Tricking Astrid

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Chapter 8

Calder watched Astrid enter the crowded club at 7:10. She looked fantastic in a light blue dress that skimmed across her upper thighs. Her arms were well-toned he noticed, touched by two little thin straps, with a sparkling pendant resting above her ample tits. Her hair was up in a loose bun, allowing some of her thick red highlights to show under the lights as she worked her way towards the bar.

Towards him.

She glanced in his direction, not seeing him as a blonde suddenly stood in front of his stool.

“Hello,” she purred, “Want to dance with me?” She made it sound like an honor.

Astrid ordered from a familiar bartender. He was a nice guy who held down two other jobs. He grinned, mixing her drink immediately. So she’d return the smile, plopped down another with a wink.

“Thanks, Jack!” she shouted over the din, “You’re a peach!”

She sipped the fruity cocktail, slowly turning as she took in everything. The place was busy with great music blasting and an electric vibe coursing through the air. She finished her first drink, snatched up the other and walked to the tables to claim one before Remy arrived.

She halted in her tracks when she saw Calder. He was dancing with a beautiful blonde on the edge of the dance floor. There were so many bodies they propelled her forward, almost right next to him and his over-eager partner who twerked against his leg as if her life depended on it.

He spotted her, breaking into a brilliant smile that stopped her heart for a second. The warm alcohol in her belly nothing compared to the fire he lit there. His emerald eyes oozed sexual desire as he ignored the blonde, quickly striding over.

“Hi,” he leaned close to ask, “When did you get here?”

She gripped her glass, “A few minutes ago. Having fun?”

Boldly, he palmed her right hip as he stepped even closer, “I am now! Is that cheesy?” He laughed as she did, “That’s corny, I try though. Come on, let’s dance buddy.”

“No!” she giggled, enjoying his playful teasing, “My drink.”

He plucked it out of her hand, placing the rim against her lips, eyes glinting mischievously as he forced her to consume the sweet liquid. She smirked, wiping her mouth as he handed the empty glass to a passing waitress. She protested as he led her out onto the floor, giving in after he twirled her around.

“You look beautiful,” he told her, “Where’s Remy?”

Calder’s hands were on her, pulling her tight so they could hear each other. She felt the start of a buzz as she moved to the beat. His grin grew wide as his eyes shamelessly raked across her body, causing goose-bumps to break out on her arms.

“He’ll be here.” she turned serious, “Maybe I shouldn’t dance with you.”

“Why?” He huffed, “It’s just dancing.”

Astrid inwardly scoffed. Not when his pelvis ground against hers and his hands roamed close to her rear end. He stared daringly until positive he wasn’t as innocent as he wanted her to believe. He truly seemed to want her, she realized with a jolt of joy quickly followed by guilt.

“Remy thinks you’re into me,” she explained near in his ear, inhaling his masculine scent, “He’s jealous we went out and I told him we’re strictly coworkers. Not even that, since you didn’t show this week.”

He gripped her waist, “Maybe he’s right.”

She blinked in confusion, “What?”

He caressed her cheek, giving her a sheepish look, “I wish you were single so I can kiss you. Hell, I can’t help it, Astrid. I’d call it a crush but we’re no longer in middle school.”

She swallowed hard, feeling conflicted. Calder was sexy and rich. Why would he play games with her like this? He was playing her! She saw red at being seen as a slut after bragging to his brothers they slept together.

“Hey,” He shook his head, catching the flash of anger, “I’m serious. You’re looking at me as if I’m fucking with you.”

Was he a mind reader too, she dryly thought, wishing she didn’t find him charming. If Remy caught them standing so intimate, he’d lose his shit. She pushed him, hurriedly walking away. He trailed her through the throng towards the back. It was darker there and less noisy since most opted for the main floor on Friday nights.

She snagged the last table against the wall, frowning when Calder sat in front of her, “Please, leave me alone,” she hung her head.

“I upset you,” He sighed, trying to catch her eyes, “Astrid, I realize we just met, but you’re cool. I like being with you. You having a boyfriend doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.”

“Yes, it does!” she shot back, still avoiding his gaze, “Especially if… I find you attractive. But, who doesn’t? Plus, I work for you. It’s not professional.”

