Win big, p.6

Win Big, page 6


Win Big

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  “I need your address,” Wyatt says as he turns onto Wilshire.

  I give it to him. “It’s not far. Keep going until 17th Street, then left.”

  He nods. “It seemed like the evening went well.”


  He gets that I really don’t want to talk right now. My heartbeat is erratic, skipping all over the place and racing. It’s impacting my breathing, so I try to pay attention to that, in…out…in…out.

  He cruises through dark streets, Ed Sheeran playing quietly on his sound system, but I mostly keep my eyes closed. Fuck! I hate this so much.

  Chapter 6


  She’s fucking hammered.

  I don’t know why I find this surprising.

  It’s also a little concerning. I mean, New Year’s Eve, sure, lots of people get wasted, but at a charity event that she’s responsible for? That doesn’t seem like Everly at all. What I know of her anyway.

  She’s so…together. Confident and in control. An overachiever. The kind of woman who makes everyone feel like a loser. Okay, maybe that’s just me.

  Nah, she doesn’t make me feel like a loser. She irritates me and she can be a little intimidating, but she also energizes me. Like…a breakaway. The perfect shot through the five hole. Scoring against the best goalie in the league. Like a…a challenge.

  I know she works hard at her job and everyone respects her. The Foundation does a lot of good in the community. She doesn’t seem like someone who’d have an alcohol problem. She seems like she enjoys being in control way too much to give in to booze. I know addiction doesn’t work like that, but that’s how I feel.

  I glance over at her, leaning back in the passenger seat of my SUV, eyes closed, breathing slowly. Jesus, I hope she’s not going to puke. I don’t do well with vomit. One time I was babysitting Owen, he threw up and we both ended up sick.

  I find her place and park on the street under a palm tree. The two-story, Spanish-style building has a tiled roof, pale stucco, and arched windows, and is surrounded by lush landscaping. When the vehicle stops, her eyes flutter open. “We’re here?”

  “Yep. Come on, princess.” I unbuckle my seatbelt, jump out, and round the vehicle to help her.

  “You don’t need to come in with me,” she protests, but holy shit, she nearly falls over when she gets out of the SUV. It could be those sexy-as-fuck shoes with the skinny heels. Or it could be the booze.

  I hold her up and lead her to the sidewalk. “I’m not leaving you alone like this.”

  “I’m fine.” Her voice sounds like she’s ninety years old.

  But I’m not letting go. “Which unit is yours?”

  “Unit E.”

  The building has townhouse-style units with their own entrances. We walk down a sidewalk through shadowy trees and shrubs. She unlocks the door to hers and I follow her inside. It’s a long, narrow apartment, with only an open-concept kitchen/dining/living room on this level, but a staircase just to the left of the door leads up to the second level.

  “Okay, I’m home.” She slaps a light switch on the wall and a modern chandelier above us illuminates the foyer. “Thanks for the ride.”

  She’s pale and sweaty despite the strained smile she attempts.

  “I’m not leaving.” I close and lock the door behind us. “Where’s your bedroom?”

  “That’s a little personal…” Then she sighs. “I don’t even have it in me to make a joke. Upstairs.”

  I bend my knees and pick her up. She squeaks and grabs on to my shoulders. “Jeez, Wyatt, you don’t need to carry me.”

  “You seem a little unsteady.” I take the stairs. She’s not a heavy woman, but let’s be honest, carrying a hundred and twenty pounds up the stairs takes a bit of muscle. I’m a hockey player, not a bodybuilder, and the stairs are all the same honey-toned hardwood as the main floor, meaning, it would be easy to slip. Don’t want that.

  There are two bedrooms up here and she waves to the one on the left. I enter a spacious room with a big bed in the middle of it, pale in the darkness and piled with pillows. I cross more hardwood and deposit her gently onto the mattress.

  She sinks back into a fluffy duvet and a mound of pillows with a soft sigh, eyes closing again. After sucking in a deep breath and letting it out, she says, “Okay. I’m good now.”

