A Perfect Ten

Page 95

Shit. I glanced back at Gamble and mentally bitch slapped the piss out of Hart. What the hell was he getting me into? I couldn’t turn him down now, not with Gamble listening in; he’d know something was up if I rejected a challenge like this.

“Me too,” Hart said. His grin spread a little too wide and a little too knowingly. “Unless you have a reason why you’d have to say...no.”

My mouth fell open. What a prick. He must really like Caroline, enough to fuck with me tonight in some evil plot to get her away from me.

I nodded and mumbled, “Whatever,” because I couldn’t say no in front of Gam and no way in hell was I voicing the word yes aloud.

But the first second I had after we opened the doors and Gamble was busy at the bar, I shoved the prick from behind. “Go up to the bar where Gam can hear you and call this fucking bet off.”

“What?” He looked startled. “Why would I do that?”

Because I’d kill him if he didn’t. I lifted my hands and sent him an incredulous glare. “Why do you think? I can’t fucking hit on other women. I’m with someone, numb nuts.”

“Then you call it off.”

“I can’t. Gamble will realize something fishy is going on, like I’m sleeping with his sister behind his back.”

“Well, you are, so—”

“Fuck you.” I shoved him in the chest. “We’re going to tell him. Someday. But first, I want to show him I can grow up and take care of her before I drop the big bomb. Maybe that way, he won’t kill me quite so fast when he finds out. Except playing a dumbass game to accumulate phone numbers won’t show him any such shit.”

“Then call it off, man. Show him you’re growing up.”

I growled. “Like he’ll believe that. Everyone knows I couldn’t grow up that fast. It has to be a slow progressive change to maturity.”

“Oh God.” Hart rolled his eyes. “You’re giving me a headache.”

I shoved him again. “Just call off the fucking bet.”

Except he didn’t. And so...the night started with his stupid bet itching at my conscience.

“Any numbers yet?” Gam asked a half hour into our shift as I approached the bar with a list of drinks to fetch for customers.

I lifted my face to where he was watching me from behind the counter. “Huh?”

He rolled his eyes and snapped his fingers in front of my face. “Chicks. Numbers. The bet. Any of that ring a bell?”

“Oh, right. Yeah, no. No numbers yet.”

“Really? You must be off your game tonight. Hart already has three.”

“Does he?” I glanced around to a table where Hart was grinning down at the table of girls. The fucker. I narrowed my eyes at him before turning back to Gam. “Must be the musician thing?”

“Hmm.” Gamble eyed me censoriously, as if he knew better. Then he folded his arms over his chest. “I was sure you’d get something from the table you just served.”

If I’d actually been playing in Hart’s damn game, yeah, I probably would have.

I glanced back at them. “They all had boyfriends,” I said.

“And how the hell could you tell that?” Gamble asked. “You barely talked to them long enough to take their drink orders much less gain relationship statuses.”

I set my empty serving tray on top of the bar—a little too hard—and sent Gam a glare. “Why the fuck is this bet so damn important to you? Jesus, it’s like you’re trying to relive your bachelor years through me now, or something.”

“Excuse me?” Gam wrenched back at my outburst, and I realized I’d gone too far. Shit. “Christ, man. I don’t know what’s got your pussy so dry and irritable lately, but there is definitely something up with you. Now...what is going on?”

I leaned in to rest my elbows on the bar and then I buried my face into my hands. I just about told him everything, then. I don’t know why; I hadn’t discussed it with Caroline, but I was seriously fucking tired of keeping it from him.

“Or is it because of her?” Gamble’s question made me lift my face. I glanced over my shoulder to see Caroline passing clearance through the doorman.

My face drained of color.

Shit, shit, shit. What was she doing here? What if she learned about the bet? What if she thought I was cool with it and had willingly volunteered to participate? What if—

“Jesus, you really do have it bad for Hamilton’s woman, don’t you?” Gamble murmured.

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