~ Cassie’s POV ~
My name is Cassidy Isabella Parker, Cass or Cassie to my friends, and I’m 22 years old, at least for one more day anyway, and I’m a whopping 5 feet 2 inches tall. I currently work nights as a waitress at the Sapphire Casino while I’m finishing up nursing school. I have one more year before I graduate, and I can’t wait.
Growing up, my parents were abusive, especially when they were drunk. I’ve been taken from them numerous times and put in foster care, but somehow, they always got me back. The foster families I stayed with, however, weren’t any better than they were. One of the families I stayed with had a son who thought I was his personal plaything.
My mom died when I was 14 from a drug overdose and my dad left right after and never came back. After he left I stayed in foster care until I aged out of the system. Since then I’ve been on my own. To be honest, I’ve always felt like I’ve been on my own with no real family.
I’ve been in only one serious relationship in my whole life and it wasn’t a great one. I met Kyle when I was 17 and was with him for almost two years. Kyle was pretty controlling and abusive, emotionally and physically. I think I only stayed with him because I didn’t want to be alone. After Kyle, I decided that I need to focus on me and my goals. Men can wait.
It took going to the gym and learning how to box for me to build my confidence enough to leave Kyle. That and the support of Evan, my trainer. He taught me how to defend myself and eventually how to fire a gun (after I begged for weeks). After a few months I got really good with my fighting and shooting skills.
He helped me get a job at the casino working with him in security. Yes, teeny tiny me worked a security job. Actually, it was Sadie, the bartender who suggested to Evan that I come work there after she saw me fight two men off one of the waitresses there. It just so happened I was waiting in the parking lot for Evan to get off work and saw them follow her to her car and attack her.
I only transferred to waiting tables at the bar with Sadie six months ago. Waitressing wasn’t really my ideal job. I didn’t like wearing the sexy outfit, I’m not comfortable in a heel higher than 2 inches, and I really don’t like drunk men (of all ages) grabbing me every five minutes. But the tips are good, and I could really use the extra money.
“30 more minutes and I’m out of here!” I sigh.
“You can leave early if you’d like. It’s almost 10pm on a Friday night which means it’s still early enough for you to go have some fun.” Sadie responds to me from behind the bar.
“It’s ok. I’m planning on going out tomorrow night anyway with some friends. Besides, I could use that 30 minutes to nab myself more tips.”
“Well you’re in luck then. You’ve been requested, again.” Mia remarks. Mia is one of the waitresses at the bar. She’s really sweet and not like most of the other waitresses, which is probably why she’s the only one I consider a friend here.
She gives me a wink and nods towards one of my tables where three guys around my age have sat down. Two of them are smiling and laughing as they’re checking out the other waitresses. The one on the end is looking with them but doesn’t show any interest.
They’re all pretty good looking, but Mr. No Expression is hot as hell. And his eyes! They’re beautiful and hypnotic. I bet he’s got a harem somewhere. How can he not as good as he looks right?
I take my tray and walk up to them. They all look up at me, the two still grinning like idiots.
“Good evening gentlemen. What can I get for you tonight?”
The one on my left leans in a little too closely to look at my name tag.
“Well, Bella, we’ll have three whiskeys please.” He says smiling like calling me by the name on my tag makes him special. He doesn’t know how dumb he looks right now since that’s not even my real name.
“And maybe we can get a little side dish with that?” The one on my right adds wiggling his eyebrows at me. Yeah, right! Like that’s going to happen.
“Sorry, my kitchen is closed, however, if that’s something you really want I can move you to one of the other tables where the buffet is always open.” I say.
They all laugh. Even the moody one. He’s not so unattached from his emotions as I thought.
“Nah. We’re good here. Thanks.” Mr. Moody responds.
“Well alrighty then. I’ll be back with your drinks.” I smile and head back to the bar and put their order in. I turn back and see Mr. Moody staring at me with those eyes. This is going to be the longest 30 minutes of my life with Mr. Moody, Flirt 1, and Flirt 2.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I put the drinks on my tray and start walking towards them when I see Avery talking with them. My shift isn’t even over yet and here she comes trying to poach my customers. And is she flirting with Mr. Moody? A wave of jealousy washes over me for some reason. Why am I feeling territorial with him? He probably likes her flirting with him.
Ugh! Get it together Cassie! I’ll just serve their drinks and go home. They can do whatever they want. I don’t care. I walk up to them and put their drinks on the table totally ignoring her.
