There was no one else more capable than Taylor with a boisterous, impulsive crowd, but Pierce kept his gaze sharp at all times as he worked. He always felt Cape May was a relaxed, less douchey setting than some of the other places that encouraged major hooking up and getting falling-down drunk. Cape May was mostly known as a family beach town, and just about everyone knew to keep the party fun but relatively clean.
Until they went back to the booked hotel room to see the strippers.
He shuddered at the thought.
Taylor took over from the DJ and made her announcement to the bar. “Listen up! We have a bachelorette party in town, and we want to give them a warm Cape May welcome!”
Everyone roared in approval. Pierce laughed, enjoying Taylor in her element. She liked her events action oriented and took a strong lead. She was also great at improvising and had proven it at many disastrous weddings. Hopefully, they wouldn’t have another one like the cake debacle for a long time.
“In order to get to know everyone a bit better, I decided to send our bride and her crew on a little scavenger hunt. All items will be returned to you at the end. The winner will be declared the Cape May Queen and get a free shot of her choice. Are we ready to play?”
A cheer rose. Cassie jumped up and down with excitement. Taylor passed out the list to her group and gave them a few minutes to go over the items. Gasps and giggles hinted at some of the naughty activities he bet were on there.
Lord, help him. He couldn’t believe he was almost thirty and still doing this. Sure, it was fun to let loose, but he’d outgrown recording these kinds of parties. He craved more serious work, and this was just another sign confirming that his instincts were right. He needed to find another niche.
“Go!” Taylor commanded into the microphone. “The first item is a man’s sock.”
The women scurried, looking for males without sandals and eventually stumbling to the stage in hysterics while the patrons cheered them on. Taylor kept careful score, encouraging the bridesmaids who fell behind, and the DJ put on Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” to get them motivated.
Pierce snapped pictures at random. They ticked off a lady’s ring, a pic of a guy’s tattoo, a signed bar napkin, any item that was blue, and a bra. By the time Taylor had come to the last item, the entire bar was involved in the game, picking their favorites to win.
“We are on the last item, which gets double points, so this could be a game changer,” she purred into the microphone. “But this item is a little naughty. We don’t have any children here tonight, do we? Or objections?”
It was already midnight, so Pierce doubted there were youngsters here. The enthusiastic response from the bar confirmed they were safe.
She paused, drawing out the tension. “The last item is a pair of men’s underwear. Go!”
He grinned, watching in amusement as the girls raced around and scurried past random men, pleading their case. And then he was staring straight into the bride’s frantic hazel eyes.
“Pierce, I need your underwear!”
His jaw dropped. “I can’t, Cassie! I’m the photographer.”
She jumped up and down in her wedding dress and began begging at the top of her lungs. “Please, Pierce, I want to win this so bad. I won’t look!”
Multiple gazes pinned him in place. A fine sheen of sweat beaded his brow. “It’s not professional,” he said in a low tone. “Here, I’ll help you find someone else.” He motioned to the packed table near him, which held a quartet of dudes. “Guys, help my bride out, please. She needs underwear.”
The guys hooted. “Sorry, man, I’m just here to watch. But if you’re her photographer, you should be helping your bride out.”
“Oh, please, Pierce! Look, we’ll cover you,” she cried out. “Who has a jacket or blanket?”
One of the dudes tossed her a giant hoodie.
“Thank you!” She shook out the hoodie and then held it up in front of him for blockage. He suddenly felt like he was a toddler at the beach while his mother shushed him and told him to change behind a towel. “Get against this wall. Hurry, please!”
Shock froze him in place for a few seconds, but then the chant began. “Take it off! Take it off! Take it off!”
He didn’t move, and Cassie’s lower lip began to tremble. “I can’t lose at my own bachelorette party,” she whimpered.
He placed his camera down beside him and toed off his shoes. With quick, jerky motions, he tore at his jeans and began to strip. “Do not let that slip until I get my pants back on,” he warned Cassie.
“I won’t, I promise! Thank you, Pierce. I’m not looking!” She closed her eyes halfway.
Yeah, she was totally lying. She was looking.
Gritting his teeth, he stepped out of his boxers, turned around, and hunched over to hide as much as possible. Then he shoved the underwear into her open hand. “Here. Give me one more second.” He began to get his jeans back on, hopping a bit on one foot, and almost stumbled. Cursing, he gripped the wall for balance, and that’s when it happened.
The hoodie dropped.
A cold breeze touched his flesh.
“I got it!” Cassie screamed at the top of her lungs, shaking his boxers madly in her fist. “I have the underwear.”
In slow motion, he realized with unfolding horror that the entire bar was staring at his naked ass.
Taylor’s voice boomed over the microphone. “Our bride, Cassie, is the winner!”
Hoots and shouts drummed in his ears, and he hurriedly yanked his jeans up, zipped his fly, and faced the music.
The guys at the table were cracking up. “Dude, that was epic!” the guy with the hoodie gasped. “My girlfriend got it on Instagram!”
He swore he wouldn’t blush. He was too much of a man for that, and proud of his ass. But damned if his cheeks didn’t heat up as he took in the approving, appraising looks of the bridal party.
“And now, folks, a round of applause for the hottest rear in Cape May. Pierce Powers—take a bow!”
He glared at Taylor, but she just blew him kisses, humor dancing in her golden-brown eyes. As the applause rose to a crescendo, he shook his head, realizing that by making it a joke the entire crowd had been involved in, she’d taken the real heat away. Once again, she’d known instinctively how to do the right thing in a crisis.