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“OKAY. OKAY. OKAY.” KENNEDY ‘KENNY’ CARTER nodded as she carefully studied the room that the club’s staff had prepared for their celebrity guest. “Where’s the honey-lemon water for her throat?”
“There!” Joaquin Winslow, Kenny’s assistant, pointed to a large flask set on the gold and glass drinks trolley.
“An emergency change of clothes?”
“Her stylist said that they were coming with their own stuff,” Joaquin, a black, slender, dreadlocked, twenty-eight-year-old, said. “But we got a few things in her size and style just in case.”
Kenny ordered, “Let me see what you got.”
Joaquin moved towards the closet and opened it. Inside hung several bedazzled dresses with poofy skirts, and below them were five pairs of heels that were ridiculously high… exactly what their V.I.P loved to wear.
“Good job!” Kenny complimented.
“You know now that I think of it, I should’ve have gotten her something a little less blingy and poofy.” Joaquin gave Kenny an up and down look. “Maybe a dress like yours.”
“Uh-uh.” Kenny shook her head. “Persia doesn’t like figure-hugging dresses. She says they make her look boyish and emaciated.”
Kenny wasn’t sure that she agreed with Persia’s opinion but one thing was certain; she and Persia were built different. Persia had the slender, modelesque frame that many women would trade a limb for. On the other hand, Kenny had been abundantly blessed in the curves department. Some would say that she’d been too blessed; big boobs, big ass… just big everything. She was no Instagram baddie but her ass had been known to cause a few neck-twists and whistles.
The wine-red, thigh-length body-con dress she was wearing was perfect for a curvy woman like herself. Not only was the color a wonderful match for her dark, chocolate skin but the stretchy fabric adhered to her curves like a second skin.
Changing the subject, Kenny pointed to a plate of candy that was on the vanity table. “What’s that?”
“Candy.” Joaquin answered her with an ‘isn’t it obvious’ look.
“I know that it’s candy, Jo.” Kenny rolled her eyes. “But is it vegan candy?”
Joaquin’s gaze slowly shifted to the candy then back to her. The confusion in his eyes said that he was wondering what the hell vegan candy was. But he answered, “Um… I don’t think so.”
“Then get rid of it,” Kenny ordered. “Persia just decided to go vegan last week so let’s not derail her.”
“Got it.” Joaquin turned to another staff member who was waiting by the door. “Mel, get rid of this. And replace it with some vegan candy.”
Mel, a chubby, white girl in her mid-twenties with a nose-ring, tattoos everywhere and pink short hair, rushed to the coffee table. As she grabbed the candy, she asked, “What’s vegan candy?”
“I don’t know.” Joaquin waved her out of the room. “Google it or something.”
“You google it too, so that next time I don’t have to tell you about it,” Kenny scolded him once they were alone.
“Okay.” Joaquin gave her a sheepish smile. “I will.”
Kenny asked, “Did you send a car for Persia and her entourage?”
“Yeah,” Joaquin confirmed. “I sent the purple Phantom like you asked. The driver tells me Persia loved it and was on the phone with her girls bragging about it. She says that we should bring her when there’s a large crowd waiting so they can know how she rolls.”
Kenny laughed. “Okay then, give our lady what she wants. Bring her in about thirty minutes before the concert begins then do a whole red carpet thing for her at the front. It should give the press a chance to get great pictures too.”
“Okay.” Joaquin nodded as he jotted the instructions on his notepad. “Will do.”
Kenny went on to give further instructions on how to welcome and host their V.I.P. As the promoter for the Philadelphia branch of Jack’s Group of Clubs, her job was to make sure that their club stayed popular. Part of that was hosting events that were guaranteed to draw in large crowds.
Tonight, Persia C., a cast member of a popular hip-hop TV show, was releasing her album. Kenny had worked her ass off to convince Persia that Jack’s was the best place for her launch. Now that Kenny had Persia here, she was determined to make the event so amazing that more stars would beg to hold their events here.
“We’ll probably have a lot of her celebrity friends around,” Kenny said as she and Joaquin walked out of Persia’s dressing room and headed to the club’s main floor. “You’ve reserved some booths for them, right?”
“Right,” Joaquin confirmed. “We’ve got about eight that can hold groups of ten. Do we need to hold more?”
“Um…” Kenny thought about it for a second then shook her head. “Eight is enough. We don’t want to reserve too many then have no space for our regulars.”
