Out of bounds the summer.., p.23
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       Out of Bounds (The Summer Games #2), p.23

           R.S. Grey
 

  “Where’s lust?” I asked, tipping onto my toes to see over the crowd.

  Lexi smiled as she pointed at the stage that jutted out from the side wall and stretched to the center of the room. There was a pole positioned there, with a beautiful woman circling around it, giving the crowd quite a show. Sensuality hung in the air around her and I smiled slowly, taking her in for myself. Lust.

  “Good thing Rosie didn’t come,” I said, turning back to Lexi as she gave the bartender our drink order.

  She laughed. “This would have scarred her for life.”

  I’d borrowed a white mini-dress from Lexi for the night. It was slinky and sexy, cut off midway down my thigh, and its low back made it impossible to pair it with a bra. I felt scandalous with so little clothing on, but everyone else in the club was wearing the same or less.

  I’d kept my hair twisted up in a bun on top of my head, wanting it off my shoulders, but with it pinned up I felt even more vulnerable, almost like I couldn’t escape the stares of the men we passed.

  “Here,” Lexi said, passing a drink back to me at the bar.

  I took a sip of it. “Fruity.”

  She shrugged. “I told him to go easy on the alcohol.”

  I nodded. “Smart.”

  I wanted to have a fun night, but getting drunk wasn’t a good idea with practice so early the next day and team finals the day after.

  We stepped away from the bar so other patrons could slip in and order drinks.

  “We’ve got room right here, ladies,” a deep voice called from our left.

  I turned over my shoulder to take in the group of guys beckoning to us. The one in the very center was watching me with a curious smile and I recognized him right away: Owen Long, U.S. Olympic soccer player and all-around playboy. The last time I’d seen his face, it’d been gracing the cover of ESPN.

  I glanced to Lexi to get her opinion and she shrugged, shooting me a We might as well look.

  For the last few days, I’d complained to my teammates about how I hadn’t really experienced the Olympic Village; it looked like tonight, Lexi and I would finally get our chance.

  We walked toward their booth and the guys stood and shuffled around until Lexi and I found ourselves smack-dab in the center. I sat down and felt Owen’s attention on me. He was sitting to my right and our thighs brushed together as I scooted in close to make room for Lexi on my other side.

  “Hi,” I said with a small smile.

  “Owen,” he said, holding his hand to his chest for a second before reaching out to shake mine. It felt formal and weird, but I went with it anyway.

  I nodded. “I’m Brie.”

  His gaze raked down my body. “I like this dress you’re wearing, Brie.”

  I adjusted on my seat, trying to pull the hem down another inch. Owen caught on to what I was doing and I glanced up from beneath my lashes in time to see him wiping away the smirk from his face before he leaned forward and reached for his drink.

  “You’re a soccer player, right?”

  He nodded. “Correct. And you…” His gaze was on my legs again. “Look like a ballerina.”

  “I’m a gymnast.”

  I could see the appreciation in his eyes, like I was going to straddle him right there in the booth. It should have bothered me, but it didn’t.

  “How old are you?” I asked, studying his blond hair, buzzed short.

  “Twenty-two.”

  Young compared to Erik.

  He didn’t bother asking my age, just leaned forward to refill his drink from the bottle service on the table and then turned to his buddy, all but ignoring me. I turned to talk to Lexi, but she was somehow already involved in a deep conversation with another one of the soccer players, a goofy looking guy with spiked hair and wide eyes who seemed five drinks past sober.

  “You mean you FLIP OVER THE BARS?” he asked as if she were trying to convince him of something otherworldly.

  I didn’t want any part of the conversation, so I sat back against the booth and stared out at the crowd. I took my time sipping my drink, hoping it would last longer than it did. Owen was there right as I swallowed the last drop. He didn’t ask, just grabbed my cup and refilled it with a mixture of vodka and cranberry juice—well, a mixture was putting it lightly. There were 10 parts vodka to every splash of cranberry.

  I smiled and took it as he handed it back to me, reminding myself to keep it away from my mouth unless I wanted to be carted out of the club unconscious.

