I was no stranger to my father Crosby McCall’s fundraisers. At fifteen, I learned quickly what my new parents expected of me. The McCall name meant power and with that came respect. I never thought that at fifteen, they could mold me into the perfect child they wanted. Delilah McCall, my mother, was mostly responsible for that. She taught me the proper way to walk, talk, and dress. I even learned proper table etiquette. Never before did I think of using the appropriate silverware when eating was a must. I was the epitome of everything they wanted in a daughter. Even now, five years later, I am still trying to live up to their expectations.
The night couldn’t have been more perfect, at least for my father. I hated his fundraisers, and this one was no different. I wished there were more people closer to my age instead of the stuffy middle-agers that my father intentionally invited to these events. When the waiter walked by, I had no problem grabbing a champagne flute from his tray. In two weeks, I would be twenty-one. Therefore, I didn’t see the crime in getting through tonight with a little liquid help, especially after being introduced to a dozen guests who attended the event.
My father was off being the perfect host, and I had no clue where my mother was. She was probably hiding out in the ladies’ bathroom. She hated these things as much as I did. But tonight was different. Across the sizeable banquet room was a very mysterious man leaning against the bar. He sparked my curiosity, and I had to get a closer look at him without being conspicuous. I casually weaved through the groups of people carrying on conversations about politics or whoever became the newest gossip.
As I got closer, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He was gorgeous. His hair was jet black, and his designer tux, perfectly tailored, fit his sculpted waist and broad shoulders. When he looked my way, my heart raced, and his eyes drew me in. I had never seen a more magnificent hue of blue. Just like the brilliant blue of the Atlantic Ocean, they made me want to dive right in.
When our eyes met, a smile graced the perfect line of his face. I wasn’t embarrassed often, but his smile left me fantasizing about how it would feel to have his lips pressed to mine. I wasn’t a stranger to foreplay, but the things this man was doing to me were beyond anything I had ever felt. Pulling my thoughts from my fantasies, I turned to face my father.
“Reyna, I’d like you to meet Mr. Cross. He is one of our major contributors.”
An older gentleman, about fifty, was standing next to my father, looking me up and down like I was his next meal. Holding out my hand, I watched my father as he glanced down at the champagne glass I was still holding, exhibiting a look of disappointment. “So nice to meet you, Mr. Cross.” I smiled, pulling my father’s eyes away from my glass.
“The pleasure is all mine, Reyna.” His eyes were dark blue and disconcerting as he pulled my hand to his lips and placed a kiss on my knuckles.
The greeting was unexpected, and he made me very uncomfortable. Thankfully, I didn’t have to make small talk. My friend Kenzi stepped up behind me and leaned over, her mouth next to my ear. “Let’s get out of here and have some real fun.”
I couldn’t hide my enthusiasm. There was a smile from ear to ear spread across my face. I wasn’t opposed to getting out of here, but first, I needed to find out more about the man standing at the bar. Looking between my father and Mr. Cross, I made my retreat. “It was nice meeting you, Mr. Cross. Thank you for your contribution to this wonderful cause. I’m sure it will go a long way in stopping violence against women.”
When my father was out of view, I downed the rest of my champagne while dragging Kenzi over to the bar where Mr. Hottie stood. Kenzi was nine months older than me, and when she showed the bartender her ID, he filled our drink order, a Whiskey Sour for me, and a Fuzzy Navel for her. Even after handing us our drinks, he never requested to see my ID. If he had, I had a fake one I got when I turned eighteen.
We stood at the other end of the bar, a reasonable distance from the lust-inducing guy. Before I could take the first sip of my drink, he was walking toward us. One champagne and a sip of whiskey didn’t give me the courage I needed to talk to him. Up close and personal, he was even more gorgeous than what I had thought. He left me speechless. When he leaned in, his scent didn’t escape me as his mouth touched my ear. “Would you like to dance?”
The mystery man who had my insides twisted held out his hand while placing the other around my waist. His scent clouded my mind. I was sure that my mouth had gaped open and drool was running down the side. Swiping the bottom of my lip with my finger, it found that it was only my imagination. Nodding, I placed my hand in his and allowed him to lead me to the dance floor. As I followed him, I could feel how confident he was and how the other women seemed more interested in him than their dance partners.
As I glanced up, his eyes met mine. “I couldn’t help but notice that you met my father.”
“I’m sorry?” I said, unsure of who he was referring to since my father had introduced me to far too many men to count.
“Lorenzo Cross. He can be a little forward.” Of course, Mr. Cross was his father. How could I have missed the resemblance?
“I’m sure he meant no harm,” I said, even though his father made me feel uncomfortable. “I’m Reyna Braxton, I mean McCall. Reyna McCall.”
A hint of a smile splashed his face as he lowered his head. “I know. It must be difficult living up to Crosby McCall’s standards.”
What he said wasn’t far from the truth, but I loved my father. He was a good man. I felt like I was at a disadvantage. This younger Mr. Cross knew me, but all I knew about him was his last name. “And you are?”
