chapter 2

Chase

Backstage stank of booze and sweat. Usually it didn’t bother me, but tonight the smell made my stomach turn. As the crowd filed in, the stench only got worse. Perfume and body spray swirled around the club as if it was a physical presence. I was actually thankful for the ridiculously loud music because it made the shrieks and screams of the women somewhat more tolerable.

But as much as I hated it, I had to put a fucking smile on my face and a G-string on my ass if I ever hoped to make it out of the shithole that was my life. Not that any of it was my fault. Hell, it wasn’t anyone’s fucking fault, but it was certainly my responsibility.

“Crowd’s extra rowdy tonight,” Gavin announced as he walked to his locker. “God damn wedding season is in full swing, I guess. Seems like everyone out there has a tiara and veil on tonight.”

“Great,” I scoffed. “At least the tips will be halfway decent.”

Gavin nodded as he began to change. I tried my best not to look at him, but man-a-fucking-live he was hotter than any man I’d ever seen. And being a male stripper, I’d seen plenty of nearly naked men in my time, but none of them compared to Gavin. What made it worse was that he was my best friend. We’d known each other for years and when my parents died in a car accident, leaving me in charge of raising my younger brother, he was right there for me. As a joke, we both filled out the application here a few months back, figuring there was no way in hell we’d actually be hired. Luck was definitely on my side when I got the job, because there was no way I could’ve kept up with the bills.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of Gavin. Hating how my body began to react, I buried my face in my hands. Since I’d become essentially a single parent at twenty-three, I hadn’t made any time for myself – and that included sex. And while Gavin knew I was gay, I didn’t dare mention it to anyone else here. It was a battle I didn’t feel like fighting.

“You’re on,” Stacey, the manager, called out, pointing to Gavin.

“Yes ma’am.” He flexed his muscles and slid on his game face as the emcee announced his name. “I’ll get them all hot and bothered for you,” he joked as he walked past me.

“With an ass like that, of course you will,” I said to myself when Gavin was out of earshot. Hating myself for being attracted to my best friend, I shook my head hoping to shake away the chaotic emotions swirling around in my head. I certainly didn’t love him. Fuck, there were times I didn’t even like him very much. I knew most of what I was feeling was need. And I had no way to soothe that need. Not when my sixteen year old brother was waiting at home.

As he performed his number, a few other guys moved around the changing room. I didn’t talk to any of them. They didn’t talk to me. It was just how it was. They didn’t like the new kid and they certainly didn’t like the poor kid. But I didn’t let it bother me too much because to be honest, I didn’t care for them either.

Rather than dealing with the other guys, I moved to the space by the side of the stage. From there, I could see Gavin perform while making it look like I was scoping out the crowd. While they paid well, I never understood how some women checked all their rules for decent behavior at the door. It was as if they entered another dimension when they came here. All around the stage, women waved money in the air – some even folded the bills and shoved them down their cleavage, making Gavin pull it out with his teeth.

And the bastard ate it up – literally.

But sitting right there next to the cleavage-stuffing bride-to-be was a guy, shaking his head at his friend’s craziness. After a quick scan of the rest of the crowd, I saw he was the only man out there. Usually there were only two reasons for a male to be at this strip club – overprotective boyfriend, or gay best friend. And considering he handed his friend another stack of bills to shove down her bra, I would have to assume he was not her boyfriend.

And in that instant, my night took on a completely different look. With my eyes set on the target – the chiseled jaw, covered in a light scruff, bright blue eyes, clearly sparkling even in the dark club, and a rugged face I couldn’t help but envision looking up at me from his knees – I hatched a plan to get as close to him as possible.

The music on Gavin’s number ended and I was so focused on getting close to whatever his name was I didn’t even hear what Gavin said to me as he walked past. The only thing pulling me out of my lusty haze was Stacey’s hand clapping down on my shoulder. “You’re up, Professor.”

After straightening my tie, I pulled a pair of Clark Kent inspired glasses from my pocket. Sliding them into place, I took a deep breath and hoped for the best.

Even in the worst case, I could at least give him a lap dance and grind out some of my frustrations.

Chapter 3

Noah

“See? This is fun, right?” Chelsea yelled in my ear before putting her fingers to her lips for a loud whistle.

Opting for a shrug, I didn’t want to let her in on just how much fun I was having. I loved the woman dearly, but when she was right, and she knew it, there was no end to the torment. Instead of giving her the validation of my words, I raised my glass and winked at her. She’d give me hell later, but for now, she was too distracted by the flashing lights and loud music.

