GLASGOW always looked better in the early hours of the morning, the sun just rising, a haze of moisture caressing the air just above the Clyde’s deep, dark waters. But this wasn’t early morning, and the view from Tyler Kane’s office window was doing little to lift his damn mood.
What the fuck had he been thinking? He didn’t do the dating shit! Not one night. Not blind. Nothing! Nada. He fucked. Hard! End of conversation.
His little brother owed him big time for this one. Way big!
Scowling hard, Tyler shoved his hands deeper into his pockets. It was only one night. Just one night of being nice and playing the game. After that, he’d drop the girl off, say goodnight, and grab an early evening. Favor to little brother complete. No harm done, and back to sunny Wisconsin at six.
With a snort of frustration, Tyler turned his attention back to the reports on his desk and shrugged off his jacket. He poured himself a much-needed whiskey from the well-stacked cabinet behind his desk, and sat down.
Stuart’s voice interrupted his dull mood through the office com.
“What is it, Stuart?”
“Your gala tickets, sir. Shall I forward them to your Wisconsin or Chicago address?”
“Chicago,” he hissed, swirling the whiskey around his mouth with a grimace.
“Yes, sir. I have forwarded the details to your driver and placed a reminder in your diary as per usual.”
“You’re welcome, sir. Will there be anything else this evening?”
Tyler gulped down the amber liquid, waiting until the burn passed before answering. “Has Daniel gotten back to you with the information I requested on Miss Anna Wright?”
“Nothing yet, sir. Shall I have him fax you the details as soon as he receives them?”
“No. Tell Daniel to phone my mobile as soon as he has something to report.”
“Texting him now, sir. Will there be anything else?”
“No. That’s it. Go home, Stuart.”
“Have a lovely evening, sir.”
Yeah, right. Tyler scowled and glanced at his watch—five minutes before eight. He was meeting Frank at nine. He could hit the dungeons, try to work off some of his bad mood with a nine tail. But that would leave him little time for a shower afterwards. Only one thing for it—standing up, he poured himself another whiskey, fingers loosening the tie that had been chafing at his neck all day. Slipping his fingers beneath the knot, he tore the damn thing off and tossed it across his desk. Jeans and T-shirt hung in the adjoining en suite. Another whiskey and he’d change into them. Better make that two, he told himself, and sat old Jack Daniel’s down on the desk next to his glass.
Saturday. The last day in my online virginity auction, and I have no nails left. To say I’m nervous would be the understatement of the century. I’m a nervous frigging wreck. And to top it all off, Steph is expecting me to be sociable and charming to Frank’s big brother tonight. How the hell did I get into this mess?
I graze along my nail bed and find nothing left to chew on but jagged little stubs. “You’re a fucking idiot, Anna Wright,” I mumble to my reflection. A dark-haired girl with large green eyes, paler than yesterday’s skin and skinnier than last week’s body, looks back dolefully. With a soft sigh, I slide her out of sight and retrieve the only suitable attire I own—a 1920s vintage dress, courtesy of good old Oxfam. Fingering the delicate fabric with love, I lay it across the bed, and begin fishing through my drawers for knickers, suspender belt, and nude stockings. The bra I have chosen is lacey and nude, but even so, the straps will show through the lace of the dress. I glance down at my breasts thoughtfully. They’re round and firm with stand-to-attention nipples and no sagging in sight. I cup them in my palms, turn to the left and then to the right. They don’t sway or bounce as I move. I might just get away with it. I put the bra back and close the drawer.
Nude dolly shoes fished from under the bed complete the look. Now all I have to do is pin up my hair. The last pin slides into my loose chignon as Steph barges through my door.
“Wow, who pulled out your stopper?” She grins.
“Not too bad yourself,” I compliment her. Her sexy Goth look of wedged boots, micro shorts, black vest, and black knee-high socks is a sure winner and will have any male within a fifty-mile radius panting with desire.
And me? Well I’m more of a glance over compared to Steph, and that suits me just fine. Attention isn’t something I’m comfortable with.
“So, where we going?” I ask.
“I told Frank we’d meet them in O’Shannigans. A few beers there and then we’re off to boogie the night away at the Corinthian.” She wiggles her hips dramatically.
I wish I were more like her. I shake my head and smile. Maybe tonight I will be.
Forty minutes later, and we’re standing in O’Shannigans—local watering hole to under-agers, college grads, and serial gropers. The tables are old wood, scarred with ringed glass stains, and the lamps are Tiffany rip offs. But it’s the campus choice, where the drinks are always cheap, and the atmosphere always cheerful.