“Forgive my manners. I’m Davian Cross.” He didn’t stop there as his lips brushed up against my ear. “The man you will be leaving with tonight.”
Davian Cross was arrogant. A trait I was sure he inherited from his father. There was no mistaking it, but his presumption added ten degrees to the heat burning inside that I was desperately trying to control. He might be handsome, every woman’s dream, but if he thought for one moment that I would leave with him, he had another think coming. Then again, I was confident he always got what he wanted, and right now, he wanted me.
There was no way I would ever let that happen; the honorable thing to do was to walk away before his deep velvety voice changed my mind. “I’m afraid that isn’t possible,” I smiled as I released his hand and began walking away from him. He might have been the most gorgeous man I had ever seen, but I had a feeling he was also the most dangerous.
As I was about to step away, I felt his warm hand grab my arm. “Dinner then. Tomorrow night.”
I turned, his intimidating blue eyes meeting mine. “I can’t.” The heat radiated through my body to my core. Mr. Davian Cross just confirmed that it was time for me get out of here.
Kenzi and I entered “Stage One” just past eleven, dodging my father before he realized that we had left the fundraiser. The music was blaring, and with the place packed, we had a hard time getting to the bar. I had no regret for leaving the fundraiser, but I couldn’t help think about what would have happened if I went with Davian Cross instead of coming here with Kenzi. As we made our way through the crowd, I could see that Kyle was slinging drinks behind the bar. He knew us well, and when he spotted us at the end of the bar, he headed our way. “What will it be, ladies?”
Before Kyle became a bartender, he checked IDs at the front door. We became regulars, and now, the new bouncer, Scott, knew us by name. Showing Kyle her best smile, Kenzi said, “The usual, please.”
“This one is one the house, ladies.” Kyle winked, looking at Kenzi with a big grin. Personally, I thought he had a thing for her. He was cute in a boyish way. His hair was longer than most, but he kept it pulled up away from his face in a man bun.
I never understood why the two of them hadn’t hooked up yet. It might have been because Kenzi was more of a tomboy than anything else. If she could get away from putting a dress on, she would. For that exact reason, we had to stop at her place to change before coming here. She opted to change into expensive blue jeans and a silk halter while I chose a tight bodycon dress that swooped dangerously in the back.
Kyle handed us our drinks and we meandered amongst the crowd. The music was loud, every song bleeding into the next. We slowly made our way through the throng of people until we found a place to stand near the dance floor. I stared over to the dance floor, watching couples dance with the music. Even though my eyes were on the dance floor, my thoughts were on Davian Cross, whom I left back at the fundraiser.
Yanked away from the bodies moving to the music, I felt a hand come around my waist. “That dress is very dangerous.”
His familiar scent matched his deep velvety voice as I turned to face him. “What are you doing here?”
“At this very moment, enjoying the view.” His breath was so close to my ear that I couldn’t help but react to his words. Moving his hand lower, he took hold of mine. “Let’s dance.”
As we walked toward the dance floor, the music had changed into a soft melody that I hadn’t heard before. When Davian pulled me closer, the thoughts running through my head could not be tamed. Our bodies were so close, I was certain that he could feel the hard peaks of my nipples pressing against his chest through the thin material of my dress. I could feel the pressure of his hand around my waist, and I imagined it skimming lower to the sensitive skin of my body.
Intoxicated by his scent, I didn’t realize that the song had stopped and had been replaced with an upbeat tempo. Davian squeezed my hand gently before leading me off the dance floor. Evidently, he didn’t do fast songs. As we approached our spot, Kenzi was still standing on the sideline, talking with some hot guy while holding my drink. Taking my Whiskey Sour from her hand, I sucked down the sweet, lemony drink until there was nothing left.
Shoving her empty glass into my hand, Kenzi practically dragged the hot guy standing next to her to the dance floor. The lighting wasn’t that great, but with the dance floor lit up, I realized I’d seen Kenzi’s dance partner before. He went to Georgia State; I was sure of it.
Breaking my train of thought, Davian’s hand wrapped around mine as he took the empty glasses from me. “How about a refill?”
“Sure, a Whiskey Sour for me and a Fuzzy Navel for Kenzi.”
Instead of keeping my eyes on the dance floor, I watched him make his way through the crowd of people. Every woman in his way stopped what they were doing to get a glimpse of Davian as he walked by. He was eye candy to the fullest. He was gorgeous, even without the tux. His designer jeans fit him perfectly, and the black button-up shirt he wore did nothing to hide his broad shoulders and his narrow waist.
When I could no longer see him, I diverted my eyes back to the dance floor, where Kenzi was doing some weird dance move that had her hot friend laughing. I wished I could remember his name.
Kip. That’s it. Kip.
I had to smile. Kenzi was just that way, always doing something silly. Even when we were in high school getting ready to accept our high school diplomas, instead of clothes under her gown, she wore only a matching bra and pantie set. Who would have thought the words ‘GSU kicks ass’ would get so much attention? I’m sure it was because she lifted her gown and mooned her classmates from the stage after receiving her diploma.