In between numbers, I looked around the small, dark room. Of course I was the only guy here. I figured that would be the case. Secure enough in who I was, I didn’t let the looks from the waiter bother me too much. I was friends with all of Chelsea’s friends, and if any of the other women here had anything to say, they didn’t bother.

My interest was immediately sparked when I heard the unmistakable tune of Hot for Teacher booming through the speakers. “Okay, ladies,” the emcee announced. “Let’s hear it for The Professor.” He dragged out the last word as if he was announcing a wrestling match, but it didn’t matter. The screams drown out everything anyway.

The only thing the yelling couldn’t drown out was my excitement. I always had a thing for a man in a suit. There was nothing sexier.

Well, except for watching him take it off.

As he strutted down the stage, Mr. Sexy, the lame-ass nickname I’d just given him in my head, loosened his tie, but didn’t take it all the way off. Slowly, he started unbuttoning his shirt, button by agonizing button. As his fingers worked with the small discs of plastic, I imagined them working their way over my body. Adjusting myself in my seat, I thanked God for the low lights and the table covering up my lap. When he took his glasses off and ran the ear piece along his lush lower lip, my dick twitched so hard I thought my zipper would fly open.

As his eyes met mine, it was if the room went silent. It was just him and me. And it wasn’t only in my head. Chelsea leaned over, yelling in my ear, “Oh my freaking God. He’s staring you down like the piece of meat you are.”

Telling her she was seeing things was a pointless comment, because he was, in fact, looking at me as if he was about to eat me alive.

And I was nothing more than the willing prey.

It had been a month since Rob had made his less than graceful exit. And even before that it had probably been twice as long since we’d had sex. Med school and crazy hours pretty much stole all my energy.

“Oh, Mr. Professor,” Chelsea hollered, waving a thick stack of bills in the air. “Someone here needs your one-on-one attention.” She giggled as she pointed at me.

“What the hell?” I protested.

Waving her hand in my face, she shushed me. “Oh shut up. You so have a thing for teachers. This one’s on me.” Her cheeks were red from the drinks and the constant yelling. There was no denying she was having a good time – so who was I to deny her.

Or myself, for that matter.

“Someone ask for some extra help?” His deep voice curled around me, heating my skin with only a few words.

“Oh yes,” Chelsea muttered around her hot pink penis straw. “Right here,” she said, poking me in the arm.

He paused for a minute, gauging my reaction. Holding still was a near impossibility when I wanted nothing more than to reach out and pull his face to mine, crash my lips against his, and get lost in the wet heat I knew was waiting there for me.

A subtle nod was all he needed to get the go-ahead. All too easily, he moved the table out of the way. And just when I thought he was going to do his thing right where I was sitting, he reached out his hand, angling his head toward the stage.

“Oh hell no!” I protested.

He wasn’t hearing any of it. Pulling me close enough to him so that I could feel his body against mine, he leaned in, whispering in my ear, “You’re not afraid are you?” The challenge in his voice was unmistakable.

And knowing the desire would be the same in my voice, I didn’t bother to speak. Wordlessly, I followed behind him, letting the screaming crowd fade behind me. Someone slid a chair to the middle of the stage, onto which he escorted me. As he moved behind me, grazing his fingers along my shoulder, he said, “Just sit tight. Let me do all the work.” Need and desire warred in my veins as my head got lost in the possibility of what it would be like to let him really work me over.

Alone.

In a bed.

Without an audience.

Another song started playing, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. All my attention was focused on the man moving in front of me. His strong fingers dug into my shoulders as his body flowed with ease in front of me. He turned around, letting his ass graze my crotch. A shuddery breath passed by my lips and I struggled with the urge to pull him onto my lap and show him just how much I appreciated his show.

In an abrupt yet smooth move, his shirt was gone. All that was left was his tie, glasses, and slacks. Then he lowered himself onto my lap – almost as if he read my mind. Leaning in so close I could feel his hot breath swirling around me, he said, “Can you take a few directions?” I nodded, completely unable to speak. “Good. Hold the tie.”

As if it was my lifeline, I wrapped my fingers around it, as close to his neck as I thought would be comfortable. He leaned back, letting his neck strain under the pressure, his Adam’s Apple screaming for my attention. My mouth watered and I knew he could feel me hardening under him. That’s when he gyrated his hips even more, nearly starting a fire between us. “Good boy,” he cooed in my ear as he leaned forward again. My ability to speak long gone, I nodded again like some kind of dumb mute. With ease, he lifted his tie over his head. Reaching behind me, he loosely secured my hands to the chair before I realized what was going on.

I couldn’t speak.

I couldn’t move.