  “Good to hear.” I reach down and curl my fingers around one slender ankle. Her leg jerks away, but I keep hold of it. “Let’s get these sexy shoes off you.”

  “You like my shoes?” she murmurs.

  “Oh, hell yeah.” I had a hard time focusing on serving dinner watching her walk around in those shoes. There’s not much to them, to be honest. One little strap across her toes and one around her ankle. I work at the tiny buckles and set the shoes on the rug at my feet.

  She wiggles her toes. “That feels good.”

  I try not to drool over her legs, which are stellar. “Here.” I sit on the bed near her feet and lift one onto my lap.

  Again, she tries to pull away. “What are you doing?”

  “Giving you a foot massage. Your feet must be sore from walking around in high heels all night.”

  “Mmm. A little. You don’t have to do that…”

  “I know.” I press my thumbs into her arch and she moans. Her foot feels delicate, small-boned and soft-skinned, her toenails painted a soft pink. I work my way down to her heel, then back up to her toes, my fingers digging in and massaging.

  “Oh my God. That’s amazing.”

  “You’re welcome.”

  I’d like to run my hands up her calf, but I resist the temptation, and after a few minutes on that foot, I switch to the other. She lies there, eyes closed, sighing soft appreciative sounds that make my dick stir. Once again, I’m not going to take advantage of her drunkenness to get into her panties. Much as I’d like to.

  What would it be like? She’s so fucking sexy, so smart-mouthed, so bossy…does she like to be in charge in bed too? Because I sure as hell do. That could be…interesting.

  Fuck. I can’t think stuff like that.

  I smooth my hand over her instep, both her legs resting on my thighs, daringly stroking up to mid-shin then back down. “How are you feeling? Need anything?”

  She sighs. “I’m sorry.”

  “What are you sorry for?”

  “For being like this. I feel so shitty and I hate it.”

  Probably lecturing her isn’t going to go over well. “I’ll get you some water.”

  “Bathroom’s right there.” She waves a languid hand.

  I flip on the light and enter the bathroom. This is a great place—gorgeous stone floor and wall tiles, a huge glassed-in shower with a bench. I run water into a drinking glass sitting on the vanity and carry it back into the bedroom. “Here you go.”

  “Thanks.” She pushes up onto one elbow and guzzles down the water.

  I sit again near her feet.

  “You really don’t need to stay. I’ll be fine. This happens all the time.”

  “It does, huh.” I bite the inside of my lip.

  She scrunches up her face as if she regrets saying that. “I just need to sleep it off.”

  “Right.” I eye her. She still doesn’t look well. “You know, I think I’m gonna crash in your other bedroom.” I assume there’s a bed there.

  I know she’s not doing well when she doesn’t even argue.

  “You should get out of that dress.” It’s beautiful—sheer layers of pale pink with beads and sequins on the bodice. It looks expensive and probably not something she wants to sleep in.

  “I don’t care.”

  “You will tomorrow. Sit.” I tug gently on her hands and lethargically she lets me pull her up. I reach behind her for the zipper and lower it. The narrow straps fall down her arms and the dress loosens, giving
me a view of her strapless bra and cleavage. Damn. That is some sweet cleavage.

  I help her the rest of the way out of the garment, revealing a lacy beige thong. I swallow hard as I take the dress and carefully lay it over the back of a nearby chair. “There you go. Get under the covers and go to sleep.”

  Without a word, she crawls under the duvet and practically disappears, just the top of her dark hair showing. I shake my head and walk out, leaving the door half-open.

  I poke my head into the other bedroom. Yep, a functional guest room, perfectly decorated.

  There’s even another bathroom, this one smaller but just as nice. I make use of it, then strip to my boxers and climb into the bed. With my hands stacked behind my head, I stare up at the ceiling in the darkness.

  This isn’t how I envisioned the evening ending up.

