I used to love getting dressed up for a night out. Spending some time to pamper myself, putting on my favorite dress and some makeup, doing my hair... Well, not anymore. There’s still not much of a baby belly, but enough for that favorite dress to be a little too tight.
So the following Saturday, I walk into the Avalon wearing the dress I bought when I went shopping with Liv. It’s a knee-length black dress that fits loosely around my midriff and shows only a little cleavage. But as Jack’s sister reassured me, it still looks sexy. So that’s what I tell myself over and over. I’m sexy. There.
Lots of different scents hit me as I make my way through the crowd of partying people inside one of New York’s hottest nightclubs. Aftershave and perfume, mixed with beer and spirits surround me, while the thumping bass of the loud music reverberates through my body as I walk past the large dancefloor, over to the far corner of the club. Paul sent me a text earlier, telling me where to find them.
Jack had planned to pick me up, but he had to help out his sister, so he’s going to meet us here a little later. Unfortunately, Rob has to work, but it’s great to spend more time with Paul and Jack’s friends who have slowly become mine as well.
So a minute later, I say hi to Paul, Tessa, Henry, Lauren, Amy, and Ava, and some more people I haven’t met yet. I think they’re colleagues of Amy and Lauren’s.
“Hey, Emma,” Paul greets me with a peck on my cheek. “Where’s Jack?”
I chuckle at the thought that he assumed we would arrive together. “He’ll be here soon. He’s picking up his brother-in-law from the airport.”
As Paul nods, I flinch because someone turns up next to me out of nowhere. “Hey, you’re new,” a guy I haven’t met before says. I look at him wide-eyed which makes him laugh. “I’m sorry, that was a little rude. Let me start over.” He stretches out his hand. “Hi, I’m Liam.”
I stare at him another moment, trying to figure out why he looks familiar. He’s tall and well-built with beautiful blue eyes and dark blonde, messy hair. And the charming smile he gives me makes me chuckle like a little girl. I try not to grin like an idiot when I shake his hand. “Emma,” I tell him.
Liam leans a little closer. “Nice to meet you, Emma. So how come I’ve never seen you with this group of people?”
Paul laughs. “Wow, Liam, ease up with the flirting.”
Liam rolls his eyes. “Shut up, man. I’m just talking to your friend.” He directs his gaze back to me, raising his eyebrows and nodding slightly. “So?”
When he smiles at me, I stupidly have to chuckle again. I don’t want to convey the impression that I’m open to flirting. “I could ask you the same question.”
Liam laughs. “True. Well, I’m just visiting. I live in L.A., and I’m only here to see my brother.” He points behind me, and I turn around.
Now I know why he looked so familiar. “Oh, you’re Henry’s brother?”
He nods. “Yes. Your turn now.”
I point to Paul and grin. “I know this guy from his volunteer work at the hospital where I work. And somehow, I’ve been spending more and more time with him and his friends lately.”
“Friends is kind of exaggerated,” Paul chuckles. “One friend is more like it.”
He laughs harder when I glare at him, but before I can respond, Tessa shows up next to us and drags Paul onto the dancefloor after saying a quick hello. Once they’re gone, Liam engages me in small talk, and I find myself enjoying it so much that I don’t even realize how quickly the time passes.
It must be at least one hour later when I look past Liam and spot Jack who just entered the club. But he’s not alone. Kate clings to him, touches him and giggles stupidly at something he must have said. Just looking at them makes my blood boil, and I clench my fist and my jaw, and I’m sure if you listened closely, you could hear me grind my teeth even over the music.
“Are you okay?” Liam’s voice brings my attention back to him. He looks at me with a frown.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I say through gritted teeth.
That makes Liam laugh. “Yeah, you look totally fine.” He turns around, and after he spots Jack and Kate, he turns back to me with a smirk, but he keeps his mouth shut, probably because I glare at him.
A moment later, Jack and Kate join us, and Jack greets me with a peck on my cheek. “Hey, Emma, sorry for being late. Hey, Liam.” Jack and Liam shake hands, and Kate waves hello. At least she let go of Jack’s arm.
