PROLOGUE (Billionaire’s Playground)
As I slipped into the back of the Uber, I groaned aloud. The guy eyed me in the rear-view mirror but said nothing as he merged with the traffic to take me to the Flamingo Bar.
I loved Luke with all my heart, as a friend, but I’d admitted to myself I was jealous of what he had with Scott. They were so happy together, and this engagement party, though it filled me with utter joy for my best friend, left me green with envy. I’d always thought it would be me getting engaged first.
How did that turn out?
A stab of hurt pierced my heart and I rubbed at the centre of my chest. Ever since Nigel had cheated on me, then dumped me after five years being together, I’d admit to being floored. His comment that ‘I was too out there for him’ left me cold when I’d only experimented to keep things spiced up between us.
Luke had pointed out the fact that Nigel was a spineless dick, who’d shown his true colours in the end. That I’m a bloody doctor of psychology says I should have noticed how bad things had become between us. But no, I’d buried my head in the sand, to the point where I lost sight of what was happening in my own life.
Months had passed, and I was still struggling to get past it. The unsettling reality is that I was more upset by the fact I’d been duped than by Nigel dumping me.
I stared out of the window at the darkening sky and tried to distract myself with thoughts of what I’d find at this new kink bar. I’d tried many things over the years, hoping to keep Nigel interested, but nothing seemed to hold my attention for more than a few months before I’d be looking for something different to try.
You’re supposed to be thinking about something other than Nigel!
The voice of reason did little to help settle my clenching gut, and by the time the car pulled up outside the large, converted warehouse, my mood had plummeted.
The warehouse was huge, consisting of three floors and an underground car park for patrons. The ground floor was a BDSM club called The Playroom that I’d never been in, but I was told it was a popular place for those interested in BDSM.
It was the next floor where I was headed. The Flamingo Bar was the newly refurbished part of the large warehouse. It was split into two, with a new restaurant in the La Trattoria Di Amore franchise and the kink bar. Carl, the head chef of the restaurant, was also the co-owner of the club below and the bar with Nathan. I’d not met either man as yet, though I’d heard good things about both of them from Luke and Scott.
Scott was the head waiter in the Flamingo Bar restaurant, and was also Luke’s boy, which is why they’d decided to use this venue. The bar was geared to the lighter side of kink, Daddy kink, puppy/kitty play, age play, and any other kind of play imaginable.
In the empty lift, I leant back against the wall and inhaled a breath, then another, to help centre myself. I eyed my skinny trousers in deep brown that matched my snug-fitting jacket. The burnt orange shirt I’d paired it with was also fitted, and I sucked in my stomach when it poked out over my belt.
The door opened, and I was distracted from my weight gain by the scent of Italian food and expensive colognes. The room was an eclectic mix of reclaimed wood fittings and modern fixtures. The handcrafted bar was beautiful, as were the booths that lined the walls, which also looked as if they’d been handcrafted. The dimmed lights that hung from recycled chains had different coloured glass bottles as shades, which cast coloured light over the tables in the booths.
“There you are, I thought you’d got lost,” Luke exclaimed as he rushed towards me, looking more than a little flustered.
“Now, you know I like to make an entrance, honey.” I puckered up my lips, and Luke rolled his eyes but gave in and pressed a quick, platonic kiss to my lips.
“Hey, what’s this? I turn my back on you for two minutes and already you’re kissing other men.” Scott’s eyes gleamed as he threaded his arm through Luke’s and beamed at me, not looking in the least bit upset.
I offered my lips to him, “I’ll happily give you a kiss too.”
As he went to step forward, Luke held him back. “Nope, not happening. You kiss his sweet lips and you might get second thoughts about our engagement.”
“As if, Daddy,” Scott mock-whispered back, looking about to check no one was close.
Luke was still reasonably new to the Daddy scene, and though Scott wasn’t, he was always mindful not to out Luke in front of his friends and work colleagues.
“Scott, have you got a moment? I need you to check you’re happy with… something,” asked a pretty guy dressed in a black shirt with pink flamingos on it.
“What’s this about? You promised me you weren’t going to be doing any work-related stuff tonight.” Luke’s brow furrowed as his gaze moved between the two men. “What gives Theo?”
“Luke, it’s a secret,” Scott stated in an exasperated tone as he rolled his eyes at Theo.
I chuckled when Luke got a twinkle in his eyes as he whispered something into Scott’s ear, making his boy’s cheeks fill with a flare of pink. Scott kissed his cheek before walking off with the other man.
“He looks so happy. I’m happy for you both.” I glanced at Luke as he turned to stare at me.
“I know this is hard for you after—”
“Do not mention he who shall remain nameless. We’re supposed to be having a good time.” I swept my gaze around the bar before landing back on Luke. “Maybe I’ll meet the man of my dreams tonight.”
He laughed. “You know almost everyone that is coming tonight. Is there something you want to tell me?”
“Nope, but hope springs eternal.” I sounded sad even to my own ears, so I offered him an extra bright smile, knowing it wouldn’t fool him for a second but I had to try.
