Authors: Ava Claire
Because You Want Me (Falling For You, Book One)
Copyright © 2015 Ava Claire
The Falling For You Series
Because You Want Me (Falling For You, Book One)—May 29
Because You Need Me (Falling For You, Book Two)—June 26
Because You Love Me (Falling For You, Book Three)—July 24
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ho the hell has a bachelorette party at a sex club?
As if my thought had been said aloud, my sister's maid of honor, Lara, whipped around to glare at me. “You don't seem very excited, Penelope.”
Her icy blue eyes glowed with enough unsettling excitement to light up the city. I knew that look...and it meant trouble. Even a deep breath wasn't enough to prepare me for the dig that was coming.
“Who knows?” She gave me a jolting nudge with her shoulder. “Maybe you'll find a date for the wedding.”
Her one-two punch made my sister's friends giggle just like they always had. There was only three of them, plus me to round out the bridal party, but their laughter nearly monsooned the trance music that seeped through the foreboding red door.
Blow One: a name that I'd downplayed since an extraordinarily creative bully called me 'Pee Pee Penelope'. I've been Penny ever since. The only holdouts who insisted on calling me by my full name were my mother and Lara. Lara only whipped it out when she wanted to remind me of just how out of place I was.
Blow Two: my lack of a date. It didn't matter that I'd just gotten out of a two year relationship with a guy who was perfect on paper. I'd been on my way to my own happily ever after. To Lara, and all my sister's monogrammed, robot friends, I'd always be Victoria Robertson's unfortunate little sister.
I'd worked so hard to put those years, hurts, and insecurities behind me. It had little to do with the therapy my neurotic mother insisted on when I was at my out of state liberal arts college, so far away from the Ivy League path they'd wanted for me. In college, I found my passion: working with special needs children. Children that were forgotten and treated like inconveniences. I welcomed the challenge, helping them reach the goals they never dared to dream, and break away from the labels put on them by their parents and an indifferent school administration.
I knew who I was and what I was worth. That quiet girl who sat at the back of the class, wishing for invisibility—she was a far cry from the woman who went to every school board meeting advocating for my kids, and told the man I thought was the love of my life to go straight to hell when he came clean about all of his out of town 'business' trips.
But standing at the entrance of the Red Door Club, surrounded by impeccable dresses, perfectly applied makeup, hair that fell just right, and Lara's smug, high pitched voice was a one way ticket to my past. I almost pushed my non existent glasses to the bridge of my nose.
I caught myself and pulled the sides of my mouth into something smile-like. “Excited? I'm
excited. Stoked, even.”
That drew my sister's crystal blue eyes, her winged eyeliner magnifying her annoyance. I knew the glare was just the prologue.
Victoria pivoted on her stiletto heels, facing me with both hands planted on her hips. I was familiar with the exasperated look that turned her usually perfect features into something human. Agitation darkened her eyes to navy and her cheeks were as red as the cocktail dress that clung to her lean frame. “Is it too much to ask that you be a team player for one night? I mean really, Penny. Let your hair down and have some fun!”
I wanted to tell her yes, it was too much to ask. These girls weren't my friends. And my sister knew me about as well as they did, which was not at all. We may have looked like any other group of twenty somethings out on the town, looking for something to get into, but appearances were deceiving. Sure, I'd grown into my long legs, and the curves that had been chalked up to baby fat were now in all the right places. I looked like I belonged, but I still felt like the odd woman out. To them, I always would be.
If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it.
It was something I told my students, but it wasn't always easy to practice what I preached.
The whole party was put on hold as Victoria waited for me to capitulate; which meant dropping to my knees and apologizing profusely. Act like I was thrilled about going to a sex club with a group of girls that used to think it was fun to remind me just how few guys at Presidio Heights High found me attractive. At least at a strip club I could get a few drinks.
When we’d arrived at the sex club, we were greeted by a burly man who spit out a hello and directed us to framed rules on an easel beside him. No alcohol on the premises (ugh) was followed by a list of all the things we learned back in kindergarten, things like 'no means no' and not touching people without their permission. The fact that we were going somewhere where good old fashioned manners had to be reiterated, that we were being dragged to some sex club at
, did not excite me.
It terrified me.
I hadn't been with a guy in months, not since I broke up with Marshall. The day I walked away, he told me that he was into being sexually dominated, opening pandora's box of kinks and fetishes as if that was an excuse for cheating on me. It seemed especially cruel because with him, I felt free to talk about sex, to be sexual; to be as close to me as I’d ever been with anyone. I’d realized how important having an open and honest sex life with a caring and passionate partner was...and now I was about to step into a world where strangers fucked each other.
Tears of frustration clouded my view as my sister rounded out a “Well?”. It killed me that we weren't closer; that I couldn't pull her aside and tell her that this was all too much. We were virtual strangers and she either couldn't or wouldn't look me in the eye and see that I was moments away from running, no,
, in the opposite direction.
So I had a choice. I could tell them all to fuck off and that I'd catch them at the bridal brunch in the morning, or I could just grin and bear it. This week wasn't about me, after all. I could be the kind of sister I wish I had.
