Delaney stared at the phone screen and had the same internal struggle she’d had for the last few days.
“Just delete his number already Del,” Brett said without looking up from her screen. “You said it yourself, asshole.”
“I know but…” Delaney sighed, not sure what the but was, why she hadn’t deleted his details as soon as she’d hung up on him. “He was really sweet the first time we talked. He even defended The Jerk, made me realize I’d dialed the wrong number.”
Brett sighed and set her tablet down. “We’ve been through this Del. He was sweet, his friend was entertaining, he was nice at first the other night. Maybe it was late and he was tired, maybe he didn’t appreciate your humor, or maybe he’s just as much of a jerk as Peter was.”
Delaney shook her head mutinously. “I refuse to believe my judgement is that off. I already had doubts about the The Jerk, I should have trusted my instincts. And my instincts say Kelly is a nice guy. He just… I don’t know Brett he just changed, and that bugs me. I want to know why.”
“I wish I had an answer for you sweetie but I’ve never understood men, why they say one thing then do another, or why their behavior changes depending on who they’re with.” Brett shrugged and glanced down at her screen then back up at Delaney. “Maybe someone walked into the room, he had to be all… manly in front of his friend?”
“Fuck I hope not!” Delaney said on a burst of laughter. “He was in bed, if his friend was walking in then…” she laughed again as Brett shrugged.
“You never know, maybe they’re friends with benefits?” she said with a comical wriggle of her eyebrows.
“What the hell are you looking at on that thing?” Delaney made a grab for Brett’s tablet but she swept it up to her chest.
“Nunya business,” Brett taunted and poked her tongue out. “Anyway, it’s not like you’re skeeved out by it, you told me about that time-”
“Oh no, I’m all love is love, fuck who you want to fuck,” Delaney interrupted with a wave of her hand, not needing the rehash of that time or any other time. “I just find it interesting that that’s your first thought. Hmmm?”
“Well I ah, that is…” Brett blushed and laughed nervously.
“Yes?” Delaney prompted but was interrupted by the ringing of her phone. “Saved by the bell…” she glanced at the screen and hit the speaker button. “Hey Kai.”
“Laney, what’s hanging babe?” he greeted cheerfully.
“Nothing I hope,” she said with a glance down at her still firm chest. “I’m here with Brett,” she added.
“Hi Malachi,” Brett called out then gestured that she would leave the room but Brett shook her head even as Malachi spoke.
“Hey cool, wanted to invite you both to a party tonight. At The Void. You know it?”
Delaney looked at Brett who nodded and shrugged and shrugged herself. She had worked the early shift so had the night off, a party at a club sounded fun.
“What’s the party for, any kind of dress code?”
“It’s a club, so whatever babe, you’ll look hot I’m sure. No idea on the why, Mitch invited me, said I could bring a couple of friends, so of course I thought of you,” he said earnestly and if Delaney didn’t know him so well she would have believed him.
“Only because you don’t want to take any of your buddies, too much competition for you?”
“Got me Lane!” he admitted with a laugh. “But it’s more that I don’t trust them to behave. You know how wild they can get.”
Since she couldn’t argue with that she didn’t and instead made plans to meet up with Kai later.
“Now the fun starts,” Brett said gleefully rubbing her hands together when Delaney had hung up.
“It does?” Delaney looked surprised as Brett stood up and held out a hand.
“Come on roomie, you’re about to find out what one wears to a party at The Void!”
Apparently, while men could wear a suit and tie or jeans and a shirt to The Void, women wore revealing dresses, corset tops and short skirts, or jeans so tight Delaney wondered how they could breath let alone move. Luckily for Delaney, Brett had a more refined sense of taste and little to no regard towards what the masses did, so she had gone with knee high suede boots and a mid thigh length leopard print silk dress, and she’d hooked Delaney up with killer heels and a cute embroidered crop top to go with her own skinny jeans.
Delaney tried not to think about the fact that the shoes and top combined were worth more than what she made in a month but found herself perched on a stool at the bar trying to avoid contact with the anyone lest they step on a shoe or spill a drink on her.
“You sure you don’t want to come dance?” Brett asked for the third time as she downed a glass of water.
“Absolutely,” Delaney assured her. “My feet are tired from work and I am more than happy sitting here enjoying the view.”
