The Insiders

Page 54

“You said you were hungry?”

“Hmm?” I turned. The other bartender had approached, a friendly enough smile on his face.

“Your stomach is growling.” He nodded to me. “I can actually hear it.”

“Oh.” I pressed a hand, feeling the rumbling. “Yeah.”

He was smiling. His eyes were smiling.

My head was clouding up and my vision was tunneling, but if I had some food in me, and water, I would sober up. I’d be okay then.

He offered, “I can make a call to the kitchen, have them send something over. Would you like that?”

I waited a hot second. “Hell yes.”

He laughed, moving back behind the bar, taking my glass with him. “I’ll top this off for you, too.”

That’s when the guard moved forward, a phone in his hand. “Miss Bailey?”


The bartender was pouring the wine, not watching us, but sound traveled. He could hear us.

The guard held out the phone. “Mr. Colello’s on the phone for you.”

I couldn’t squash down the tingle that went through me at hearing Kash was on the phone. Taking it, I tried not to hop up too quick. The floor would’ve rushed me.

The bartender was bringing over the wine as I put the phone to my ear. “Hello?”

“Where are you?”

The wine was held out to me.

I took it, trying to keep my hand clear of his, but the bartender moved his finger at the last second. It grazed against mine. My eyes went to his. A seductive gleam was there, a faint grin on his face, and taking my look as permission, he rubbed his finger against mine more gently, and way more suggestively.

I jerked back. My wine splashed, hitting my face, the phone, my top.

I gasped.

“Oh no. I’m so sorry.” The bartender and guard moved at the same time.

The bartender was going toward my top, the towel that he rested over his shoulder already in hand, ready to help dry something. Me. My shirt. I didn’t know. But the guard growled and hip checked the guy. He literally bumped him back. The other guard rushed forward.

Kash was saying something on the phone. “What’s happening?”

I was burning up. My face. My neck. My ears. I was embarrassed.

And I could only stare in terror as both guards wrestled the bartender to the ground.

“Stop!” I ran forward, holding the phone, ignoring Kash. I went to one of the guards, pulling at his arm. “Stop. Let him up. He was trying to help. I did it. I jerked back and spilled the wine.”

“Bailey!” From the phone.

I put it back to my ear, saying, rushed, “I gotta go. There was a thing.”

“A thing?”

I hung up, thrusting the phone at the guard.

Both stepped back, letting the bartender get back to his feet.

I was there, patting him on the arm now, the chest. “I’m so sorry. So sorry.” Why was I doing this? I was the one still wet. I felt bad. That’s why. “Again. I’m so sorry. They’re just—”

He was easing back from me, putting a safe distance between me and him, and he nodded. “Doing their job. I got it.” He held his hands up, moving one step at a time until he was behind the bar. “I’ll … uh … I’ll be doing my job.” He was the face of professionalism now. Cold and detached. Not the flirting guy from seconds earlier. Clearing his throat, he kept eyeing the guards behind me. “I’ll, just, call in that order, ma’am.”


Not that I cared, but there was another person who thought I was a pariah. It shouldn’t matter. I was telling myself that, as I went back to the couch I’d been sitting on. The next match was starting, with new horses, ones that looked fresh under their riders.

It was okay I was an embarrassment.

I mean, who was here that cared? Matt was gone. I was good. All by myself.

I didn’t need any company.

I should’ve stayed at the estate. At least there I was starting to feel comfortable. I wasn’t treated as an outcast. I mean, an outcast who was being protected, but still. The sentiment stuck. If I went over to that lodge, I didn’t know those people. I never would know those people.

Those people … I was watching them and seeing a commotion starting. I leaned forward.

What was happening?

A large crowd had started to form, moving from down the driveway and going slowly toward the lodge, then behind it. People were running to the other side, catching up with the crowd, until a car was breaking free from the group.

It was coming toward me.

I stood, knowing, feeling, not daring to hope, and went to the edge of the banister so I could see better.

Unlike when Matt and I waited to pull in and everyone had to empty the barn so we could get out in private, Kash folded out of his car. He tossed the keys to one of the guards, his eyes lifting and finding mine. Hands in his pockets, he ducked his head down, ignoring a few guys who had tried to call out to him. Some of the stable staff lingered outside the barn, confused as to who Kash was, and then I heard him coming up the stairs.

Well, I didn’t hear him. One didn’t hear Kash. But I felt him.

I knew he was coming.

One of the guards went to the door, opened it before Kash got there, and in he strolled. His gaze locked on me and was not moving away.

He wasn’t moving away. He was coming right at me, no pause, no slowing down. It seemed like it took three steps for him to be across the room, and then he grabbed my arm and was pulling me with him down the hallway. He didn’t spare anyone a glance, just pushed open the back bedroom door, dragged me in, and closed the door. He locked it before he turned.

His gaze pinned me in place, narrowing, and he leaned back against the door.

He drawled one word. “Explain.”

And I gulped.




I was itching to feel him, but he was staring at me, angry.

His voice was seemingly laid back, but he wasn’t. He so wasn’t. His body was tense. His eyes stormy. His hair was messed a little, sexily messed up. His jaw was clenching every few seconds as he waited for me to answer, and the air was electrified. I felt the pull to go to him, hard, and it was taking everything in me to remember he wanted me to say something to him.


I frowned. “Explain what?”

He pushed off from the door, stalking toward me. My body veered backward, but my legs stayed and I was captivated by him.

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