I couldn’t take him the way I wanted.

This was the most frustrating moment in my life.

But when he tore his pants off in one swift move, I didn’t care.

He moved behind me, letting his hands roam down my chest. I was sure he felt my racing heart, but as his hands traveled lower, stopping just shy of my waistband, I figured my heart was the last thing he had on his mind. Then, in a moment I couldn’t have made up if I tried, his finger grazed my hard cock. The sharp intake of his breath set me on edge – one that my hand wouldn’t even come close to relieving.

The rest of his lap dance ended in a fog of lust. His hands moved over the places on my body he was allowed to touch and I rubbed my fingers together behind my back to try and calm the need to feel his nearly naked skin under them.

When the song ended, the emcee came out to the chair. Mr. Sexy untied the tie and held his hand out to help me stand. I was suddenly more than thankful for the shadows in the lighting and the super dark wash on my jeans. Hopefully they hid the erection raging behind my zipper enough for my pride to survive. “Let’s have it for The Professor and,” he said, waiting for me to fill in the blank.

“And Noah,” I choked out my name into the microphone and whatever desire I had hoped to hide came spewing out of my mouth.

As the crowd cheered and whistled, the stripper grabbed my hand. The emcee ushered us off stage and I thought it was a little out of the ordinary not to go back to my seat.

But when The Professor stopped at a table next to the side of the stage and scribbled something onto a piece of paper, I figured he had anything but the ordinary in mind.

“I get off at one,” he stated calmly as he slid the piece of paper in my hand.

And with that, he faded into the dark.

Looking down at the paper, I read his number and his name. “Chase,” I said to myself. “I certainly will.”

Chapter 4

Chase

Grabbing a bottle of water from my locker, I took a deep breath, letting the exhaustion of the final number set in. I was shot and it wasn’t simply from not sleeping, or from dancing on stage for nearly three hours straight.

It had more to do with the inability to focus on anything but the sexy-as-fuck lap dance I’d given earlier. And the man in the chair who’d loved every minute of it. I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d be outside waiting for me.

As I slid my phone out of my gym bag, my nerves skyrocketed when I saw that I had two unread texts. Without even looking, I knew one was from my brother, letting me know he’d gotten home from work safely. The other, from a number I didn’t recognize promised something much more than peace of mind.

My eyes raced over the words I’ll be outside. Black limo. No name. No can’t wait to see you or before was amazing. The short simplicity of what he did have to say made my dick harder than it had ever been before.

Without saying much of anything to anyone, even Gavin, I shoved my stuff into my bag and rushed out the door.

Where I saw nothing.

No limo.

No sexy man leaning up against a door.

No hope of a one-night stand I’d never forget.

“Fucking serves me right,” I cursed to myself. I hated that I felt disappointed more than I hated the actual disappointment. But as I walked toward my beat-up, shit-heap of a car, lights flashed on in the distance. Hope sparked to life in my chest.

And need hardened my cock.

Without waiting for more of a sign, I walked toward the blazing lights, figuring it had to be Mr. Lap Dance Man, calling to me.

The door opened as I walked toward the limo, but no one exited the car. Either I was walking toward the hot man from before, or some weird stalker slash kidnapper.

Remembering how hot his body felt against mine, I figured I would take my chances.

Sliding into the limo, I was not disappointed. “Chase,” he greeted. “Is that your real name, or –”

“Real,” I cut him off. “No need to lie.”

His lips pulled up into a beautifully crooked smirk. “Good to know.” He raised a glass filled with amber liquid. “Noah. Not lying either.” He said it was Noah earlier on stage, but I figured he made it up out of sheer embarrassment. Mesmerized, I watched as he lifted the glass to his full lips. His throat moved as he swallowed the brandy and I was hypnotized. “Can I get you one?” he asked, his voice as rich and dark as the liquid he was offering.

“Sure. Thanks,” I croaked. He moved in the small space with ease and I couldn’t peel my eyes from his forearm, the corded muscles rolling as he poured me a drink.

“Cheers,” he said, clinking his glass to mine.

Before I could even take a sip of mine, his was gone. After he placed his empty glass into the cup holder, he swung his long, lean body over mine, straddling my hips. “Look,” he said with a no bullshit tone. “We both know why we’re here. So there’s no need for the niceties.”

“Niceties,” I mocked and then swallowed my brandy in one swig. The burning liquid traveling down my throat was nothing compared to the burning desire brewing low in my gut, pressing into him from behind my zipper. “Fine then,” I said, wrapping my hands around his neck. When his face was no more than an inch away from mine, I licked my lips. “Nice will be the last thing you get.”

