“Do you want to go out?” Mason asked me on Thursday night. I gazed up at him from the bed and watched him walk into the bedroom, a towel wrapped around his waist, beads of water dripping down his taut chest.
Out? Mason wanted to go… out? Between school and work and seeing Mom, we hadn’t been out on a date in weeks.
He dropped his towel in the middle of the room, not caring that he was getting everything wet. “Huh?” he asked me, giving me that are-you-going-to-answer-or-just-stare-at-me look in the mirror.
My eyes widened, and I sat up. “Yeah, let’s go.”
Mason finally wanted to go out on a date, and I wasn’t about to pass up this opportunity. Tonight would be a good time to chill out and relax, to spend some quality time with him and to NOT think about… Mr. Bryne. Because I hadn’t been thinking about anyone else but Mr. Bryne for the past few days. Every day was just getting worse and worse.
“Well, don’t just sit there.” Mason tugged a dress shirt over his head. “Get ready.” I pressed my lips together and ignored his remark, walking toward my closet and finding my favorite wrap-around navy-colored dress. “Don’t you want to wear that red dress I got you?”Mason asked. “You wear that dress every time we go out.”
Bite my tongue. Don’t let him get to your head. You owe him so damn much.
“I like this dress,” I said, smoothing out the material and taking a deep breath. I slung my purse over my shoulder and smiled at him. “I’m ready.”
Mason brought me to this upscale bar down in the city. I had never been there, but it seemed like he had--many times. The waitresses and bartenders greeted him as they would an old friend. I gazed at all the women who were looking him up and down, pushing out their breasts, unbuttoning a couple buttons of their shirts, and nearly rolled my eyes. God, some of these people were beyond desperate.
“Mason,” I said, grabbing his hand and itching close to him. “Are you sure this is okay?”
I didn’t care that we had come here, but part of me felt bad. This place looked way, way, way out of my budget and… I was feeling beyond guilty for letting Mason pay for everything, from Mom’s living arrangements to all the bills to taking me out to dinner. All I paid for was Mom’s therapy and some of my college. Nothing for him.
“It’s fine.” He slid onto a seat at the far end of the bar and held two fingers up toward the bartender. “Two menus.”
She sauntered over to us, placed the menus on the bar, and smiled sweetly at Mason, flicking a strand of her awfully dyed red hair out of her face. “It’s nice to see you again, Mason.”
I grabbed the menu from her and buried my face into it, deciding not to listen to Mason say anything to her. It wasn’t any of my damn business what he was saying to her, especially after what I had done to him with Mr. Bryne.
A few moments later, she placed two drinks on the bar in front of us. I grabbed my sangria and drank it down faster than I ever had. Maybe it’d give me just the buzz I needed to ask Mason for another favor--to move Mom to a better assisted living home…
But after I finished the entire drink, I still didn’t say a word. At least Mom was there. She could be somewhere worse. Hell, we could be living on the side of the road with no money to our name if it wasn’t for Mason.
I tapped my fingers on my glass, watching Mason text on his phone from the corner of my eye. So much for going out on a nice date. I glanced up and si--Mr. Bryne sat with a young woman across the bar. His body was turned toward hers, his arm around the back of her chair. He leaned in slightly, lips curled into a smile.
Something inside of me stirred, and I tightened my palm around my glass until my knuckles turned white. Mr. Bryne said something to her, and she laughed, her nose scrunching up, her fingers brushing against his chest.
I pressed my lips together. Who wa--No, no… I didn’t care. I didn’t care who she was. What happened between Mr. Bryne and I was a one-time thing, never to be mentioned or thought about again.
“Mason,” I said, trying so desperately to pull my attention away from Mr. Bryne and whoever he was out on a date with. “Do you want to…”
“To?” he asked, barely looking in my direction. The waitress sauntered over again, and he looked up from his phone with a big smile. “Two more, and let’s do a side of chicken tacos.”
She took our menus away, and he went back to texting on his damn phone. I slumped down in my seat, kept my eyes on the table, and frowned. He asked me out on a date, and then didn’t pay attention to me at all. Great.
I was stuck with on a stale date, while Mr. Bryne was over there with some pretty girl, laughing and having the time of his life.