“Your drinks gentlemen. Anything else I can get for you?”
“I think we’re good for now. Maybe a little later?” Mr. Moody says to me with a smile. Dear lord this man has beautiful eyes! Blink Cassie damn it!
“Well, when you’re ready for your next round let me know. I’ll be taking over her table now.” Avery says with a smirk. Is she still here? “Your shift is over, isn’t that right Bella?” She asks me still with that dumb smirk on her face. I roll my eyes and just focus on Mr. Moody with the nice eyes.
“My shift is over now but if you need anything else just flag down any of the other waitresses and they’ll be more than happy to serve you.”
I start to walk away but Mr. Moody grabs my wrist. His touch sends goosebumps up my arm.
“Bella, wait!” He reaches in his pockets and pulls out a bunch of money and hands it to me. I can see Avery out of the corner of my eye watching this exchange. I fold up the money and put it in my bra strap. Seems Mr. Moody likes my hiding spot just as much as I do. I see him shift a little in his seat.
I thank him and practically run back to the employee area, so I can change and go home. Evan is standing guard by the door as usual.
“Hey Cass! I see Avery didn’t waste any time claiming your tables.”
“I swear that woman is like a vulture always searching for fresh meat.”
We both laugh.
“I don’t think those guys are into her so she’ll probably look for you to console her.”
“Please don’t jinx me.”
I put my hand on his arm.
“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you.”
We both laugh, and I head back to change.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When I come back out I see Avery has decided to use Mr. Moody as a chair. I guess the normal chairs aren’t good enough for her? I roll my eyes again. She is really testing my patience tonight. I try to walk past them quickly, so they don’t notice me.
“Hey Bella!” Avery calls out to me.
“Yes?” I say with a smile. She drapes her arms around Mr. Moody’s neck as she pulls out a wad of dollar bills from her pockets and holds it out to me.
“This is for you.”
“What’s this for?”
“This is so you can fix yourself up like the rest of us. It will help you get more tips.” Dear Lord, please give me strength not to choke this idiot and make these men have to testify against me in court.
“You think I need to look more like you?”
“Men want women who look like me more than women who look like you. Isn’t that right?” She turns to Mr. Moody and strokes his face. I don’t think she notices the disgust that washes over him. Now she’s making me mad. I don’t know if it’s from her fawning all over him or just her presence in general.
“So you’re saying men, like these three, are really into plastic?” I ask with a smile. She turns and glares at me. I smile and look at the three men.
“Well, then you guys should enter today’s raffle. I hear first prize is a set of Tupperware.” The three men burst out laughing hysterically. Avery jumps off Mr. Moody’s lap and steps in front of me. Before she can say anything to me, Evan steps between us with his back towards Avery. He puts his hands on my waist and guides me around Avery towards the front of the casino.
“Go on home. I’ll take care of this.” He tells me.
I roll my eyes and leave.
~ Xavier’s POV ~
My name is Xavier Montero and I’m 27 years old. My father owns a dance club and a small casino, and I help run them with my brother Austin and best friend Ethan. One of the best things about our job is having to go out and scope our competition every now and then.
Today, Austin, Ethan, and I are headed over to this bar at the Sapphire Casino. This casino has been our biggest competitor since it opened about 5 years ago. We’ve come here a few times already, but it seems that it’s picked up business in the last 6 months since it updated its bar area. We walk in and I can see why.
It’s basically a gentlemen’s club within a casino. They’ve added some VIP rooms behind the private bar area and all their waitresses look like a bunch of strippers. Well, of them except for the one standing at the bar. She has a sweet look about her, not like the other waitresses. And of course, my brother zeros in her right away.
“Damn she’s hot!” Austin says as he eyes her up and down.
“Which one?” Ethan asks trying to figure out who my brother is talking about.
“The one at the bar.” Ethan lets out a long whistle.
“I saw her first.” Austin claims.
“That won’t matter if she notices me first.” Jesus! These two need to shut up and stop drooling over her. Why? I have no idea. It’s not like I’m interested in her. Am I? As we’re standing there one of the other waitresses comes up to us.
“Looking for a table?” She asks.
“Yes. We’d like her table.” Austin answers. He points to the waitress at the bar.
“Of course.” She says with a smirk. “She’s quite the popular one. Follow me.”
What’s that supposed to mean?
Once we’re seated she comes over and my brother wastes no time in flirting with her. Ethan even jumps in asking for a side dish. She rolls her eyes at him and does this cute curl with her lips. I can’t help but feel turned on by that.
