ENGAGING JAYDEN

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GAGE


I lost at golf.

To the point of embarrassment.

Real golf...I could hold my own. I wasn’t Tiger Woods or anything but I did well enough. Wasn’t by choice. I was dragged around since I could remember with my dad and his fellow colleagues.

I couldn’t chip or putt worth shit on the screen.

“You suck.” Harden threw a Reece’s at me.

I pointed to the board and laughed, “Have you looked at your score?”

“Fucking better than yours.” He threw another piece of candy at me.

“Yeah, by three strokes.”

He shrugged. “It’s still better.”

“Why do you keep throwing shit at me?” I asked when I was hit with another.

Again he shrugged.

“It must be his ADHD.” Dillan replied.

“Fuck you— I don’t even have that.” Harden began throwing his candy at Dillan.

“Are you sure?” Jalen countered.

I checked the time and saw that it was six o’clock. All I’ve had was alcohol. I needed food. Carbs preferably. “Let’s go get food.”

“Can’t argue that.” Jalen stood and stretched. His shirt rode up; not that I was looking but it did catch the attention of some tall blonde walking passed. “I’ll be right back.”

I shook my head as he went after the girl. By her giggles and her nod I knew that whatever smooth words he used worked.

Harden tossed his now empty box of Reese’s on the table. “I’ll go to dinner but I’m sure I’m going to puke soon.”

“Jalen?” I caught his attention and he shook his head, letting me know he just made other plans for the night.

Dillan and Lucas followed us back to the hotel and a half-hour later we were shoving our mouths with carbs.

A drink was sent over to our table for Dillan. He told our waiter to tell the women thanks but that he was married. That’s one thing about Dillan— he never let his eyes wander to anyone but his wife. No matter how hot the chick was. I couldn’t help but wonder how that was possible. How could one find another so intriguing, fall so head over heels for another where no one else mattered?

Will I ever find that?

Do you want that?

I wanted to punch myself in the face for the subject even entering my mind.

“To Saint Dillan.” Harden toasted to our friends’ restraint. He did mean every word of it.

Dillan shrugged. “I’m no saint.” His lips thinned and he shook his head. “That girl is fucking hot— But I’m in love my wife. If I ever cheated on her she’d leave me without question. And I know that I’d never forgive myself.”

None of us said anything.

Just then Dillan’s phone rang.

“Speak of the devil.” He smiled.

“It’s that sixth sense bullshit.” Harden’s words were beginning to slur.

Dillan scoffed and swiped his finger across the screen. “Hey.”

I watched his frown set in.

“Honey, calm down. I can’t understand what you’re saying.”

I couldn’t hear what his wife, Emma, was saying but she sounded hysterical. I knew whatever it was it wasn’t good because she wasn’t one to freak out. She was calm; most of the time.

“How bad?” He was now holding his breath.

Shit!

Dillan reached up and rubbed his jaw. “Ok. Honey, she’s going to be ok. I’ll book a flight right now and I’ll call you back, alright?”

“What happened?” I asked just as he hung up.

“Isabella fell off the monkey bars and broke her arm.” He didn’t look up as he booked his flight.

“Bad?”

He nodded. “Compound fracture.”

“Fuckkk.” Harden grimaced.

“Holy shit.” Lucas downed his beer.

“I’m sorry man.” And I was. A bone popping through the skin was bad. “Anything I can do? Want me to fly down with you?”

“No— Stay here. We drug your ass down here. Enjoy it.”

Our table was silent before an idea popped in my head. “I’ll call Dr. Miller. He’s a family friend of our’s and he’s the best orthopedic in the country.”

“I’d appreciate it man.” Dillan looked to the ceiling. “The one fucking time I leave.”

Again, I used to never offer advice. But this ... the man was struggling. “Everything’s going to be ok. I know Emma and she isn’t going to blame you for being gone. She knew you needed to get away. And shit just happens, Dillan.” It wasn’t much but that’s all I had.

He looked at me and gave a half smile. “Thanks. I actually needed to hear that.”

“When did you start offering advice?” Harden looked pale.

