Prince albert, p.36
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       Prince Albert, p.36

         Part #4 of A Step Brother Romance series by Sabrina Paige
 

  was from Dallas, and we became instantaneous friends.

  "Even if it doesn't really count?" I take a sip of the drink, a Texas specialty that's like a margarita in a martini glass, complete with olives.

  "Shut up," Daniel says, sipping his drink. "Who cares if your daddy is the CEO of the company? That's how the world works. At least your mother didn't have you auditioning for commercials before you could walk."

  Laughing, I crunch on another chip. "But the commercials from when you were a toddler were totally adorable."

  "It's appalling that they're on the internet," he says, rolling his eyes. "It used to be that people's shameful childhood experiences didn't live on forever and ever."

  "They're cute," I insist. "And besides, now it's saved for posterity. When you become super famous, they'll use them in one of those throwback episodes: a glimpse into Daniel Beacon's childhood."

  "Now I feel tons better," he says, waving his hand dismissively. "Cute is just fantastic for my dating life, by the way."

  "How is the dating life?"

  "Oh, you know," he says. "I'm seeing a few guys, no one special."

  "What about the lawyer?"

  "Too work obsessed, of course," he says. "There's nothing new with my dating life. I'll die a spinster."

  "You're not going to die a spinster. But if it's any consolation, you'd make a fabulous spinster," I note. "I can see you being the gay version of the Dowager on Downton Abbey – bitter and witty and clever."

  "I really need to date someone with a title," he says, sipping his drink. "Like a prince. Or an earl. Oh, but I want to hear about the famous stepbrother."

  "What?" My voice goes up an octave. "How did you know he was here?"

  Daniel's eyes narrow and he sips his drink. "You didn't think you could hide this from me, did you?" he asks. "I read an article."

  "You follow motorcycle racing?" I ask, my voice dripping with disbelief.

  "No," he says. "But I follow hot guys. And Gaige O'Neal is hot as hell. Isn't he? Tell me he's lying around the pool sunning himself. Oh, tell me he needs a cabana boy."

  "Ugh, cut it out. That's my stepbrother you're talking about."

  "So what?" Daniel asks.

  "So, it's repulsive," I say. Is it obvious that I'm lying? "I don't think of him that way." But my protests sound weak, feeble, and I have to take a sip of my drink to cover up my faltering voice.

  Daniel studies me from across the table. "First of all, you're not related. Didn't you only meet a few years ago, anyway?"

  "When we were seventeen," I say. "Anyway, he's completely skeevy. He's a total manwhore."

  "You know that's how I like 'em," Daniel says, wiggling his eyebrows. "Maybe he's just not finding what he needs, screwing all those girls."

  I laugh. "You want me to set you up, let him know you're hot for him?"

  "I'll settle for the opportunity to ogle him as he lays out by the pool," Daniel says. "You can even join us if you like."

  "Well, you'll have to wait on that, because he's in Vegas for the weekend. With my new boss, Chelsea." The drink is making me a little tipsy, and I put extra emphasis on her name, punctuating it at the end with a dramatic eye roll.

  "Ooh, this sounds good," Daniel says. "First day at the job and we already hate the boss? Doesn't she know you're the CEO's daughter? How dare she get on your bad side?"

  "She definitely knows I'm the CEO's daughter," I say. "I'm sure that's why she hates me. That, or..."

  "Or what?"

  "I don't know," I say. If I tell Daniel that I think Chelsea has the hots for Gaige, he'll think I'm crushing on Gaige myself. And that's not something I want to discuss, not with anyone. "It's nothing. I'm going to be stuck traveling with them to Japan. I'm babysitting Gaige, basically. Can you imagine?"

  "Mmm," he says, closing his eyes. "Wait. I'm imagining it right now. In this scenario, he's shirtless. Uh oh, all of his pants were lost by the baggage handlers. How unfortunate."

  I reach across the table and slap Daniel's hand. "Open your eyes. You should be expressing your sympathy for me, not fantasizing about my asshole stepbrother."

  "Traveling to Japan to babysit one of the hottest men on the planet?" he asks. "Yeah, let me see if I can muster up some sympathy for you." He pauses for a second. "Nope, I just can't do it. Sorry."

  "You're a terrible friend."

  "Aw," Daniel pouts and flags down our waitress as she passes, ordering another round of drinks. "Fine. We won't discuss your stepbrother and how sexy he is. We'll talk about the boss instead. She's a bitch, right? Tell me all about what a bitch she is."