“Sorry, my kitchen is closed, however, if that’s something you really want I can move you to one of the other tables where the buffet is always open.”
I had to laugh at her response. She was snarky and polite at the same time. This woman is adorable. Wait. No! She’s not your type Xavier and you’re not hers. Stop it! I can see Austin and Ethan considering asking to move to another table, but I don’t want to move. I speak up before they can say anything.
“Nah. We’re good here. Thanks.” I watch her walk back to the bar to put in our order. She’s so confident when she moves and talks. She’s not like any of the other women I’ve met. She turns toward us and when our eyes meet, I’m instantly mesmerized. My brother quickly snaps me out of that trance.
“I’m going to get her number.” Austin says as he watches her at the bar.
“No.” I tell him.
“What? Why not?”
“She’s not your type.”
“How do you know?” Why does my brother have to be so annoying?!
“Because she’s not! She looks like the serious relationship type. And that’s not you!”
“Well that’s not you either!”
“So? Who said I was interested?”
“Well she looks like my type.” Ethan chimes in. Damn! Him too?
“No.” I tell him sounding a little more forceful than I intended.
“Because I said so!” Oh my God! Did I just throw a tantrum?! They both look at me all weird. Hell, I’m looking at myself weird. What do I care if they ask her for her number? Before I can make sense of my reaction one of the blond waitresses comes over to our table.
“Good evening gentlemen. I’m Avery. Is there something I can get for you?” She’s trying to sound seductive but failing miserably.
“Nah. We’ve been taken care of.” Austin tells her not even bothering to look her way.
“Are you sure there’s nothing else I can get you?” She runs her hand up and down my arm looking at me through her fake lashes. Actually, everything about her seems fake. I bet her teeth are fake too. Before I can answer, Bella comes back with our drinks and places them on the table.
“Your drinks gentlemen. Anything else I can get for you?” She says sweetly. Quite the contrast to this blond Barbie standing too close to me. Avery is giving her the death stare, but she isn’t even looking her way.
“I think we’re good for now. Maybe a little later?” I tell her. She’s looking right at me with those beautiful hazel eyes. I can’t seem to look away. Avery proceeds to tell us that she’ll be the one to take care of us the rest of the night since Bella’s shift is over. As she’s telling us this, Bella does another eye roll and that cute thing with her mouth but doesn’t look away from me. Not that I want her to.
She turns to leave but I reach out and grab her wrist. God, her skin is so soft! I pull out some cash to give her as a tip and when she takes it from me, she folds it up and tucks it into her bra strap and smiles at me. Shit! I want to be one of those $20 bills right now.
I watch her walk to the back towards the door to the employee area. There’s a security guard standing there who looks to be around my age. He smiles as she walks up. I don’t know what they’re talking about but they’re both laughing. And then she touches his arm and walks through the door.
I wonder if they’re together. Wait. What? No, I don’t.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
About 10 minutes have gone by since Bella’s shift ended, and that Avery chic comes back over to our table. She puts her tray down at our table and sits on my lap. This chic has no concept of boundaries.
She starts stroking my hair when Bella comes out from the back.
“Shit!” I say under my breath as I see Bella give that damn eye roll and lip curl again! The three of us watch as Avery makes a weak attempt at insulting Bella’s looks. If you ask me, Avery doesn’t hold a candle to her. I watch as Bella calmly retort back at Avery.
“So, you’re saying men, like these three, are really into plastic?” She asks Avery with a smile. When Avery glares at her, Bella turns her attention to us.
“Well, then you guys should enter today’s raffle. I hear first prize is a set of Tupperware.” She says with an innocent smile.
Hold the phone! She did not just compare her to Tupperware! I think I’m going to pee from laughing so hard.
When Avery jumps off my lap and gets in Bella’s face, that security guard Bella was taking to earlier gets between them. Damn he’s quick. Where the hell did he come from? And why are his hands on Bella’s waist? I can feel myself getting angry. Why? I have no idea. I barely know this woman. But dammit if I don’t like him touching her. I watch as Bella walks out of the casino and Avery and Mr. Touchy Feely security guard walk off arguing.
“That was awesome!” Austin chuckles.
We’re all still laughing like hyenas about that last exchange between Bella and Avery as we head over to our own club. As we sit in our regular VIP booth all I can think about is Bella.
Note to self: Tell Bella she needs to set boundaries with Mr. Touchy Feely security guard.