I wasn’t secure about a lot of things, but I was confident in my ability to dance. Feeling the buzz from my drink, I winked at him then walked out to the dance floor where others were dancing. The song started up and I joined in. The style of dance was easy to pick up, and before long I had forgotten about Cruz, Eli and everything else. I was just having fun. Letting go. Being someone else. Someone who didn’t live the same old everyday life.

“You from around here?” a guy asked me after a song ended. He was tall with long dreadlocks and big brown eyes. His thick accent told me he was from around here.

“Who taught you to dance like that?” he asked looking impressed.

I started to say more when the music started back up. He held out his hand and raised his eyebrows as if he was issuing an invitation. I raised mine, and placed my hand in his. I didn’t feel like me at all. I loved it.

We began dancing together, and before I realized it, everyone else had moved back and given us the center of the floor. I was twirled and dipped, and we moved like we’d done this dance together before. I had no idea what it was called, but I let him lead and I followed. I heard whistles and clapping. It just kept me going. Once the song ended, my dance partner tilted me back and placed a kiss directly on my lips. That startled me.

I stood up quickly and forced a smile, then turned to walk away, but ran right into Cruz’s arms. He was glaring at my dance partner over my shoulder. “You’re either gonna get me killed or arrested,” he muttered under his breath for only me to hear him. Then he slid his arm around my waist and we left the bar. Back outside and onto the street.

BOURBON STREET HAD always been fun for me. Tonight was more stressful than fun. Why was I so damn overprotective of Lila? I had barely drunk anything. I stopped at the next bar and ordered a double shot of whiskey. I needed to lighten up. Enjoy this. If she wanted to dance with strangers, she could, and I would let her. I hadn’t come to be a fucking babysitter. I wanted to have some fun too.

“I want something too. No sugar though. Maybe a Goose with soda,” she said over the noise.

I had caught myself before I asked her if she’d had too much. I was acting like the damn hall monitor again. Instead, I ordered it and handed it to her. Then I walked over to the woman that had shots stuck in her naked cleavage and handed her a twenty-dollar bill. She waved her hand for me to assume the position on the table in front of her, then she climbed on top of me straddling my waist and stuck the shot of whiskey in her tits before leaning down to pour it in my mouth.

The people around us cheered. After I slugged back that shot I handed her another twenty from my pocket and we did it one more time. The buzz from her large tan breasts in my face mixed with the whiskey had me feeling like myself. I winked at her, and she brushed her almost bare nipple over my mouth while smiling at me wickedly before climbing off me.

When I stood up, I had to take a moment to steady myself. “You come on back when you want some more,” she said her accent thick and exotic.

“You keep talking to me, and I might never leave,” I told her.

She lifted both breasts and shook them at me. Damn, I loved this place. I picked up my drink that was on the table and finished it off. I remembered Lila Kate, but the concern for her safety had eased off a bit. I scanned the area expecting to see her off dancing again with some stranger, but I didn’t see her at all. I was feeling relaxed and more than a little turned on. Not being able to spot her snatched that feeling away real damn fast.

I looked through the crowd again, but she was nowhere.

“Your girl left. Don’t think she was a fan of watching you drink from another woman’s boobs.” I jerked my head to the left to see a tall redhead with a disgusted look on her face. “Can’t say I blame her,” the woman said as she pointed at the exit to her right. “She went out there before the second shot.”

I should have thanked her or corrected her assumption, but I did neither. I hurried for the door Lila had left out of hoping she hadn’t gone far. This street was getting packed already and finding her among all these people and all these bars would be difficult if not impossible.

I just wanted to have some fun, and she couldn’t let me have it. She couldn’t stay fucking put for a few minutes. Jesus, she was more trouble than I’d anticipated. Her dark hair was the first thing I saw when I stepped out of the bar. She was standing by a street light only a few feet from the bar.

Her arms were crossed over her chest, and her shoulders slightly bent. Like she was cold and trying to keep warm. That couldn’t be it though because it was hot as fuck out here.

“Lila!” I called to her. She slowly turned to look at me and then resumed her stance—like she saw me but wasn’t interested in me at all. Or like she was pissed.

I took the few steps to reach her, ready to ask what the hell she had been thinking coming out here alone. But when I got to her she dropped her arms and kept her gaze on everything and anything but me. “Ready for the next bar?” she asked.

She was upset. It was in her tone. “Why did you just walk out?” I asked frustrated by this whole scenario. I’d just started enjoying myself.

What? “You don’t like a place so you just leave. You couldn’t wait to tell me?”

“You were busy.” The sarcasm dripping from her voice wasn’t missed.

“I was just starting to enjoy myself. Jesus, Lila.”

She started walking away then. Like she was angry and wanted to get away from me. I’d done nothing wrong. “Then go back in there and have fun. If that’s what you want to do, I have no problem with it.” The tone or her voice didn’t sound like she had no problem with it.

I reached out and grabbed her arm, stopping her. “What is with you? Are you pissed that I drank shots from that girl’s tits? That’s what she’s there for. Some of the bars here have a lot more than that. It was tame. I wasn’t hurting anyone.”

She sighed heavily, and then finally turned to look at me. “That’s what you like?”

“Drinking shots from a woman’s cleavage? Yes, so do all heterosexual men on the fucking planet.”

“No, but that doesn’t really matter.”

She studied me a moment. “Have you ever been in love, Cruz?”

What the fuck? How had we gone from me liking whiskey between tits to love? “No, but what the hell’s that got to do with this conversation?”

The way she was studying me made me uncomfortable. Like she could see more than I wanted. “Because it seems shallow.”

“It’s sexy, fun. It’s not supposed to be anything more.”

Lila didn’t reply to that. I let her pull her arm out of my grasp. She finally nodded. “Okay.” I wasn’t sure what she meant by “okay” and if that was her way of ending this ridiculous talk we were having then good.

“Let’s go find more sexy and fun things to do,” she said as she began walking again.

I fell into step beside her. She went to the very next bar and didn’t wait for me to order a drink. Instead, she went straight to the bar and ordered a double shot of whiskey for herself, downed it in one very long gulp, then ordered another.