Sean O’Hare, O’Shannigans’ long-standing owner-occupier, slaps his large, hairy hands down before us. His face is ruddy and, as always, he’s grinning like a deranged garden gnome.
“What can I get for you, girls?”
“Budweiser and Budweiser, please, Sean,” yells Stephanie over the din of the band. “And put it on Frank’s tab.” She juts her chin toward the band. “They’re quite good.”
Sean nods and rips the top off two Buds.
“Yeah, but a tad too noisy for me. They call themselves ‘The Darkness’.” He waves his fingers scarily in front of his face, and I can’t help but laugh.
“Oh, Anna, you should do that more often, lass. Your face lights up like a fairy lamp when you smile.” He moves off down the bar with an infectious grin and a twinkle in his old eyes.
“If he were a few decades younger, he’d be chasing you.” Steph chuckles. She takes a long swig from her Bud and sweeps the room with her gaze.
“Yeah, and I’d be running in the opposite direction. Can you see them?” I ask against the lip of my bottle.
“See who?” A familiar male voice filled with humor tickles my right ear.
I shuffle down a stool and Frank Kane—St. Andrew’s University rugby hero and Steph’s fiancé—jumps up onto my vacated spot and leans into Steph for a kiss that sets my cheeks aflame.
I look away, embarrassed by their public display of affection and meet the favor—aka, Tyler Kane. I’ve seen photographs of him dotted around Frank’s flat on the rare occasions I’ve been there with Steph. But they in no way prepared me for the real deal, not by a frigging long shot.
My chest constricts. And even though it’s rude, I can’t help but stare at the man standing before me.
He’s dressed in a gray T-shirt, pilot-style bomber jacket, and jeans that hug and dip in all the right places. Short dark hair frames his bronzed face with just the right amount of wavy unruliness. And right at this precise millisecond in time, scorching hot dark eyes are scrutinizing me with open amusement. I drop my gaze, cheeks aflame in my embarrassment at having been caught staring.
He eases himself lazily onto the stool next to my own, and my heart rate spikes. What is wrong with you? I scream at myself. You’re acting like a horny fucking teenager. Get a grip!
Pulling on all of my self-control reserves, I lick my lips, wiggle my butt to the left of my seat and slide right off the damn thing to land with a dull thump at Tyler Kane’s feet.
Warm fingers instantly glide under my elbow and help me back to vertical.
“Anything broken?” he asks teasingly.
“I’m so sorry. I’m just…really, really, nervous.” I slide my arm out from under his grip.
He frowns—not that I blame him—and steps back, allowing me room to dust myself down and reclaim what little dignity I have left.
“You have nothing to apologize for, Miss Wright. How is your bottom?”
“Tender but fine.” I divert the conversation away from my butt and back to him. “Stephanie told me you were only here for a few days. Are you here on business, Mr. Kane?”
“Tyler, please.” He smiles lazily, and it takes all of my concentration to keep my eyes from straying to his mouth. “And yes, just business. I return home tomorrow.”
I can’t help it, I’m fixated on his lips, the silkiness of them against his strong jaw, his bronzed neck, chest—
Get a grip, Anna, I chastise myself. Seriously! What the hell is wrong with you tonight?
He leans forward, his voice rippling seductively across the sensitive skin at the base of my ear. “I do hope you approve of what you see, Anna,” he murmurs, sliding a warm hand around my waist and tugging me against six feet two of hard male flesh. This close, he smells exactly how I had expected him to—expensive. I slip out of his grip, reach up, and tuck an escaped strand of hair back behind my ear.
“I wasn’t, I mean I was, but not…not like that.”
“And by that, you mean what exactly, Miss Wright?” Before I can answer, Frank comes to my rescue by draping an arm around his brother’s shoulder and steering the conversation back to good old neutrality.
“Leave her alone, Tyler. She’s not that type of girl. Steph had to twist her arm to get her to come tonight.”
“I’m glad she did,” Tyler drawls.
I have never blushed so much in my entire life. And Frank was right I’m not that type of girl. This guy was pressing buttons I didn’t even know I possessed.
“Okay! Enough of this chit-chat. Time’s a-wasting!” Steph states and, curling her arm around Frank’s waist, she heads for the exit.
Without invitation, Tyler folds his hand around my own and leads me outside.