“Okay.” Joaquin wrote it down.
Though the club hadn’t opened for the day yet, the main floor was a hub of activity. The DJ was checking his equipment and testing his music. The tech guys were checking light and sound. The dance group that was supposed to perform before Persia came on stage was practicing. Some people were cleaning the dance-floor and sitting areas. The bar staff were checking the alcohol, and the kitchen staff were carting in more supplies to cater to the night’s menu.
As Kenny continued to give Joaquin instructions, she walked towards the bar. The bartender, Rich, must’ve been waiting for her because as soon as she got there, he slid a shot of tequila her way.
Some people would say that four p.m. was too early to be drinking, but those people didn’t know shit. There was no such thing as too early for a drink. Kenny regularly had a martini for breakfast and several more martinis with her lunch. The tequila was for dinner since she liked to finish her day hard.
Shooting Rich a grateful smile, Kenny tossed down the tequila.
While she and Rich discussed what alcohol he’d set aside for their V.I.Ps, she took another shot. Then before she went to the door to check how ticketing would be handled and what members of press would be allowed in without a ticket, she tossed one more shot down. By the time, she was done checking everything, she had a nice, little buzz going.
She took the elevator up to the fourth floor to brief her boss on the day’s plans.
The fourth floor was a like a completely different world when compared to the lower levels. There was nothing nightclub-ish about its vibe. Everything about it was corporate chic, from the conservative furniture splayed around the reception area, to how well-lit the space was, to the ‘people doing serious business’ silence that welcomed you as soon as you stepped out of the elevator.
Behind the reception was a hall that led to several offices for the club’s managerial staff. As one of the club’s top staff members, Kenny had an office up here. However, she rarely used it. Part of that was because most of her work involved meeting people. But the major reason was because she always felt out of place here; like she was an imposter.
The fourth floor looked like a place for smart, college graduates who had their lives together, and who dressed like they worked for a bank. Not someone like a Kenny; a woman who’d barely graduated high-school, who dressed like every day was a night-club day (which it was), and who had gotten this far by clawing her way through all the filth that life had thrown away.
“Hi, Kenny.” Tara Reed, the floor’s forty-year-old, mixed-race, chubby receptionist, was all smiles as she greeted Kenny.
Tara was dressed as this place demanded; proper trouser suit that covered all the ‘fun’ bits, comfortable pumps, and dusty-brown hair up in a very ‘official’ and neat low bun. It was the complete opposite of what Kenny was wearing.
“Hi, Tara,” Kenny returned cheerfully, successfully hiding how out-of-place she felt. “Is the boss in?”
“He’s in,” Tara confirmed. “Do you want me to let him know that you want to see him?”
Tara reached for her phone and pressed a button. A few seconds later, the call connected and she spoke into it. “Mr. Hughes, Kennedy’s here to see you. Are you available?” A brief pause then she nodded. “Uh-huh. Uh-huh. I’ll send her in.”
As she set the receiver back in its place, Tara smiled at Kenny. “The boss says to go right in.”
“Thanks, Tara.” Likely because of the alcohol already flowing in her bloodstream, Kenny generously offered, “Drop by the bar before you head out after work. You can have one on me.”
“You bet.” Tara grinned. “I never turn down a free drink.”
With a laugh, Kenny headed down the hall.
Their boss had the corner office, which meant that his door was right at the end of the hall. When she got to the door, she knocked once then opened the door.
The office she walked into was luxurious, enormous and airy. Wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows covered two adjacent walls making the space extremely bright and showing off an amazing view of the city’s skyline.
One end of the space was decorated like a living room. Two gray three-seater couches faced one another. Adjacent to the couches were two comfortable armchairs (one blue, the other purple) facing each other. A glass coffee table sat in between the seats, and below it was a Persian rug. Behind one of the couches was a bookshelf filled with books, sculptures and other décor items. It looked very chic and inviting; like the kind of place you could have a business discussion then later have a nap.
Dominating the other end of the office was a large black and white desk with a monitor atop it. On one side of the desk were two comfortable seats for guests. On the other side of the desk was a black, leather, swivel chair. And in that chair sat the CEO and Owner of Jack’s Group of Clubs, Patrick Hughes a.k.a. Pat.
Pat was on a video call when Kenny walked in, and her heart skipped a beat as soon as she saw him.
Nothing new there. Her senses always went into overdrive whenever she was in Pat’s presence.
