The club stinks. It’s not that stale-beer, old-puke-with-a-side-of-piss smell you get in a regular bar either. No, this is a classy joint. Maybe not the best neighborhood in Los Angeles, but probably one of the top five. And it’s as classy as you can get with mob money rolling in hand over fist, which is to say, pretty damn classy. So it’s another kind of stink. It’s fresh blood and raw testosterone.
Most of it’s coming from me.
I still ache everywhere. The adrenaline’s still buzzing in my ears, and after the intensity in the fighting ring I think my dick would be rock hard even if I wasn’t here looking for a fuck. The ring’ll do that to you. It’s like your whole body revs, figuring you’ll be dead soon.
Which, frankly, I probably will be, after tonight’s performance. I fucked up. I know I fucked up. But I’m not mad at myself. I’m mad at my fucking boss. And I’m done.
I head for the long wooden bar at the back of the main room. It’s quality wood—oak, I think. Smooth, made by somebody who loved the work. It looks almost out of place, with the rest of this club so ultra-modern generic, shiny and machine cut. I run a hand across it. Shit, even that feels sexual. My dick’s so hard it’s going to have a zipper mark on it by the time I get it out of my pants.
Which hopefully will be soon. She should be here—she’s always here after the matches her dad runs—and I’m going to fuck her stupid if it’s the last thing I do.
Which, frankly, it probably will be. But that’s okay. One last fuck-you to Spada before he pulls my guts out. If I’m dead tomorrow, I might as well enjoy tonight.
“Tequila,” I tell the bartender. “Patrón.”
He gives me the eyebrow. “You got money?”
“Put it on my goddamn tab.”
“You won’t have a tab after Spada gets through with you.”
This pisses me off. Whatever happens between me and Spada is my business, not his. And I’m sick of it. All of it. Of Spada telling me what fights to lose, of Spada having my balls in a vise I can’t get out of. “Patrón,” I say again. “And keep it coming.”
He shrugs. He’ll get his money one way or another, I know. While he’s sorting out my shot, I take a look down the bar.
Oh yeah. She’s here all right. Jessica Spada is perched on a barstool about six down from mine, head tipped forward while she talks to the guy next to her. I don’t recognize him, but it doesn’t matter. Probably some third- or fourth-class Hollywood asshole. They’re a dime a dozen around here. Washed-up actors, singers, screenwriters. Everybody in LA comes here for something. He’ll be on his way soon. I’ll see to that.
The bartender sets the Patrón shot down in front of me, and I pick it up and toss it back. It burns down the back of my throat, burns more in the cut on my lip. It was a good match tonight, hardscrabble and intense. Or at least it would have been a good match if I hadn’t known I was supposed to throw it. And I tried. God knows I tried. Not my fault the asshole had a glass jaw. Spada should have thought about that.
Too late to worry about it now. I head down the bar to Jessica.
She’s fucking gorgeous. Has been since the day I first saw her, five years ago. She was barely legal then; now she’s all grown up. She’s not Jessie anymore; she’s Jessica. Ms. Spada to most people. The guys on either side of her are too close, look like they’re trying to stake claims on her. Well, they’re going to have to forget that shit. This woman is mine.
I slide up next to her, cock-blocking the asshole who’s trying to get her attention. “These guys giving you problems?”
She looks over her shoulder at me and then turns. Gives me a once-over with those blue eyes. A slight shift, and she’s facing me squarely. Fuck if it doesn’t suck the breath out of my lungs when she looks right at me. “Cain McAllister,” she says, and if I’d had any breath left, those last bits would have squeaked out to hear my name on her sultry tongue. The guys surrounding her look at each other and mutter a bit then decide maybe there’re easier pickings somewhere else. Somewhere I’m not. Good. They don’t want to fuck with me. It’s never a good idea.
She’s a beautiful woman, but it’s more than that. More than just those chiseled cheekbones and those big blue eyes and the way she strokes her tongue over her lower lip. More than just those soft, round tits that strain against her sleeveless sheath just enough to make you think they might pop out if you look at them wrong. No, there’s an air about this woman that tells you that if you want to do more than just look, she’ll make you work for it.