Our lips crashed together like waves barreling onto the shore. Powerful and harsh, it was a kiss of passion and unbridled need. There were no words spoken between us, but the dance of our tongues said more than anything. Noah nibbled on my lower lip, sinking his teeth in just shy of being painful. The jolt of pleasure moved along my body and instinctually, I grabbed his hips as I pushed mine up into his.

Noah lifted himself from my lap and managed to rid himself of his clothes with more grace than I could have mustered in the small space of the limo. When he sunk to his knees in front of me, my legs began to tremble. My body shook with need.

As he unzipped and lowered my jeans, he looked up at me through long, dark lashes. “It’s time for payback.”

“Payback?” I moaned as he ran his hands over my naked cock. “For what?” My words were nothing more than a breathless whisper.

“For making me want you up on stage,” he stated plainly as he worked my length in his strong hands. His warm breath cascaded over my dick and I didn’t think I could hold on much longer.

“Yeah? Well, I want you now. So let’s see this payback you’re talking about.” I tried to keep a touch of playfulness in my voice, but I was beyond frustrated when it came to sex and just thinking about Noah go down on me had me within an inch of letting go.

Without another word of playful banter, Noah took my dick to the back of his throat.  My hips skyrocketed off the seat and I was almost afraid of choking him, but his strong hands clamped down on my legs, pushing me back in place. “Easy there, killer,” he joked, looking up at me with a smile on his face. His wet lips glistened and I longed to kiss him again. Lucky for me, he seemed to read my mind.

Situating himself back on my lap, he dove in for a kiss that rivaled the heat of the sun. “Fucking hell, Noah,” I groaned into his mouth. “There’s a condom and lube in my back pocket.”

From the heap of clothes next to us, he pulled out the condom and rolled it over my length. Watching him tear open the small packet of lube with his teeth was sexy as fuck. Levering himself over me, he held my dick in one hand as he lowered himself onto it, his mouth widening as each inch disappeared into his body. “Oh fuck,” he bellowed, sinking his ass all the way down onto me.

“Fuck,” I cursed. My voice was nothing more than a strangled noise as I buried my face into his chest.

“Move. Now,” he commanded, pressing his body against mine.

Quickly finding my rhythm, I drove into him, again and again. My legs burned and my arms shook as I held onto him. But none of those feelings compared to the heated urgency of my orgasm building at the base of my spine. “Fuck. Noah. I’m not going to…”

“Do it. Fuck me,” he answered, seeming to know what I was going to say.

Using whatever strength I had left, I drove up into him, reveling in the feel of his body slapping down onto mine. “Oh fuck,” I growled as I came with more force than I thought possible.

Breathless and utterly satisfied, I looked up at Noah. His chest heaved. His head was thrown back, leaving the thick column of his neck deliciously exposed. Needing him to feel as fucking amazing as I felt, I pulled his body back to mine. My lips attacked his neck as I gripped his throbbing dick. “Now I get to watch you come.”

Goosebumps pebbled his skin as my lips worked over his neck. He moaned and groaned on each stroke, pushing up into my hand. Something primal took over and I needed to taste him.

This man I didn’t know, who I’d probably never see again, made me want things I shouldn’t want. And I didn’t care that I shouldn’t want them. All I cared about in that moment was getting his cock into my mouth.

He was more than shocked when I flipped him off my lap and laid him down on the bench seat.  Flattening my tongue, I licked him in one broad stroke. “Oh god,” he muttered, his legs flexing under my fingertips. “More. All of it. Now,” he demanded.

Eating up his commanding nature, I took his full length into my mouth, gagging myself as he hit the back of my throat. Either he didn’t hear me gag or he didn’t care, because he kept fucking my mouth as if nothing else mattered. And in those few moments, nothing did. He’d given me a pleasure I hadn’t had in so long and based on the way he was moving with me, I could tell it had been a while for him too.

When I cupped his balls, I felt them tighten and I knew he was close. “Chase…” he huffed my name through his breathless need. “Fucking hell. I’m …oh God… I’m coming.”

Pulling away at the last second, I watched as his orgasm painted white hot ropes against his tanned skin. In a sexy-as-fuck move, he folded his arms under his head and peered down at me. “That was fucking amazing.”

Through my soft laughter, I said, “You weren’t so bad yourself.”

Mesmerized by his body, I watched as he pulled his undershirt out of the pile of clothes. His stomach muscles rippled as he cleaned himself up. Not wanting to be caught staring at him, I took the opportunity to sit up and take care of the condom.

