Tilting my head in agreement, I told her, “Put on a skirt, angel, and let’s get this party started.”
“WAS this your idea?” Arash asked, when we met him outside the ground-floor entrance to the Starlight Lounge.
Through the lobby glass, I watched a bouncer oversee the number of patrons entering the elevator that would take them to the rooftop. Two more bouncers stood guard at the exterior door, holding back the surging crowd hoping to get in based on their looks, their clothes, and/or their charm.
“It’s as much of a surprise to me as it is to you.”
“I meant to tell you.” Eva was literally hopping with excitement. “Shawna’s heard good things about this place and I thought it’d be fun.”
“Great reviews online,” Shawna said, “and some of my regulars were raving about it.”
Manuel checked out the eager crowd behind the ropes, while Megumi Kaba stood cautiously between Cary and Eva. Mark Garrity, Steven Ellison, and Arnoldo all stood back, keeping the way clear for those whose names were on the VIP List.
Cary slung his arm around Megumi. “Stick with me, kid.” He gave her a wide smile. “We’ll show ’em how it’s done.”
Eva grabbed my arm. “Your surprise is here.”
I followed her gaze, spotting a couple approaching us. My brows rose when I recognized Magdalene Perez. Her hand was linked with that of the man next to her and her dark eyes were brighter than I’d seen in a long time.
“Maggie,” I greeted her, clasping her extended hand and leaning down to kiss her cheek. “I’m glad you came.”
Gladder still that Eva had asked her. The two women had gotten off to a rocky start, which was entirely Maggie’s fault. The rift between them had strained my relationship with Maggie in the weeks since, and I’d been prepared to accept that as an indefinite state of affairs. It was nice, however, that I didn’t have to.
Maggie grinned. “Gideon. Eva. This is my boyfriend, Gage Flynn.”
I took the man’s hand after he shook Eva’s, noting the strength of his grip and the steady way he met my perusal. He gave me a once-over, too, but mine would be more thorough. Before the week was out, I would know everything worth knowing about the man. Maggie had been through enough with Christopher. I didn’t want to see her hurt again.
“And here’s Will and Natalie,” Eva said, as the last of our group arrived.
Will Granger had a retro beatnik look that worked for him. His arm was snug around the small blue-haired woman next to him, who dressed in the same fifties style and sported twin sleeves of tattoos.
While Eva made the introductions, I nodded at the bouncer to signal the arrival of the final members of our party. He held the line and cleared the doorway for us.
My wife shot me a suspicious glance. “Don’t tell me you own this place.”
“Okay, I won’t.”
“You mean you do?”
My hand slid down her back and rested lightly on the curve of her hip. She’d ditched the shorts in favor of a fitted skirt with a split up the back. I almost wished she hadn’t changed. The shorts had shown off her legs; the skirt showed off her amazing ass.
“You need to decide if you want me to answer the question or not,” I said, as we made our way into the club. The music was loud, the amateur singer on the stage louder. Strategic lighting illuminated walkways and tables while still allowing the Manhattan nightscape to dazzle patrons. Air-conditioning pumped out of the walls and floors, cooling the open air to a comfortable temperature.
“Is there anything you don’t own in New York?”
Arash laughed. “He doesn’t own the D’Argos Regal on Thirty-sixth anymore.”
Eva stopped walking, causing Arash to bump into her from behind and send her stumbling. I shot him a glare.
Grabbing my arm, Eva yelled over the volume of the crowded club. “You got rid of the hotel?”
I looked down at her. The wonder and hope on her face more than made up for the financial hit I’d taken. I nodded.
She threw herself at me, her arms twining around my neck. She peppered my jaw with quick, fierce kisses and I smiled, my gaze meeting Arash’s.
“And suddenly,” he said, “it all makes sense.”
“GOD, THOSE TWO are so sweet,” Shawna said, watching Will and Natalie sing “I Got You, Babe” on the stage.
“They’re giving me diabetes.” Manuel stood with his drink. “Excuse me, everyone. I see something interesting.”
Gideon’s voice near my ear was laced with amusement. “Say good-bye, angel. We won’t be seeing him again.”
I followed his line of sight and saw a pretty brunette giving Manuel a blatant once-over.
“Bye, Manuel!” I yelled after him, waving. Then I leaned into Gideon, who was semisprawled on the expensive leather upholstery. “How come all the guys you work with are hot?”
“Are they?” he drawled, nuzzling my neck and along the curve of my ear. “Maybe they won’t be working with me much longer.”
“Oh God.” I looked up at the starry sky. “Whatever, caveman.”
His arm tightened around my hips, tugging me closer so that I was pressed fully against him from knee to shoulder. Joy spread through me. After all the crap we’d been through the day before, it was so awesome to just enjoy each other.
Megumi leaned over the low coffee table that filled the center of the rectangular seating area we occupied. Bordered by two sectionals, the VIP section held our entire party comfortably. “When are you getting up there to make fools of yourselves?” she asked.