I disliked those the most.
Yep. Detested them. Loathed them.
Why hadn’t he told me good morning today?
I didn’t care. Not one bit.
I was lying. I was a caring fool.
Then I noticed Matt’s silence and began looking on the floor.
“What are you doing?”
“Looking for the shoe you’re about to drop.”
“Ha ha.” He rubbed at his forehead, ignoring my lame grin. “I’m sorry. I actually took two calls just now. One was Kash, letting me know about Dad, but the other was Quinn. She…” His hand dropped. “She asked me to make sure you weren’t on the property when my—when Dad gets home.”
I reeled from that one.
“He’s been in DC working on a big project, and I guess it was a tense time for him. Something happened. She thinks it’ll be better if he doesn’t add anything extra on his plate.”
Right. Extra. I was the extra.
I was feeling shoved out of the house. One by one, all the doors were closing in my face until I was so far out that I was outside the gates. That’s what Quinn just did.
I was getting kicked out.
“I see.” I looked down at my lap. There was a slight tremor with my hands, so I stuffed them between my legs, stopping it.
It was fine.
I mean, it’s not like I expected to see him again.
Or hoped to see him again.
He hurt Chrissy. I drew that in, remembering, hardening. He hurt my mom.
“She doesn’t even want me in Kash’s villa?”
He hesitated, before slumping down on the couch next to me. “No. Not even there. Look, it’ll be fine. I tend to have a whole security team on me when I leave, and since Quinn would rather both of us”—he nudged me with his shoulder—“not be here … I can’t help but go at her sometimes, so I was thinking we can head downtown to my place. I have a place. You’ll be safe. Kash has given me the safety approval before.”
He nodded. “It’s where I normally stay. I moved out of this house years ago. We could go there. A few of my friends are heading to a new nightclub, if you wanted to go there too?”
Another nod. “I could go for a night of debauchery, to tell you the truth.”
It sounded wrong somehow. “I don’t know, Matt.”
“Come on. It’ll just be one or two friends. I told you, Kash is good with it. I’ve got the whole security team and everything. And it won’t be anything big. These guys are cool. Might do you good to meet a few of the girls, if they’re there.” He stopped, rolling his eyes. “What am I saying? If there’s a new club opening, they’ll be there.” His shoulder bumped mine playfully. “Maybe it’s time to meet a few of the gang.”
“You have a gang?”
He stood, making up our minds for both of us, and catching my hand, he hauled me with him. “One thing you need to learn about this world: we might live in an exclusive club, but it’s a small exclusive club. And once it’s out who you are, everyone’s going to want to get their hooks in you. Might be a good idea to meet them one by one, in small doses, and when they don’t know who you are.”
I wasn’t fully following his theory, but I didn’t have a choice. Quinn wanted me gone, and Matt was doing her bidding. He was just going with me.
I nodded, giving in. “Should I pack a bag then?”
“Nah.” His mouth twitched in a half smirk, and he threw his arm back around my shoulder as we headed out. “As long as you have your phone, you’re good to go. I’ll have everything at my place.”
“I.D.? You have women’s clothes at your place?”
“When you go with me, you don’t need I.D.” He just laughed. “And being rich gives you the luxury of being prepared for anything. Come on. Let’s go forget about family ‘stress’ by getting wasted.”
It wasn’t what I’d normally do.
I was in.
You’re not wanted.
We want you gone.
You’re too much of a problem.
You’ll just disturb everything. You’ll upset everyone.
Here I was, sitting in the back corner of a booth, a DJ playing blaring techno music, neon lights flashing, fog being pumped through the club, sipping drink number I-had-lost-count, but I couldn’t get those thoughts out of my head.
You’re not worth it.
You’re not worthy.
I was trying, seriously trying to block it out. I couldn’t.
Matt walked in front of me when we arrived. He was right. No one stopped us or carded us when we went inside. He didn’t even need to go to the bar, though that’s where he was leading me. A girl in a skimpy leotard for a uniform, holding a tray of shots, met him halfway, and he kissed her cheek as he snagged one shot for me, another for him. Before moving ahead, he grabbed two more. I declined my second, wanting to pace myself. Not Matt. He threw both back like a pro.
Then we went to the bar, but only for Matt to motion to a private box. The bartender nodded and we were sitting there for ten minutes, when two of Matt’s friends showed up.
Chester and Tony.
Chester was taller, looking like Prince Harry, and more slender than Tony, who had dark, combed-back hair.
They looked like Ivy League bad boys. Wealth. Privilege. Superior. All of that emanated from them.
The club was packed, since it was nearing eight on a Friday night, but not to those guys. Not to Matt. All three got the same treatment coming in. Eyes tracked them. I didn’t know who the parents of Chester and Tony were, but I had no doubt they were someone.
That was an hour ago.
Since then, it’d been a parade of girls coming over.
The first one came over, an alluring smile on her face as she sat on Matt’s lap. The two had been whispering, nuzzling, kissing since. Her hands were on him, his hands weren’t on her. He sat on the outside of the booth, with one arm draped over the back of the booth.
I was sitting farther inside, but the booth was huge.
Chester had moved in beside me, but four people could’ve sat between us. Five minutes after the first girl came over, three more showed up. They didn’t sit on anyone’s lap. They stood at the end of the table, talking and flirting with the two guys. To their credit, neither Chester nor Tony seemed to be doing much flirting. They were aloof, but still conversing. The girls were the ones trying to flirt, drawing them in.