  "She hates me, and --" I start, but Daniel interrupts.

  "Wait. Okay, we can get back to bitchface in a second," he says. "Of course, I already hate her because she's on her way to -- where did you say she was taking my future husband?"

  "Vegas."

  "Okay, because she's on her way to Vegas with my future husband," he says. "I will say one more thing, and then mum's the word, okay?"

  I exhale heavily, downing the rest of my drink. "Go ahead. What?"

  "So they call him Tool, right?"

  I groan loudly. "No way, I'm not talking about this. No, no, no, no."

  "What?" He puts his hands up. "It's what they call him. You're acting as if I made this name up. All I want to know is if it's as legendary as they say it is."

  "Holy shit, Daniel." I feel my face flush as I think about the tool Gaige left me in the office. It's not in the office anymore, though; obviously I couldn't keep it there, so the box is carefully hidden behind some clothes in my closet. I'm so tipsy, I almost tell Daniel what Gaige did. Except I can't quite bring myself to do it. I suddenly feel like holding on to this, my little secret. "I'm not telling you about Gaige's tool."

  He leans forward and lowers his voice to a conspiratorial level. "So you know about it, then."

  "I do not know about it!" I yelp, sounding defensive. "I know nothing about Gaige's dick, thank you very much. I'll leave that to whatever floosy of the hour he's hooking up with."

  Daniel raises his eyebrows and leans back in his chair, cocktail in hand, surveying me. "Floosy, huh?"

  "That's right. Floosy."

  "Are you ninety years old?" he asks. "And you're calling me a spinster."

  "Floosy is not an old term," I protest. "It's...okay, fine, it's an old term. But it never goes out of style."

  "So Gaige is hooking up with floosies," Daniel says. "And maybe your boss, judging by your reaction."

  "Can we talk about something else?" I ask. I don't want to think about Gaige anymore. And I definitely don't want to think about whatever he and Chelsea are doing in Vegas. I'm sure the liquor is flowing like water, and Chelsea is doing exactly what she did with him in the office, her hand lingering too long on his arm. Except this time she's probably wearing some skimpy dress and he's all over her. I shake off the feeling of disgust I get when I think about the two of them together.

  "You're a little touchy about this," Daniel says, studying my expression. I avoid looking at him, grateful when the waitress interrupts us with our checks.

  "What?" I ask, after she leaves.

  Daniel shrugs. "I've never seen you so touchy about someone before," he says. "You're not into him, are you?"

  "Don't be ridiculous," I say, forcing a laugh. "That would be insane. Of course I'm not into him. I don't even like him."

  "Sure, doll," he says, still looking at me. "Whatever you say.”

  CHAPTER NINE

  GAIGE

  Thump thump thump thump. The pounding of the bass in the club vaguely matches the throbbing of my head. I should be fucking ecstatic, sitting in the VIP section of one of the hottest clubs in Vegas, getting paid to hit on hot girls and drink only the most expensive liquor. Chelsea isn't even glued to my side like I thought she'd be. As much as I know she'd be all over me in a heartbeat if I gave her the green light, she's also all about business and she knows that it's good for business for me to be picking up chick
s. It's all about the motherfucking brand.

  The problem is, all of this is for show. I still have my boot on, which gives me a great excuse for sitting here with my leg propped up instead of having to fake being into this whole thing. And I'm drinking club soda instead of liquor. I haven't even banged a single model in the bathroom.

  Gaige O'Neal, sober and celibate. Hell really has frozen right the fuck over.

  Maybe I'm having a stroke or something. Personality change is a symptom of stroke, isn't it? Or I have a brain tumor. I make a mental note to talk to my doctor when I get back to Dallas: "Doc, I'm feeling different from my usual whorish self. I think I might be ill." It's a perfectly legitimate concern.

  The girl on my right paws at me, leaning over, her long brown hair grazing my arm, and for a second when I glance at her hair, I'm reminded of Delaney.

  As if I could forget Delaney. She's been running through my head since we left Dallas. Last night, I threw my phone in the bottom of my bag and watched TV in the hotel room until I passed out, just so I could avoid thinking about her and where she was going dressed the way she was. At the fan event today, I could have sworn I even saw her in the crowd.

  Maybe I do have a fucking tumor.

  "I'm not wearing panties." The girl has to yell it into my ear, despite being so close to me I can feel her lips against my skin. I look down at her, letting my gaze linger on her long tan legs and her short-short white dress. The dress with no panties underneath.

