This man, p.34
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       This Man, p.34

         Part #1 of This Man series by Jodi Ellen Malpas
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Page 34

  Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

  Sam steps up to the plate. ‘I’ll give you a hand. ’

  ‘Yeah, I’m coming. ’ Drew follows Jesse and Sam to the bar, leaving the three remaining pairs of eyes on me.

  ‘What?’ I ask. I know what. My head is suddenly swimming in wine.

  Kate arches a well plucked eyebrow at me, folding her arms over her chest. She can get lost. It’s her fault he’s here. ‘Looking a bit cosy. ’ she fires.

  Tom strokes the oversized lapels of his coral shirt. ‘Cosy? No, no, no. That wasn't cosy. That was guaranteed hot sex tonight, darling!’ He raises both hands, and Kate and Victoria comply, slapping a hand each in unison.

  I scowl at Kate. ‘Me and you, later. ’ I threaten.

  She inhales sharply. ‘Oh, feisty! I love everything this man brings out in you. ’

  Yes, she’s made it perfectly obvious that she loves this man, and I want to know what was going on in that little exchange.

  ‘Did you see him move?’ Victoria pipes up.

  ‘He weren’t bad. ’ Tom pouts. Oh dear, someone’s stolen Tom’s dance floor thunder. Jesse may well have made a lifelong enemy.

  ‘So –’ I’m firing this right back at Kate. ‘Talking of cosy?’ I nod at Sam as he walks back through the crowd, balancing three drinks between his hands.

  ‘A bit of fun. ’ she shrugs.

  God, I hope so. Do I tell her what Victoria saw? ‘And you?’ I look at Victoria.

  She looks shocked. ‘Me?’

  ‘Yes, I saw you shaking your thing at Drew. ’

  Tom throws his hands up in the air in exasperation. ‘I’m a huffing raspberry! I want to go to Route Sixty,’ He turns to Victoria. ‘Darling, please!’

  ‘No!’ she exclaims, and I don’t blame her. It makes a change for Victoria to be having the male attention, possibly the action too.

  Sam plants the drinks on the table and Drew follows suit, brushing suspiciously close to Victoria. She giggles, fluffing her hair. She needs to lay off the fake tan.

  Sam grins. ‘Wine for Kate,’ He bows as he hands her the glass. ‘Vodka for Victoria and I’ve no idea what this is, but it looks camp, so it must be yours. ’ Sam hands Tom a pina colada on a wink.

  Tom blushes a bright shade of red and flops a limp wrist at Sam. I don’t believe it. For the first time in his life, Tom is rendered shy. Oh, this is too good an opportunity to miss. ‘Tom, your face is clashing with your shirt!’ I splutter, through a helpless fit of laughter.

  Everyone turns to stare at Tom, only serving to intensify his blush and, subsequently, his mortification. An eruption of howling laughter breaks out, prompting Tom to huff a few times and storm off.

  ‘What’s so funny?’ Jesse asks when he reaches us, placing my wine and a bottle of water on the table. I can’t talk. I’m still recovering from my fits of giggles. I wipe my eyes.

  ‘We’ve just found Tom’s Achilles heel. ’ Kate volunteers when she sees I’m no closer to composure. Jesse looks perplexed as he looks around at the recovering hyenas that he’s returned to. I see Sam shrug, swigging his beer.

  ‘Sam. ’ I offer, through my abating giggles.

  ‘Sam?’ Jesse frowns.

  Victoria jumps in. ‘Tom fancies Sam!’ she cries cheerfully.

  Jesse shakes his head and reaches for his water, undoing the screw cap and taking a swig. ‘Here, have some. ’ He trusts the bottle under my nose.

  ‘No,’ I screw my face up, pushing it away.

  ‘Have some water, Ava. You’ll thank me in the morning. ’

  ‘I don’t want any water. ’

  He scowls at me, thrusting the water in my face again. ‘Have it!’ he growls.

