Theo's Alternate Scene
Tempt: Theo's Scene
I resisted the urge to scratch my neck as the host led me up the small set of stairs to the private party room overlooking the club. Well, not really a club. Not in the traditional sense anyway. This was a speakeasy.
“Theo! Bloody hell man! You’re actually here.” Higgins, a very old friend of mine, howled across the room.
I lost the battle. I scratched my fucking neck. Places like this made my skin crawl. Too many people, too desperate to escape their dreary lives. Too close to everything I wanted to forget.
I stopped where I was and waited for him to jog across the small room. “I can’t believe it. Theo Sutherland actually came to my party.” He shook his head, grinning like a fool and holding his hands out like he was going to hug me.
I stuck out my hand. “This is a nice place you’ve got here, Higs.”
He frowned at my hand and ignored it, just like I expected him to, and hugged me instead. “You can be cold to everyone else, but not me, my friend. Never to me.” He clapped me on the back and despite my better judgment, I clapped him back.
“How’ve you been?” I said.
He waved his hand around the room filled with fifty of his closest friends and (most likely) business partners. Higs never did anything alone. At least he’d finally stopped asking me. “Fucking good. The club is a huge hit. Apparently the more exclusive and secretive you make something, the more desperate people are to get inside and spend loads of money.” Then he hugged me again. “I can’t believe you’re here. It’s been too fucking long.”
“How are Bix and Diane?” Two more from my past that I couldn’t quite seem to escape.
“Good, good. They won’t be here tonight. You don’t have to worry about that. How’s Nicki?”
My shoulders instantly tensed at the name of my sister. “Same.”
Higgins made a face. “Sorry. How you holding up?”
“Business is good.” I’d gotten lucky with iON Innovations. It was the right company to start at the right time. Cutting edge technology was an increasingly crowded marketplace, but staying focused on bringing efficiency up was good business.
“I didn’t ask about work, Theo.”
I shrugged. “I am my work.”
“That’s the fucking saddest thing I’ve ever heard.” He waved at a roaming waiter and grabbed what appeared to be two shots of bourbon off the tray. “Just for an hour or two, forget the past. Forget Nicki. And for fucks sake, forget work. Be that smooth bastard that could charm the nickers off an old lady and ask someone to dance. When was the last time you danced?”
Forever. “It’s been a while.” I took the shot. It burned all the way down.
Higgins put another shot in my hand and pushed me toward the balcony. “There. Go watch some fine women dance and let the bourbon do its job.”
For some reason I did exactly that. Below was a stage filled with a live band playing a jazz number. The dance floor was sunk down from the booths and bars that surrounded it. Dancers of all types were spinning and hopping. Some very good, some very bad. My foot tapped to the beat.
I missed dancing. Spinning a beautiful woman across the floor. Feeling the curve of her hip beneath my hand. Having her trust in my ability. Dancing was sex—clothed—out in the open and on display for everyone to see.
I held in a groan. I really needed to get out more. I glanced from couple to couple. All having fun: smiling, laughing, red cheeked and full of life.
That was when I saw her. She had a spark I could see from here. She was alive in a way that I was not. She looked like she could take on the whole world and win. It was fucking sexy as hell.
“Ah, yeah man. She’s a looker. Fucking good dancer.” Higgins had returned with a mouthful of food and highball in one hand. I don’t know what surprised me more: that Higgins thought she was gorgeous too, or the way I reacted to that knowledge. Something I thought long dead inside me roared to life. “Keep your eyes to yourself.”
His eyebrows shot up. “Shut the fuck up. You have a thing for the blonde? If I’d only known it would be that easy…”
It wasn’t that easy. It was just her. She was different—I needed to know that woman. But she was dancing with someone and I wasn’t about to walk down and introduce myself if she was attached to someone else.
So I watched her dance. Lip between her teeth, a mischievous twinkle in her eye, feet flying. She didn’t dance like she was following steps—she danced like the music was inside her. She felt the music and her body reacted.
My body reacted.
My brain blew straight past the dance floor and was picturing her in my bed. Writhing under my touch, moaning into my kisses, coming apart because of me.
That light in her eyes… I wanted to get lost in it. Drunk on it.
She walked off the dance floor to a booth with another man and woman. They all laughed and drank, having fun. Was that what I was missing out on? Was that what fun could look like?
Or maybe it was just her. Maybe she lit up everyone and everything around her. I studied her a little closer. Her hair was curled in a 40’s style, long hair framing her face. Her lips were dark red, eyes lightly lined to highlight the blue of her irises. The dress was fucking fantastic. A deep blue with a full skirt that sparkled under the lights. I’d seen her carefully chosen bloomers when her last dance partner flipped her over his arm.
I wanted to see those again.
I held my breath hoping she returned to the floor with a different man. If she did then I knew I’d at least have a shot of getting a dance, even if she was dating someone. A dance wouldn’t be nearly enough, but it would be something.
I got my wish. A minute later the other guy in her group took her hand and led her out onto the floor. I was amazed by how quickly she changed her style to match his.
“You better get in there.” Higgins pointed to the pair. “Or you’re going to miss out.”
Why was I hesitating? “Maybe I don’t want to get in there.”
Higgins snorted. “Yeah you do.”
That’s when her dance partner spun her in close and held her there, practically whispering in her ear. Pure jealousy exploded inside me along with something that scared the piss out of me.
What the fuck was that?
All I knew was that I needed to get down there. To put myself between her and every other man. Before I knew what I was doing I was downstairs and pushing my way through the dance floor.
I’d just spotted her blonde head when I saw her lose her balance. I moved quickly, catching her just as she started to fall.
An electric charge shot up my arms as her skin made first contact with mine. She was soft and supple beneath my hands. Her hair danced along my skin as it fell forward. Her sweet citrusy scent drugged me. I wanted to feel all of this over and over.
I couldn’t stop that reaction. I kept happening. It was like I had no control over this impulse I couldn’t name.
I was so completely fucked.
I should never have let Higgins talk me into getting out for a night.