Tied, p.7
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       Tied, p.7

         Part #4 of Tangled series by Emma Chase
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  instantly calming. My voice holds considerably less heat as I tell her, “This day is going to be goddamn magical. No way I’m letting an honorary Warren mess with it—even if it’s just the seating arrangement.”

  She turns into me, and her arms climb up around my neck. “Are you going to show up at the church?”

  I tilt my head back so I can look in her eyes. “Wild lions couldn’t keep me away.”

  “And . . . at some point . . . will we become husband and wife?”

  “That’s the plan.”

  She reaches up on her toes and brushes her lips with mine. Once. Twice. “Then it’ll be perfect.”

  Dee-Dee closes her cell and announces, “My mother says Brandon’s coming, but he’s not bringing a date.”

  Alexandra amends her list and removes the question-mark chair from the model. Then she beams. “There. Crisis averted. I just need to adjust the number of favors and we’re good to go.”

  Dee’s eyes go wide. “Oh, I almost forgot!” She rummages around in her shiny metallic shoulder bag, then raises her arms in victory. “Party favors!”

  Fisted in Delores’s hands are a dozen lollipops. Each about ten inches long.

  In the shape of a dick.

  She hands a few to my mother. “Here you go, Anne. Just because you’re not partaking in the festivities doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a treat.” Then she adds with a wink, “Vanilla and chocolate. Yum.”

  My mother turns the confection around with a mischievous smile and playful glint in her eyes. Then she puts it on the counter. “Thank you, Dee-Dee. I’ll save these for after dinner.”

  My father grins. Broadly.

  Great. Now I’m stuck with the image of my sweet, saintly mother sucking down a cock-pop while my old man watches. There’s an excellent chance I’ll never get a boner again.

  Fucking Delores.

  Okay, the boner thing is an exaggeration, but still—do you see why I can’t stand her? Her and her whole demon family tree. My best friend couldn’t marry a normal girl, could he? No—he had to fall for the Bride of Chucky incarnate.

  The phone rings. It’s the doorman letting us know the limo’s here. Everyone files out the door as my parents spread around the hugs and well-wishing.

  I snatch James back from Warren for a final farewell.

  We’re lucky—James is not one of those clingy, whiny little bastards who lose their mind when Mommy walks out the door. Even so—good-byes are never fun.

  Kate kisses his cheek and pushes his hair back from his eyes. “We love you, baby. We’ll be home soon.”

  I kiss his head. Then I ask the stupidest question ever. “Are you gonna be good for Grandma and Pop?”

  He looks at me sideways. And grins. “No.”

  I shrug toward Kate. “Well, at least he’s honest.”

  Chapter 5

  I’m not a big fan of air travel. For several reasons. First, there’s the pilot. You can never be sure he knows what the hell he’s doing. Maybe he got his license from a Cracker Jack box. Maybe his daddy made a generous donation to his flight school.

  If I want to put my life in jeopardy? I’ll ask my sister if she’s gained weight.

  Then there’s the charade of it. No matter how many people those security agents feel up, no matter how many bags those former McDonald’s employees search? If somebody really wants to do some damage? Eventually, he will. The airlines should be up-front about it. Like those SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK signs at the beach. When the desk agent hands you the boarding pass, he or she should say, “Hold on, pray your ass doesn’t get blown up, have a nice flight.”

  Would that really be so bad?

  Finally, there’s the doom-and-gloom certainty that if something—even accidentally—does go wrong? You’re toast. I know what the statistics say—that you’re more likely to get into a car accident, blah, blah¸ blah. But here’s the thing—lots of people who’ve had auto collisions have walked away without a scratch. Now tell me how many people you know who’ve gotten out of a plane wreck unscathed?


  Still—I don’t let those worries interfere with my life. They don’t get in the way. At all. Because fear doesn’t make a coward—actions do. I’m a lot of things, but a chickenshit isn’t one of them. And I have to admit, even though it’s not my favorite thing to do, there used to be benefits to flying.

  Meaning the veritable smorgasbord of available women that can be found in airports and planes. There’s the oh-so-lonely housewife, the overworked businesswoman, the carefree graduate student looking to let loose . . . the flight attendant.