He groaned, leaning forward to take her hand in his. She jerked backward, glaring up at him. He appeared so honest and hopeful. His curious expression suggesting she hurt Remy. For him? He could have any girl in the club! Why her? Remy could too, but he… loved her. That sentiment wasn’t worthy of her. She did not deserve Remy’s love if she was considering messing around with Calder.

“You really like me?” She frowned, “Why? You don’t even know me. I’m no one. I come from a poor family. No family, actually. We don’t match Calder. I’m not an easy lay for you to brag to your brothers about either. Remy and I share a bond that goes beyond sex.”

Calder frowned as well, “I don’t care about money or any of that shit. Why can’t you accept the fact I may like you for you? Hasn’t anyone ever shown interest in you before? I know you’re twenty-three, but must have been stalked at least once.”

She cracked a smile at that, “No. No stalkers. No real relationships either. Just guys who fucked me then left me.”

“So Remy’s different?” He began to understand how she viewed herself, “Because he hasn’t done that?”

No. He and I are friends,” She struggled to explain while Calder gazed at her with want in those green eyes, “We aren’t together for nothing. Why don’t you meet someone available?”

He smiled wickedly once more trying to touch her hand. She let him this time. He turned her palm over to cup it. “I’m like a bad itch you’ll eventually want to scratch, babe. I can’t help these feelings I have for you. Good luck with ignoring your own.”

“Are you saying you won’t stop hitting on me?” She squeaked, “Why? Calder, what do I do that’s so damn appealing? You’re twice as sexy as any man here. Look at me!”

He pierced her with a sharp stare and she stopped talking. “I am. I am looking at you, beautiful. What I see, I admire a lot. Inside… and out,” He pressed her palm on his upper thigh where she felt his impressive hard-on. “Astrid, ask yourself why your boyfriend doesn’t call or show up on time. I want you. I will.”

She swallowed, touching the hardness between his legs. She couldn’t resist one squeeze. Calder’s gaze bore into her as if he’d screw her where they sat in the dark. She almost considered it if Remy wasn’t nagging at her thoughts. Her fingers slid down and away. When he leaned forward, his mouth came temptingly close, and she itched to kiss him, her naughty side running rampant.

“Remy loves me,” She whispered, his lips so very, very close, “You have a crush. I have a boyfriend who probably right now is searching for me.”

He kissed her. It was silky soft, light as air, but he kissed her. She sprang to her feet, walking away. Slumping in the chair, he watched her go with utter disappointment.

Why did she fight it? She liked him too. She didn’t once glance backward, getting lost in the crowd. He ran an irritated hand over his face. She drove him wild by not looking back.

“Calder?”

He jumped, hearing Astrid’s boyfriend say his name. He tensed, peering where Remy hid in shadows. The bastard heard everything! Why was he spying on his girlfriend? The man was a creep.

Remy stood, sauntering over, “You like Astrid, right? Well, I don’t blame you. She’s great.”

The asshole didn’t faze him. “She is. What are you doing? Playing, protective boyfriend?”

He folded his tall body onto the vacated seat, “Yes.”

Calder couldn’t get a read on Remy’s ploy, but he was honest at least. “Hey, I know it’s rude to hit on another man’s chick, but I find myself unable to stop. Sorry.” Not sorry.

“I understand,” His voice patient, “I tried to keep my distance too, but she’s got spunk and low self-esteem all at once. She makes me happy. Qualities you prefer in women too, huh?”

Calder relaxed as if unbothered, “I doubt she has esteem issues but then again, I’ve only just met her. Tell me, how long have you followed her around unaware? Your behavior is strange for a guy who looks capable of having his pick of the ladies.”

He narrowed his eyes, “Listen, you little prick, Astrid is special to me and I won’t allow some piece of shit waltzing in for a quick fuck.”

Calder put on his ‘Law Mask’, turning calm and attentive to details, aware of the physical fight that may ensue if he didn’t choose his words right. Remy’s frame taller and wider than his, but he used to box in college.

Remy’s face flushed but recovered after his little rant. Calder waited. He wanted his confession of stalking but he didn’t need it, hoping Astrid capable of handling herself with this man. He sensed a violent undertone in him.

“Isn’t that your goal?” Remy snapped, “To fuck Astrid? If so, she won’t disappoint you.”

He raised an eyebrow, “Your tone suggests I will. Aren’t you going to tell her to stay away from me and all that jealous bullshit? Trust, I’d enjoy more than a ‘quick fuck’.”

