Needy Nia

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#55 The spirit of New Year’s Eve is… blowing someone in the bathroom?

The next few chapters are what I call “cross-over central”.
The whole New Year’s Eve party will be one huge cross-over event, basically. Characters from the past nine books will be popping up left and right. While we still follow Nia’s story, obviously, but sometimes the focus will be on other characters for a moment, and then we’ll get back to Nia and Khiêm.

If you’re reading this book as a stand-alone, it might get confusing. I try to explain who everyone is, but I don’t want to go into lenghty explanations. If you don’t get who someone is, don’t worry, you don’t need it to get Nia’s story. I’m just throwing the hard-core readers a few bones, since I know they’ll get a kick out of seeing many old characters pass by. Hope you will enjoy!

***

It’s early when we arrive at the club, so we go to my brother’s restaurant The Stables to load up on carbs before we start drinking the night away. Before we can make it inside, Jagger and Rose rush out, blocking the door.

“Hey guys!” Khiêm says, excited to see them. “How are you doing?”

“Gracie brought a date,” Jagger says, his eyes trained on Marcus.

“Ah fuck,” he replies, dragging a hand across his face. “Oh well. Okay. Thanks for letting me know.”

“Where is Bee?” Rose asks, looking around. “Oh God, did she break up with you again?”

“No,” Marcus says, pulling back his shoulders and puffing out his chest. “I broke up with her. She’s moving out.”

“Oh thank God,” Rose breathes, jumping in to hug him. “I mean, that must suck balls, but you were miserable last time I saw you, so I’m glad you cut her off.”

I look at Jagger to see his reaction, but he’s keeping a poker face. He looks at Marcus, studying his face. “You’re happy about this?” he asks his friend, his voice unsure. “This break-up is going to stick?”

“Fuck yeah,” Marcus replies immediately. “I’m so done.”

A smile breaks across Jagger’s face. “In that case, I never though she was good enough for you. Good riddance.” He pulls Marcus in for a hug as well, squeezing him tightly. “Gotta hurt, though. You okay, man?”

“Getting there,” he replies as he pulls out of the embrace. “With some help from Nia and Khiêm.”

Jagger looks over at us now, his eyes widening when he sees our intertwined fingers. “Wow, wait, are you…?”

Wait… does he not know? I turn to Khiêm, who is looking at Jagger with wide eyes. “Oh my God!” I exclaim, smacking my boyfriend’s arm. “Did you seriously forget to tell Jagger?”

“Tell me what?” Jagger asks, his eyes still trained on our intertwined hands. “Did you guys finally get together?”

“Erm… yeah… over four months ago,” Khiêm replies sheepishly.

Jagger’s mouth all but falls open. “But… but…”

“Rose knew. Didn’t she tell you?” Khiêm asks, motioning to his girlfriend.

“Nia begged me not to tell him!” Rose exclaims.

“Rose knows, Marcus knows, yet no one thought to tell me?” Jagger asks, sounding annoyed now. “Seriously? My two best friends change their relationship status and I’m the last to find out?”

“Surprise?” Khiêm mumbles with a guilty look on his face.

Jagger shakes his head, glaring at his girlfriend now, although there is already a smile playing around his lips. “You kept this from me? For how long?”

“Just a few weeks,” she replies with a shrug. “And you don’t get to be mad, because we’re in a fight, and you want me to forgive you.”

“You’re in a fight?” Marcus asks incredulously. “Is the world coming to an end?”

Jagger chuckles. “Just Rose being melodramatic. I volunteered to take care of the kids the first hour of the party, and Rose isn’t too happy about that.”

“We don’t even have kids!” she shouts at him, making him wince. “It’s the parents’ job to keep all those kids entertained, not ours!”

“I’m the nanny of five of them,” Jagger reminds her.

“It’s your night off!” Rose argues, putting her hands on her hips. “You’re supposed to watch me drink cocktails until I get so horny I want to suck you off in a bathroom. Seriously, Jagger, don’t you get the spirit of New Year’s Eve at all?”

That earns loud giggles from Holly and Ayaan. I’d all but forgotten they were here, to be honest. Aimee isn’t even listening to the conversation anymore since Trystan showed up somewhere in the middle of all the drama, and they’re kissing, hands knotted in hair and everything. It’s cute and sickening at the same time.