  I glance around, seeing everyone looking at our little exchange. I’m definitely not having it now. I shove his outstretched arm away from my face and pick up my wine, raising my glass to him before taking a swig. Actually, I down the lot. I make a point of placing my glass down precisely before I look up at Jesse. He’s proper brooding, his lips pressed into a straight line as he shakes his head at me.

  ‘No. ’ I state firmly, enhancing my point. He’s already trampled on my recovery night. He’s not dictating what I drink too.

  ‘There goes your action tonight. ’ Sam smirks and Kate bursts into fits of laughter.

  ‘Fuck off, Sam. ’ Jesse warns, in a rather deadly tone. He’s not happy, but I’m drunk and rebellious, so I don’t care.

  Sam raises his hands, backing off immediately. At the same time, Kate clenches her lips shut to suppress her laughter, giving me the eyes. I shrug. I wonder if she likes demanding, commanding Jesse as much as she likes white knight Jesse.

  Drew and Victoria move off to the side, out of every ones ear shot, after a little nod from Drew. Usually confident and a little standoffish, Drew looks a little shy as Victoria chats buoyantly to him. He takes his phone from his pocket, punching in digits as Victoria reels them off, holding it up for her to check when he’s done. That is not the actions of a man not prepared to call. This is interesting.

  I’m vaguely aware of conversation going on around me, but my head is suddenly very foggy. That was the last drink you should never have had. And all just to prove a childish point. Jesse’s right, damn him. I will regret it in the morning. The voices begin to muffle and double vision sets in.

  Yep, mission accomplished…I’m plastered!

  I feel Jesse’s hand at the base of my neck, massaging me over my hair as he chats to Sam. I close my eyes, absorbing his firm touch as he works my muscles. It feels so nice. I might fall asleep if he keeps it up.

  When I open my eyes, Jesse is leaning down, looking into my drunken eyes and shaking his head. ‘Come on, lady. I’m taking you home. ’

  I throw a disorientated arm at him. ‘I’m fine. ’ He’s not ruining my recovery night. I hear Kate and Jesse exchange a few words, and then I’m hoist up from the stool to my feet.

  ‘Can you stand?’ he asks.

  ‘Of course, I’m not that drunk. ’ I am. And it would seem I’m argumentative too.

  I’m presented to everyone in turn, all of them planting a kiss on my cheek, while Jesse props me up. How pathetic. Once he’s ensured I’ve said all of my goodbyes, he guides me out of the bar. I’m ashamed to admit it, but if Jesse’s arm wasn’t wrapped around my waist holding me up, I would be flat on my face.

  The fresh air hits me, causing me to stagger slightly, but I’m swiftly scooped up from the pavement, feeling the familiar comfort of Jesse’s chest against my cheek as he carries me to his car.

  ‘You’re not going to throw up on me, are you?’ he asks.

  ‘No. ’ I scoff.

  ‘Are you sure?’ He laughs, and I feel the vibrations from his chest pass through me.

  ‘I’m fine. ’ I garble against his shirt. He sounds like my Dad. Is he old enough to be my Dad? No, there’s not a father on the planet that dances like Jesse or fucks like Jesse. Oh, my drunken thoughts are filthy!

  ‘Okay, a few seconds warning would be nice, though. I’m putting you in my car now. ’

  ‘I’m not going to throw up. ’ I insist.

  I feel myself being lowered into his car and the sensation of cold leather on the back on my legs as I come to rest in the seat. He leans in over me and fastens my seat belt, his fresh water smell and minty breath invading my nostrils. I recognise it, even in my inebriated state. As he pulls back, hovering in my line of sight, there are two of him. I try to focus, eventually homing in on a huge smile.

  ‘You’re adorable, even when you’re legless,’ He leans in, giving me a chaste kiss on my lips. ‘You’re coming home with me. ’

  It would seem that all functions have ceased, except for the drunken, argumentative part of me. ‘I’m not coming to yours. ’ I slur.

