Up to Me Page 1

Author: M. Leighton

Series: The Bad Boys #2

Genres: Romance , New Adult

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CHAPTER ONE

Olivia

Out of the corner of my eye, I see the light flicker at the back of Dual.  The door to Cash’s office opens and closes as he comes out into the club. He looks up and our eyes lock instantly.  His expression is carefully schooled, per my request, but that doesn’t mean my toes don’t curl inside my work shoes.  His eyes are blazing as they look into mine.  My stomach does a flip and then he looks away, which is a very good thing.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t be Cash that blew our cover, it would be me—when I leave my position behind the bar, march right over to him, plant my lips on his and then drag him back to bed.

Tearing my eyes away from him, I force my mind back to my job.

Dammit.

“I got it,” Taryn chirps, reaching in front of me to grab a dirty glass from the bar top.

I smile and nod my thanks, but inside I’m picking her crazy, dread-locked motives apart.  She’s been nice to me all night and I’m not sure why.  She’s never been nice to me.  Openly hostile, yes.  Spitefully devious, yes.  But nice?  Oh no.  Before tonight, I would’ve assured anyone who asked that Taryn would rather sharpen her toothbrush into a shiv and shank me than even look at me.

And yet, here she is, smiling my way and bussing my side of the bar.

Hmmm

I’m not a naturally suspicious person, so…

Okay, so I’m a naturally suspicious person, but I have good reason to be.  A lifetime of schemers, liars, selfish buttmunchers and all around icky people has made me a bit jaded.  But I’m coming around.

Anyway, I am extremely curious to know what Taryn’s got up her sleeve.  And there is something up her tattooed sleeve. I’d bet my life on it.  Or her life.  Either way.

I can almost see the wheels turning behind the blue of her almond shaped, kohl lined eyes.

The only thing I can do, however, is watch my back and keep my eyes open.  She’ll slip up and show her hand eventually. Then I’ll know what’s going on in that twisted mind of hers.  Until then, I’m more than happy to let her kiss my fluffy butt and help as much as she wants.

“So,” she begins casually as she makes her way back to me.  “Got plans for tonight after work?  I thought maybe we could hit Noir and have a drink, get to know each other a little better.”

All right, this is getting ridiculous.

I stare at her, working to keep my jaw from dropping open as I wait for the punchline.

Only there isn’t one.  She’s serious.

“You’re serious.”

She smiles and nods. “Of course I’m serious.  Why would I ask if I weren’t?”

“Um, because you hate me,” I blurt.

Dammit!  There goes keeping my eyes peeled and letting her continue on with her ruse.

“I don’t hate you.  What on earth gave you that idea?”

Oh.  My.  God.  Does she really think I’m that stupid?

I turn to Taryn and fold my arms over my chest.  I’m not even supposed to be here.  Cash and I just got back from Salt Springs a few hours ago.  Gavin had my shift covered since Cash didn’t know if I’d be coming back or not.  And yet, here I am, working to fill in for Marco when I should be naked, wrapped up in Cash’s arms.  I don’t want the patience to play games.

“Look, I’m not sure who you’re trying to fool, but if it’s me, you might as well give it up.  I’m on to you, Taryn.”

She opens her pouty ruby lips like she’s going to argue, but then she snaps them shut.  Her innocently pleasant expression settles into something a little more normal for her and she sighs.

“Okay, I admit I was a little jealous of you when you started here.   I don’t know if you knew this or not, but Cash and I used to date.  Until recently, we were still…resolving some things. I thought you might be trying to get in the way of that.  But now I know you’re not.  Besides, I know he’s not interested in you.  He’s got someone else on the hook, so it wouldn’t matter anyway.”

That piques my curiosity.  “Why do you say that?”

“What?  That he’s got someone else on the hook?  Because I’ve seen him with a blond girl a couple times and he’s been very, very distracted lately.  And that’s not like him.  He’s not the one-girl type of guy.”

“He’s not?”

“Oh, hell no!  I knew that going in.  Any girl who goes into a relationship with Cash thinking she’ll change him or that she’ll be the only one is dumber than a box of her long blond hair.”

“Blond?  Because of the girl you think he’s seeing?”

Taryn shrugs.  “Her, too, but Cash has a ‘type’,” she says, quirking one pierced brow at me and holding up a pale twist of her hair.  “Blond.”

I nod and smile, trying my best to seem unaffected.  Which I’m not, of course.  Far from it.  In fact, I’m so affected I feel like I might hurl right in Taryn’s pretty face.

“What makes you think he’ll never pick one of these…blonds and settle down?”

Her laugh is bitter.  “Because I know Cash.  That boy has wild blood.  Guys like that don’t change.  And girls can’t make ‘em.  It’s just the way they are. It’s part of why they’re so irresistible, too.  Don’t we all want what we can’t have?”

I smile again, but say nothing.  After a few seconds, she grabs my towel and swipes at a wet glass ring on the bar.  “Anyway, I’m over it.  I just wanted you to know I’m burying the hatchet.”

“I’m glad,” I manage to eke out past the lump in my throat.

I busy myself with early clean-up duties.  Dual is less than an hour from last call.  How in the world I’ll make it that long is beyond me, but I know the first step is to keep busy.  But no amount of busy work can silence the conflicting voices in my head.

You knew he was a bad boy.  That’s why you tried to stay away from him and not get involved.

I feel dismay curl in the pit of my stomach like a cold, heartless snake.  But then the voice of reason—or is it the voice of denial?—speaks up.

After all that has happened over the last few weeks, how can you doubt the way he feels about you?  Cash isn’t the type to fake it.  And what he’s said, what you’ve shared isn’t fake.  It’s real.  And it’s deep.  And Taryn is a psychotic bitch who has no clue what she’s talking about.  Maybe all that tattoo ink has gone to her brain.

While all of that is true, nothing I tell myself eradicates the feeling of unease that has settled into my bones.  Into my heart.

One part of me—the rational, logical, uninvolved, hurt-too-many times part—pops up to make matters worse.

How many times are you gonna fall for the same lines?  The same kind of guy?

But Cash is different.  I know it.  Deep down.  I remind myself that it’s completely unfair to judge a book by its cover.  No matter how much experience I have with similar covers.  Cash’s cover might be that of a bad boy, but the book, the inside is so much more.

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