Ten minutes later, three huge bouncers dressed in formal black—each wearing tiny ear and mouthpieces—eye our passing into Glasgow’s most prestigious nightclub with a curt nod of their shaved heads.
Jesus H Christ. What the hell am I doing? My legs feel like jelly. I don’t know this man. In truth, I know nothing of men at all. And yet, here I am, turning into a gelatinous quivering mess of hormones at the mere touch of him.
He narrows his sinfully dark brown eyes quizzically. “You’re shivering, Miss Wright. Are you cold?”
I swallow past the lump in my throat and shake my head, my hungry, traitorous eyes lingering on his glorious mouth more than is acceptable or polite.
I wet my lips nervously.
God! How can I want this man to kiss me when I have only just met him? Stupid, stupid, stupid, my inner voice screams at me.
“A little,” I lie. There is no way I’m going to let him know that the cold has nothing to do with my shivering. Nothing at all.
A small V forms between his brows. Shit! He knows I’m lying. I tear my eyes from his and look at anything but him.
Letting out that breath he dragged in earlier, he tugs gently at my hand and leads me into what appears—to my untrained eye—to be a private VIP suite.
I glance around at how the other half lives. To my left, there is an overly large corner settee. To my right, a well-stocked bar. And directly before me, an open railing. Four wide steps at its center lead down to a dance floor, which, even from here, I can feel vibrating with movement.
Tyler’s hands settle upon my shoulders, and I have to bite down on my lip to keep in the soft mewl of delight jangling for release upon my tongue.
“May I?” he asks.
“Please,” I murmur.
He slides the coat free of my shoulders and drapes it across one of the many easy chairs dotted about the room.
I smile and mumble an awkward, “Thank you,” not knowing what else to say.
“The pleasure is all mine, Anna.”
I squirm under his scrutinizing gaze and slide my hands free of his, grateful that Steph is here to keep me from making a damn fool of myself. I look over my shoulder at her with a plea in my eyes. But Steph only winks and pulls Frank forward toward the dance floor. A lascivious grin spreads across her face. And then she’s gone, swallowed up within the jumping, yelling crowd. I let out the breath I have been holding in, walk toward a plump sofa, and sit down.
“Do I make you nervous, Anna?” He sits casually on the sofa’s twin.
How does he do that, make his voice so soft, and yet so predatory?
I gulp and nod.
“I’m sorry. That is not my intention. Believe it or not, I’m as disconcerted as you are. Maybe even more so.” He frowns.
I have to fight down a sudden urge to trace my tongue across those frown lines. Oh, my sweet Lord! What the hell is wrong with me? I’m thinking like a total whore. I inhale erratically. “I don’t do this…” I flounder, looking for the right words and coming up empty.
Grabbing a beer from the table top, Tyler leans forward, his hands draped casually between his knees. “And by this, you mean what exactly?” He takes a long drink, eyes fixed on my face over the mouth of his beer bottle.
“Date. I don’t—date.”
“You have never had a boyfriend?” He sounds incredulous and humorously condescending.
I shake my head, eyes lowered. “No, never.” God, this is the strangest conversation I have ever had, bar none.
“May I enquire why?” I don’t need to look at him to know he’s smiling.
I squirm in my seat. Why the hell are we even talking about this?
“I…” I exhale shakily and pick at the hem of my poor dress. “I have some issues. Dating would complicate those issues.” There, that ought to send him running for the hills. But is that what you want, Anna? Look at him for God’s sake. Wouldn’t you like to feel those lips on you?
Would I? Hell, now I’m frowning.
“We all have issues, Anna. It’s just a matter of how we choose to deal with them that shapes our lives.”
The buzzing of a phone on vibrate fills the air between us. Tyler fishes into his jeans pocket, pulls out his iPhone and checks the screen. “Please excuse me. I have to take this.”
I nod, and he’s gone, leaving nothing but that deliciously clean, citrusy aroma I’m already beginning to associate with him.
I shouldn’t be doing this to myself. In less than a few hours, if everything is agreeable, I will be someone else’s to do with as they will. And Tyler Kane will be nothing more than a distant memory.
I swipe a Bud from the table top, swig hard, and push myself vertical. Walking over to the railing that separates me from the busy dance floor, I lean against it.
Paloma Faith is screaming out what she can’t rely on, and of their own accord, my hips begin to sway.
On the dance floor, Steph is strutting her stuff for all it’s worth, and Frank, well, he has eyes and hands only for her.
Suddenly, I feel very alone.
