I stirred my cocktail with the ridiculous umbrella it was adorned with and let out a sigh. I detested events like this but Serena, my current stepmother, insisted that I attend. And of course my father didn’t have the balls to tell her no; He can never say no when it comes to her. So there I was, sitting at the bar, wasting my perfectly good Friday night schmoozing investors. I could have been back at the office doing real work but, no.
“You could at least pretend to be enjoying yourself, Penelope.”
I looked up and saw Marcus, my secretary and best friend since childhood and smiled.
“Why should I do that? And since when do you call me Penelope?” I asked, wrinkling my nose with distaste.
“I should be calling you Miss Marino since this is technically a work function.” He signaled to the bartender for a beer and sat down next to me. “And you should pretend to enjoy yourself because this room is full of wealthy people eager to invest in the company. A company that you will inherit someday. I would think you would have a vested interest in that.”
I snorted. “Isn’t that Serena’s job? To be the socialite? That’s why my father married her. If he wanted a socialite daughter, he would have raised me to be one. But he didn’t.”
“You’re right,” Marcus nodded in agreement. “He raised a cold-hearted, ruthless bit-- I mean business woman.”
I smiled. “Exactly. Half of these people don’t even know who I am.”
“Are you kidding?” Marcus said in disbelief. “Everyone knows who you are! At 26, you’re not only the youngest CFO in the company’s history, you’re also the first woman to hold the position. You were on the cover of Forbes last month! And aside from that, have you forgotten that you’re an heiress?”
“Whatever. This is Serena’s thing. You know this whole scene was never for me--oh shit here she comes.”
The smile fell from my face as I watched Serena strut over to me in a long, fitted black dress. As much as she irritated me I had to give it to her, she was a force to be reckoned with. My father’s marriage to Serena had lasted longer than any of his other relationships, marriage or otherwise. At thirty-five, she was only ten years older than me.
She met my father at an charity event during her reign as Miss Colombia. They dated in secret for two years because as Miss Colombia, and subsequently Miss Universe, she wasn’t allowed to date. The day after she handed over her crown, my father proposed. She was twenty-four. My father was fifty-five. Their wedding was the most obnoxious display of opulence I have ever seen in my life. It was held at a castle in Italy that belongs to my father’s family. They flew in over three hundred guests and the celebration lasted an entire week. Like any other sane fourteen year old girl who had already been through four step mothers, I refused to participate in the festivities. I locked myself in the tower I was staying in and wouldn’t come out until my father threatened to disinherit me. You can’t really blame me though; I was stubborn, not stupid.
Over the years, I came to respect Serena. Unlike the previous bimbos my father had married, Serena was intelligent and cultured. She wasn’t just a pretty face. She was witty and had a knack for reading people that often came in handy.
Despite all of her good qualities, she was incredibly annoying, hence my reaction to her walking up to me at the bar that night. “Mi hija preciosa! Why are you just sitting over here?” she asked me in heavily accented English, engulfing me in a suffocating hug.
I rolled my eyes. Hija. I am not her daughter.
“Hey Serena,” I said when she finally released me. “I’m sitting here because I didn’t want to come to this event in the first place, remember? And then you forced my father to make me come here?”
Her beautiful face twisted into a look of confusion. Ah. So she was going to play dumb.
“Why can’t you just indulge me this one time, niña?” she pouted.
Beside me, Marcus was fighting to keep from laughing.
I sighed. “Me being here is indulging you, Serena,” I replied, sliding off of the stool and checking my phone. “I’ve been here for exactly one hour which was the agreed upon amount of time. And now I’m leaving. I’ll see you Sunday at dinner. Marcus?”
“Car’s already outside, Miss Marino.”
I straightened my black cocktail dress and smiled at Serena. “Goodbye.”
Marcus followed me out of the venue and opened the door to my town car. I got in and blew out a deep breath.
“You don’t have to be so mean to her,” Marcus commented as he slid in on the other side.
I scoffed. “I’m very nice to her compared to how I treated stepmothers one through four!”
“Sure Lupe, sure.”
“So I’m Lupe again?” I asked amusedly.
“You’re Lupe anytime I’m not on the clock.”
“Whatever. Driver? Please take us to After Dark.”
“Ooohh we’re going to a club?” Marcus asked as the driver pulled away from the curb.
“I need to blow off some steam after that.”
“Has anyone ever told you how dramatic you are?”
“You. Every single day of my life.”
