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One Night of Trouble

By:Elle Kennedy

Chapter One

“Hey, hot stuff, what do you say you meet me out front after you get off?” the busty blonde cooed as she sauntered up to the bar. “And then we can get each other off…”

AJ Walsh was torn between groaning and laughing. He found himself on the receiving end of some seriously shameless pick-up lines on a nightly basis, but this one was more blatantly sexual than most, accompanied by the seductive batting of mascara-thick eyelashes and a lewd display of lip-licking.

“Sorry, sweetheart. I’m flattered, but I’ve got a girlfriend,” he told his would-be pursuer.

“So?” She didn’t even blink.

He raised a brow. “So I’m not on the market.”

The blonde wrinkled her nose in distaste. “Loser.”

She took her teased hair, skintight dress, and four-inch heels, and sashayed away from the counter without ordering a thing.

The second she was gone, AJ released the laughter bubbling in his throat. Well. That was new. Being called a loser for not wanting to cheat on his girlfriend with a clearly drunk chick at a nightclub? If that made him a loser, then he didn’t want to be a winner.

On the other hand, he was a liar, because he definitely didn’t have a girlfriend at the moment. Nope, he was flying solo and hating it, but after three years of tending bar, he’d learned that sometimes a little white lie was the best way to get the more persistent women off his back.

He glanced at the other two bartenders, pleased to see them hard at work slinging drinks and chatting with the customers. Henry and Sue were his most reliable employees, and he made a point to always schedule them on Friday, the club’s busiest night. Technically he didn’t even need to be there tonight—his people had everything covered—but he enjoyed making drinks and getting to know his clientele.

When he’d first opened Sin with his two best friends, it had been a no-brainer as to who would handle what. Gage, the toughest and most intense of the three, was in charge of security and oversaw their team of bouncers. Reed, the most antisocial, worked in the upstairs office area and dealt with the business end of things. And as the “people person” of the trio, AJ tended bar and managed the servers.

The arrangement suited him just fine, and since their grand opening three years ago, Sin had quickly become one of the most popular clubs in downtown Boston. It had even turned a profit in its first year of business, which AJ was pretty damn proud of.

The only downside to his job was the onslaught of graphic come-ons from women he had no interest in, a turnoff that was kinda ironic considering he was a thirty-year-old, red-blooded male with a healthy libido. Other men would kill to trade places with him, AJ was fully aware of that, but he wasn’t about to take advantage of the usually intoxicated females who threw themselves at him. It didn’t feel right.

He’d never indulged in a one-night stand, but if he ever did, he wanted it to be with a woman who was coherent enough to know what she was doing.

As a dark head entered his line of vision, AJ voiced his standard question without even glancing at the customer. “What can I get you?”

No answer.

In the beat of silence, he focused on the woman in front of him, and his breath hitched when he got lost in a pair of bottomless brown-bordering-on-black eyes. He shifted his gaze, soaking in her delicate features, full red lips, and shoulder-length raven hair before doing a sweep of her petite body, clad in all black.

Her tank top left her arms bare, which meant he didn’t miss her tattoos—a painstakingly detailed angel on her left forearm, a cluster of stars on her right biceps, and a ring of roses around her left wrist. The tats were surprisingly feminine and insanely sexy, and he suddenly had the craziest urge to strip her naked and find out if she had more ink beneath her tight top and skinny jeans.

Man. It’d been a long time since he’d experienced total lust overload. He encountered attractive women all the frickin’ time, but this tiny pixie of a woman was more than attractive. The sexy combo of fragility and badassness hardened his cock, and he shifted his position so that the counter hid his lower body better.

When he realized she still hadn’t spoken, he raised his voice over the pounding dance beat reverberating through the main floor. “What’ll it be?”

She snapped out of whatever trance she’d fallen into, but still looked startled. A tad wary, too, but he had to be imagining it.

“Three margaritas and a Coke,” she replied after another long pause.

“Coming right up.” It was difficult to tear his gaze off her, but he forced himself to act professional, sliding to the other end of the counter to prepare her drinks.

He jiggled the stainless-steel margarita shaker more vigorously than necessary, a sense of nervous energy overtaking him. Fuck. He wanted to talk to her. Find out her name.

Convince her to go home with him.

And wasn’t that a mind-boggler. He spent most nights turning down offers for sex, and all of a sudden he was imagining screwing a complete stranger?

His friends would die of shock if they could read his thoughts right now. Gage and Reed viewed him as Mr. Nice Guy, the man who held doors open for his dates and didn’t sleep with a girl until they’d been seeing each other for a proper amount of time. The guy who offered women his shoulder to cry on and bought them flowers for every damn occasion.

But he supposed they had every right to see him as the nicest guy on the planet. It was the image he tried to project most of the time, the label he’d been striving his entire life to live up to.

Christ, if people only knew. How hard he worked to be that polite, dependable guy everyone could rely on. How badly he fought to suppress the wild urges that arose more often than not. How frustrating it was to dutifully play the part of prodigal son, good friend, reliable boyfriend.

He didn’t always succeed, though. Sometimes the