  "Maybe next time," I say. Part of me thinks I should say yes. What I need to do is take that girl in the bathroom and fuck her up against the bathroom stall. I could shake myself out of this slump.

  Except it's not as much of a slump as it is the fact that my thoughts are preoccupied with Delaney.

  The girl slides her hand over my chest, and I push it away, careful not to be too forceful. I want to fling it off me, get her disgusting paw away from me. But Gaige O'Neal doesn't do that. Gaige O'Neal is always up for a good time.

  She leans in closer. "I'm up for anything," she says. "Anything."

  I groan. Normally, I'd be all over this. The girl is hot – she's tall, thin, looks like she stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine, and she's offering anything. Anything is exactly what I like to hear.

  And I'm turning it down?

  Something is definitely wrong with me.

  I break down and text Delaney.

  Have you used it yet?

  It's not more than a minute before she responds.

  Of course not.

  Then, a second later, she sends another text:

  Obviously, I built a shrine to it in my room.

  I'm sure Delaney was so embarrassed by it that she has it stashed away somewhere in the room where no one would ever find it. Under her bed, maybe, or in the closet. She's private like that. She embarrasses easily. I used to love getting a rise out of her, watching her blush when I'd say anything even remotely sexual to her. Innuendo used to make her face turn pink. It's still just as fun getting under her skin.

  Aw, he's meant to be touched, not to be put on a pedestal.

  Chelsea catches my eye from where she sits at the other side of the VIP area and glares at me, then looks at the phone. It's business, I mouth, and she shakes her head. Yeah, yeah, whatever. I'm supposed to be partying, doing shots off the taut little abdomens of college girls.

  The phone buzzes again and I click on the text.

  I'm sure the real thing is getting plenty of touching in Vegas.

  Delaney's obvious jealousy actually makes me pleased. I don't know why she's insecure. She's a fuckton more interesting than the girls I'm surrounded with, with their glazed-over eyes and their plastic bodies. She's smart as hell. Smarter than I am. She's also prettier than these chicks – looks real, you know? She's not a stick figure. She's normal. Curvy. Really fucking curvy.

  In fact, my cock stirs just thinking about the way she looked, when she burst through the door of the guesthouse in the middle of my photo shoot, her shirt completely see-through and clinging to her tits. If I think any more about Delaney and her curves, I'm going to have to go jerk off in the bathroom, and that could be awkward.

  Jealous? Thought you had a hot date last night.

  I can't resist asking. I want to know who the fuck she was with. I don't even know if she has a fucking boyfriend. She could have a damn fiancé, that's how much I know about her life since we've been apart. I don't even know why the fuck I care.

  She's the one that got away. The thought floats through my head, and that's proof positive that I'm losing my damn mind. It's the fucking medication the doctor has me on that must be the problem. There's no way Delaney Marlowe is some long lost love. The only thing that got away from me was the chance to hook up with her. That's what it is. She's just the one chick I never screwed. I should still be pissed as fuck at her for not showing up that night. And then for ignoring me, acting as if nothing ever happened between us. And for leaving for college after that. My phone buzzes again.

  LOL. Date with a friend.

  Yeah, right. What kind of friend is she dressing up for in boots like that? I'm annoyed thinking about her and one of her girlfriends out picking up guys. Or, hell, what if the friend is a guy?

  Friend with benefits?

  She doesn't respond. I flip around on my phone, paging through my social media accounts, while the music in the club provides an annoying background for my thoughts. I wait another few minutes, and get no response, then slide my phone in my pocket.

  Friend with benefits. The thought of Delaney hooking up with someone else makes me unnaturally angry. So angry, that when I look up to see Chelsea standing in front of me, I snap at her. "What?"

  Chelsea leans in close, her hand on my arm, her breath warm against my ear. "You're not having fun."

  I shrug. "I have to take a leak."

  "The bodyguard will go with you."

  Shit. I can't even fucking take a leak on my own, without having some three-hundred-pound gorilla hold my damn dick for me? Being rich and famous is a real trip, that's for goddamn sure.

  I'm too tired to even argue with Chelsea. I don't care. The bodyguard parts the sea of people in the club and starts to follow me into the bathroom. "What?" I ask. "Are you going to fucking watch me take a leak now, too?"

  He ignores me, going in first and looking around. Delaney's damn father apparently hires security who think they're guarding the President or something, instead of a two-bit celebrity like me.

  I'm washing my hands, noting that Delaney still hasn't texted
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