He stopped just inside the door and stared at me with his hazel-green, almond-shaped eyes. “Morning,” he said. “No offense, but who the f**k are you?”
“None taken,” I said. “I’m Cami. Who the f**k are you?”
“It’s about time you showed up. Calvin’s only been asking for you for two months.”
He smiled. “Really?” He strolled over to the counter and leaned in on his elbows. “I’m kind of big shit around here. I don’t know if you watch the tat shows or not, but I was featured in an episode last year and now I travel around a lot, doing gigs wherever. It’s like vacationing for a living. It gets lonely, though . . .”
Trenton walked to the counter, grabbed a magazine, and began flipping through it, still wearing his sunglasses. “She’s taken, shit dick. Go set up your room. Your machine has cobwebs on it.”
“I’ve missed you, too,” Bishop said, leaving us alone. He walked to what I assumed was his room at the opposite end of the hall.
Trenton flipped through a few more pages of the magazine, tossed it onto the counter, and then headed back to his room.
I followed him, crossed my arms, and leaned against the doorjamb. “Oh, hell no. You don’t get to run Bishop off and then not even acknowledge me.”
He looked up at me, sitting on his stool on the opposite side of the client chair, but I couldn’t see his eyes because of his sunglasses.
“I figured you wouldn’t want to talk to me,” he said, sullen.
Trenton hesitated, and then pulled off his Ray-Ban knock-offs, revealing his bright red eyes.
“Kind of. Hungover. Drank my weight in Maker’s Mark until four this morning.”
“At least you chose a decent bourbon to get stupid with.”
I crossed my arms again, feeling my face get hot. “I was sure you were tasting the douche water last night . . . now I know you’re drinking it.”
“Only my girlfriend could make a sick analogy like that and still sound hot.”
“Oh, really? Your girlfriend? Because you kind of just asked me to break up with you!”
“I don’t think people break up past high school, Cami . . .” he said, holding the heel of his hand to his temple.
“Do you have a headache?” I asked, grabbing an apple out of the bowl of plastic fruit on the counter by the door, and chucking it at his head.
“News flash, Trenton Maddox!” I said, snatching a banana from the bowl. “You will not kill anyone for touching me, unless I don’t want to be touched! And even then, I’ll be the one committing murder! Got it?” I threw the banana at him, and he crossed his arms, making the fruit ricochet to the floor.
I picked up an orange. “You will not leave my apartment in a huff, or slam my goddamn door when you leave!” I pitched it straight at his head, and hit my target.
He nodded, blinked, and held out his hands, trying to protect his head. “All right! All right!”
I picked up a bunch of green plastic grapes. “And the first thing you say to me the day after being a royal shit bag will not be an invitation to dump you on your stupid, drunken ass!” I yelled the last three words, enunciating every syllable. I threw the grapes, and he caught them against his stomach. “You will apologize, and then you will be super f**king nice to me for the rest of the day, and buy me doughnuts!”
Trenton looked around the floor at all the fruit, and then he sighed, looking up at me. A tired smile spread across his face. “I f**king love you.”
I stared at him for the longest time, surprised and flattered. “I’ll be right back. I’m going to get you a cup of water and some aspirin.”
“You love me, too!” he called after me, only half kidding.
I stopped, turned on my heels, and then strolled back into his room. I walked over to where he sat, straddled him, and then touched each side of his face. Looking into his russet eyes for the longest time, I smiled. “I love you, too.”
He beamed, looking up into my eyes. “Are you f**king serious?”
I leaned down and kissed him, and he pushed off from the floor, sending us into a spin.
AS A SEA OF DRUNKEN AND HAPPY PEOPLE PASSED THROUGH the Red Door, the party kicked into full swing. Raegan and I were buzzing behind the bar at full speed, in metallic dresses and high heels. Our tip jars were overflowing, and the live band was busting out a decent rendition of “Hungry Like the Wolf.” A long line wrapped around the building as people waited to be let in as others left. We were at capacity, and it didn’t look to be slowing down until close—typical for New Year’s Eve.
“Yeah!” Raegan said, bouncing her head to the beat. “Love this song!”
I shook my head as I poured a cocktail into a glass.
Trenton, Travis, and Shepley made their way through the crowd to the bar, and I was instantly happy. “You made it!” I said. I pulled their favorite beers from the cooler, popped the tops, and set them on the bar.
“I said I would,” Trenton said. He leaned across the bar and pecked my lips. I glanced over at Travis. “Did you happen to say anything?”
“Nope.” He winked at me. A guy a row back from Trenton ordered a Jack and Coke, and I began to pour, trying not to stare as Trenton walked away. The holidays were always fun, and I loved working when it was crazy busy, but for the first time, I wished I was on the other side of the bar.
The boys found a table and sat. Shepley and Trenton seemed to be having a good time, but Travis was sipping his beer, trying to pretend he wasn’t miserable, and failing.
“Jorie!” I called. “Keep that table loaded with beer and shots, please.” I set up a tray, and she took it over.
“Yes, ma’am,” she said, shaking her ass to the music as she walked.
A curvy redhead approached the Maddox table, and hugged Trenton. A strange, uncomfortable feeling came over me. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I didn’t like it. She spoke to him for a few moments, and then stood between the brothers. She had that look of hope in her eyes I’d seen many times when women spoke to Travis. Pretty soon the crowd obscured my view. I grabbed cash out of someone’s hand and rang him up, handing him his change. The leftover dollars dropped into the tip jar, and I started on the next order. Between Raegan and me, this one night would pay our rent for the next three months.
The band stopped playing, and those standing at the bar looked around. The lead singer began to count down from ten, and everyone counted with him. Girls were pushing through the crowd, rushing to be next to their dates for the first kiss of the year.
“Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Happy New Year!”
Silver and gold ticker tape and balloons fell from the ceiling, right on cue. I looked up, proud of Hank. For a small-town bar, he always went all-out. I looked over at Trenton’s table, seeing the redhead’s lips on his. My stomach felt sick, and for half a second, I wanted to jump over the bar and pull her off of him. Suddenly, Trenton’s face appeared in front of me. He noticed me staring at his table and smiled.