“This is a mistake.” I shouldn’t be here. I’m no good with people and even worse with strangers. Especially when they affect me as much as Mr. Hot does. I’m just begging for trouble to come knocking if I stay.
Steph spots me above the heads of the dancers and waves me down. I shake my head and point to my bottle. A slight breeze against my back and I know that Tyler has walked back into the room.
I hold my breath and concentrate all my energy on not turning around.
“Do you dance, Miss Wright?” His voice is a dark purr of seduction and my heart flips in reply. I do dance. It’s the only thing I do that I don’t have to think about doing, and I do it well. But not tonight, and most definitely not with this man.
He stands millimeters from my side on the platform, leaning against the railing, his back to the dancers as he gazes at me with that damned amused expression in his eyes again.
I hold his gaze. I am not a gazelle, and he is not a damned lion. I should not be afraid of this man—or how he makes me feel. The words spill out before I can stop them. “I dance well, Mr. Kane. And you? Do you dance?”
His grin widens but he shakes his head. “Unfortunately, no. I’m more of an outdoor man. Motorcycle racing, rock climbing, that sort of thing.”
I nod. It makes perfect sense. Tyler Kane’s body is toned, tanned and lithe. And a body like that doesn’t come without hard work and a whole lot of vigorous activity. My eyes drift involuntarily to his chest and the muscles bunched under his gray T-shirt. Damn him for being so good-looking! Dragging my eyes from his chest, I flick through my frazzled brain for something safe to say. “So, you’re Frank’s big brother?” That’s the best you can do, Anna? Fucking Hell!
“Half-brother. We share the same birth mother, a love of sports, and an uncanny ability to make complete asses of ourselves on the dance floor.” He flicks his eyes toward his brother, who is thumping about like Shrek and grinning like he owns the floor—which, in a way, I guess he does because, right now, other dancers are jumping out of his way with Usain Bolt speed.
I laugh heartily and without reservation at the spectacle that is Frank Kane on the dance floor.
“You have a beautiful laugh, Anna. It’s uncensored and free. Quite rare in the circles I travel.”
I stop laughing and look at him. Really look.
He clears his throat and inches closer, nodding his head toward his brother. “What about you? Any embarrassing family members lurking about?”
I shake my head firmly. “No. No family lurking anywhere.”
“I envy you that freedom, Miss Wright. Family can be a hindrance in finding one’s identity in the world.”
I lock eyes with his. How can he say that? He has no idea! None at all.
“You have no idea what you are talking about, Mr. Kane. My life…is by no means enviable, I assure you.”
He studies me for a moment, a scowl marring his perfect features. And for a second, he looks almost vulnerable. Then he smiles—a forced smile that tells of a man who has mastered the art of keeping his secrets secret—and points to my drink.
“Your beer is almost finished, Anna. Can I get you something else? Maybe something more befitting your attire?”
“Yes. Thank you.” I flip my gaze away from the tidal wave of movement on the dance floor and reseat myself on the easy chair I vacated only minutes earlier, thankful the conversation has moved on to safer ground. “Do you think they’ll leave the dance floor sometime tonight?”
He hands me a delicate flute of fizzing wine and sits down beside me on the arm of my chair.
I look at him, really look at him, this man who disturbs my equilibrium so badly, and I find him brimming with everything and lacking in nothing. I sip at the wine and draw back in surprise that I’m actually enjoying it. “Mmmm. This is nice. Most of the wines I’ve tried taste like vinegar.”
“Then you have never tasted wine.”
I flush under his stare and take a larger sip.
He watches me without apology.
The experience of having those dark eyes focused solely on me is unnerving. “I’m sorry. But can you not do that?”
He raises an eyebrow and something coils warmly within my stomach.
Is he playing with me? The thought adds fire to my words. “I don’t like being stared at, Mr. Kane.”
“I wasn’t staring, Miss Wright. I was admiring a beautiful woman, as is the right of any red-blooded male. Would you rather I ignore you, and we play the game of feigned disinterest? Because I don’t think I can do that. You intrigue me too much.”
“I’m just another rotten class statistic, Mr. Kane. People like you and me—we shouldn’t even be in the same room.”
He cocks that damn eyebrow again, and I melt. Sweet Lord, why does he have to be so fucking hot? I drain my glass dry in one quick gulp.
“Is that really how you think of yourself, Miss Wright?”
“It’s what I am, Mr. Kane.” I pull myself up from my chair, set the wine glass down and lift my coat from the chair he draped it across earlier. “Excuse me, but it’s obvious we have nothing in common. Enjoy the rest of your evening, Mr. Kane.”