“Food,” Khiêm decides, gesturing to doors into the restaurant that Jagger and Rose are blocking. “I could really use some food. Nia hasn’t fed me nearly enough today.”

I roll my eyes at him. “You’re just always hungry.”

“Hungry for you, lovely,” he teases, kissing me softly.

“Ew,” Marcus comments at the exact same time Jagger says: “God, you’re cute together.”

“Oh my God,” Khiêm realizes, pulling away from me. “Jagger! I need to tell you something else! Fucking hell, we really need to get better at staying in touch.”

“Dude, we played videogames and talked over the headset for three hours straight only two days ago,” Jagger comments dryly. “You just need to get better at talking about something other than nerdy shit.”

“True,” Marcus and I say in unison.

“What do you need to tell him?” I ask Khiêm.

“Nothing you don’t already know, sunshine.” He kisses me and then he motions for Jagger to follow him. Marcus tags along as well, and the three of them look at us over their shoulders, waiting for us to go inside.

“Well, they’re being vague as fuck,” Rose comments dryly. “Come on, Nia, I’ll be your date since our men have taken off to talk about God knows what.” She loops her arms through mine and pulls me inside, into the warmth of the restaurant. The others follow us to Rose’s table in the back. Waiting for us are Gracie, two girls I don’t know, and a guy I suppose is Gracie’s date.

“Hey Nia!” Gracie gets up to hug me. “This is Robert.”

Ah, the guy she met at the party after Marcus told her he didn’t want her. I greet him politely. He’s tall, broad, and he’s got a nice smile, but he’s kind of… how do I say this nicely… forgettable.

Rose introduces everyone, and the two girls at the table turn out to be Pooja and Davina, friends of Gracie and Rose from Harvard. They can’t keep their hands off each other. Robert seems a little preoccupied watching them instead of paying attention to Gracie. Pervert.

“Where are the guys?” Gracie asks, looking a little nervous now.

“Outside, being weird,” Rose replies, motioning for a waiter to drag another table and some chairs to where we are so we can all sit together. When the waiter tells her he can’t just rearrange the restaurant, Rose looks up at him with a scowl. “The owner is basically my uncle. He’s her brother.” She points at me. “Are you going to tell me you want to go tell Dshawn Davis that you can’t even help out his sister to find a good spot to sit?”

“Look, there is nothing I can do,” the waiter says, holding up his hands. “I have strict orders from the boss not to drag tables around the place.”

“Is the boss you’re referring to Shaughna Elmore?” I ask him with a smug smile. “You know she’s basically my sister-in-law, right? And her stepmother is her best friend.” I motion at Rose. “You want to get Shaughna over here? Because I have her number right here.” I wiggle my phone at him.

“No, no, of course I can take care of this!” the waiter says, his eyes wide. “Not a problem.”

As he starts getting us an extra table and some chairs, Gracie slow claps for me, and Rose joins in as well.

“It’s all about knowing who’s truly the boss,” I tell them, laughing. “Dshawn is totally whipped, just like my dad. If you want something done, don’t try to get a Davis man to do it for you. The women are the ones in charge in our family.”

“Damn right you are,” Khiêm agrees, sliding into the booth to give me a kiss and put his arm around me. “Oh, you’re nice and warm…” He presses his ice-cold hands against my bare back – I’m wearing a backless black sequin dress – and he groans appreciatively at the difference in temperature.

“Come here, baby.” I take his cold hands in mine and rub them until they’re warm.

“Will you warm my hands?” Jagger asks Rose, reaching for her.

“Fuck off with your cold-ass paws.” She pushes them away from her. “I’m still pissed you’re going to make us miss the first hour of the party.”

I laugh, but the smile dies on my face when I see Marcus still standing, looking at Gracie and Robert with pain in his eyes. She wasn’t touching him at all when we came in, but now that Marcus is here, she’s suddenly snuggled against Robert, laughing at something he said. I’d bet anything it’s all for show. I wonder if she even likes the guy. Does he know about her past with Marcus?

“Hey,” Marcus says, sitting down next to Ayaan, who immediately makes room for him. She rolls her eyes at my warning look, but she doesn’t put her hands on him, at the very least.

“I’m here! Let’s get this party started!” someone yells, running over to us and grabbing Rose, twirling her around. It’s a huge guy with biceps the size of Connecticut, grinning like a madman. Right behind him are Yoah, Tommy and Davy, rolling their eyes at the other guy. Now that I’m looking closer, I notice Tommy and the big dude look sort of similar.

