Chapter Forty-Eight

After We Fell


chapter forty-eight

 

HARDIN

 

Riley’s looking up at Tessa standing in front of her on the bar. “Damn, I didn’t think she would actually do it!” she calls.

    Neither did I, but then again, she seems determined to push my buttons tonight.

    Riley looks at me, her face aglow. “She’s quite the wild child.”

    “No . . . she’s not,” I quietly disagree. Tessa looks mortified, obviously second-guessing her impulsive decision. “I’m going to help her down.” I begin to lift my hand up, but Riley smacks it down.

    “Let her do it, man.”

    I look at Tessa again. The woman who made our drinks is speaking to her, but I can’t make out what she’s saying. This is absolute bullshit, her dancing on a bar in a short-ass dress. If I was to lean onto the bar, I could see up her dress, as can anyone else at the bar. It occurs to me that Riley probably already is. I glance down the bar both ways, take note that neither of the greasy men at the opposite end are eyeing her. Yet.

    Tessa watches the woman next to her, her brows furrowed in concentration—completely the opposite of her sudden need to be “wild.” She follows the movements of the old gal and kicks out one of her legs, then the other, followed by a swift movement of her hips.

    “Sit down and enjoy the show,” Riley says next to me, sliding over one of her backup drinks.

    I’m drunk—too drunk—but my mind is clear as I watch Tessa begin to move, really fucking move. Her hands go to her hips, and she finally smiles, no longer caring that she has the full attention of almost everyone in the bar. Her eyes meet mine, and she fumbles her dance moves momentarily before collecting herself and directing her eyes to the back of the room.

    “Hot, isn’t it?” Riley smiles next to me as she brings her glass to her lips.

    Yes, obviously, watching Tessa on the bar is hot as hell, but it’s also infuriating and unexpected. The first thought that comes to mind is: Fuck, this is The second thought is that I shouldn’t be so engrossed in it and should be irritated at her constant need to defy me. But I can’t think straight because of that first thought and the fact that she’s dancing right in front of me.

    The way her dress is riding up her thighs, the way she’s holding her hair back in one hand and laughing while trying to keep up with the woman next to her . . . I love to see her this way, so carefree. I don’t see her laugh like that very often. A thin layer of sweat has coated her body, making her glow under the spotlights. I shift uncomfortably and pull the ridiculous dress shirt I’m wearing down in the front a little.

    “Uh-oh,” Riley says.

    “What?” I snap out of my trance and follow her eyes down the bar. Two men at the end of the bar are gawking at Tessa, and by gawking I mean their fucking eyes are bulging worse than my fucking dick right now.

    I look back up at Tessa, and her dress is dangerously high on her thighs; each time she kicks her legs out in front of her, it goes a little higher.

    That’s enough of this shit.

    “Easy, killer,” Riley says. “The song will be over in . . .” And then she raises her hand and waves it as the music fades.