  In recent years, quality control on that last one has gone majorly downhill. Once upon a time, sex appeal was in the job description. That’s no longer the case. But I find the airlines tend to schedule at least one screwable female on every flight. Back in my free-man days, they were the easiest pickings. Always so eager to be of service.

  One time, on a business trip to Singapore, three stunning flight attendants were ready, willing, and able to show me the all sights worth seeing—inside their hotel room. We had quite the layover. That’s what I call some friendly skies.

  Speaking of which, one’s headed our way now. She’s attractive—slim, tall, long dark hair pulled back at the sides, and deep blue eyes with an exotic slant. Her hands are manicured—delicate—the perfect size for a decent jerking-off.

  Yes—guys notice things like that.

  “I’m sorry, sir, you’ll have to keep your seat belt buckled until the captain turns the sign off.”

  I look down at the belt in question, then back up. “Right. ’Cause if we nose-dive from twenty thousand feet, this little piece of fabric is gonna stand between me and certain death?”

  Like I said—hypocrites.

  She laughs. And the yellow seat-belt sign goes out with a ding.

  I grin. “Guess he heard me.”

  Full, pink lips smile. “Guess so.”

  Blue eyes glance around the first-class cabin. “A little birdie told me you’re all headed to Vegas for a prewedding party—and you’re the groom.”

  “That I am.”

  She hands me a mimosa. “Congratulations.”


  She hands Kate a glass as well, then her attention reverts back to me. “So . . . where are you staying?”

  I take a sip of the orange concoction. “The Bellagio.”

  “Nice.” She leans over a little—close enough that I can smell her cheap, too-sweet perfume—and drops the bomb. “I’m off the clock once we land in Nevada. I’m staying with friends. . . . Maybe we’ll stop by the Bellagio casino tonight? You look like you’d be in the high rollers’ section?”

  My friends and I aren’t flashy about our money—most people who have it aren’t. But the signs are there if you know what you’re looking for—quality luggage, Rolex watches, classic but expensive brand clothing.

  And yes—this chick just stepped over the line. Her words sounded like a proposition, because they were. Which is pretty fucking disrespectful, considering my fiancée is within earshot.

  But I’m not surprised. Even though men are supposed to be the bold pursuers? Women can be so much worse. They’re brazen. Shameless. They’ll stab each other in the back faster than Jason freaking Voorhees.

  Just ask Steven. When he and Alexandra were dating? Practically every one of her so-called friends offered to climb on his face and take it for a test ride. Because they were petty. Jealous. Because they wanted what Alexandra had.

  Some guys, such as Jack, would welcome crap like this with open arms, always wanting to keep their options open. But not me—not anymore. I play it gracious but firm. Reverently, I pick up Kate’s hand and kiss her knuckles, making sure the ring is in sight. “We’re going to be pretty busy tonight. Thanks anyway.”

  She backs off with an offended shrug. “Suit yourself.”

  It’s not the first time this has happened, and it probably won’t be the last. Kate handles it well, even thou
gh deep down I know it bugs the shit out of her.

  I’m not above using that to my advantage, of course. See that devil on my shoulder? Yeah—he’s ready to get busy. Watch.

  I lean toward Kate. “So . . . you’re just going to let her get away with that?”

  She continues to stare at her magazine, turning the pages harshly. “Get away with what?”

  “With that Hail Mary pass she just threw. Trying to eat off your plate. If a guy came on to you like that in front of me? He’d be eating sidewalk.”

  “I’m not a teenager, Drew. My days of fighting over a boy are over.”

  What I wouldn’t give to have seen those days. With Jell-O on top.

  “I’m not saying you should yank her hair out or rip each other’s clothes off”—I chuckle—“though that would be awesome. I just think you should teach her a lesson. Show her who I belong to.”

  Kate closes the magazine, shaking her head slightly. Her eyes are shiny with amusement. “I know what you’re doing.”

  “What am I doing?”

  “You’re just trying to get me to have sex with you in the bathroom.”

  Busted. “A blow job will work too. You’re really good at those.”

  She reopens the magazine. “Flattery will get you nowhere, Evans. Least of all into my pants.”

  I whine, “Why not?”

  “Because all of our friends are here.”

  “So what?”

  “So they’ll hear us.”

  I lie, “No, they won’t.”

  “They might.”

  “I’ll stuff your panties in your mouth—they won’t hear a thing.”

  She snorts. And stays strong. “Sounds romantic. Still . . . not happening.”

