Wicked Sexy Liar (Wild Seasons #4)(9) by Christina Lauren

I glance over at London as the thought rolls through me, and for a stabbing, panicked second I worry about how this must look. I’m standing at the bar, not ten feet from the woman I had sex with last night, and there’s a woman I’ve obviously slept with standing with her arm around my waist, her cheek resting flirtatiously against my shoulder.

It isn’t the first time two women I’ve hooked up with have been in such close proximity, but it’s the first time I feel like I’m tangled in Saran Wrap, mildly claustrophobic.

Though I don’t know why I’m worried; London still hasn’t looked back over at me. She doesn’t even seem to want to remember it happened.

I lead our little group away from the bar and lean closer to Aubrey so we can hear each other over the shouting and cheers from the overhead TVs. Her lips are sticky with gloss, eyes lined heavily with dark mascara. I don’t remember noticing this before.

“How’s it going?” she asks, and then bites her bottom lip.

I give her my best smile. “Not bad at all.”

Chapter THREE

London

IT’S NOT LIKE I’ve never done this before—had a one-night stand—but the number of guys I’ve slept with is still small enough that when I see Luke walk into Fred’s the next night, the thought I’ve had sex with him is the first thing that flashes through my head.

Thankfully, it’s there and gone, replaced just as quickly with What the hell is he doing here? Sex with a guy like Luke is supposed to mean multiple orgasms and a smile you have to explain to your friends the next day. It’s also supposed to be a one-time thing. I’m fairly certain we were both clear on that point.

I never planned on seeing Luke again, which is exactly why I didn’t bother correcting him when he kept calling me by the wrong name. It’s also why it takes me a moment to get my bearings when he walks into Fred’s with Not-Joe, Oliver’s goofy employee and one of my favorite people.

They head straight toward me, but when I do nothing more than get them drinks and go about my business, I think Luke gets it. I can’t quite make out his reaction, though, and I wonder briefly if he’s disappointed that I’m not falling all over myself to see him or asking for a repeat performance. Which—let’s be real for a second—wouldn’t be the worst idea I’ve ever had, because when Luke claimed he knew what he was doing? He wasn’t lying. Not even a little.

But I’m not looking for a repeat. I knew it last night—even when it was so good I kept thinking, I don’t want this to end, I don’t ever want him to come and this to be over—and my instinct is reaffirmed now as I watch yet another brunette sidle up next to him.

This is why hookups never work for me: I don’t like having to mentally process it all after. I don’t like questioning my behavior, questioning theirs. There are too many rules to such a game that are purported to have no strings attached.

The place gradually starts to fill. There’s a game blasting from a few of the overhead TVs, and the periodic roar of the crowd tears through the bar. It’s so busy I’ve almost forgotten Luke is even here when I turn to ring someone up and see him—and the brunette—making their way toward the exit. Together.

There’s an uncomfortable, almost stinging sensation in my chest as I watch her hook her arm through his. She laughs at something he’s said and they disappear through the door. This feeling is strange—it’s not anger, and it’s not hurt. But it is mild irritation, at best, and I’ll definitely serve him Heineken if he ever comes back.

I don’t realize I’m still watching the empty doorway until Fred moves into the space next to me.

“What’s so interesting?” he says, following my gaze.

I snap out of it. “Nothing.” I look up at Fred and grin. “Just someone proving I was right.”

“Well, that sounds interesting,” he says, and props a hip against the counter. “Guy? Girl?”

“Guy,” I say, and reach across to poke him in the ribs. I’d give Fred more of a hard time for being so nosy, but watching him tease Harlow never fails to make my life. “Don’t let anyone tell you subtlety isn’t your strong point.”

He chuckles as he steps out of my reach. “I try. And this night just went up about three hundred points on the interesting scale. Not sure I’ve heard you mention a guy since you’ve been here.”

“That’s because we’re not sitting under a dryer at the hair salon.”

Fred laughs at that and sets up a round of shots for one of the waitresses. “Not sure I have enough hair left to sit under a dryer these days, anyway,” he says, and I catch his eyes flicker back toward the door. “Too bad he left, huh?”

My fingers pause on the cash register and I look over at him. “What are you talking about?”

“The guy you were giving shit to yesterday.”

“I think we both know that doesn’t really narrow it down for me, Fred,” I say with a saccharine smile.

He snorts. “You know who I’m talking about. Cocky one with all the hair.”

“Luke is really going to like that you complimented his hair.”

“Oh, Luke. You learned his name,” he says mockingly. He continues, laughing only half to himself. “He looks like a Luke. Luke and London . . . Luke and London of San Diego and Port Charles. You could be living a soap opera, kiddo.”

I brush by him on my way to the cooler.

Fred finishes ringing up a customer and turns back to me. “So tell me. What point did he prove to you?”

I consider this while I open a bottle of Zinfandel, thinking back on what exactly it was about Luke leaving with the brunette that bothered me most. “I think it reminded me I need to trust my instincts.”

Fred’s smile softens. “We could probably all stand to do a little more of that.”

“Probably.”

After he opens a couple of beers for two guys at the bar, Fred turns back to me. “Who was that dragging him out of here?”

I laugh. It definitely didn’t look like Luke was being dragged anywhere. “I have no idea. Random Girl Number Whatever.”

“You two know each other pretty well, then?”

Giving Fred a little warning glance, I duck down to shelve the wine bottle, saying, “Don’t you have something else you should be doing?”

He looks exceedingly pleased with himself. “Something besides mixing drinks and hassling you?”

“Yeah.”

“Unless Harlow’s coming around, then not really.” He pauses. “But I am a bartender and have been told I’m a pretty good listener if you need to talk when things slow down a little.”

I lift my chin to him in thanks and move to the other end of the bar. The thing is, I don’t need to talk. Does it sting that Luke had sex with me less than twenty-four hours ago and just walked out of the bar with another woman? A little. Not because I feel like my honor has been tarnished or I wanted more of Luke for myself, but because it makes me feel a little disposable, and, despite my better judgment, I liked him.

I’ll get over it.

* * *

A COUPLE OF hours later, I walk out of the storage room carrying a case of hard liquor and see that Luke is back. Alone.

I slow my steps as I close the distance between us, trying to figure out how I’m going to get out of interacting with him, but he looks up at the sound of bottles clanking and his face lights up.

“If it isn’t my favorite bartender,” he says, flashing me his warm smile. “I thought you’d left, London.”

I feel my own smile flicker across my mouth when he emphasizes using my correct name, and he watches me balance the box on the sink and open it, pulling out bottles and setting them on the counter. My fallback persona is bubbly, but in this job—and especially with guys like Luke—I’ve had to train myself to be a bit more reserved. So far with him I sort of suck at it.

But what sucks even more right now is I’m a captive audience behind the bar, and I just don’t know what else we possibly have to talk about.

He’s still smiling as if he’s genuinely happy to see me, and damn if that same pull isn’t still there between us, drawing the hesitation out of me.

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