Beneath These Lies (Page 36)

My phone buzzed again and I pulled it out.

RIX: Still waiting on that answer.

I was thinking the Fireball sounded like a great idea as well. Rix was playing games with me, and my patience was shot.

“Feel free to pass the bottle this way.”

Both Elle and Yve looked at me, smiling in approval. “Tonight’s going to be fun,” Elle said as she grabbed the bottle from Yve and passed it over.

I swigged and handed it back, rather proud of myself that I didn’t cough. Other than the shots at the bachelorette party, drinking straight liquor wasn’t exactly normal for me in the last ten years.

The shot of liquid courage had me pulling out my phone to respond to Rix.

VALENTINA: None of your damn business. I want my update.

His response was almost instant.

RIX: I’ll get my answer one way or another.

He wouldn’t be getting an answer out of me tonight, that was for damn sure, especially if I wasn’t getting an update. All I could hope was that Rix wasn’t going to renege on his promise and would keep Trinity safe.

Surprisingly, it didn’t take but one more shot of Fireball for me to get comfortable with the idea. Rix might not live on the right side of the law, but I couldn’t be this fascinated with him if he was truly a bad person, right? And Trinity was innocent in all of this. He wouldn’t let her suffer for the consequences of D-Rock’s actions. I hoped I was right, because I was betting Trinity’s safety on it, which terrified me.

But what could I do about it tonight? Yve passed the Fireball around again, and the only answer to my question seemed to be another drink.

It was safe to say that having our own private room at the restaurant was in everyone’s best interest. Creative cocktails were flowing, and food was eaten defensively to try to soak up some of the alcohol.

“Are we really going to the jazz club next?” Vanessa asked. “Because I’m already hammered. Con’s going to have to carry me home at this rate.”

“I’d let that blond Viking carry me anywhere,” JP, one of Yve’s employees said.

I’d seen him carry Vanessa before, and I couldn’t help but think she didn’t mind it.

“I thought you were crushing on Bishop?” Vanessa asked.

As the newest addition to the group, I didn’t know who Bishop was, and I’d just met the cute, tattooed JP tonight.

“Who’s Bishop?”

JP sighed. “A bearded, man-bunned, tatted-up gift to womankind. And he’s also capable of tattooing me and pretending I don’t exist. Apparently I’m too young for him.”

Yve narrowed her gaze on JP. “What did you do?”

JP grabbed her drink and chugged. When she lowered the glass to the table, she replied, “Maybe surprised him with a little naked JP. I’ve never seen a guy look so horrified or throw my clothes at me so quickly. Embarrassing. I can never go back to Voodoo Ink. Which sucks, because who’s going to finish my sleeve now?”

The table went silent before laughter broke out.

“You didn’t!”


“Oh my God, that’s epic.”

“Stop!” JP said. “This is my pride we’re talking about. Maybe if my tits and ass were bigger, he’d be into me?”

“Or maybe he’s not into girls,” I tossed out.

Once again, silence fell.

“Oh, he is definitely not gay,” Vanessa finally offered. “He’s lumbersexual to the extreme, and definitely not gay.”

“I don’t know what any of this means. Someone please explain.”

For the rest of dinner and dessert, I was introduced to an entire culture I’d never heard of. Apparently men took beards very seriously these days. I was all for male grooming, so more power to them, but I couldn’t help but be thankful that Rix leaned toward clean-shaven or the occasional stubbly look.

Wait, what?

I couldn’t think about him. I wouldn’t think about him. There was nothing between us. And I was sort of dating a guy who would arrest him in a heartbeat. Who I also appreciated leaning toward the stubble more than the beard.

My life was officially a hot mess.

Pushing it all out of my mind, I followed the women as we piled into the car that Elle and Yve had picked me up in, and we headed for the jazz club.

When Elle called for shots, I didn’t argue. Not thinking was exactly what I wanted to do.

“YOU SURE YOU’RE GOOD, GIRL?” Yve asked as she walked me up to my door.

“I’m fine. No worries. I think I drank about a gallon of water before we left.”

“That explains your seventeen trips to the bathroom.”

I giggled, because she didn’t know that I was also learning how to drunk text. I had a very distinct feeling that this would be something I regretted in the morning, but tonight, I was altogether too entertained to stop.

I pulled out my key and shoved it in the lock of the portico door. “Thank you for inviting me. I’ll see you soon, okay?”

Yve hugged me. “Take care. And make sure you get on that artist to put some more work in the gallery. We love the painting and definitely want a few more of the same style. You better not sell them to anyone before you let us see them. I’m calling dibs.”

“Mmm, okay. I’ll let you know,” I mumbled, pulling the door open. “Soon.”

If she hadn’t walked away at that very moment, I might have spilled my secret. I was feeling altogether too chatty right now, so inside my house I went. Shutting the door behind me, I unlocked the door that led into the house, slipped inside, and punched in the code to my alarm. I didn’t even notice the figure sitting on my staircase until I nearly tripped over him.