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The way her dress is riding up her thighs, the way she’s holding her hair back in one hand and laughing while trying to keep up with the woman next to her . . . I love to see her this way, so carefree. I don’t see her laugh like that very often. A thin layer of sweat has coated her body, making her glow under the spotlights. I shift uncomfortably and pull the ridiculous dress shirt I’m wearing down in the front a little.

“Uh-oh,” Riley says.

“What?” I snap out of my trance and follow her eyes down the bar. Two men at the end of the bar are gawking at Tessa, and by gawking I mean their fucking eyes are bulging worse than my fucking dick right now.

I look back up at Tessa, and her dress is dangerously high on her thighs; each time she kicks her legs out in front of her, it goes a little higher.

That’s enough of this shit.

“Easy, killer,” Riley says. “The song will be over in . . .” And then she raises her hand and waves it as the music fades.

Chapter forty-nine


Hardin’s hand reaches for mine to aid me, and I’m surprised. By the way he was scowling and pouting the entire time I was dancing, I thought he’d be yelling by now. Or worse, I was half expecting him to climb up and drag me off the bar, then start a brawl with all the customers.

“See, no one noticed that you’re a shitty dancer!” Riley laughs, and I sit down on the cool bar top.

“That was actually so much fun!” I yell, and once again the music stops. I laugh and jump down from the bar, Hardin’s arm wrapped protectively around me until I’m steady enough for him to retreat.

“You should get up there next time!” I say into Hardin’s ear, and he shakes his head.

“No,” he says solemnly.

“Don’t pout, it’s not cute.” I reach out and touch his lips. It is cute, though, the way his bottom lip sticks out. His eyes shine at the contact, and my pulse quickens. I already feel high from the adrenaline that came from dancing on the bar top, something I never in my life thought I would do. As much fun as it was, I know I’ll never do it again. Hardin sits down on the bar stool, and I stay standing between him and Riley, next to my empty stool.

“You love it.” He smiles, my fingers still pressed against his lips.

“Your lips?” I say with a smirk.

He shakes his head. He’s playful yet very serious at the same time, and it’s intoxicating, he’s intoxicating, and I’m highly intoxicated. This should be interesting.

“No, pissing me off. You love to piss me off.” His tone is dry.

“No. You just get pissed off too easily.”

“You were dancing on a bar in front of a roomful of people.” His face is mere inches from mine, and his breath is a heady combination of mint and whiskey. “Obviously that would get to me, Tessa. You’re lucky I didn’t pull you down, put you over my shoulder, and carry you out of this place.”

“Over your shoulder, not your knee?” I tease and stare into his eyes, completely disarming him.

“Wh-what?” he stutters.

I laugh before turning to Riley. “Don’t let him fool you, he loved that shit,” she whispers to me, and I nod. My stomach tightens at the thought of Hardin watching me, but my mind tries to overrule my dirty thoughts. I should be fuming, I should be ignoring him or yelling at him over sabotaging Seattle for me, again, or for the hurtful words he said to me, but it’s nearly impossible to be pissed off when I’m this drunk.

I allow myself to pretend that none of that happened, at least for now, and imagine that Hardin and I are a normal couple out with our friend having a drink. No lies, no dramatic fights, only fun and table dancing.

“I still can’t believe I actually did that!” I say to both of them.

“Me either,” Hardin grumbles.

“I won’t be doing it again, that’s for sure.” I swipe my hand across my forehead. I’m sweaty and it’s hot in the small bar; the air is thick and I need to breathe.

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

“Nothing, it’s hot.” I fan myself with my hand, and he nods once.

“Let’s go, then, before you pass out.”

“No, I want to stay longer. I’m such having fun. I mean, such a fun time.”

“You can’t even form a coherent sentence.”

“So? Maybe I don’t want to. Either you loosen up or you can go.”

“You . . .” he begins, but I cover his mouth with my palm.

“Shh . . . for once just shh. Let’s have fun.” I use my other hand to touch his thigh again, squeezing this time.

“Fine,” he says into my hand.

I uncover his mouth, but I keep my hand inches away so I can cover it again if I need to.

“No more dancing on the bar,” he says, gently negotiating.

“Fine. No more pouting or scowling,” I fire back.

He smiles. “Fine.”

“Stop saying ‘fine.’?” I bite back a grin.

He nods. “Fine.”

“You’re annoying-ish.”

“Annoying-ish? What would your Literature professor say to that kind of grammar?” Hardin’s eyes are deep jade, alight with humor, splashed bloodshot from the liquor.

“You’re funny sometimes.” I lean into him.

He hooks his arm around my waist and brings me between his legs. “Sometimes?” He kisses my hair, and I relax in his grip.

“Yep, only sometimes.”

He chuckles and doesn’t let me go. I don’t think I want him to. I know I should, but I don’t. He’s drunk and playful, and the alcohol in my system makes me lose sight of all common sense . . . as always.

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