Marcus and I grew up side by side, almost like siblings. His mother, Maria, was my live in nanny. Since my mother died in childbirth, Maria was like a mom to me. She taught me how to speak Spanish, how to ride a bike, gave me the sex talk; Maria and Marcus were the only constants I had in my life.
I wasn’t aware of the difference in our statuses when we were little. Marcus received the same schooling I did, had a bedroom on the main floor of the house and like me, adored my father. We were all very happy in our little bubble.
Stepmother number three burst it. Svetlana. I hated her from the moment I laid eyes on her. She was a Russian model that my father had met at a friend’s wedding. I was eight when my father married her and just like those horrible movies, she had me shipped off to boarding school in Spain. I begged my father not to send me but he kept insisting that it was for my own good. I remained in Spain until I was fourteen, only coming home for the summer holiday.
By the time I came back for high school, father had divorced Svetlana, married and divorced Suzanne and was engaged to Serena.
Marcus opening the door for me at the club shook me from my thoughts of the past and I relaxed at the prospect of a casual night out with my best friend.
The music in the club pulsed through my body as I threw back my second shot of tequila.
“Maybe you should slow down Lupe,” Marcus warned.
“Maybe you should shut up,” I replied handing him a shot. “That girl over there is looking at you.”
“Where?” he asked a little too excitedly.
I snickered into my palm, starting to feel the buzz of the alcohol.
Marcus looked down at me with a frown. “There is no girl is there?”
I giggled and shook my head.
“Lupe you are so annoying!” He drank the shot I had given him and asked the bartender for another.
That’s when I saw him. Easily the most beautiful man I had ever seen. He was casually leaning against a wall talking to another guy who was also pretty cute. He laughed at something his friend said and I was ruined. He had dimples! His grey slacks hung low on his hips and the top two buttons of his shirt were undone with his tie loosened. He was a little leaner than the guys I typically went for but that wasn’t a bad thing.
He glanced in my direction and we made eye contact. I swear I stopped breathing. He grinned at me and beckoned me over.
“Lupe? Are you okay?”
I looked over at Marcus who was holding another shot. I took it from him and tossed it back. “I’m getting laid tonight Marcus. Have the driver on call.”
I pulled down my high ponytail and let my straight as a pin, jet black hair fall down to my waist. I walked over to where he was standing and blushed as I felt his gaze run over my body.
“Well hello there gorgeous,” he said in a deep voice.
“Hi,” I replied with a timid smile.
“You pulling your hair down as you walked over here was the sexiest thing I’ve seen all night.”
“The ponytail was tight,” I said lamely. What the hell was wrong with me?
He chuckled. “My name’s Brett.” He extended his hand for me to shake.
“Pleased to meet you. I’m Lupita,” I replied, offering my nickname instead of my given name.
“Well my name’s Mason if anyone cares” his friend interjected.
I turned to his friend and smiled. “I’m sorry. It’s nice to meet you too Mason.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Mason said with a cheeky grin. “I can see where I’m not wanted. Have a good night you two!”
He walked away leaving me with the beautiful man named Brett.
“Sorry about him,” Brett laughed placing his hands on my waist. “So tell me about yourself Lupita.”
I leaned in to whisper in his ear. “Why don’t we skip the pleasantries and head straight to your place for some fun?”
Shock registered on his face for a moment before he smiled again. “God that was hot.”
He pulled me close to him so that our bodies were pressed against each other. I gasped at the sudden movement. He leaned down and kissed my neck, causing me to whimper in pleasure. “I am going to ravish you tonight.”
There was no doubt in my mind that he would. Hell it had been so long since I had sex that him simply breathing on my neck almost had me undone and we hadn’t even left the club. He took my hand and I allowed him to lead me from the club. We got into a cab and started making out as soon as he gave the driver the address.
I practically threw the cash at the driver in an effort to speed things up. Brett smirked at me as we walked into his townhouse. “Someone’s eager.”
“You could say that,” I replied.
I pounced on him as soon as he closed the door behind us. He lifted me up easily and I wrapped my legs around his waist as I kissed him. I was still pretty tipsy but I was vaguely aware that he was taking me up a flight of stairs. We went into what I assume was his bedroom and he tossed me onto the bed.
“Lupita you are so sexy,” he mumbled as he unzipped my dress and pulled it over my head. I reached down to take my heels off but he stopped me.
“Leave them on.”
I was practically buzzing with excitement as I watched him undress in front of me. That was just the beginning of the most incredible night of love making I had ever experienced.