(Click here to go to Episode 1)
“We’re having dinner tomorrow night.” Jeffry sat in my office, his hair askew. “I still can’t believe she said yes.”
Jeffry was a decent guy. A PhD with a genius level of comprehension when it came to genetics. He was polite, clean, and reasonable. He didn’t seem to understand, despite all that brilliance in science, that women were simpler than deoxyribonucleic acid synthesizing. Eating dinner with a smart guy with basic levels of self-care was in and of itself a reason to say yes.
Or perhaps that was what I was telling myself so I didn’t feel like shit that Esme preferred dinner with Jeffry over me.
“Where will you take her?”
“Offenheimers? It’s fun there and they have everything so if she’s a vegetarian or whatever there will still be something to eat.”
It was considerate but stupid. “She’s not a vegetarian.”
“How would you know? You’ve spent one hour near her.”
I’ve spent a lot more than one hour with her. I’ve been inside her. I’ve made her come more in one night than I thought was possible.
But I didn’t say any of that. “She eats pork tacos on Tuesdays, numbnuts.”
“Oh yeah . . . ”
And again the slightest glimmer of hope hit me in the chest. If Jeffry couldn’t see past his own nerves to what Esme enjoyed eating, but I knew without a second thought, then perhaps this crush of his wouldn’t last very long.
“Offenheimers is an excellent idea regardless. What will you wear?”
Jeffry looked down at his usual uniform of jeans and an ironic t-shirt. “Uh . . . a clean shirt?”
Hopeless. “Have you noticed that Esme is quite stylish? She has that retro, red lips, high heels vibe.”
“She’s hot. Yes.”
I rolled my eyes. “You don’t think perhaps you should try a little harder?”
He frowned. “No. I’m me, not you.”
Thank goodness for that. “Perhaps you’re right.” Normally I advised against dressing or behaving differently on a first date since it set up false expectations and started a shaky relationship on an even more delicate foot. It made it seem as if one was lying about who they were.
But in Jeffry’s case I think I was simply trying to make Esme happy. Or perhaps I wanted Jeffry to be me. Either way, it was wrong of me.
“I’m thinking I’ll try for a goodnight kiss but not more. I feel like anything more would be way too soon and anything less would give her the idea I don’t want this, ya know?”
“A dinner and a kiss will tell you a lot about each other. I think this is wise data collection.”
Perhaps a bit careful, but definitely wise.
“If our kiss is half as crazy as I feel just sitting near her . . . ”
Every muscle in my body locked up tight and I had the distinct urge to crack my neck. I liked Jeffry but when he said things like that I wanted to knock him into the next office and storm off with Esme over my shoulder like some sort of caveman claiming a woman.
That was the most important reason to help Jeffry. I might want to storm back to my cave to do wicked things to Esme, but I most certainly didn’t want to keep her there.
And that wasn’t right. She deserved Jeffry. Jeffry would keep her there and treat her right while I would . . . what? I didn’t know the answer to that. All I knew was that my attraction to Esme had everything to do with her moans and her soft little pants for more. Her supple skin and the way she looked at me like I was the one and only person who could take her pain away.
“Are you all right?” Jeffry asked.
I snapped from my thoughts to my friend, realizing all too late that I’d let my brain wander down Sex Alley again and my cock was as hard as a rod.
“Fine. Just remembered something from work and got a little lost in my head.”
“Your work stresses me out and I don’t even work here.”
“Truth.” I took a few breaths and willed my dick to return to normal workday order. “Thank you for lunch,” I waved at the takeout from Cheeseburger Hut, “but work calls.”
“Fine, fine.” He gathered up his trash. “Thanks for talking me through this. Again.”
“It’s not a problem. I’m happy to help. I put together a list of topics you might want to memorize for dinner.” I handed him the sheet of paper with my chicken scratch.
Jeffry handled it like it was an ancient relic. “Thank you. You’re the best.”
And the stupidest. Because truth be told I wasn’t doing any of this for my best friend. I was doing it all for Esme.
And I didn’t know why.
* * *
Perks of the job, I usually had seats at any game I wished. Today I was at Sunshine Stadium for the Mantas game. Right behind home plate. I knew all the players even though I only managed left fielder Seth Butler. Our agency also managed the catcher, second baseman, two of the pitchers, and four other men on the roster, not normally in starting positions.