My phone buzzed on the floor of the limo, breaking what would have definitely become an awkward silence. It was my brother, asking when I’d be home. Not about to tell Noah anything about my personal life, I simply said, “Listen, I need to go.”  

What looked a lot like rejection washed over his face before it was quickly replaced by a hint of anger. “Yeah, sure.”

In silence, we dressed, bumping into each other a few times in the tight space. With my hand hovering above the door handle, I looked over at Noah, unsure of what to say. Stupidly, I went with, “Thank you.”

He laughed, a full, loud chuckle. “Sure thing, Chase.”

As I walked away from the limo, I was certain I would never see Noah ever again.

Chapter 5

Noah

Chelsea was a beautiful bride and her wedding went off without a hitch. I guess that’s what happened when you truly embraced the Bridezilla mentality. But now that the reception was in full swing, it was nice to see her relax and actually enjoy herself. Leaning up against the bar, I watched as the couples made their way to the dance floor. As they swayed to some old Frank Sinatra tune, my mind wandered back to Chase.

To be honest, the song had nothing to do with me thinking about him.

In the month since our night together, a day didn’t go by when I didn’t think of him. Fuck, there were even a few nights I parked outside of his club. I wanted to go inside as if my life depended on it, but something kept me back. My pride?

That was doubtful. I knew it had more to do with my need. I knew if I ever saw Chase again, I’d never be able to stay away from him. And that was exactly why I never went inside.

I knew what it was like to need someone and it only ended up in me being hurt. I had too much going on in my life to get caught up like that again.

And as if the world had its ultimate play of irony set up for me, just as my fists tightened thinking about him, Rob strutted up to me. I hated that he was here, but since he was the groom’s brother, there wasn’t much I could say about it. I’d been able to keep my distance from him at the other wedding-centered events. Even though I wanted to throat punch him, I even managed to survive the wedding party photos earlier.

“Rob,” I greeted through clenched teeth.

Like the asshole he was, he smiled at me. “So I see you’re still mad.” I considered kneeing him in the balls as he signaled the bartender, but I knew Chelsea would have a fit if I caused any kind of scene.

“Not in the least,” I seethed as I lifted my glass to my lips. “You fucking Whatshisname was the best thing ever to ever happen to me.”

Stunned, he stared at me. I was done dealing with Rob and his shit. In the months since I’d kicked him out, he’d called and texted, begging to get back together. I guess he’d had enough of me ignoring him and his current way of dealing with it was being as much of a dick as possible.

“Well, that’s good to hear.” Anger flared in his eyes and it made my heart happy to know I was causing him at least a sliver of the pain he’d caused me.

“Why’s that?” I asked, not really caring what he had to say.

He looked over my shoulder, waving at someone behind me. I didn’t care enough to play into his game and look. “I’d like you to meet my date.”

Oh fucking great. Of course he’d bring a date. And of course he’d make a point of rubbing it in my face.

And when I turned around, my glass slipped from my hand, crashing to the floor.

I never thought I’d see him again, and I certainly didn’t think I’d see him here. “Chase,” I choked on his name.

“Noah,” he muttered, a stunned look plastered to his face.

“You two know each other?” Rob asked, pointing between the two of us.

Chase ran a hand through his dark hair, leaving it the perfect mixture of messy and styled. “You could say that.”

As I looked down at the shards of glass lying at my feet, I had a feeling they would be easier to piece back together than this conversation would be. “I need to go,” I lied.

I told myself I didn’t care how they met or what Chase meant to Rob. But it was all a lie. The truth was I wanted nothing more than to be in the back of that limo with Chase just once more. My battered pride and I made our way to the bridal suite, hoping to salvage some sense of humility while we still could.

I hated myself for letting Rob get to me. But I hated myself even more for still wanting Chase, especially when he was here with that asshole.

“Knock, knock,” Chelsea called out from the other side of the door. “What are you doing up here?”

“Nothing,” I recovered quickly. “Just needed a little space. That’s all.”

The smile on her beautiful face told me she knew it had to do with Rob. There was nothing to say and I was so thankful for her silent support. “Sure thing. But hurry up. They’re about to do the YMCA. You can’t miss that.”

“Of course not,” I answered sarcastically.

She stuck her tongue out at me and made a silly face. As she left the room, a waitress came in. “Are you Noah Carpenter?” she asked, holding out a piece of paper.

Without saying anything, I took the paper from her hands. My trembling hands unfolded the note.

I’ll be outside. Black limo.

Chase

Laughing at how he mirrored my words from our first encounter, I folded the paper up and slid it into my pocket. “Chase,” I said to myself as I exited the room. “I certainly will.”

The End

 

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XOXO-


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