“I don’t—” he jumps up and gently but firmly takes my coat from my hands, “pretend to know what inferiority chip that outburst came from. But I have no intention of excusing you. You’re going to sit back down in that damn chair and listen to what I have to say to you. Now be the good girl I hope you are and sit.”
Anger bubbles into my veins. Anger at Steph for putting me in this position in the first place. Anger at myself for wilting like a lustful slut in front of a man I know absolutely nothing about. And anger at him for drawing out my insecurities and calling me on them.
Biting my lip against the obscenities rising there, I place my hand on the door handle and yank down hard.
Tyler is on me in an instant, his hand slamming the door back on itself, his body immobilizing my own with its warm weight.
“I said sit. Or do I have to make you?” His eyes glitter menacingly.
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“Try me,” he growls.
I wriggle against him, trying to free myself from his oppressive weight. The action only succeeds in forcing a curse from his lips, and gripping my chin, Tyler tilts my face up to meet his.
For what seems an eternity, but can be no more than mere seconds, he holds my gaze. Then, with a heavy sigh, he steps back and points one finger toward a chair.
I scamper toward it and sit, eyes wide, hands clenched, and a traitorous heart hammering within my chest.
Tyler grabs a bar stool, plonks it down before me, and straddles it casually.
“That phone call I just took was about you, Miss Wright. Twenty-two years of you, to be precise.
“You ran a check on me?”
“How fucking dare you.”
“I dare, Miss Wright, because I can. You should be honored. I don’t usually go to these lengths to get laid, but for you, I’m more than willing to make an exception. Like I said earlier, you intrigue me—more so after what I have just been informed of.”
“Shit.” He knows about the auction! “You know about the auction,” I whisper.
He nods slowly, dark eyes scrutinizing me.
I wilt under that gaze, open my mouth to speak, and come up empty.
“It ended three minutes ago. Aren’t you curious to know what the winning bid was, Anna?”
I can do nothing but look into his eyes—frozen like prey in front of a hunter.
He loses the chair and sits down next to me, his body leaning so far into mine that any personal space is gone. Soft, warm fingers trail a line of fire across my neck. I close my eyes, breath quickening with every soft stroke of his skin against my own.
“I just paid a small fortune for your virtue, little Anna. And all because I don’t want anyone else to have what I craved the first instant I saw you. The fact that you’re a virgin…” He smiles wickedly and, using his weight, forces me horizontal across the settee. Acting on nothing more than primal instinct, my thighs part, allowing him to nestle firmly in the space provided.
I gasp at the intensity of his desire pulsating against my sex and shut my eyes against the barrage of emotions raging through my veins.
“Open your eyes, Anna. Look at me.”
Biting hard into the plump flesh of my bottom lip, I do as I am told, and open my eyes.
“For the next four weeks, I own you, Anna Wright. You must do as I say. Is that not correct?”
“No,” I state with more nerve than I feel. “Both parties must agree to the terms before an agreement can be reached. And the auction was for one—” My voice catches on a high note as his fingers slide seductively up my inner thigh. “One week. Not four…”. Oh, sweet Jesus, how am I not combusting already?
A tortured groan rumbles from somewhere deep in his chest and he closes his eyes, his fingers stilled on the notch of my garter fastening. He curses something unintelligible and pulls back, eyes wild “Fuck, you really know how to play with fire, Miss Wright. Stockings for fuck’s sake.”
I blink in stunned mode, not knowing what to do with the emotions that are coursing through me like wildfire. “I…I always wear them. They make me feel good.”
“Yeah, you and me both, baby. For one so innocent, you sure as hell know how to torture a man, Miss Wright. Jesus!”
“I don’t understand.” I honestly don’t. I am bewildered by this man falling apart before me.
He glowers at me and sits down hard, repositioning the large bulge in his jeans as he speaks. “Okay. So…” He rakes his fingers irritably through his hair. “Terms as you stated in your advertisement. Obviously, I like what I see and hear. Do you have any reservations about my appearance, Anna?”
I sit up, smooth down my dress, and retrieving a pre-filled glass from the table, I drain it in one gulp.
“Anna, do you like what you see?” he demands.
I nod without looking at him. “Yes.”
He settles back into his chair, his gaze predatory. “Show me.”
Bastard. He’s trying to cow me. Wrong fucking move, buddy. I have spent my life backing down, but not tonight, and certainly not to Tyler Kane.