“Mason!” someone shouted from across the bar. I glanced up to see one of his friends. I didn’t know his name. Mason knew way too many people for me to keep track of. They did that weird guy-hug, clapping their hands together. After giving him my best smile, I watched him slide into the seat next to Mason and listened to them start talking about the party the other night.
My gaze drifted to Mr. Bryne. His arm was still around the woman’s chair, but he was sipping his drink and gazing over at me. My eyes widened, and as soon as I made eye contact with him, I pulled my gaze away, my heart pounding against my chest.
God, I hated this. What was wrong with me? Why was I feeling this way about my best friend’s dad when I was sitting next to Mason, my boyfriend that had done everything for me? Why was I… jealous?
The woman stood up, leaving her purse on the bar next to him, and walked toward the bathroom. When she disappeared, he glanced back at me, and I looked away. Maybe I felt jealous because unlike me she was at least getting some attention from a man.
The slutty bartender--yes, I’d decided she was slutty--placed a glass of wine on the bar in front of me. Mason looked over, brows furrowed. “What’s his?” he asked her. “She didn’t order wine.”
“Compliments of the gentleman over there.”
Mason glanced over across the bar with his jaw clenched, but when he saw Melissa’s father his hard expression fell. “It’s just Melissa’s dad,” he said, nodding to him then turning back to his friend.
That’s all this man had to fucking say? It’s just Melissa’s dad. Not… why is Melissa’s dad trying to get you drunk? Why is Melissa’s dad ordering you a drink? Why is Melissa’s dad staring at you with those deep blue eyes?
I took a deep breath and looked back at Mr. Bryne, picking up my glass and sipping it. He leaned forward, forearms on the bar, and parted his lips as if he would say something, but then that stupid brunnette came back and sat next to him, her fingers dipping into his forearm.
He leaned closer to her, whispered something into her ear, and she nodded to him. He stood up, glanced at me from over her shoulder, and headed toward the bathroom.
Instead of sitting next to Mason and listening to him rave about Saturday night, I told him that I needed to use the bathroom and followed Mr. Bryne down the hallway.
“Following me, Mia?” he asked, turning around, brow arched.
“How’s your date?” I asked him through clenched teeth, waiting by the bathroom door.
“Better than yours.”
I pressed my lips together and gazed back into the bar to see that waitress leaning over the counter and talking to Mason again. My heart clenched, and I shook my head. “Good,” I said, deciding that coming back here was wrong. I should’ve just stayed in the damn seat and listened to the frat-boy conversation between the annoying asshole and the annoying asshole’s friend.
I pushed the bathroom door open, but Mr. Bryne snatched my wrist and pulled me back. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“To use the bathroom.”
He pulled me back out into the small hallway and took a step closer to me. “We both know that’s not why you followed me.”
I raised a brow at him, trying to keep myself calm. “And why do you think I followed you?”
His lips curled into a smirk, his fingers running up my sides. “How’s Mason doing?” he asked, leaning down slightly, his nose brushing against my neck. I shivered and placed my hands firmly against his chest, but I didn’t push him away. His hands roamed my body, falling lower and lower until he was squeezing my ass.
“He’s doing fine.”
“Fine?” he asked, chuckling in my ear. I could feel my nipples harden against my bra, and all I could think about were his lips all over my breasts last weekend, kissing, sucking, biting every part of me.
“He treats you--”
“Fine. He treats me fine.” I gathered all my strength and pushed him away, glancing over at Mason who was flirting with that woman. God, it was awful to stay with him after what I did… but he had done so much for Mom. Without him… I’d have to drop out of college and I was so close to finishing, just to pay the bills, and even then… the prices in the city were too high to live off of a single shitty income. I pressed my lips together and gazed at my feet. “You know what…” I turned away, about to walk back down the hallway. “Don’t talk to--”
He grasped my wrist again, pulling me close to him until our bodies were nearly pressing together. He curled his arm around my waist, his fingers dancing on my lower back. “I like this dress on you.”
My breath caught in my throat, a weird feeling spreading through my body. It was a feeling that I should have never--ever--felt for my best friend’s father.
He smirked against my neck, his stubble brushing against it and making me shiver. I took a deep breath, listening to Mason’s voice in the bar, chuckling with that woman. I yanked myself out of Mr. Bryne’s grasp, reluctantly stepped away, and looked him up and down. “What happened between us was a one-time thing. It won’t happen again.”
But, boy, was I wrong.
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