“What is that smell?” my non-date asked, wrinkling her nose.
I sniffed the air, finding nothing unusual. Just the familiar scent of a baseball stadium. Beer, hotdogs, popcorn, cotton candy, and clay.
“I believe its popcorn you are smelling.” I really didn’t know what Claudia had a problem with.
And I didn’t particularly care.
Claudia and Seth had come to some kind of mutually beneficial arrangement in which she would come to games dressed like the model-turned-movie star she was, as long as his homerun streak lasted. She got good press, he got airtime, I got to spend my evenings with a woman I wouldn’t get to fuck.
Everyone won but me.
Not that Claudia was my type. I mean yes, if she came to me asking for a night I’d give it to her without question. If she let down her insecurities for long enough to be vulnerable in my bed I’d give her the night of her life, but she wasn’t here for that. Which meant she was just another celebrity looking for attention and I was bored.
I hadn’t had a date in months.
My balls were turning to stone and my dick was dying right along with it. My hand was a sad stand-in for the warmth of a real woman.
“Popcorn? Ugh. I can’t believe people actually eat that stuff,” Claudia snorted, pulling me out of my head.
I needed a date. I pulled out my phone and flipped through the recent messages but found that not one of my friends knew anyone in need of my special services. I’d struck out at the bar last night too. Maybe I’d try again tonight. A Friday evening game like this guaranteed there’d be some action at one of Rusty’s two locations.
After delivering Claudia into Seth’s eager hands after the game I made a stop at the offices, surprised to find Marie there.
“It’s a little late for you, isn’t it?”
She shrugged from behind her desk. Aside from a lamp in the corner, her computer was the only other light in the room. “This Renegades situation is making my life hell.”
“Is there something new?” I dropped into a chair and propped my feet up on her desk.
She shot me a look but didn’t ask me to remove my feet. “There’s some salary renegotiations. Brown’s not threatening anyone yet but he’s being a dick about ‘being team players with the salary cap’. Dunhill is pitching a fit so I’m spending a lot of time keeping him calm.”
“And going over every line of his contract?” Marie was meticulous like that.
She pushed away from the desk and leaned back in her plush seat. “I want to be sure I know everything so when Brown throws his curveball—and he will—I’m ready.”
“You’re so sure about this guy?” Since the sale of the team I’d done my own research but found the information on the thin side. The Brown family liked to keep out of the spotlight. Aside from their illustrious leader, Edmund, there was a son and daughter, as Marie mentioned. The son was very involved in the Brown family businesses, while the daughter was rarely mentioned at all. I practically had to track down Roselyn Esmeralda Zalenski Brown’s birth certificate.
“As sure as I live and breathe. He’s corrupt down to his DNA.”
“His son is the same?”
Her head cocked to the side a little. “Why do you ask? Will Edmund kick the bucket soon?”
“I have no idea what his health is like. I’m just trying to understand all the players in the game you seem to have such a handle on.” I had the impression this was more than a little old family experience.
It felt more like an old family blood feud.
“William is . . . complicated. If the franchise were in his hands instead of his father’s, I honestly don’t know what he’d do. As of right now he’s a Yes Man. He does what Edmund wants and seems happy to do so. But the guy I grew up with was better than that. I guess I hold out hope he’s better than his father.”
“We all hold out hope we’re better than our parents.”
The corner of Marie’s lips curved up in a smirk. “Very true. How was Butler?”
“The Mantas won and he should be having celebratory drinks at some posh club with Claudia by now.”
“And what about you?”
I glanced at my watch. “After I email a file over to the Waves I’m headed to Rusty’s.”
“Have fun.” She turned back to her computer. “Son of a bitch.”
Well that didn’t sound good. “Something in his contract?”
“No. Worse. We’re invited to the Brown’s for a dinner party.”
Thank you for reading episode 5 of Reckless Kiss! New episodes will release in my newsletter every Tuesday. If you enjoy this story please check out my free book Tease. It has a very similar style, level of heat, and types of characters and I think you’ll really enjoy it.
Some characters from my previous books will be appearing in this serial. If you haven’t already, check out When Lighting Strikes, to read Marie Bancroft Hamilton’s story, Summer Heat, Night Games, and Last Fall to meet more of the Bancroft Sports gang. (But you absolutely do not need to in order to enjoy Reckless Kiss. This book is 100% it’s own story!)