TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT
Robin Schulz’s “Prayer in C” reverberates through the club. It’s an upscale place—to the point of being obnoxious. The walls are covered by frosted glass and sleek waterfalls. Long, cascading, modern crystal chandeliers hang from a domed, diamond-dusted ceiling. Everything is a different shade of blue—light blue drinks in crystal flutes, blue flashing lights, blue-hued water fountains.
Hundreds of guests yell and bounce on the dance floor. Artfully presented drinks are passed around on expensive trays.
Everyone is celebrating their host’s twenty-sixth birthday. Guys have driven thousands of miles and flown in from around the world to be here. Girls have maxed out their credit cards to dress for this event.
My bestie Wynn and I push our way to the back rooms, where the pool and wet bar are.
We’re probably the only ones who didn’t have to sell our future firstborns for an invitation. We’re also probably the only ones overdressed in dresses that are two sizes too small. But since the club is called Waves, and its main attractions are dozens of swimming pools in the back rooms, anything more than a skimpy swimsuit or cover-up is “overdressed.”
I thought being this covered up in a room full of scantily clad girls would keep the wackos away.
I’ve already had to fend off three butt-grabs and one blatant boob-cup.
Wynn squeaks every time someone touches her. I suspect she feels secretly flattered by the attention, but I’m starting to get tired of slapping away all the hands.
Seriously, this is not how I usually spend my Saturday nights. Me with a tub of salty light popcorn and my favorite TV show is more like it. Casual jeans and smaller, more intimate gatherings are my thing.
Wynn has been on some sort of crusade to entertain me almost daily since our other bestie (and my former roommate), Rachel, got married last weekend.
Why I let Wynn convince me to come here tonight, I don’t know, but my heart has been pounding since we left.
God, what am I doing here?
“Ginaaaaa!” Wynn sounds frustrated as she squeezes my hand and tugs me forward.
She’s trying to create a path for us. Trying to help me find…him. I have an urge to snatch my hand away and head straight back out the front door because…what am I doing here?
My attention is drawn to the naked women with blue-glitter moons on their nipples, hanging from the crystal chandeliers. They’re basically humping the crystals, all shimmering bodies and exposed skin, squirming around like lizards, wiggling their perfect asses.
My outfit and makeup are the tamest things here. Why did I spend hours getting ready?
My heart is beating fast. Because HE is here. I saw his car parked in the lot—a white Rolls-Royce Ghost that screams money, and the off-road dirt clinging to the wheels that screams “I don’t give a shit.”
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in such a packed club, but then, I should’ve known that a master partier would celebrate his 26th birthday in style.
His name is Tahoe Roth. And he’s just a friend. That’s the only reason I’m here. Because friends celebrate their friends’ birthdays. Don’t they?
“Look, we’ll just walk up to him, say ‘happy birthday,’ and then be on our way,” I say firmly in Wynn’s ear.
She turns around, eyes flaring wide.
“So soon? Before Emmett gets here? No way!” Wynn shoots me a chiding frown and pulls me forward more firmly. “You’re going to strut your stuff, say ‘happy birthday,’ and tell him that you have a present for his eyes only. Then you’ll take him home for the night and get him out of your system once and for all.”
“Um…that would be a hard no.”
“Gina! That was the plan—to get him out of your system.”
I bristle. “That so wasn’t the plan. You can’t work something out of your system that you don’t have in your system!”
Wynn and I squeeze together as people bump past us and toward one of the pool rooms. For the twelfth time today, I regret telling Wynn that I don’t know if I want to punch Tahoe or do him all night long. She’s been on my case ever since.
I’m wearing the sexy underwear that I bought today, thinking of his blue eyes.
My stomach knots as I imagine his dimple.
And now I’m having an anxiety attack, wondering how many tequilas I need to get drunk enough to do what I’ve been fantasizing about all day.
“Let’s get Tahoe in the pool—we need to get those clothes off!”
The whisper comes from my right as a girl and her friend push past us and head to the same pool room we’re walking toward.
“Oooh! Look! There he is!” Wynn says.
I inhale sharply and feel that frustration I always experience when I look at him. He’s infuriating. He’s annoying. He’s cocky. Selfish. Self-centered. Really, I don’t even know why we’re friends.
I stop a passing waiter and steal a tequila shot from his tray, toss it back in one gulp, then turn to where Tahoe is standing. And the tequila does nothing to soothe his effect on me.
He stands with a group of men. But Tahoe Roth is the only one I see.
Beneath the lights his blond hair gleams. His eyes are so blue they look electric. He’s rugged, imperfectly raw. He has a day’s growth of facial hair, and a primal, beastly look about him. Vikings is one of my favorite shows and I can’t help but notice that he bears a striking resemblance to Ragnar. I’m breathless.
And then…his smile, his smile is so contagious and comes so easily. I’ve never seen a guy smile as much as he does. It’s an irreverent smile, a mocking smile, because really, Tahoe never seems to respect anything.