Authors: Kaylee Ryan
I smile shyly. “Lucky me,” I say, facing forward and going back to my drink. I can’t believe this guy is actually flirting with me. I’m sure he’s just being friendly. I’m just as surprised that I gave it right back to him. That’s not something I’ve ever done.
“What’s a pretty little thing like you doing here all alone?” he questions.
“Just passing through,” I reply. Again, I face forward. I’m afraid if I don’t I’ll start drooling over this guy. I’m out of my element here.
“I thought so. I would have remembered you.” He winks again. “We’ve been here a lot the last couple of months.”
“You think so?” Holy shit. I fight the urge to wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans.
“Definitely.” He takes his time running those chocolate brown eyes over my body. “Listen, why don’t you join my friends and me? No sense in drinking alone.”
Sober Melissa would decline such an offer. Buzzed Melissa doesn’t want to be alone.
This guy seems interested; what harm can come from sitting with them? It will serve as another distraction, help me forget.
“Sure.” I grab my drink and my purse, sliding off the stool. I stumble and the sexy stranger catches me. “Thank you . . .” I don’t even know this guy’s name.
“Ridge.” He grips my arms to steady me. “You okay . . . ?”
“Melissa.” I pull away from him. “I’ve just been sitting there for a while, sorry,” I flush with embarrassment. I’m not that drunk, so it has to be him; he has me off-kilter. I don’t know that I’ve ever talked to anyone who looks like him before. In college, I kept to myself and the guys didn’t even bother. Why go after the one you have to work for when the others are willing to give it for free?
I’ve been with two guys. The first was a means to an end. A ‘get it over with’ kind of deal. Guy number two was a friend of my roommate. It was the first and only time I’ve ever been sloppy drunk. I don’t even remember it, really. Pathetic, I know, but that’s my life. The irony is not lost on me that tonight, I want to be that drunk again, if not more so. I want to forget the pain, the loss, the feeling of being alone. Lucky for me, my new friend Ridge seems like he’s willing to help me out.
“Guys, this is Melissa. I found her drinking alone, so I asked her to join us,” he says once we reach the table.
Four guys, all of equal hotness as my new friend Ridge, appraise me. I feel my face heat under their gaze. Attention is not something I’m used to. They all offer me some sort of greeting, and I stupidly wave at them in return.
“You can sit by me,” Ridge says next to my ear.
The warmth of his breath against my skin sends shivers down my spine. Awkwardly, I take the seat he pulls out for me, clasping my hands together on the table.
“All right, so we’ve got Seth, Tyler, Mark, and Kent.” Ridge points to each guy as he says their name.
“It’s nice to meet you,” I say politely, barely glancing at each of them, still embarrassed by their attention.
“So, missy, you live around here?” the one on my right asks—Kent . . . I think.
“No, I’m just passing through. How about the five of you? Locals?” I take a sip of the fresh drink that was just set on the table in front of me.
“No,” Ridge says, throwing his arm over the back of my chair. “We’re in town for a job.”
I take note of the Beckett Construction T-shirts they all seem to be wearing. “Construction,” I say like an idiot. These men are sexy and intimidating.
“Yep.” Ridge tips his beer back, and I get lost watching his throat as he swallows. Like I said, he’s sexy.
“We grew up together,” one of the guys says.
I can’t remember what Ridge said his name was. Mark, maybe?
“So, just living it up after a long work week?” I wonder what it would be like to have friendships you formed in elementary school. I feel a pang of envy and sadness in my chest so I tip my glass and drain it, wanting to forget.
The five of them chuckle. “Something like that,” the one with longer hair replies.
And that’s how this night goes. The guys are funny, charming, and flirting. A few other women join us, but Ridge continues to stay close to me, ordering me drinks. I even buy a round or two, and relax into his touches. Simple ones like rubbing my shoulder, his hand on my arm and of course, whispering in my ear. I quit trying to hide the shiver it causes in me about three drinks ago.
I’m attracted to him, and he knows it.
One by one, the guys pair up, leaving just Ridge and me. “Where are you staying tonight?” His hand rests on my thigh.
“I . . . I, uh, got a room across the street.”
“Hmmm, that’s where we’ve been staying too.” Leaning in close, his breath mingles with mine as the bartender announces last call. “I’ll walk you home.”
Ridge stands and offers me his hand, and I take it without hesitation. There’s something in his eyes, the way he’s been by my side all night. I trust him. I don’t know how to initiate it, but I want him with me, in my room, tonight. I’m not ready to let go of the way he makes me feel.
Ridge keeps his arm around my waist as we head to the bar. I pay my tab, after much protest from him.
The cool night air feels good against my heated skin. He pulls me into his chest and again, I go willingly.
“Which room is yours?” he asks.
“119,” I say, so softly I’m surprised he heard me. His touch has my body craving him. We reach my door and I slip the key from my back pocket. “Would you like to come in?” I’m looking at my feet, my back turned to him. I grip the door handle, bracing myself for his rejection.
Stepping closer, he aligns his body with mine. One hand rests on my hip while the other moves my hair to one shoulder. “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea.” He kisses my neck.
“Oh,” I say, dejected.
“I won’t be able to keep my hands to myself,” he continues, pressing his erection into my ass.
Excitement rushes through me.
I’m doing this.