“Manny, put me down!” Rose squeals.

He does as he’s told, ruffling her hair. She hits his arm, hard, but he doesn’t even seem to notice. His eyes move over everyone at the table, settling on Holly. “Hello there, gorgeous,” he says, winking at her. “You single?”

“Wow, Manny, seriously, you’ve been here for all of five seconds and you’re already hitting on someone you’ve never met before?” Tommy grumbles, looking at who I assume is his brother with a dismayed expression.

Manny shrugs. “Can’t drink, can’t have pills or anything fun, but at least I can still have sex. Can’t fault me for trying to score on New Year’s Eve, can you, bro?”

Is Manny a recovering addict? Coming to a New Year’s Eve party in a club? Oh wow.

Gracie gets up to hug Tommy, Manny and Yoah, and then they all site down. All except for Davy, who is still standing, looking at the entrance like he’s expecting someone to enter at any moment.

“Do you have a hot date or something?” Jagger asks him teasingly.

Davy looks at his big brother and shrugs. “Maybe.”

As if she knows we’re talking about her, Davy’s date walks in. And holy shit, she’s huge. Six foot two at the very least, with broad shoulders, muscles rippling everywhere, and she looks ill at ease in her dark blue dress.

“Bailey!” Davy exclaims, looking up at her with a huge grin on his face. “You came.”

“Yes,” she says shyly, looking down at the floor. “I did.”

“Is Jagger’s little brother dating a girl that could kill him with her pinkie?” Khiêm whispers to me. “Or am I hallucinating?”

“Hell if I know,” I reply, taken-aback by this turn of event as well.

“You look beautiful,” Davy tells her, and I can tell he means it. She’s not a classical kind of beauty, not at all, but the way he looks at her… It’s so cute. He might only be 15, but it’s obvious he’s head over heels for this girl.

“Introduce us,” Jagger tells Davy, a small smile playing around his lips.

“Right!” Davy realizes. “Bailey, these are my brothers, Jagger and Yoah. And that’s Jagger’s girlfriend Rose and Yoah’s boyfriend Tommy. I know that’s Khiêm… and I think that’s Nia or Mia or something, and her brother Marcus, and… well… I don’t really know anyone else here. I guess they’re all my brothers’ friends.”

Bailey waves awkwardly. “Hi, I’m Bailey.”

“It’s so nice to finally meet the girl who gave Davy a black eye,” Rose says, causing everyone to look at the two 15-year-olds with wide eyes. “I like a girl with a nice right hook.”

“Left,” Davy says, sounding proud. “She’s left-handed.”

“Oh my God, he’s so smitten,” Khiêm whispers to me, laughing softly. “Oh, to be 15 and in love.”

“I think 22 and in love is pretty great as well,” I reply, not caring how mushy I sound.

He laughs and kisses me on the cheek. “26 and in love isn’t so bad either.”

“Will you tell me what you, Jagger and Marcus talked about earlier?” I ask, giving him my best puppy-dog eyes and batting my lashes at him.

“Not a chance,” he replies, grinning. “Can we order now? I’m starving!”

Right on cue, Shaughna herself shows up at our table with a huge tray filled with fries and burgers, followed by a waiter with a tray full of sodas. “Eat up,” she tells us sternly. “Drinking all night needs a good foundation. No puking in my club tonight, you hear me? I’m gonna make you eat your own barf if you get too drunk to keep your food inside your stomach.”

“She’s hot,” Manny mumbles to Tommy. “Feisty. I like that. She single?”

“I’m 38, way too old for you. And way, way, way too good for you. I’m also quite happy with my boyfriend and I’m a mother of two,” Shaughna shoots at him, apparently having overheard him.

“So you’re a MILF,” Manny says, winking at her. “I can work with that.”

“Dude, that’s my sister-in-law,” Marcus tells him before I can. “Fuck off.”

I guess the tone of the night is set.

We all dig into the fries and burgers, conversation flowing freely. Marcus seems distracted by watching Gracie and Robert, and Bailey hardly talks, even to Davy, but other than that, everyone seems to be having a great time. I can’t wait to actually get to the club, and of course for Quang to propose to Amy. This will be a night to remember.

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