Remy snorted, “Why should I bother? You work together. She’d do it even if I said something to that effect.”

They eyed each other for several tense minutes.

“What if we made a deal?” Remy quietly proposed, surprising him further, “A compromise she can never discover.”

Calder considered, “I’m listening…”

Astrid waited at the bar for Remy, glad Calder didn’t approach her again. The appeal of his attentions becoming a little much to keep refusing. He was such a charmer. Such a smooth talker when she only wanted him to shut up.

She peeked at her watch. After eight and no sign of Remy. Her phone suddenly rang and vibrated at the same time. She felt the vibration instead of the ring over the loud din.

Remy.

“Where are you?” she anxiously asked, “It’s crazy here.”

“Delayed. Sorry babe, no show on my part. I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”

She frowned, “Why? Work? I mean, you never discuss your job. What the hell do you do?”

“Astrid, I can’t hear you, too noisy there. Be by sometime tomorrow. Bye.”

Frustrated, she stormed out of the club, pushing people out of her way. Her furious temperament over Remy and his constant employment avoidance had random girls whooping as she stomped past. Why did he refuse to answer? It was so stupid. Didn’t he realize she was getting fed up? Really! He was obviously hiding things from her.

Oh shit, what if he had a wife? Kids? Her paranoid thoughts were out of control.

She saw Calder by his truck, talking on his phone as he leaned over the side of the tailgate. He looked so good. Astrid shook her head, ashamed. Remy deserved her loyalty, not her checking out other men.

He got off the call, noticed her lingering yelling, “Hey, buddy! Come here!”

She hesitated but needed a ride home. A taxi cost but so did spending time with him. Her indecision was coming to her with a cocky stride.

“Well,” he smirked, “No boyfriend?”

She crossed her arms, “He canceled.”

Something flashed in his eyes. She caught it. It was as if… he knew already. She fidgeted awkwardly, standing in the parking lot with gorgeous Calder staring expectantly at her.

“Who would have guessed?” He shrugged, “Need a lift home?”

She sighed, “Not if you make remarks like that Calder.”

He sobered, “You’re right. Excuse me. Well?”

She nodded, “Sure. Thank you.”

He smiled as he followed her, politely opening the door while keeping his eyes off of her exposed thighs. He jumped in the truck, started the engine but didn’t leave.

She sat forward, “Is something bothering you?”

He stared straight ahead, hands gripping the wheel. She wondered why he seemed upset. His usual playful demeanor absent as he gazed out the windshield.

“Calder?” She softly called his name.

He blinked, shifted the pickup in reverse shaking his head, “Yeah?”

“Are you okay?”

“Oh,” He grinned, but it lacked the typical warmth she usually felt, “I’m fine. So, home? Or my place?”

Was he serious? She couldn’t wait to hear her boyfriend ask her that very question. “Ha, nice try buddy.”

He chuckled, “What? Come on, it’s Friday night. Live a little.”

“Remy-”

“Stood you up,” He snapped, “I just want to spend time with someone who listens. To talk to somebody who doesn’t need shit from me. My brothers rode my ass all week.”

She softened, “All right. But no funny business.”

His demeanor lightened, heading the opposite direction from her side of town. “Hey, funny business is not funny. So, what does Remy do for work?”

She frowned, glaring out the window, “To tell you the truth… I don’t have a clue.”

“Why not?”

She huffed, embarrassed. Telling Calder these things would only feed his desire to make her think Remy wasn’t good enough for her. Having no girlfriends to confide in sucked, but she didn’t need his interference.

“He hasn’t told me,” She admitted, “Nor has he shown me where he lives.”

“Why not?” He repeated.

She studied him, seeing he expressed no sign of amusement or any other emotion really, “I asked. He doesn’t talk much about himself.”

“You said you two have a bond.”

“We do!” she constantly defended her relationship, and it was getting old fast, “He’s interested in me. I’ve tried, but it’s like pulling teeth.”

“Hmm,” Was his only response.

Calder lived in the city. His condo on the fourth floor of a secured building. He parked in the underground lot asking no more questions. She was glad. She was also nervous as they headed up in the lift going to his place. Why did she accept his offer knowing his attraction? He kissed her in the club! What would he do in his home? What would she do?

Crap Astrid, you really ask for trouble, don’t you? She chided herself, you’re a whore and Remy will want nothing to do with you if he finds out.

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