  It’s so happening. But I admit—this banter? The sexual tension? Having to work for it once in a while? It’s still fun. Exciting. It keeps my skills razor sharp.

  Knowing I’ll eventually get my way? That helps too.

  I try a different tactic. Guilt. “It’s tradition, Kate. Like tapping the mascot symbol when you exit the locker room before a football game. It’s bad luck to break tradition—something terrible could happen. How will you feel if this plane crashes and burns, all because you didn’t want to give it up?”

  “I think I’ll take my chances.”

  I look forward and sigh. This is a five-hour flight. There’s no way Kate can hold out that long. Because, when you know how to strum a guitar the right way? That sucker plays.

  I give it a few minutes, until her guard is down. Then I turn sideways in my seat. And start off slow. Subtle. One hand on her thigh, drawing leisurely circles. Eventually my other hand joins in, stroking her arm, then her shoulder—relaxing her. Overwhelming her senses.

  Notice, she’s not pushing me away. Because even though one set of lips is saying no? The other set is always up for a good time.

  I lean over and my mouth lightly caresses her cheek, moving gently across her jawline to her neck. My hand creeps down and covers one breast—squeezing and rubbing. Sliding and teasing.

  Kate’s breathing picks up. The magazine falls from her hands. She half warns, “Drew . . .”

  I whisper in her ear, “Just kiss me. That’s all I want, baby. Just one kiss.”

  These are the famous last words spoken by teenage boys everywhere, in the backseat of their parents’ car. If there are any young females out there? Be warned—it’s never just one kiss. They don’t call it stealing bases for nothing. Before you know it, he’ll be rounding second, sliding into third, and a home run is just inches away.

  Kate presses her mouth to mine—lets me seduce her with my tongue. So warm. So wet.

  So nice.

  Hot, hard, real desire uncoils low in my gut, and my pants tighten predictably. I turn my attention to her earlobe—sucking and biting. Then I whisper tender, dirty, need-filled words that you don’t get to hear. About how much I want her, how beautiful she is, about all the things I want to do to her, and the detailed positions I want to do them in.

  Kate’s hips move upward, searching for friction against the fingers that are now firmly stationed between her legs. When she’s primed and panting—right where I want her—I retract my hands. And look into her eyes. “Let’s finish this in the other room.”

  Kate bites her bottom lip. Her slightly dazed eyes dart left to right, making sure there are no witnesses. She’s just about to cave . . .

  Until a foreign body plops down between us—half on both our laps. My eyes are covered with strawberry-blond hair. And the taste of hair spray fills my mouth.

  God damn it.

  “Hope you got a good night’s sleep last night, Katie. For what I have planned, you’re going to need lots of energy.”

  Delores. As if there were any doubt.

  She wiggles her ass off my thigh, forcing Kate and me to move over so she can squeeze in between us.

  Kate recovers quickly. “Yep . . . um . . . you know me. I’m all about being well rested.”

  My body crackles with unspent carnal energy. It makes me cranky. “Do you frigging mind? We were in the middle of something.”

  Dee-Dee turns toward me with knowing disdain clear on her face. “Nope, don’t mind at all.” She shoos me away with her hand. “You can amscray—Kate and I have some catching up to do.”

  “I don’t think so.”

  “Hello? This is a bachelorette party—and it starts now. You’re not invited. Go compare peckers with the boys, talk about the massive dump you took last night—or whatever it is you do when we’re not around.”

  I grind my teeth. Clench my jaw. To keep from calling her the crusty crotch crack she’s acting like. Too much? My bad. Blame the good Dr. Seuss—we’ve been reading him a lot in my house.

  I take a deep breath. Then I close my eyes and tilt my head back. I’ll wait Dolores out. She’ll have to leave at some point. Or I can use the cum-stained complimentary pillow to smother her.

  The thought makes me smile.

  Dee-Dee and Kate talk. And talk. After a few minutes, the sounds blend together in my male ears like those of Charlie Brown’s faceless teacher. “ . . . wa wa wah wah wanh . . . Matthew’s birthday present . . . wa wa wanh . . . wasn’t sure . . . wah wah wa wa . . . came through last minute . . . wa wa wah wanh . . . see his face . . . wa wa wah . . . so surprised . . . wa wanh . . .”