  “To winning,” he said, clinking his glass with mine and then offering me a seductive smirk. “Drink up.”

  He was cute, really cute. He had those sharp features that drive women crazy, and with that thought, I took a sip of the nasty drink, resisting the urge to spit it out.

  “Jesus.”

  “I’m not a religious guy, but sure, we can toast to ol’ JC too.” He laughed.

  “No, it’s the drink.” I coughed. “Is it supposed to strip my throat on the way down?”

  He threw his arm behind my head, scooted closer to me, and dropped his voice. “No, but I’m glad you brought up stripping.”

  His finger hit my shoulder, slowly brushing back and forth along the strap of my dress. His gaze was on my lips and my tongue reached out to wet them just before I heard my name.

  “Brie!”

  I turned to the familiar voice and found Noah standing in front of the booth with an easy smile.

  “Noah?”

  It was strange seeing him in a setting like this; he didn’t belong there. I hadn’t seen him since the gymnastics mixer that first night in Rio. He stepped forward, took in Owen’s hand on my shoulder with a curious stare, and then smiled wider. “How long have you been here?”

  I shrugged and the gesture pushed Owen’s hand an inch lower on my arm. “Only a few minutes.”

  “Can I get you a drink?” he asked, ignoring the glass in my hand.

  Owen chuckled. “She’s got more than she can handle already.”

  He rolled back on his heels. “Right.”

  I felt like the shiniest toy on the playground with both of their attention on me.

  “Want to sit with us?” I asked, pointing to the tiny patch of booth left near the edge.

  He glanced back across the bar. “I should probably get back to my friends.”

  I nodded.

  “Come find me later?” he asked, tilting his head and offering a smile. He looked so sweet standing there; I couldn’t say no.

  “Yeah, I will.”

  He nodded and spun around to weave his way back through the club, and the moment he disappeared, Owen turned his full attention to me, as if all of a sudden, I was worth the trouble of real effort.

  “You’re the most gorgeous girl in this place,” he said, bending low to whisper the words in my ear.

  A shiver ran down my spine when his warm breath hit the side of my neck.

  “Don’t go find him later. Stay with me.”

  His words were seductive and possessive, but he wasn’t the reason my body was growing warm. No, I barely remembered to mutter a response to him as the crowd parted and gave me a view of the woman dancing on stage. Lust. She was young and sexy, wearing a black corset and matching panties that showed off her remarkable body. She dipped and swayed, casting a spell on everyone within a twenty-foot radius. Their attention was on her, their mouths wide and their eyes wider.

  She was a sexual creature from head to toe. She owned her body and used it to tempt everyone around her, including me. Watching her wasn’t like being around Kira though; no, I didn’t want to touch Lust, I wanted to be her.

  “Where are you from?” Owen asked, breaking me out of my daze.

  I answered quickly before taking a long drag of my drink, ignoring the sharp sting of vodka.

  It continued on like that: him asking me questions, me barely answering as I watched the woman dance. It didn’t take long for the idea to take root in my mind.

  I want to dance like that.

 
I want to be the girl on stage.

  I shook my head, trying to push the idea aside. I couldn’t do that. I shouldn’t do that.

  “Is this your first time in Rio?” Owen asked, tipping more vodka into my glass. Did he think he was being sly?

  “Brie?” he asked again, trying to get my attention.

  “Yes, this is my first time here.”

  The song was winding down and I glanced up in time to watch the woman step past the curtain, disappearing backstage. In her place, a new woman appeared, a little less beautiful and a lot less confident than her predecessor.

  I narrowed my eyes watching her, fighting back the urge to stand and replace her.

  “This place is pretty cool, isn’t it?”

  Owen was running the knuckle of his middle finger up and down my arm, trying to gain my attention. Couldn’t he tell how bored I was? How badly I wanted out of this booth?

  “Where are you going?” Lexi asked.

  My body had moved on its own. I was standing.

  “Oh, umm…I need to go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”

  She frowned, not quite believing me.

  “Do you want company?” she asked.

  “No.”

