The club was hot and humid despite the air-conditioning. Bodies writhed on the dance floor beneath the flashing strobe lights, and the distinctive scents of alcohol, sweat, and excitement hung heavily in the air.
Bart, my boss and best friend, had built up the private security firm I worked for by his bootstraps and he took his rules very fucking seriously. The first rule of being a bodyguard was to know where my client was at all times.
Sometimes, we had clients who enjoyed trying to dodge us. It was a game of sorts, especially for the younger ones whose parents had stuck a detail on them for one reason or another.
Losing sight of my client would not be a problem this evening. Senator Mackey’s daughter had attached herself to me. Just not in a good way.
Another frozen cocktail sloshed down the front of my shirt, and the very much inebriated Ms. Mackey giggled as she pawed at my chest. At this rate, I was still going to be wringing this strawberry-flavored slush out of my skin by the time I was eighty.
Football players and sports stars often got a lot of flak for being difficult to guard, but they had nothing on socialites. No sportsperson I’d guarded—and that included men and women—had ever grabbed at me the way Mackey had been doing all night. They touched a little, flirted, and gave long lingering looks, but they didn’t fully grope or paw at me the way she was doing.
“Loosen up a little, Carson,” she purred, or tried to.
It came out as more of a slurry bundle of words that maybe, almost, sounded like the ones she’d meant to use. I didn’t speak, not even to correct my name. It’s Carter.
Batting the long, made-up lashes around her red yet still stunningly blue eyes, she peered up at me with the remainder of her drink in one hand and the other on my soaked chest. “Come on, Carson. Join the partaaaay. You know you want to.”
She did a little shimmy while pushing her boobs together with her arms. The dress she was wearing was so tight and flimsy that she nearly popped a nipple with just that one tiny dance move.
My eyes immediately did another sweep of the room, from one side to the other without my head moving at all. If any paparazzi had gotten in here and caught a photo of that, I could kiss my year-end bonus goodbye right in the center of its fat ass.
“I’m marrying Timmy in forty-something hours,” she slurred, evidently not having noticed how close she’d come to flashing the entire nightclub at the bougie hotel where her bachelorette party was being held.
She batted her lashes again, moving back to bring her unfocused eyes up to mine while shaking her hips in a way I thought was probably meant to be provocative. If anyone had asked for my opinion, I’d have told them she looked more like a cooked noodle being shaken by a toddler than a sexy dancer, but at least she was still standing on her own two feet—albeit barely.
At some point tonight, I’d have to drag her puffed and powdered ass out of here, and I already knew it wouldn’t be easy. The senator’s daughter was out to play, and apparently, I had been made a part of her game.
“Really?” She pouted her full lips. “You’re not even looking at me.”
Whatever you think. I was watching her, all right. I saw every move she made, but I knew she wouldn’t be able to tell I was paying any attention to her.
It was all part of the job. Blend in. See everything. Never look. Never get caught staring.
“Timmy isn’t any fun either,” she complained, sticking her bottom lip out.
I had to give it to her. The girl was something to look at even if one was in the business of not looking.
Her flaming-red hair was tied into a loose ponytail at the top of her head, the roots glowing amber in the low light emanating from the bar and the chandeliers overhead. Those blue eyes of hers were iconic, even when she had makeup smeared underneath her lids and her eyeballs were so glassy they looked like they might break.
Miranda Mackey was a favorite of the press. She was a good girl who appeared beside her parents at events while wearing suits buttoned up to her fucking chin, but she also had a rebellious streak that had left many a newsreader hard.
She was what Bart had called relatable when he’d booked this assignment for me. Parents and families loved her because she was perfect but not too perfect. She messed up from time to time and disappointed her Senator. Ahem. Father.
But she always bounced back better than ever. Smiling, waving, and sincerely apologizing for having acted out. People ate that shit up like it was the last chocolate-chip cookie in the batch.
Miranda tilted her head and walked her fingers from one of the buttons on my shirt to the next. “You could be the last person inside me before it’s only Timmy. Forever.”
She shuddered a little on the last word but didn’t break off the seductive look she was trying to give me. “Timmy only likes... missionary.”
She whispered it like it was a bad word before fluttering her lashes at me again. “I bet you can really fuck a girl, huh, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome?”
You’re right. I can, but I’m never telling you that. Nor was I telling her that I wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot barge-pole. She was a client.
Even if it wasn’t the second rule and I thought I could’ve gotten away with breaking Bart’s rules, the Timmy whose sexual preferences I now knew was none other than Timothy Hargrove. Son of Senator Tobias Hargrove, who just so happened to be rumored to be running for president next term.
Plus, Miranda was seventeen sheets to the wind. Even if I was attracted to her, which I wasn’t, there was no way I’d ever have taken her up on her numerous offers. She was getting married this weekend.
“Oh, fine.” She stuck her lower lip out. “If you want to play hard to get, I know how that game works.”
Her hand suddenly disappeared from my chest and reappeared on my junk. Skinny fingers squeezing the life out of my very much uninterested dick, she licked her lips before blowing me a kiss and taking off to find more promising pastures.