  Gifts are important to women. But what I’ve come to realize is—at least for some of them—it’s not the actual gift that matters. Or even how much cash you shelled out for it. It’s all about the effort. Symbolism. How much thought you put into getting it for them.

  For instance, if I were to hunt down a napkin from the bar where Kate and I first met? Then, if I had it matted and framed and gave it to her as an anniversary present? I’m pretty sure she’d fuck me into a coma to show her gratitude.

  It’s still just a napkin. But to Kate—it means so much more.

  Last year for my birthday, she got my initials waxed into her bush. I was touched. Talk about a great gift—creative and practical. Anyway, with mild curiosity I open my eyes and ask Delores, “What are you giving him?”

  She grins smugly. “Only the greatest gift a woman can give the man she loves.”

  I take my best guess. “Anal?”

  Kate covers her eyes.

  Dee-Dee’s smile turns into a scowl. “No—pig. I’m giving him the gift of health. My acupuncturist cleared her schedule. She’s going to work on Matthew the whole day.”

  I laugh. Because this explains so much.

  “That’s your gift? Really? It’s the guy’s birthday and you’re gonna make him get needles stuck in his face all day? What are you gonna get him for Christmas—a colonoscopy?”

  Kate clarifies, “Drew, the acupuncture is to get Matthew to stop smoking.”

  Yep, Matthew’s a smoker. Statistically, if you don’t start by the age of eighteen, you never will. But my buddy’s the exception to this rule. His habit began in college—during a particularly stressfu
l game of Madden NFL football.

  Matthew’s kept it in the closet, however. His parents don’t know. Because Frank sucks back two packs a day—and like any smoker, he’d break every one of his kid’s fingers if he found out he was doing it too.

  I put my hands up in surrender. “I take it back, Dee—it’s a stupendous gift. Anything to help Matthew kick the cancer sticks is a good thing.”

  She practically pats herself on the back. “Thank you, Drew.”

  “You’re welcome. Now that we’ve gotten that settled, could you please—and I mean this in the nicest way possible—go the fuck away?”

  She’s not smiling anymore. “No. I told you—this is my time. My Kate time.”

  Fast Times at Ridgemont High appears in my head. “Whatever, Mr. Hand.”

  Kate reaches over and touches my leg. “Drew, maybe you should just go hang out with the guys for the rest of the flight.”

  I stamp my foot. And point at Dee-Dee. “How come she gets Kate time? Where’s my Kate time? I want Kate time too!”

  Dee-Dee answers, “You’ll be getting a whole bunch of Kate time next week. It’s called a honeymoon, dumbass.”

  I glare at her. “You suck.”

  She rubs a finger over her lips lasciviously. “That I do. Frequently. Matthew doesn’t complain.”

  I grimace. “Now I’m nauseous. Kate, will you rub my stomach?”

  Kate smiles. Her voice takes on that motherly, condescending tone she gets when she’s asking James to behave. “Yes, Drew—I’ll rub your stomach, and any other body part you want me to . . . when we get to the hotel.”

  I sigh and resign myself to not getting laid. Just as I start to sink into a deep depression, Jack’s voice echoes throughout the cabin.

  “Dude! Check it out! I’ve got porn on my in-flight entertainment system!”

  Someone yelling “porn” in an enclosed space is akin to an alarm’s going off in a firehouse at midnight. Four pairs of feet scramble in Jack’s direction, including mine. Maybe guy time won’t be so bad, after all.

  I know what you’re thinking. Stop wasting my time. Can we skip the bullshit and get to the good stuff already?

  I’m working on it.

  Besides, I think you should enjoy the good times while they last. I did. I have a feeling things are going to get real crazy—real quick—from here on out. ’Cause our next stop? That’s Vegas, baby. And there’s a reason it’s called Sin City.

  Chapter 6

  When it comes to swanky hotel rooms, you might think the penthouse is top-of-the-line. In most cases, you’d be right. But the Bellagio has something better. The villa. It’s the kind of place only royalty, heads of state, and highly overrated actors get to stay. Five bedrooms, formal dining room, office, library, and a huge kitchen—all trimmed in elegant woods and marbles—decked out with the finest appliances, accessories, and Italian fabrics. It even comes with a full-service maid and butler staff.

  Money can’t buy happiness—but it makes it a hell of a lot easier to stay happy.

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