  I was in a crusty mood when I got to the banquet, having left Owen’s party early and driven through insane traffic to the arena, where I changed into a goddamn tux in the dressing room. Then I saw Everly practically cheek to cheek with Dan Diaz, the mayor of Santa Monica. And I remembered that they’d been seeing each other. And it pissed me off.

  He’s a good-looking dude, considering he’s old enough to be her father. Tanned skin, dark hair, decent build. Wears his tux well.

  Whatever. It doesn’t matter to me who she’s seeing.

  Does it matter that she gets trashed every time she drinks?

  I’m not being judgmental. I like to get trashed too, every chance I get. I like to party and have fun, because life is fucking short. We’re here for a good time, not a long time. That’s my motto.

  I don’t get trashed every chance I get, though, because I take my career seriously, even if I take nothing else seriously. And I’m surprised Everly’s not like that.

  Don’t judge, asshole.

  And while I’m lecturing myself, might as well admit it does matter to me who Everly is seeing. Because I’m so damn attracted to her it hurts.

  Another man’s girlfriend. The boss’s daughter. What a cliché. I snort out a laugh. And she’s a gorgeous, bossy little lush. What more do I need to convince me to stay far, far away from her?

  Why does that feel so impossible?

  I don’t do complicated. I do easy and fun, live and let live.

  I roll over and bury my face into the pillow to try to sleep.

  * * *


  I wake up disoriented, not sure where I am. I’m not hungover; I only had one drink last night. Oh yeah. I’m at Everly’s, because she got wasted and needed to be driven home.

  I sit bolt upright. Is she okay?

  Throwing back the covers, I swing my legs over the side of the bed and jump out. I don’t bother putting anything on over my boxers as I quietly pad out of the room to the door of Everly’s bedroom. I peek in and see…an empty bed.

  Perfectly made. All those pillows piled decoratively.

  In the daylight, I see how elegant and feminine the room is, walls a pale…what? Blue? Greenish-grayish-blue. White trim around windows and doors. White bed and cushions in shades of white and pale blue and green. White furniture and an armchair upholstered in a blue, green, and beige fabric. Thick beige carpet on the hardwood floor.

  The bathroom door is open, the light off, so she’s not in there.

  I turn around just as she says “Good morning” from behind me. My feet nearly leave the floor.

  “Morning,” I choke out.

  Her gaze slides down my chest and abs, then shoots back up to my face. Her cheeks get rosy.

  I try not to smile.

  “Looking for me?” she asks.

  “Checking on you. Wasn’t sure how you’d feel today.”

  “I’m fine.” She waves a breezy hand.

  And she looks fine. Okay, better than fine. Her shiny dark hair is perfect, her skin glowing, eyes bright. She’s washed off last night’s makeup and is now dressed in a pair of cropped leggings and a hooded sweatshirt.

  “Good.” I study her, perplexed. Wish I could get over a hangover that fast.

  “I came up to see if you’re awake. I wasn’t sure if you have a practice today.”

  “Nope. Coach gave us the day off because of the banquet last night.”

  “Oh, that’s good. Do you want breakfast?”

  I lazily rub my abs, flexing them as her gaze follows my hand there, enjoying the way her lips part. “I am kinda hungry.”

  “Okay. Have a shower if you want. Help yourself to anything in the bathroom you need. I’ll get the bacon and eggs started.”

  I watch her turn and jog back downstairs, her ass sweet in those snug pants.

  I tip my head back and close my eyes. Jesus, give me strength. I need to resist.

  The cold shower helps only a little. Then I get dressed. All I have is my tux, so I put on the pants and shirt, leaving it untucked. I carry the rest downstairs with me and deposit it on the back of a comfy-looking couch as I pass by, heading to the kitchen, where Everly is.

  I take in the main floor as I stroll. On the left is a white fireplace with the couch and chairs arranged around it. On my right are white French doors that open onto a little patio. The walls down here are the same color as the bedroom, with more white trim and lots of light. It’s uncluttered and has a serene feel. Even the music playing from invisible speakers is chill.