  I slid past her, ignoring Owen’s protests.

  The stage was about to be empty again and it was beckoning me forward with its hazy red glow.

  “Brie,” Noah said, reaching out for my hand as I brushed through the crowd. Apparently he hadn’t gone back to his friends. He’d been waiting for me and I bristled at the thought. I wasn’t his responsibility.

  “Where are you going?!” he shouted over the crowd.

  He’d find out soon enough.

  Although the décor inside the club suggested that it represented hell, I understood now that it wasn’t a place for us to pay for our sins. It was a cathedral in which to celebrate them.

  The second dancer walked off the stage, and I knew I only had a moment to act. The stage was a few feet off the ground, tall enough that I had to push up using my hands like I was getting out of a pool. The crowd cheered as I swung one leg up and then the other. They assumed I was a drunk girl about to make a fool of myself for their enjoyment.

  “Oh shit, this is going to be good.”

  “Dude, I bet she’s shitfaced.”

  The song pouring through the speakers faded out as a new one started. I swayed my hips, getting a feel for the music. It was a song I recognized and loved: “You Don’t Own Me” by Grace, featuring G-Eazy. How fucking fitting.

  “Brie, what are you doing? C’mon, get down,” Noah said with an admonishing tone from the end of the stage.

  He was reaching up for me, all but horrified to see me up there.

  Poor little Noah. What would he say if he knew the ways in which Erik had corrupted me? I smirked at the thought. He’d run screaming for the hills. Noah needed to learn what women wanted, and the song playing overhead only emphasized that point.

  I walked backward to the pole with a seductive smile. A few low whistles from the crowd egged me on, but Noah stood there with crossed arms. When I reached behind me for the pole, he tugged a hand through his hair, exasperated.

  Dancing on stage at a club this packed wasn’t for the faint of heart. I had hundreds of eyes on me, and though phones were prohibited, word would surely still spread through the village. Brie Watson danced on stage. Brie Watson spun around the pole and…dare I say…she enjoyed it. I’d deny it all of course. Without proof, there was nothing they could do, no real story to sell to the press.

  I used my hands to steady my upper body as my hips swayed back and the forth. The cold metal hit my backside every time I moved, reminding me of where I was, what I was doing.

  I owed a lot to my early years of ballet—my balance, rhythm, and flexibility. Sure, my mom had enrolled me in those classes with the purest of intentions, but as I rolled my hips and slid down that pole, I smiled. I knew my body and I knew how to use it to my advantage. Usually I was performing for judges with crossed arms and hard stares. Up on that stage, I was performing for hungry eyes. Every time I caught a mouth gaping or eyes doing a double take, it spurred me on. Owen’s words replayed in my head.

  You’re the most gorgeous girl in this club.

  “Brie, get down,” Noah insisted.

  I slipped a hand from the pole and ran it down my body from my neck to my navel. Even though my hand was small and gentle, I closed my eyes and pretended it was Erik’s. He knew how to touch me. He knew how to make me beg for more. I wondered what he would do if he saw me up on that stage, running my hand up my thigh for everyone to see, and when I opened my eyes, I saw him.

  Erik.

  My gut clenched as I blinked twice, trying to ensure he wasn’t just a figment of my imagination. He was a few yards away, standing in the middle of the crowd and watching me. I paused for a moment, faltering on my heels, and then his eyes smoldered in a silent challenge.

  He wasn’t going to rip me from the stage and he wasn’t going to admonish me for being up there. He wanted to celebrate the wicked sensuality I craved, and it was up there, on the stage that I saw a piece of myself reflected back to me in Erik. We were so similar, he and I.

  The sleeves of his black button-down were rolled to his elbows and I took in his strong forearms as I dipped down the pole, slowly spreading my knees wide. My dress hiked up my thighs, but my panties covered me as much as my leotards did.

  Noah’s head nearly exploded, but Erik stepped closer, weaving through the crowd to get to me.