After one more round of reassurance Brett returned to the dance floor with the latest hunk who had asked her dance and Delaney signalled the bar tender for another drink.
“You better go easy on this one,” Mitch teased as he poured her another ginger ale.
Seeing the gym owner behind the bar had been a surprise but Delaney had quickly learned that Max co-owned the place with her cousin Zander, who had introduced Max and Mitch, and that when they had private functions like this one, he often stepped behind the bar to help out and spend extra time with his fiancée. The other thing she had learned was that tonight was a party for Sign of Life, celebrating their successful tour while on hiatus for a couple of weeks.
Thankfully she hadn’t seen any of the band members but had heard enough talk to know they were in one of the booths near the dance floor, which one was easy enough to spot as it was the one most of the crowd was gravitating towards.
“Thanks Mitch,” she smiled and took a sip then set the glass down on the spot Mitch had just wiped.
“Sure I can’t get you something stronger?” he offered.
“I have to work tomorrow, thanks though,” she declined and he nodded.
“I know the feeling. I have a PT client at six. I‘ll head home soon, leave Max to deal with her brother. Well Max and her crew.” He gestured to one of the other bartenders who looked like he’d be more at home in a biker bar with his multitude of tattoos and slightly evil looking goatee beard. “That’s Keaton, he’s an ex MMA fighter so if anyone gives you any trouble he’ll take care of it.”
At the sound of his name the big man looked over and flashed a smile that turned him from scary to sexy if you liked the big bearded type. Delaney could see the appeal but if she had a type it was more likely to be one of the men Keaton had just stepped forward to serve.
“Holy fuck,” she breathed and tore her gaze away from the magnetic duo to stare at her drink. This would be the perfect time to realize she had a secret power to turn invisible she thought a little desperately as she fought the urge to look at them.
“You want to meet them?” Mitch leaned closer to ask softly. “They’re actually pretty normal and yeah, nice,” he finished with a smirk.
“Ah no thanks.” Delaney shook her head the tiniest bit and took a drink because her mouth felt too dry and her pulse was racing.
“For the love of Ozzy Osbourne, pour us a decent drink would you Keat? Mitch keeps sending over fucking fruity cocktails.”
Delaney didn’t have to look to know who was speaking, she had listened to Quinn Kelly’s voice a lot over the last ten years, had even gone through a stage where she devoured every sound bite and interview, but these days she just enjoyed the music for what it was. But still, that voice was a big part of the reason they were so successful and there was no mistaking it.
“Ozzy?” Keaton repeated and Delaney moved her head just enough to see Keaton grinning and reaching for a bottle.
“Didn’t that used to be your entrance music?” Dane Sander’s spoke next then sung a few bars of Paranoid. Keaton nodded and his arms moved and Delaney assumed he was pouring drinks.
There was a chink of glass then a splutter and some choked off laughter.
“Fruity enough for you?” Keaton said with a laugh as Mitch stepped closer and the two men high fived.
“I don’t trust these fuckers Quinn, where’s Max?”
At Dane’s comment Delaney looked down the bar automatically since she knew Max had been working the other end to Mitch. She didn’t see Max though because her gaze sort of got stuck on Quinn Kelly who was sitting a few stools down from her. He had his arms braced on the bar as he leaned forward to look for his sister then he turned and their eyes met and she forgot to breathe. She knew she was staring like a star struck fan, knew he knew it too by his smirk and as if from a distance she heard him answer Dane.
“No fucking idea. For a party for us, there’s a lot of people here I don’t know.”
“My fault. I asked Mitch…”
“Babe, come dance with me!” She didn’t hear whatever Dane had asked Mitch as Malachi slid in beside her and before she could answer either way wrapped an arm around her waist and lifted her from her seat.
She didn’t protest as he led the way through the crowd towards the dance floor and when they stopped she threw her arms around him in a tight hug. “Thanks Kai, you saved me,” she half yelled into his ear then kissed his cheek as his hands gripped her hips.
“From what?” he yelled back with a curious smile but she shook her head and dismissed her own words with a shrug.
“Nothing. Let’s dance!” She threw herself into the motion, losing herself in the music, so she didn’t have to think about how good it had felt to stare into Quinn Kelly’s eyes, how freaking sexy he was, or how the charisma he’d oozed at the concert was nothing compared to the sexual energy that surrounded him, and the embarrassing knowledge that she’d been ready to throw herself at him, that in that moment she’d been nothing more than a Quinn groupie.