I put aside my hurt and mumbled what she wanted to hear. “You know what? You're right.” A rush of whispers echoed across the group, but all conversation was silenced with a single look from my sister. Not because I was speaking, mind you. She wanted everyone to witness me begging for her forgiveness.
The bitterness was sour on my tongue, the knots twisting my stomach until I wasn't sure if I was more angry or nauseous.
I forced a grin. “This should be fun. Let's celebrate one of your last nights of freedom.”
Usually, I'd get a once over, a slow, visual investigation that made me squirm underneath the microscope. She’d be on the hunt for any signs that I was full of it. Tonight, she must not have cared much because she immediately wrapped her arms around my rigid body, squeezing me until it hurt.
She released me, a grin brightening her pretty face. All was right with the world as she took in her bridal party, mischief dancing its way back into her eyes. “You guys ready?”
I joined the chorus of 'Yes!' and the bouncer repeated his spiel. The bite of the San Francisco cold cut through my leather jacket, raking over my skin like talons. I wrapped my arms around myself and held onto my smile as tightly as I could. When the bouncer pulled back the red rope and Victoria charged through the door on a mission, I decided that tonight, I wasn't Penny Robertson. Tonight, I'd escape too. I could care less about wedding dates. I would let someone fuck me. Maybe
if I was feeling really wild.
My new sense of adventure was short lived when we huddled around the reception desk. My eyes were drawn to a bowl of condoms, the aluminum squares every color you could imagine. The woman behind the desk had hair that was just as festive; purple, red, blue and orange, her rainbow strands pulled into a messy bun on top of her head. A name tag pinned to the front of the tube top her breasts spilled out of read 'Cherri'.
She smirked at the lot of us. “First time?”
“That obvious?” my sister said demurely. Flirting for her was as natural as breathing, regardless of gender.
Cherri let out a nervous giggle, her cheeks flushed as her dark eyes fluttered through the group. “You guys are gonna be a hit. What's the occasion?”
I opened my mouth to answer, but my sister’s sixth sense picked up on it. She shot me a look over her bare shoulder that told me to shut it.
“Girls night out,” she answered with a cryptic wink.
I could practically see the hearts beating in Cherri's eyes. “Wish I didn't have to work tonight so I could join you.” She let out a melancholy sigh, then snapped to attention, her fingers flying across the keyboard of the laptop. “Single ladies are $40 each and I need each of you to show your id's and sign the guest list.”
Victoria pulled out her American Express and covered the group. She glanced back at the lot of us, and we all obediently echoed our thanks.
I pulled out my driver’s license and handed it to the woman. She barely looked at it before nodding at a guest list for me to sign. I opted to not put my email address in the optional space.
While they all chatted excitedly as Cherri finished getting us set up, I turned toward the long, dark corridor that stretched into the unknown. The music seemed to lure me, beckoning, the beat beneath something hypnotic that made me think of glow sticks and sweaty bodies gyrating. There was something intoxicating in the singer’s voice.
I don't know if it was the fact that the dim lights masked me, or that they were pumping some sort of euphoric drug that mixed with the smoke that hung in the air, but the nerves in my stomach relaxed.
Maybe this won't be so bad
, I thought, biting my lip.
Maybe it'll even be-
The group hustled past me, nearly knocking me over like it was Black Friday and they'd be damned if they weren't leaving with that marked down flat screen TV.
“Meet back up at 1am at the door!” Victoria called back to me.
Any hope that I was feeling shriveled up and died as I watched them strut towards the music, leaving me to wonder what the hell I was doing. I leaned up against the lockers, the exit much closer than whatever lied beyond the smoke. I could go get the drink that I couldn't drink here and pop back up five minutes to 1, acting like I'd found someone that whisked me away for hours.
Just as I was about to make a break for it, I turned toward the door and forgot how to move. I forgot how to breathe.
I'd heard of love at first sight. Where you see the guy and you just know—he's going to change your life.
This was different.
Our eyes met and this was a different L word: lust.
It was more than the fact that he was impossibly hot. Clothes were meant to cover your body, to accentuate. On him, clothes were just a distraction. I wanted to rip them to shreds to get to what was beneath. I wanted to sweep my hands over his broad shoulders, run down the length of his tight abs as buttons flew all over the place. I needed to tear off his belt, praying that he went commando because I wanted nothing in the way between his cock and my hands. Nothing between his cock and my mouth.
He took a step forward and the light danced across his face. The ache between my thighs became a throb that pulsed in time to the music. Even at a distance, I made out the chiseled features; the strong jaw, hell, even his nose was sexy. His lips made me mentally grab onto something because when he smiled, I knew that I would do just about anything to see it again.
He hadn't even uttered a word and already I was scrambling to find something, anything to say because he was coming right at me with a look on his face that told me I wasn't the only one under some spell.
The panic that rose in my throat set fire to my vocal chords. One word, and I was toast. He’d see that I was awkward and not worth the trouble.
This is a sex club. He doesn't know you...or how awkward you are. How you still hurt every time you see something that reminds you of your ex. The whole point of these places is a fantasy. Within these doors, you can be whoever you want to be.