  My stomach fluttered as I stood back up and spun around the pole, pressing up onto my tiptoes and then letting my head fall back as I dipped into a backbend. The red haze lingered overhead, casting my skin in devilish light. I stood back up and spun around, pressed my back to the pole, and met Erik’s gaze again as I trailed my fingertips up the sides of my body. My skin tingled beneath my touch. I stroked my neck and collarbone, and then I tugged on the strap of my dress, toying with it.

  Every time I moved, I caught Erik’s eyes. Like a pendulum, I’d swing away for a moment, but I always came back to him, finding him in the crowd and using him as an anchor. There were hundreds of people watching me, but I was dancing for him, teasing him with my fingers on the hem of my dress, tugging it an inch higher on my thigh. I could feel my nipples tighten against the silky material and I wanted it gone. I wanted to slip out of the straps and let the material slide down my body.

  Erik tilted his head, taking me in with a heated gaze, that hint of a smirk still playing on his lips. I wanted to slide off the stage and steal those lips, push them down my stomach and feel them between my thighs.

  I swore he could hear my thoughts spiraling through me because he stepped even closer, coming within a few feet of the stage. I inhaled a shaky breath as the hazy red light drew him in. In the light of day, he was so handsome it hurt, but the shadowed light of that stage turned his seductive features into something dangerous, scary. He wet his bottom lip and my stomach quivered.

  I swallowed and turned away, trying to calm my heart, but it was no use. I knew his gaze was still on me, dragging across my back. I pictured his eyes hitting the spot where the hem of my dress stretched across the back of my thighs and a shiver ran down my spine. A light layer of sweat coated my skin as I realized how much he was getting to me.

  I was the one on stage.

  I was the one in charge.

  I won’t let him win.

  With a shaky inhale, I walked to the pole and circled around it, picking up a leg and wrapping it around the cold metal. My dress barely covered me as I spun, and I knew the sight of me up there would drive any man insane. I’d never stripped completely for Erik. I’d never given him full rein of my body, but up on that stage, I was showing him everything he could have if only he said the word. One fucking word.

  And if he didn’t want to, someone else would.

  I smirked and glanced over my shoulder, circling around the pole slowly, taunting him, but when I
caught sight of him the crowd, he was backing up, letting other people push forward and overtake his spot in front of me.

  Our eyes locked for a brief moment and I could see the lust there, building inside him. He looked hungry with it, consumed by me, and yet he was walking away, backing up and leaving me like that, completely exposed.

  I circled the pole again, using his disappearing silhouette as my point of focus.

  Each spin took him another foot away and sank another dagger into my heart.

  I wanted to reach out and call for him.

  No.

  Come back.

  Please.

  “Jesus, Brie,” Noah said, finally at a breaking point. He reached up to pull me off the stage as the song faded into silence, but his hands around my hips weren’t the right hands. His chastising tone wasn’t the right tone.

  “What were you thinking?” he asked, his voice clouded in lust and anger. “That’s not like you.”

  I frowned.

  He was wrong. That person up on stage, the girl brushing her hands down her body and begging to be touched? That was only version of myself I didn’t have to second-guess.

  I looked for Erik as Noah pulled me through the crowd, turning my head and scanning the room for blackness. I needed another glimpse of him, one more moment to convince myself he’d actually shown up. The bar was too crowded, too dark. I whipped my head from left to right, convinced I’d somehow missed him. Maybe he was waiting for me at the bar or in a dark corner of the room.

  Noah kept tugging me forward until chilly night air washed over me. Lexi was waiting for us outside on the curb and as soon as she saw me, she broke out in a wide grin.

  “YOU WERE AMAZING!” she cheered, ripping me out of Noah’s grasp and spinning me in a circle around her.

  Noah scoffed, but I let Lexi’s praise wash over me.

  “You’ve got moves, my friend,” she said, gripping my hips and pushing them into a wide circle.

  I smiled and glanced over her shoulder, catching a flash of black hair a few yards ahead of us.

  My stomach clenched as I caught sight of Erik just before he disappeared into the back seat of a cab.

  “Brie?”

  My smile slowly faded as he reached out and yanked the door closed behind him. He really was there.

 
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