“Wow, Kate, I haven’t seen you for ages,” Liam says.
Kate chuckles. “Yeah, it’s been a while, but now I’m back. Luckily, Jack was able to pick me up tonight. It’s great to see you all again.”
I give Jack a questioning look. He picked her up? What the fuck?
I’m about to say something to him when the next song comes on, and Kate excitedly claps her hands. “Oh, that’s my favorite. Jack, come dance with me.”
And before he can protest, she pulls him after her into the dancing crowd. On their way, Jack turns to me and gives me an apologetic look.
I roll my eyes and snort. “Bitch,” I mutter to myself.
But it must have been loud enough for Liam to hear because he chuckles. “Is he that one friend Paul mentioned? Jack?”
I look at him with a raised eyebrow. “Why are you asking like that?”
“Well, it’s Jack we’re talking about here. I thought he was the one-night type of guy. And I didn’t know that his ex-girlfriend was back.”
“She moved back here not too long ago. And now they’re catching up, and she’s all over him. Ugh!” I groan.
Liam laughs at my eye roll. “And he’s probably oblivious to her advances?”
I nod. “Totally. He says she’s just a friend.” I give Liam an apologetic look. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t tell you all this.”
He waves off my comment. “No worries. I’m a good listener. And I’m good for other things too.” He winks at me and grabs my hand to pull me after him to where Kate is currently rubbing herself against Jack like a cat in heat, and by now it’s taking me all I have not to punch her.
I think of Liam’s last words, but I don’t have to wonder for long what he meant with other things. Once we’re in the middle of the crowd, he pulls my body close to his and runs his hands along my waist. His mouth is next to my ear, and his breath tickles my skin when he says, “Tell me if this is too much. But I guess when we show him what he’s doing, he might realize how uncool it is to watch the person you like being too close to someone else.”
I nod as I answer him, and I question my sanity a little because I agree to this, but that’s what Jack does to me. “As long as your hands stay off my ass, we’re good.”
Liam chuckles. ”Aw, too bad.” He pulls back a little to wink at me, before he starts to move our bodies to the rhythm of the music, and damn, that guy can dance!
And Liam’s plan works. Not even three minutes later, Jack shows up next to us.
“Do you mind?” Jack asks, and if looks could kill, Liam would be in trouble now.
“Not at all.” Liam gestures for Jack to take over, and before he leaves, he gives me a peck on the cheek and says close to my ear so only I can hear him, “You’re welcome.”
I laugh and shake my head as I hit Liam’s shoulder. I look after him for a moment before I direct my attention back to Jack who has a firm grip on my hip all of a sudden.
“What was that?” Jack asks with narrow eyes.
I raise one skeptical eyebrow. “Dancing.”
He snorts. “That wasn’t just dancing.”
I roll my eyes. “Jack–”
He shakes his head and leans closer to say into my ear, “Can we talk? Outside? The crowd is making me tense.”
I nod and follow him outside where he turns to me with a scowl. “Why the fuck are you flirting with Liam? Look, I’m sorry I was late–”
I gasp. “This is not because you were late!” I yell at him. “You picked up Kate? I can’t believe this. How do you not see how she’s flirting with you all the damn time?”
“Really? Kate? But we’ve talked about this. She’s not–”
“Don’t you dare finish that sentence,” I cut him off. “She is, and I have no clue why you refuse to see it.” I’m getting angrier by the second, and Jack’s apparent pigheadedness only makes it worse. “Fuck this. I’m leaving. Bye, Jack.”
And without another word, I do just that.
I look after Emma as she storms off. What the fuck just happened? She was the one flirting with someone else, and suddenly I’m the bad guy?
I turn around when I hear my name, and I’m not sure if I’m glad that Kate shows up now.
