A Perfect Ten

Page 35

That right there was what always drew me back to Oren: his lighthearted, carefree, potty-mouth ways that made him uniquely him. It didn’t seem to matter what anyone thought of him; he just went his own way, did his own thing, and managed to build up loyalties for those he called friends that were unbreakable.

“Okay, maybe I can handle his...filthy past,” I told Zoey.

I glanced at her, feeling bolstered. I’d been waffling all day, knowing what I’d done was wrong and wanting to do it again anyway. But now...now I felt totally certain. I had to see him again.

“We need to get this phone back where you found it.”

Zoey nodded and began to reach for it, but I shook my head. It had been beyond lucky she hadn’t gotten caught the first time she’d gone to the bar. A second trip would be too risky.

Skimming my gaze over the bar to make sure Noel or Oren hadn’t spotted us yet, I froze when I made eye contact with the third bartender. Asher smiled and started to wave, but I shook my head frantically and slashed my hand across my throat, asking him to stop.

He did, frowning slightly. Then he glanced toward my brother and turned back to me to cock his head in a curious manner. I set my finger over my mouth and motioned him to come to us. He once again checked out what his coworkers were doing. Then he turned back to me with a nod as he held up a finger, telling me to wait a minute.

“Incredible,” Zoey murmured beside me. “I think I actually followed that entire conversation you guys had. You and Asher would make awesome spies.”

I winked at her. “If only we could use our powers for good.”

I barely caught Asher giving me the go-ahead to meet him over by the hallway as he lifted a tray full of used glassware.

“Come on.” I grasped Zoey’s hand and jerked her after me, weaving through people so we could stay out of sight from the bar. Our mission grew more perilous as we had to move close to it to reach the hall, but Oren and Noel seemed busy without Asher on hand to help. So, they didn’t notice us.

Asher waited with his arms still laden with dirty glasses. I slowed to a stop, Zoey catching up to my side. Frowning at the dishes he was lugging toward the back kitchen, I shook my head. “Didn’t Pick just buy you guys a new one of these sanitizing machines where it washes those right under the counter?”

Asher sighed and rolled his eyes. “It’s on the fritz, and the new one is on back order. Pick is pissed.” Then he glanced curiously between Zoey and me. “What’s up, ladies? Finally decide to give up on your men and be my favorite band groupies?”

My shoulders sagged. It’d probably be better for my mental health if I did give up on Oren to follow Non-Castrato around, but...I’d already come this far. “Unfortunately...no.” I lifted Oren’s phone to show it to him. “Can you sneak this back behind the bar?”

Asher glanced at the cell phone and lifted an eyebrow. “That’s Ten’s.”

I nodded and sent him a cringe.

An ornery grin lit his face. “Do I even want to know what you did to it?”

This time, I shook my head no.

He laughed. “Cool. I’m in. Slide it in my front pocket here, sweetness.”

Since his hands were full, holding the tray of cups, I reached for the front pocket of his black T-shirt and slid the phone in before patting it gratefully.

“And a little sugar?” he encouraged, tipping his face down and to the side to show me his cheek.

I rolled my eyes but leaned up to kiss his cheek. He nodded his approval and then turned to Zoey. “You too, princess. Don’t be shy.”

Zoey reluctantly stepped forward and kissed his cheek too.

Asher straightened, looking rather proud of himself. “Ladies,” he murmured. “It was good doing business with you.” Then he turned away and was off.

I wanted to stick around to make sure he got his job done. But I trusted Asher, so I gripped Zoey’s arm. “Let’s get out of here before we’re caught.”

I had some text messages to write.

“Holy shit.” I gaped at the screen of my phone as I read the text that had been sent to me while I was working.

The bar had closed nearly twenty minutes earlier, and all of us left behind to clean up were just about done with our duties for the night. I’d just grabbed my phone where I’d left it sitting by the cash register when I’d noticed I had a waiting message.

Have you been a good boy since our first encounter? I’ll only give you a repeat of last night if you’ve been a good boy.

The sender showed up as...Midnight Visitor.

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