The second the reference to her jail time left Liv’s lips, an invisible hand wrapped itself around Harper’s throat and squeezed. But Liv’s look of absolute devastation and sorrow released the grip before panic could set in. These girls were her friends, and they were becoming closer friends each day. Pretending her past wasn’t a part of her life wouldn’t work forever. At some point, she had to be who she was—an ex-convict who’d served time. Maybe opening up to the women was her first step in learning to trust again.
“Liv, it’s okay,” she said, taking hold of her friend’s hands. “Really. It’s okay. You’re right. I missed out on a lot, including headlights and THO, apparently. But I’m loving all the new experiences I’m having with you ladies. You’ve never made me feel anything less than normal, and in my position, that’s incredible.”
Clearing her throat as though Harper’s words had affected her deeply, Liv said, “Well, then, I’ll fill you in. THO stands for titty hard-on.”
Harper snorted a laugh. “What?”
“Headlights mean the same thing.” Liv pointed to her chest. “You know, when it’s cold, and you’re wearing something thin, the nips show. Titty hard-on.”
“Oh my God.” Laughing, Harper covered her face. “Say no more. I get it now.”
“Good. Now, let’s get you ready.”
Fifteen minutes later, Liv darted out of the bathroom to announce, “Okay, ladies, let me be the first to present the nightlife version of Harper.”
They clapped and whopped until Harper stepped out of the bathroom, then the hollers turned to shrieks and shouts of, “Holy shit, you’re hot.”
Harper’s face heated to a million degrees. “I’ve never worn anything like this,” she said with a nervous giggle as she smoothed the sleek black fabric over her thighs.
“Well, you are smokin’ hot. Jinx is gonna los—” Rachel said as Jo’s elbow landed in her ribs. “Ow. Uh… I mean, you look smokin’ hot. And that’s all. I have nothing else to add.”
“Subtle, guys,” Brooke muttered.
Harper ignored the line about Jinx, instead focusing on how strange it felt to be wearing such a beautiful dress. While simple in its design—fitted, black, short, and two large cutouts on the side, bearing most of her midriff—the dress was beautiful. Two thin straps over her shoulders held the entire thing up. She couldn’t bend over without giving anyone a show from behind, but she sure as hell felt pretty, especially with the smoky eyes and pouty lips Liv created. Strappy black heels that made her four inches taller completed the ensemble. It should be a fun night if she didn’t break an ankle.
“Okay, let’s do this,” Liv said as she grabbed her satin clutch off the counter.
Brooke drove them in her SUV. As they got closer to the beach, she cast frequent looks in the rearview mirror. “Do you think he’s freaking out?” she asked of the prospect following them on his bike. “He has to have figured out we’re not going where we told him.”
“I’m sure he’s shitting himself,” Jo said with a chuckle. “Probably can’t decide if it’s better to rat us out and piss off our men and us or let us have our fun and hope the guys never find out.”
“Aww, I feel bad for him.” Rachel glanced over her shoulder.
“That’s just because your man was a prospect until five minutes ago. He’ll be fine. It’s not like we’re going to do anything crazy.” Brooke turned left into a crowded parking lot. “We’re here.”
“Yes! You ladies go get a table, and I’ll order drinks,” Liv announced as she exited the car.
Harper followed the ladies into the bar and to a high-top table. She took in the crowded place as they all settled into their seats.
People danced and drank everywhere she looked. Some had shots, some beer, and some giant pink drinks with umbrellas and pineapples on a stick. Most patrons were young—early twenties maybe—but some appeared older than she was.
The entire exterior consisted of sliding panels of windows currently open and letting the warm sea air in. Looking to her right, she caught glimpses of the gulf between the moving bodies.
“Like it?” Jo asked from across the table.
“I love it.” The open-air concept made her feel free, something she valued above all else. Excitement zinged through her, and finally, she took a breath and promised to enjoy the evening. Hell, she hadn’t even thought about Jinx in almost forty-five minutes. That had to be a record since meeting the man with those sexy tattoos, hard muscles, and magic lips.
Time to reset the clock.
“Here we go.” Liv arrived with a server carrying a tray of drinks trailing behind her.
Harper’s eyes widened. “That’s a lot of drinks.”
“Yep. A margarita and two tequila shots for all.”
“Oh crap,” Rachel whispered.
Jo laughed. “So it’s gonna be that kind of night. Why do I feel like Tracker is going to have to carry my sloppy ass to bed later?”