  ‘Yes, you are. ’ he asserts. I still recognise his stern tone, even in my drunken stupor. Not that I’ll ta
ke much notice of it, though. The passenger door shuts firmly and he’s soon behind the wheel.

  ‘I’m not, you can take me home. ’

  ‘Forget it, Ava. I’m not leaving you in this state on your own. End of. ’

  ‘You’re bossy,’ I complain. ‘I want to go home. ’ I actually don’t know what I want to do. Does it matter where I sleep tonight? No, it doesn’t, but my drunken need to remain defiant is hijacking any reasonableness that’s left in my wine drenched brain. I want to go home and that’s it!

  He laughs. ‘Get use to it. ’

  ‘No!’ I flop my head back on the head rest and close my eyes. I understood that statement enough to challenge it. I’m surprised I’m still coherent.

  ‘You’re adorable, but you’re also a pain in the arse when you’re drunk. ’ he grumbles.

  ‘Good. ’ I say haughtily.

  He starts the car and the vibrations from the engine instantly play havoc with my wine filled stomach. I hear him laugh to himself.

  ‘Jesse?’

  ‘Yes, Ava?’

  ‘How old are you?’ What a ridiculous question. Even if he did relent on this obsession with keeping his age a classified, I wouldn’t remember in the morning.

  He sighs. ‘Twenty five,’

  I really am very drunk and car spin is beginning to set in, even though my eyes are closed. ‘It doesn’t matter how old you are. ’ I mumble.

  ‘It doesn’t?’

  ‘No, it doesn’t. Nothing matters – I still love you. ’

  I hear a sharp intake of breath before I pass out.

  Chapter 20

  Ouch!

  I squint at the bombardment of light that’s hammering at my sensitive eyes and snap them shut again. Oh, that hurts. Shuffling onto my side, I immediately realise that I’m not in my own bed. My eyes fly open, and I sit up. Oh, ouch!

  My hands grip my head to try and ease the pain. It doesn’t work. Short of shooting my brain out, nothing is going to alleviate the thumping. This is a non-curable hangover. I know it.

  I gaze around the room, recognising my surroundings immediately. I’m in the master suite of Lusso. Okay, I’m at a total loss at how I come to be here. I’ve never been so drunk that my memory has failed me. I try retracing my night, instantly remembering Jesse roughing up poor Cockney. Then I remember dancing. I also remember arguing with Jesse in the toilets. And then I remember dancing again. Oh, and I remember Tom having a hissy fit, but then…nothing.

  I would ask myself how I come to be here, but I really don’t need to ask that question if Jesse was in the bar. I grasp the bedding, lifting the sheets to look under the covers. Well, I have my bra and pants on, so I can’t imagine any Jesse style fucking went down. I smile to myself.

  Oh Lord, I need a toothbrush and some water, pronto. I gingerly push myself up, untangling myself from the bedding as I go, reveling in the waft of Jesse’s scent as it hits my nostrils. Every slight movement crashes into my poor head. When I’m on my feet, stood in just my underwear, I stagger. I’m still drunk.

  ‘And how is my lady lush this morning?’ His voice is smug. Why didn’t he stop me drinking? He saunters over to me, looking too fucking delicious in his tight, white boxer shorts and with his morning messy hair. I know I probably look awful, with my loose hair and crusty make-up.

  ‘Terrible. ’ I confess moodily. Was that me speaking? I’m throaty. I hear him chuckle to himself. If I could coordinate my movements, I would swing at him. I feel his arms wrap around me, and I’m thankful for the support. I bury my head in his chest and could, quite easily, drift back off to sleep.

  ‘Do you want some breakfast?’ he asks, stroking my hair. Even his soft rubs against my skull are unbearably loud, and I nearly vomit at the thought of food. He must feel my dry heaves and body jerks because he laughs again. ‘Just some water then?’
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