If anyone was born to be a successful and sexy CEO, it would be Pat. He had the looks and aura for it. Handsome was too tame a word to describe him. Dark, tightly-curled hair cut into a temp-fade, smooth chocolate-toned skin, bushy eyebrows, brown eyes that seemed to see right into your soul, thick lips that begged to be kiss, and a neat goatee that made him look wiser than his thirty-two years.
That face was an already unfair advantage. But God must’ve been in a great mood the day he created Pat because the body was banging too. Pat’s six-feet-four inches, one-eighty pounds of muscle would look just as good on the cover of a fitness magazine as it did in his leather chair. The gray, tailored suit he was wearing screamed of wealth as did his gold cufflinks, gold tie-clip and Blancpain watch.
“Don’t blame Justice for this,” Pat sternly scolded the person on the other end of the video call. “This is also on you. If you think Justice is not working out, you tell me and Kenny immediately. You don’t wait until I see your accounts to come and whine to me.”
There was a short pause then the guy on the other end of the call said, “I’m sorry, Pat. It won’t happen again.”
Pat looked up and acknowledged Kenny with a nod while still speaking to the person on his computer. “So, how will you solve the Justice issue?”
‘Victor?’ Kenny mimed as she locked the door then closed the distance between her and Pat.
Pat subtly nodded indicating that he was indeed talking to Victor Miller, the general manager of the Jack’s in Miami.
“I wish I could fire Justice but we don’t have anyone lined up yet,” Victor said.
“Then advertize,” Pat advised while watching Kenny take one of the seats across from him.
“I could, but I risk running into the same issue again.” Victor revealed, “Everyone who applies says they can handle it but two months later, it’s clear that they’re a bust.”
“Then look for someone who already has experience in the field.”
“All the good ones with credentials say they’re freelancers and don’t want to be tied to one club.” Victor proposed, “Can’t you ask Kenny to recommend someone? I’m sure she has someone on her rolodex who’d be perfect for the job.”
‘What about Joaquin?’ Kenny silently mimed to Pat.
“Your Joaquin?” Pat asked the question aloud.
“Huh?’” Victor asked, clearly confused by the sudden change in conversation.
“Sorry.” Pat turned the monitor and his seat so that both he and Kenny were in Victor’s view. “That was just Kenny making a suggestion.”
“Hi, Victor!” Kenny greeted the white, bald, middle-aged man on the screen with a smile.
“Hi, Kenny.” Victor smiled too. “Long time no see.”
They spent a few minutes exchanging pleasantries before jumping back into the issue at hand. Joaquin had worked long enough under Kennedy that she was sure he knew the ropes and was ready for a promotion.
“Are you sure Joaquin can do this?” Pat asked worriedly. “He doesn’t have any contacts out there and will have to start from square zero.”
“Don’t underestimate Joaquin.” Kenny chuckled. “This is a man who hunted Avant down and convinced him to sing at his sister’s wedding just because someone bet him a grand that he couldn’t. Joaquin will be fine out there.”
Victor eagerly leaped in. “I’ll take him.”
“Okay. If you guys want to try him out, then fine, offer him the job,” Pat acquiesced. “But tuck in a three-month probation clause. If he increases the club’s revenue in those three months, the position is automatically his. If he can’t cut it, then we bring him back to Philly.”
“Deal!” Both Kennedy and Victor agreed.
Pat soon ended the call then turned his full attention to Kenny. As he did, the stern, business persona he put up for his subordinates and business associates dropped. His eyes softened and his mouth crooked into a smile.
“Hey, baby.” He reached underneath his desk to turn off the room’s cameras.
“Hey,” Kenny cooed before rising from her seat to circle his desk.
“Is the door locked?” Pat asked while turning his chair to the side. He grabbed her by the waist to pull her between his spread legs.
“Mm hmm.” She lowered herself to sit on his muscular thigh.
AS SOON AS KENNY WAS on his lap, Pat curved his fingers around her nape and brought her closer for her kiss. However, the kiss didn’t last long. The moment his lips touched hers and he tasted her, he drew back sharply.
“Is that alcohol on your breath?” The judgment was oozing from every frown line on his brow. “You’re already drunk? It’s not even five yet.”
“I just had one shot,” she lied even as her heart lurched in alarm. She knew how much he hated when she drank too much so she added in a rush, “The guest DJ bought me one and I couldn’t say no. It would’ve been rude.”