“This was a one time deal.” I replied, causing Dillan and Harden to laugh.

“I need to go puke.” Harden strode off the bathroom. I hoped he’d make it.

“Want me to get a driver to take you to the airport?”

He shook his head and stood. “Nah— I ordered an Uber. They’ll be here in five. Thanks anyway.”

“Sure thing.” I stood and after we exchanged our brotherly love I said, “Text me later. Let me know how it all goes.”

“Will do.”

Lucas’ phone pinged and he was texting back and forth with whomever. A few minutes passed when he shoved his phone in his pocket and stood.

“Where the fuck you going?” I asked as I watched him toss fifty bucks on the table.

“Willow just informed me she’s in Vegas.” He wiggled his brows.

“She’s got you pusy whipped.” I laughed. And she did. Lucas and her weren’t exclusive but when she said jump he jumped. When it came to booty calling that is.

“She’s a fucking animal in the bedroom.” He grinned. With that he left.

Ten minutes had passed and Harden still hadn’t shown up. I sent him a quick text.

You good?

No. Puking my guts out

Can you walk?

?

I shook my head and asked for the check.

My waiter came over and placed a room card on the table in front of me.

Are you fucking serious right now?

I looked at her with an arched brow.

“Your dinner was paid for by the blonde at the bar in the silver dress.”

I glanced over.

Damn...

The blonde locks were more like platinum and ended mid back. Framing her nearly translucent blue eyes were thick lashes and smokey eyeshadow. Her lips were the color of blush and were naturally full. She filled her dress with her voluptuous curves and it ended just below her booty.

I turned back to the waiter. “I thought the man was supposed to buy dinner and take the women back to his hotel room.”

“That’s ol’ school.” She replied and with a shrug she left.

I took the card and slipped it in my pocket and made my way to the bathroom.

“You look like shit.” Harden was sitting on the floor with his legs stretched in front of him. His hair was a mess and — Was he missing a shoe?

“Where’s your shoe?”

“I don’t fucking know.”

How the hell did he lose his shoe from the dinner table to the bathroom? I didn’t press because he’d never figure it out anyway. Still, that didn’t stop me from checking the stalls; only to leave with my arm wrapped around my friend as I supported his weight and one missing shoe.

I got Harden to his room and while he was passed out on the duvet cover, I sat on the edge of the bed and made sure that he didn’t choke on his vomit for the next hour. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen him drunk. Far from it. But he had been acting weird all night and I knew something was off and he was trying to drink away whatever was bothering him. Which wasn’t like him and it was...unsettling to say the least.

The room card that belonged to the stunning blonde was burning in my pocket. It had been two weeks since I last slept with a women and that for me was torture. I usually only went a couple days in between. Rarely did I wait a week. I left Harden to his passed out state and rode the elevator to the twentieth floor chastising myself for being such an asshole.

I was able to pass up one temptation.

Apparently, I wasn’t capable of passing up two.

I stepped off the elevator when a tall brunette stepped out of her room up ahead. Though she wasn’t close I knew she stood about five-eleven which I found sexy as hell because to see those long legs that went for miles in stilettos would put her almost my height.

Her hips swayed smoothly and it grabbed my attention. I began to harden and I cursed myself for my lack of restraint. Her hair was shiny and it looked like silk as it poured over her shoulder while she dug in her purse. Her head was down and I caught only a glimpse of her profile. Her nose was perfectly straight and her cheekbones were sharp. Her red lips were full but not plump. And her skin...The olive tone proved her Italian heritage.

Were her eyes dark or light brown?

I had to find out.

Here I was headed to a women’s hotel room to have a quick lay before the fight and this gorgeous brunette had my mind all tangled up. And she hadn’t even looked at me. I kept my eyes glued on her, my heart rate kicked up a notch in anticipation of talking to her. When she was two feet in front of me, I stepped to the side causing her to plow into me.

“Umph.”

Her pills went flying into the air and the contents of her purse spilled all over the floor. I felt a slight bit of guilt. And then it hit me. I could help her collect her things; it’d give me more time to talk to her.

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