I breathed a sigh of relief and discreetly jiggled my hips to get the blood flowing to my favorite appendage again. That girl had been all over me all night. I was definitely going to have to be in touch with Bart later to call in the situation, but before that, I had to get her to bed and all tucked in.
Not that the party seemed to be ending anytime soon. The girls squealed when they saw their bachelorette rejoining their ranks. Shots were ordered, and hands were thrown in the air after the liquor went down the hatch and the dance floor was claimed.
Well, there goes the neighborhood.
Very few of the women with Ms. Mackey were low profile. Miranda had invited all of New York City’s shiniest to enjoy her last night of freedom, and the crowd outside knew it.
Thankfully, this part of the club had been reserved for the occasion. None of the women even had their phones with them, and the security around the perimeter was top notch.
All I had to do was watch her, make sure she didn’t do anything too scandalous, and get her up to her room. It was supposed to have been an easy job.
Until she had gotten so fucking handsy.
Nothing good ever came of a handsy, drunken client. Especially not one with the connections she had.
Lucky for me, I wasn’t afraid of much. There were cameras in here and in every inch of the hotel. If it came down to it, her own damn daddy could witness her groping me and see that I hadn’t lifted a finger in response.
I’d stared down the barrel of much worse, and I’d come out not only standing but swinging. My dick, on the other hand, might need a bit of tender loving care later after the way he’d been manhandled.
Bart’s third rule was not to interfere unless it was necessary. Obviously, that didn’t count for security threats. It was more part of the blend in rule.
What it did mean, however, was that I couldn’t drag Miranda’s ass out of there when she started stumbling around. She was having a good time, and I simply had to watch her do it.
At this point, she wasn’t a danger to herself or others. She was in a contained situation, and there were no threats around. She was just drunk, but considering it was her bachelorette party and she was going to be stuck doing missionary with Timmy for the rest of her life, I figured it was okay if she cut loose a little.
I was there to keep her safe, not to be her dad. After another sweep of the club, I let my thoughts wander a little. My eyes were still peeled, but my brain went to that place I had to go to in order to get through long nights.
In my case, that place was Conroe, Texas. Home.
Like many others, I’d left there straight out of high school. Unlike so many others, I hadn’t taken off because I wanted bright lights, a big city, or fame and fortune. I’d left because I received an opportunity to work in security, and that was pretty much my dream come true.
It was on the cyber side of things initially—because I hadn’t exactly always been as big as I was now—but it had still been the kind of opportunity with the kind of pay I couldn’t turn down.
Even handsy socialites wouldn’t make me regret my choices, despite the amount of paperwork all these little incidents were going to mean for me later on. I’d just have to make sure I filed an accurate report, and I’d come out clean if she tried anything.
I wished it wasn’t necessary to be so pedantic, but it was. I didn’t like having to be the snitch. The girl deserved a little bit of fun. Lord knew she was in the spotlight enough to have earned a bit of privacy, even if just for tonight, but unfortunately, I had to cover my own ass.
Colleagues of mine had been fired and smeared for less, and as much as I loved Conroe, I wasn’t going back there. New York was my home now as much as Conroe was. I loved it, my job, and even the sometimes difficult clients.
My attention snagged on Miranda stumbling badly this time, and I jumped into action. Thankfully, she was close enough to me that I got to her just before she hit her head on a cocktail table.
With my hands on her elbows, I ducked my head to look into her glazed eyes. She offered me a fuzzy smile before her lids fluttered closed.
And that’s a wrap. She hadn’t hit her head. That wasn’t what this was about. I’m afraid your night of fun is over, princess.
Arranging her under one arm, I tapped on my earpiece with my free hand and barked into the receiver on my collar. “I’m headed out with Ms. Mackey. We’re using the beta route. Clear?”
I got my confirmation a second later and weaved my way through the crowd with Miranda shielded by my arm and shoulder. There was a service elevator in the back which we took up to her floor, and we made it to her room without running into any curious eyes or press cameras.
Ryan, another one of Bart’s guys, was waiting at her door when we arrived. He scanned her with a professional eye, sighed, and swiped the keycard across the reader. “She looks rough.”
“Yep. More tequila isn’t always a great idea.” I transferred her into his arms. “You’re standing guard outside her door tonight, right? I’m not staying.”
He nodded. “I understand. Something happen?”
“She grabbed my crotch.” When his eyes flared wide open, I shook my head and raised my hands to show him my palms. “Relax. I didn’t touch her. I just need to call it in to Bart, get on my bike, and get out of here.”
“Not a fan of the dick grab, huh?” he asked sympathetically. “I get it. I wouldn’t want to get her tucked in after that either.”
I shrugged. “Nah, I’m not offended by the grab. I’m just over rich people thinking they have the right to get, do, and be whatever they want. If you’re what they want, they think they can have you too. Fuck that noise.”
“Amen to that, brother.” He jerked his head at the door. “I’ve got her. Your shift was only for the club anyway. It should be smooth sailing from here on out. I doubt she’s going anywhere tonight.”
I studied her prone form, hunched over him with her head rolling against his arm. “Yeah. I hope you’re right. Good luck, Ryan. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Walking backward as I gave him a wave, I spun around and dug my phone out of my pocket. I’d give Bart an update on my way down. Then I’d climb on my bike and let her vibrations help ease the tension out of me.