Pat’s persistent frown said he didn’t believe her.
Bullishly, she insisted, “I swear, it was just one teeny, tiny, little shot.” She used her index finger and thumb to show just how little the shot was. “Just one.”
“Kennedy, you need to learn how to say ‘no’ to these people,” Pat scolded. “If you’re not careful-”
“I’m careful,” Kenny cut him off with a fast kiss to his lips. “I never take more than I can handle.”
Pat’s eyebrows immediately flew up. Obviously those flying eyebrows were referring to the numerous times she’d blacked out because of overindulgence in the bottle.
So, she quickly corrected herself. “Okay then. I promise tonight I won’t take more than I can handle. I’ll be very careful.”
“What about just not drinking?” Pat suggested.
That wouldn’t happen. But rather than tell him that and ruin the mood, she hedged, “I’ll think about it.” Before he could demand a firmer promise, she fixed her lips to his in an obvious attempt to distract him.
Obvious or not, it still worked perfectly.
Within seconds, all his concerns about her drinking habits were silenced. Soon, his hands moved from her waist to her face so that he could angle her for a deeper kiss. His tongue tangled with hers and teased her with promises of more exquisite delight if she just danced along with him.
So, she did.
As always, he quickly drew her into his seductive web with his kisses. Already heating up with desire, she wrapped her arms around his neck and devoured his mouth. His hands were on her waist and back, slowly stroking and rubbing her body. Despite the fabric between his touch and her skin, he left her feeling flushed and super-heated. Her body tingled with excitement and she ached for more of his touch. She scooted on his thigh so she could get even closer to his body. That inevitably led to her thigh brushing against the very swollen mass between his legs.
Oh damn! That erotic contact was just as delicious as its implication.
Pat wanted her.
And she wanted him too. She wanted him badly.
Kenny’s hand lowered from his neck, down his torso and straight to that mass. The moment she cupped him, he froze. He was large, very large, but her touch caused him to become even larger. She could feel him growing right beneath her hand. With a naughty smirk, she squeezed.
He tore his mouth from hers and groaned. “Fuck, Kenny!”
That was a great reaction, but she had a hunch that she could get him to groan even louder. She got off his lap then knelt before his spread thighs.
“Kenny, no,” Pat pleaded. “Not now. Later.”
“Yes now,” she countered firmly, noting how he did nothing to stop her when she reached for his belt then zipper. When she opened his slacks, he raised his hips so she could tug them down.
He was wearing navy-blue boxer-briefs that did nothing to hide the massive rod that was trying to stab its way out. After pushing his shirt almost to his belly button, she took the waist of his boxer-briefs and tugged them too. Again, he raised his hips so they too were out of the way.
For a moment, she just studied him.
Kenny had seen her fair share of erections in her three decades of living, and she could confidently confirm that Pat’s was the hugest. If the man had decided to star in smut flicks, he would’ve been a roaring success. His sizeable girth was definitely part of the reason she’d stuck with him for so long when she was a ride-and-run kind of girl. He was long, thick and could get hard as steel with the flick of a finger.
Already, he was leaking.
“Touch it,” Pat commanded. His eyes were narrowed in thin slits and his face was tight with tension.
“Don’t tell me what to do,” Kenny retorted, but she touched him anyway.
“Aah!” Groaning, he closed his eyes and threw his head back.
More groans came her away when she gently stroked down then up, to the root then back up to the crown. Her hand, slick with his pre-cum, moved up then down again. Tempted by the straining veins along his thick length, she bent forward and licked the head.
“Kenny!” Her name was a growl on Pat’s lips. He scooted closer to the edge of his seat and his hand moved to the back of her head to beg her to take more of him.
And she did.
Holding his cock by the base, she took the head between her lips then into her mouth. She sucked and licked him expertly, twisting her head and mouth as she did. Her hand dropped to his balls. Apparently, this was a hotspot because as soon as she squeezed, he pushed her away from his cock, forcing her to release him with a pop.
“I need you now!” he rasped. His eyes were wild with need, and everything about his expression said that he was on the version of explosion. “Stand up.”
As she stood, so did he. He shoved his chair further behind him to create space.
“Turn,” he ordered harshly. “Hands on the desk.”
Kennedy wasn’t one to be ordered around. But, she loved when Pat got like this.
So, without even a squeak of protest, she turned to face the desk.