I passed my comfort level hours ago, and it’s scary, but my gut tells me that Ridge is a good guy. That, for a one-night stand, I couldn’t have picked anyone better. Well, except maybe for his four friends. They all seem like great guys.
“What if . . . What if I don’t want you to?”
His lips trace my neck. “Open the door, Melissa.”
Fumbling with the key, I do as he says. Suddenly, the buzz of the alcohol is gone and in its place is pure lust. I want this. I want one night with him. One night to feel wanted by this Adonis of a man.
Once in the room, Ridge rips off his shirt and throws it in the chair. I take him in—his firm, ridged abs, the tattoos I want to trace with my tongue.
“You keep looking at me like that and this is going to be over before it starts,” he warns me.
I shift my gaze to the ground, embarrassed to have been caught ogling him.
“Hey.” He steps close, lifting my chin with his index finger to face him. “You didn’t do anything wrong; I just meant that the look you were giving me alone has me ready to blow.” He studies my expression once his words sink in. “Have you done this before, Melissa?”
Shit. Not exactly one-night stand conversation.
“Twice,” I blurt out.
Ridge closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. “You want this?”
“More than I could ever explain.”
His hands land on my waist and pull me close. “I’ll take care of you.” His lips softly cover mine.
And then he does. He shows me passion like I’ve never known. He soon has my body singing his praises, and I loudly call out his name.
Afterward, he doesn’t leave like I expect him to. Instead, he curls up beside me and drifts off to sleep. I lie there for hours until the reality of what I’ve just done hits me. I had a one-night stand with no regrets. I wanted it. I wanted him. However, I don’t relish doing the walk of shame. The awkward morning after I’ve read about so many times. I don’t want that. I don’t want to give him the chance to ruin this high I’m on. I won’t give him the chance to reject me.
Quietly, I slide out of bed, gather my things, and slip quietly out the door. I didn’t even bring in clothes, just rented the room and went straight to the bar.
Ridge gave me a night to remember, and a night to forget. I will forever be grateful to him.
“Another round?” the waitress asks.
“Keep them coming, sweetheart.” Kent winks.
I watch as her face flushes red, and she saunters away. The guys and I are having a much-needed drink after the long workweek. We’ve been coming to Bottom’s Up for a few years now. It’s a small little place, with a jukebox full of classic tunes. The atmosphere is laid-back and the waitresses are always a nice distraction. Not that I’ve taken advantage of that; I’ve been going through a small dry spell the past several months.
My eyes are glued to the makeshift dance floor when Seth speaks up. “You picking out your after-party?” He smirks at me.
“Haven’t decided yet. You?”
“Like you need to even ask,” Mark chimes in.
“What I want to know is why haven’t you decided,” Tyler adds.
I shrug. “Just not feeling it,” I say honestly.
“Who are you and what have you done with Ridge?” Kent remarks.
“You worry about your cock, and I’ll worry about mine.” I give him the look that says back off.
“Little Ridge has to be feeling neglected. What’s it been—four, five months?” Seth asks.
Fuck! That’s the downfall of being friends your entire lives; they hold nothing back, and they can read you like a book.
“About that,” I say, grabbing the beer the cute little waitress just sat in front of me. I tip it back and drain half of it.
“Not since what’s her name . . .” Tyler places his finger on his chin.
“Shit. That’s right, the job we did out of town. Cute little thing. What
her name?” Mark says.
“Melissa,” I mumble.
“Yes!” all four of them say in unison.
“Was it that good?” Kent asks.
Yes. There was something about her, like she was desperate for the connection. She was definitely not like my usual hookups, but her sneaking off in the middle of the night? Well, that does something to a man. I’m used to the stage-five clingers, the ones who beg to get together again and plead for your number. The ones who frequent Bottom’s Up just to get the chance to come home with you again. The ones who will latch on to you and fake being asleep just so they can spend the night. That’s what I’m used to. Waking up alone in a hotel room? That doesn’t happen.
At least not to me.
No note, not even a trace of clothing for proof that she was there. It’s as though she were a figment of my imagination.
“It’s all right, bud.” Seth places his hand on my shoulder. “We’ve all gone through a dry spell.” He’s trying hard not to laugh.
“We got you,” Mark chimes in.
“We’ll make sure our flavor of the night has a friend. And we’ll get her all liquored up so she wants to be with you,” Tyler says.
“Surely, we can convince her,” Kent adds.
“Ooh, I think we hit a nerve,” Seth taunts.
“I don’t need help finding a willing female,” I grumble.
“Really?” Kent questions.
“Gentlemen, I think we have a challenge on our hands.” Tyler rubs his hands together in excitement.
“Yep. We pick the girl.” Mark smirks.
I grab my beer and bring it to my lips, just letting them talk. I’ve never had trouble with the ladies. It’s the dark hair and the tattoos. They all have a fantasy of being with the bad boy, the rebel who will make them feel dangerous and lively. The guy their mothers warned them about. Then, there are woman who simply see what they like and want to experience it. They think that’s me, but looks can be deceiving. Yeah, I have the dark, mysterious look—black hair, dark brown eyes, and the ink. Doesn’t mean I’m a bad guy. Sure, I’ve been with my fair share of women, but I’m a young, single guy. No harm no foul.
“Any requests?” Seth asks.
I look around the table at the four of them. “Nope,” I snap, tipping my beer to my lips.
“Time to set the terms,” Marks says.
“None needed. Pick the girl, and I’ll seal the deal,” I tell them with confidence.