  The kitchen is a good size with pale whitewashed wooden cupboards and stainless appliances. Everly opens the oven and pulls out a pan.

  “I smell bacon.”

  She looks up. “Yep. How do you like your eggs? And do you want toast?”

  “What kind of bread?”

  Her lips twitch. “Multigrain. With flax.”

  “Okay, then, yeah. And I like my eggs sunny-side up.” I move closer. “Can I help?”

  “Help yourself to coffee, if you like.” She points at the coffeemaker on the pale marble counter. “Mugs are right above it.”

  I pour myself a cup.

  “There’s juice in the fridge if you’d like that too,” she says. “And can you set the table? Cutlery’s in the top drawer to your right.”

  I purse my lips in a smile. I offered to help, so I guess I deserve to be told what to do. I add some milk from the fridge to my coffee and sip it, then follow orders. Without being told, I man the toaster as she watches the eggs and we’re soon sitting at a round table, also whitewashed wood, eating breakfast together.

  “I apologize again for last night,” she says in a matter-of-fact tone. “I really would have been fine, but thanks for bringing me home.”

  “You didn’t seem fine.” I raise an eyebrow as I lift a slice of toast to my mouth.

  She waves her fork. “It was nothing. So. Day off today. I’m sure you have plans.”

  Yeah, I get the message. Eat and get out. “I do, but not until later.” To make up for leaving Owen’s party early, I promised to take him to the public skating at our practice facility, which is open two to four o’clock today.

  I watch her cut her eggs up, slicing around the well-done yolk in a neat circle to separate it from the white. Then she spreads the yolk onto a piece of toast. “What are you doing?”

  She looks up. “This is how I eat my eggs. Well, usually I don’t eat bread, but I felt like toast today.”

  “It’s great bread.”

  “Thanks. I get it at a little market near here. I keep it in the freezer for times like this.”

  “Times when you have male guests for breakfast?”

  She gives me a bland look. “Yes.”

  “Does Dan like this bread?” His name comes out of my mouth like I’m spitting out a cherry pit.

  She blinks. “Dan?”

  “Dan Diaz. Your boyfriend.”

  She snorts. “He’s not my boyfriend.”

  “You were at the dinner with him last night.”

  “We were sitting together. Yes, we’ve dated, but he’s not my boyfriend.”

  A small cyclone is happening in my midsection. “Huh.” I pick up a piece of bacon and chomp on it. “He’s too old for you.”

  “I like older men.”

  I narrow my eyes. I already know I’m a year younger than her.

  “They’re more mature,” she continues smoothly. “Settled.”

  “Huh.” This appears to be the extent of my vocabulary right now. “Sounds boring.”

  She lifts her chin. “I know you’re a…social butterfly.”

  I choke on my bacon. “Butterfly?”

  “It’s an expression. Better than ‘man whore.’ ”

  “Jesus. I have a social life. I like to have fun.”

  “So I’ve heard.”

  “Better than sitting in an office in front of a computer all day and night. And then going on a date with an old man who probably can’t get it up.”

  Yeah. That went too far.

  She rolls her eyes. “Please. Older men are better in a lot of ways, including sexual experience.”

  I grit my teeth, thinking about her in bed with Dan Diaz, and force a smile. “You already alluded to my sexual experience. You have no idea what I’m like in bed.”

  “And I never will.”

  “Oooh. Burn.” I make a joke, but that comment actually does sting. I lean forward at the table. “I bet I can make you come faster than any old dude.”

  She picks up her coffee mug and leans back in her chair. “Yeah? Why don’t you have a girlfriend, then? If you’re sleeping with all those women, why don’t they want to keep you around?”

  “Princess, it’s not them, believe me.” I’m not bragging; it’s true. Lots of women are disappointed when I don’t want to see them again, but I make it clear I’m not looking for a wife or girlfriend. Like I said, life is short. I’m all about enjoying it while I can. “I like variety.”


  “You don’t believe me?” My eyebrows fly up.

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