Wiping hands slick with sweat across my knees, I stand up, and leaning low, I graze my lips across his, hoping to God I don’t look as idiotic as I feel.
His lips remain closed.
Not to be beaten, and acting on nothing but good old primal instinct, I drift my hand across his erection, and pull down his zipper. His hand instantly snaps onto my wrist. “Much as I would like to show and tell, baby, we have some fine points to iron out before tomorrow.”
“The auction has ended, Anna. I won. The money in question has been transferred into your named bank account. We have had our first meeting. I want you, and I know that you want me. So tomorrow you will travel with me to my home in Wisconsin, and I will take what I paid for.”
I should be running hell for leather away from this man. Gods above, I know I should, but something tells me Tyler Kane isn’t the type of person you run from unless you can run faster than he can. I know I can’t, and truth be told, why would I want to? Tyler Kane is one hot-looking guy, and I won’t ever have to worry about money again. I can complete my degree without fear of, well…anything. But there’s something niggling at me, and I have to ask before I take this any further.
“Why did you bid for me, Mr. Kane? I mean it’s obvious you don’t have to pay to get laid. So why start now?”
“Because you have what I want without the baggage of a relationship,” he states.
“So, you what? You go around paying obscene amounts of money so that you can fuck virgins?” I don’t try to hide the contempt in my voice.
He shakes his head. “You make it sound dirty, Miss Wright. And just for the record, I have never had the pleasure of ‘fucking a virgin’ before. You will be my first and my last. I try not to repeat experiences if I can help it.”
I roll my shoulders, straighten my back, and nod my head. “Before we go any further, Mr. Kane, I need you to know that I have certain conditions.”
His eyes zoom in on my mouth, and a strange pulsating begins deep in my groin. I squirm in my seat and cross suddenly trembling legs.
He smiles as if he knows something I don’t. “I would be disappointed if you didn’t, Miss Wright. What are your conditions?”
I inhale, hold, and close my eyes.
“No filming or pictures, no third parties and…” a small tremor runs through me, “the thought of being intimate with anyone, even you, terrifies the hell out of me.”
“Only because you do not understand your sensuality yet, Anna. I will teach you. Which brings me to my next point.” He fists his palms and flares his nostrils as if he too is fighting some inner conflict. “You will give me four weeks of your time. Not one as stated in your advert. During that time, you will do as I say, when I say, without argument. You will wear what I buy for you, and you will submit to me completely and without hesitation wherever, and whenever.”
I gulp, eyes wide. I can’t argue the four weeks. Tyler probably knows I have five weeks before the new term begins anyway. He seems to know just about everything else about me. I nod mutely.
“Good. We leave tomorrow at six. You have a valid passport I take it?”
I am vaguely grateful that I have a passport. Due wholly to Steph, who paid for me to get one. Just in case, she had said. I never thought I would ever get to use it. “Yes, I have a passport.”
“My driver will pick you up at five. You needn’t bring anything other than your delectable self. I will take you shopping for a more suitable wardrobe when we get there. And training will start as soon as my doctor confirms your virginity and health status. In the intervening period, you will spend your time learning the basics of what I will require from you.” He smiles lopsidedly, and I forget all about my dislike of this man and his domineering nature.
“Training?” What the hell is this man planning to do to me? I lick suddenly dry lips, and a small muscle twitches in his jaw.
“Yes, training. I intend to show you what that delicious looking tongue of yours was made for, Miss Wright.”
Oh my God. I twist uncomfortably in my seat as his words stoke the raging fire within me.
Suddenly, Steph’s head appears above the bannister with Frank stuck behind her like a second limb. She looks from Tyler to me and frowns, no doubt taking in my ruffled appearance and ashen look.
“You okay, Anna?”
Mr. Hot stands and retrieves our jackets.
“Anna was just saying she feels queasy. I offered to escort her home.”
“Anna?” Steph asks, ears pricked and hackles up.
I reassure her with a smile. “I just need to get away from this heat. Some fresh air, and I’ll be as right as rain again.”
Steph’s blue eyes narrow in on Tyler. “Well, I’ll be popping in on you when I get back.”
I almost laugh. Steph’s letting Tyler know that he better not be there when she gets back. I bite my tongue and nod vigorously. “I’ll probably be in bed. So just latch the door again on your way out. Catch you later, Frank.”
“Night, Anna. Ty, bro. Behave.”
Tyler nods, opens the door, and ushers me out of the club, his hand warm and firm against the small of my back.