Quinn sat between Tommy and Dane in a booth at The Void, a slightly unwilling presence at their supposed mid tour celebration party that Dane had organised, mostly to cheer Mac up. On the plus side that seemed to be working, Mac was grinning as he danced with a tall brunette a short distance away, meanwhile Tommy was whispering something in Sandra’s ear that had her giggling, and Dane was trying to sweet talk the waitress who had just delivered a tray of drinks. Seeing them all distracted he tapped his phone screen to wake it up, hoping for a missed call from an unknown number.
“Mitch is never going to make it to brother in law status if he keeps sending these fucking cocktails.” Dane set the glass down he’s taken a sip from with a grimace then slapped his hand over Quinn’s phone. “You know what you need to do?” he asked as he slid the phone towards him.
“I’m sure you’ll tell me.” Quinn sat back with a sigh.
Dane grinned his agreement as he lifted his hips from the seat to shove Quinn’s phone into his back pocket. “First, stop looking at that thing. She’s not going to call back. You were a fucking ass right?”
“Yeah,” Quinn agreed with another sigh. This wasn’t the first time they’d had this conversation in the last few days. “Because she seems nice and I don’t do nice girls,” he said before Dane prompted him.
“Exactly. Now look around and take note of all of the not so nice girls that you can do if you want to/ Pick one and fuck that mystery girl out of your system.”
“You’re an idiot Dane. Thank fuck you’re pretty.” Quinn grinned to take the sting out of his comment then gave his friend a shove in the shoulder. “Now get out of my way, I need a real drink, not this fruity crap.”
“I’m so in on that,” Dane said as he stood up and they made their way to the bar.
Mitch was at one end pouring a drink while Keaton worked the centre. The ex MMA fighter flashed a grin as Quinn and Dane took a seat in front of him.
“For the love of Ozzy Osbourne, pour us a decent drink would you Keat? Mitch keeps sending over fucking fruity cocktails.”
“Ozzy?” Keaton repeated as he reached for a bottle of amber liquid.
“Didn’t that used to be your entrance music? ‘Finished with my woman ’cause she couldn’t help me with my mind’” Dane sang the first line as Keaton poured their drinks and pushed the shot glasses closer to them.
Quinn and Dane didn’t hesitate to tap glasses then throw back what they thought was Irish whiskey then Dane nearly chocked on the sweet liqueur while Quinn winced and glared at Keaton.
“Fucking Chambord,” Dane muttered in disgust as Keaton laughed.
“Fruity enough for you?” Keaton asked as Mitch stepped closer and the two men high fived.
Dane flipped the two men of with a glare. “I don’t trust these fuckers Quinn, where’s Max?”
He leaned his forearms on the bar to look for his sister, checking the opposite end to Mitch then looking to where Mitch had been standing talking to someone.
“No fucking idea. For a party for us, there’s a lot of people here I don’t know.” Definitely not his sister though she had green eyes like Max’s, that was about where the resemblance ended. This woman had a waterfall of light blonde hair, straight as a sheet that cascaded down her back and ended in a swirl of color. He might not know her but he recognised the look on her face as she stared at him, her pretty mouth with its slightly fuller lower lip open just a little as if she had just gasped or was waiting for his kiss.
“My fault. I asked Mitch to invite all the lovely single women he knew to help distract Mac…” Dane’s voice droned in the background as his earlier words echoed in his head and he started to wonder if she was a nice girl or not but before he could finish the thought a man appeared at her side, the skateboarder from their concert he realised as he pulled the woman into his arms then made a beeline for the dancefloor.
That seemed about right, the first woman all night who had held his attention and she was taken. Like it was fucking karma or some cosmic payback for the way he had treated his mystery girl. He turned just enough that he could see the dancefloor, saw the woman wrapped around the skater, Malachi he remembered, and turned back to face Mitch.
“See something you like?” Mitch asked with a smirk and Quinn went still, wondering how obvious he’d been. Then he realised there was a bottle in Mitch’s hand and a relieved grin spread across his face.
“That’s more like it!” Dane pushed aside the glass Keaton had given him as Mitch set two fresh ones on the bar and poured. “To a life less wasted,” Dane toasted with a tap of his glass and they drank.