“I’m told Sam, the head barman, makes a killer cocktail. Let’s go get one.” Luke’s eyes said that he was letting it go for tonight, but that he’d be having words with me at some point.
I threaded my arm through his and we went to the bar. He was right, Sam did make a killer cocktail. He was also a cute guy who liked to flirt. It didn’t hurt my ego at all when he chatted me up and gave me a flirty wink before he went to serve someone else.
By the second cocktail, and having not eaten, I was starting to feel the nice floaty alcohol effects. I excused myself to use the bathroom, and on my return, Luke was no longer stood at the bar, but was talking to a number of men, including…Griffin Hudson, shit.
I got the feeling Griffin, who was exceedingly private, might find it difficult to see me after his last visit to my office. It happened from time to time when I was out and bumped into a client.
Unable to avoid the situation, I headed straight to the group of men. Walking up behind Luke, I wrapped my arm through his, giving everyone a bright smile. It was only then that I got a full look at the man stood next to Griffin’s boyfriend Charlie. Holy fuck!
The wattage of my smile increased as my gaze travelled up his willowy frame. Thigh-length black leather boots were paired with super-skinny black jeans that made his legs appear as if they went on forever. The black fitted shirt had panelled mesh sides to show off his gorgeous body and made my mouth water. He was pretty, with blue-grey flecked eyes that showed a hint of uncertainty.
“Hello, sweetie, and who might you be?” I cooed.
Luke rolled his eyes and Griffin coughed, while the nameless man’s face gained a beautiful rosy glow to it. His eyelashes lowered, and when he remained silent, I got the distinct impression that I might have embarrassed him.
Charlie nudged the man not so subtly and huffed as Griffin coughed again. “Hi, I’m Charlie. This is Guy, my best friend. And you are?”
I gave them both a big grin as I offered my manicured hand to Guy. “I’m Brett Louden, Luke’s best friend…and Griffin’s…”
I hesitated as Griffin stiffened next to Charlie. There was an awkward silence as I continued to hold Guy’s hand, until I noticed Luke eyeing me. I reluctantly let go when Charlie spoke.
“It’s nice to meet you, Brett, but I could really do with a drink. Guy, do you want a drink? Luke, Brett? Griffin and I can go to the bar.”
Once Charlie had everyone’s orders, they walked towards the bar, disappearing in the crowd. Luke glanced between me and Guy before he came up with some lame excuse and left too.
“How long have you been friends with Charlie?” I asked after searching for something to say to break the sudden tension rolling off Guy.
His face brightened. “Oh, since I started uni. We met in halls and ended up sharing a room. That was up until recently, he’s moved in with Griffin now. But it’s not too bad as we’re in our final year.” His slim shoulders shrugged as he glanced towards the bar, as if willing Charlie to reappear.
“That’s how I met Luke. We lived together for four years.” I wanted to slap my head when Guy’s eyes widened and he looked over to where Luke stood with his arm draped over Scott’s shoulders. A look of disappointment flittered over his face before his head moved and he looked back at me.
“Just as friend’s, Guy, Luke is the brother I never had,” I clarified, hoping I was reading him right.
When his lips moved into a beautiful smile, my heart thudded against my ribs. “Oh, right. You weren’t ever an item?” he asked hesitantly.
“No, we kissed a couple of times when we were drunk.” I chuckled. “It lacked any chemistry.”
His eyes sparkled with humour. “That was like me and Charlie.”
I linked my arm through his and gave him a sexy wink. “Then we already have lots in common. You want to find out what else we might have in common?”
Guy blushed but nodded as Charlie returned with our drinks.
Three hours later, feeling the effects of Guy’s undivided attention and several cocktails, I pressed him up against the wall by the packed dance floor and kissed him.
His lips were soft, and he tasted of sweet alcohol as he allowed me to deepen and control the kiss. His slim body pressed firmly against mine, and his body’s reaction became obvious as his cock pressed against my hip bone. The kiss ended all too quickly, when Charlie came to see if Guy was ready to leave.
Tempted to ask him back to mine, I instead offered him my number. After we’d exchanged digits, he left, and I went to the bathroom to make myself decent before I went to find Luke.
In the bathroom I couldn’t resist sending Guy a text.
Thank you for making the evening extra special. I hope we can do this again soon, Brett x
I read it twice before I hit send. A smile plastered to my face, I went to find Luke, feeling the first flare of real happiness in months.
Six days later, the spark of happiness I’d felt at Luke and Scott’s engagement party had fled. Guy hadn’t answered my text, or the one I’d sent him three days earlier asking if he’d like to go out on a date.
I sighed and glanced at my phone, switching it to silent and putting it in my desk drawer before my next client arrived. I had a firm no phone rule in my office and that also applied to me. I hated that I’d broken the rule over the last three days, waiting like an idiot for Guy to reply. I’d gone over the evening, and I couldn’t figure out why the radio silence. I’d reached out to Griffin to check nothing had happened to Guy. When he’d come back saying Guy was fine, my heart had sunk.
No more. It stops now!
It was his loss if he couldn’t see what a great catch I was.
Really, then why are you single?
Oh, shut up!