“Are you okay?” she says in a soft voice. And when she rests her hand on my arm in a soothing manner and looks at me with her big brown eyes, it hits me. Even though I’m mad at Emma for what happened earlier, I realize she’s right. Kate is flirting with me. Why haven’t I noticed it before? Every time she touched me and smiled at me, and how she would always talk about the good old times.
Damn, I should have seen it. And just like that, remorse replaces the anger I just felt.
I take a deep breath and pinch the bridge of my nose. “Yes, Kate, I’m okay. Listen–” I take a step away from her. “You know that there’s something between Emma and me, right? That we’re more than friends?”
She sighs, and I think she barely managed not to roll her eyes. “Yes, I figured. But are you sure that can work?”
“Yes, I am sure, but tonight I messed up. I’m sorry, I gotta go. Good night, Kate. And please, stop with the flirting. You and I, that’s not gonna happen.”
She opens her mouth to say something, but I shake my head and turn around to go after Emma.
As expected, Emma doesn’t answer my call or my text. When I knock on her door, I fear that she won’t answer that either, but she does. And when she stands in front of me with a hurt expression, I frown. “Emma,” I whisper, “I’m sorry.”
She glares at me, but then her features soften. “Me too,” she whispers back.
I blink at her. “You – what?”
She takes a deep breath and steps aside. “Come in.”
I nod and wordlessly follow her into her living room where we sit down on the couch. Emma holds up her hand when I want to say something. “No, let me. I’m sorry, Jack. I shouldn’t have acted the way I did tonight, but it hurt me to see you with Kate and how possessive she was – again. But what’s worse – I hate how you don’t see what she’s doing.”
Damn, I despise myself for causing that sad look on her pretty face. I take her hand in mine and move a little closer to her. “I’m sorry it took me too long to realize what’s going on. I told Kate to back off.”
A tiny smile flashes across her face. “You did?”
I nod. “Seeing you with Liam – how his hands were all over you – that was pure torture, and I realized it must have been similar for you to see me with Kate.”
Emma grimaces. “Yeah, it was.”
“Will you forgive me?”
She stares at me for what feels like hours, and I’m starting to worry. But then the corners of her mouth lift a tiny bit, and she nods. “Yes.”
I let out the breath I was holding. “So are we good?”
“If you forgive me, then yes.”
I chuckle. “All forgotten.” I lean closer to her until our lips touch in a kiss that is slow and sweet at first, but when she opens her lips a little to invite my tongue to find hers, she fists my shirt to pull me even closer, and we deepen the kiss.
I’m not sure how, but Emma ends up on my lap, straddling me, her hands cupping my face while my hands wander under her dress, gently caressing her lower back. She shudders and moans, and her reaction to our kiss sends shivers down my spine.
When my hands wander along her ribcage and linger on the underside of her breasts, she pulls back to catch her breath. “Jack,” she moans, and her hoarse voice goes straight to my already twitching dick. But somehow, something feels off all of a sudden, and I have a vague premonition that we will need to stop what we’re doing soon.
“Hey,” Emma continues. “You seem tense. Is this too much?” She must have noticed my firm grip on her too.
My head falls back, and I close my eyes, removing my hands from underneath her clothes. “Dammit!” I groan.
Emma gets off my lap and sits next to me, breaking any body contact we had. “It’s okay, Jack,” she says in a soft voice.
I open my eyes, and my sorrowful gaze meets hers. I want to apologize, like every time, but I know she doesn’t want to hear it. So I give her a forced smile and get up from the couch.
She gives me a questioning look. “What are you doing?”
“Maybe I should go home,” I sigh.
Emma gets up too and stands so close to me that her sweet scent fills my nose which makes it much harder for me to stick to my decision. “Please, don’t leave,” she pleads. “Can we talk some more?”
How am I supposed to resist this woman? I want to grant her every wish and give her what she deserves.
So I stay a little longer, and we talk. I would have loved to stay the whole night, but I knew I couldn’t. I’m not ready yet, and if we had continued what we started earlier, it would have ended in frustration and disappointment.
But I feel confident that the day will come soon.