“Bend over,” he commanded. And she did… elbows to the desk, ass facing him.
Seconds later, the hem of her dress was at her waist and her panties were puddled at her ankles.
“You’re already wet,” he noted as he cupped her pussy.
Of course she was. How could she not be wet when she had this fine, fine man salivating over her?
“Wet for you,” she returned as she spread her legs so he could have better access to that pulsating furnace.
“You’re a goddamn tease,” he scolded before smacking her ass.
“Ow!” she whined even as her ass cheeks jiggled for his delight. He rewarded her by running his fingers between her wet slit, playing with her clit a little then dipping his finger into her. Her breathing turned to panting when he started to fuck her with his finger. The panting turned into low whimpers when he forced two fingers into her.
“Oh… ah… ah…” She moaned as sensation after sensation flooded through her. God, it felt good to have his fingers in her. But she knew that his cock would feel even better.
“You promised that we wouldn’t do this in the office anymore,” Pat scolded even as he took his fingers out of her. He moved directly behind her and soon, she felt his cock head slide over the length of her pussy.
“I’m sorry,” she apologized very insincerely. “I couldn’t help myself. You looked too good.”
“You’re a bad girl.” He smacked her other cheek, not hard enough to hurt her but hard enough to send prickling heat straight to her lower tummy and start a delicious pressure there.
His cock was still dancing in her wet slit, teasing her. It stopped at her entrance. She felt it just as the opening, but not quite pressing in.
“I’m only bad for you!” She pushed her ass backwards so that dick could get into her.
Pat responded by finally pushing in.
They’d done this so many times that condoms were no longer a necessity. They were both tested, neither was messing with anyone else, Kenny was on birth control, and they both loved the feeling of being skin-to-skin.
They both groaned as he slowly thrust his thick, long length into her.
“How can you be still be this tight when we’ve been together so many times?” He pressed harder in, forcing several more inches of himself into her pussy.
“Magic, Pat,” Kenny panted. “Magic.”
His hands were on her hips now, gripping her and pulling her back as he pressed forward. Slowly, he thrust until he was completely in.
Maybe it was the position. Maybe it was his length. Either way, Kenny was completely stuffed. It felt like he was in her throat. Hell, he was in her brain. That was way too far. But apparently, not the limit of how far he could go. When he pulled back to press back in, she was shocked that he went even further in.
Soon, he had a smooth rhythm going. In. Out. In. Out. Deeper. Harder. In. Out.
Every time his hips bumped her ass, she felt indescribably filled and stretched. The feelings that he wrought were intense, almost painful, but sweet too. Her pussy certainly loved it because every time he came in, she became wetter, and every time he pulled out, her walls clung to him needily and milked him furiously.
“Pat!” she whimpered his name as she looked over her shoulder. She had no idea when he’d gotten rid of his coat but it was gone. His shirt was unbuttoned but his tie was still around his neck.
He looked unruly and wild.
And she loved it.
He bent his upper body so he could kiss her passionately before resuming his in and out movements. When he straightened again, he lifted her upper body too so that they were just slight bent and only her palms were on the desk. He finally had access to her breasts.
His hands snaked to the large globes of flesh and took a hold of them over her dress and bra. Despite the layers of fabric between his hands and her flesh, his touch was still powerful enough that she felt every hard squeeze, fondle and mold as he played with her.
But that wasn’t enough for him.
He found the zipper at the side of her body, dragged it down, shoved the straps of her dress down her arms, then yanked the rest of her top down her breast. Her strapless bra was pushed to the top of her breast… then his hands were on her naked flesh. Like an antenna, he found her nipples. Soon, he was tweaking, pinching and twisting her nipples until he had her crying out in delight.
Those hands on her tits plus the cock inside her… she couldn’t handle it.
Her body shook and shivered as pressure built inside her.
“Cum for me,” Pat ordered.
“P… P… Pat.” She tried to breathe through the tight ring of need that held her lungs hostage.
“I said cum for me.” He twisted her nipples and shoved his dick up so far inside her that it was a wonder he didn’t puncture something.
It was too much.
Too much for her to handle.
The pressure inside her exploded. The trembling turned into violent shaking. Her arms became wobbly as her release crashed over her, forcing her to collapse back down on her elbows. Her vision went blank, and an involuntary scream slipped past her lips.
Meanwhile, Pat was still inside her, stroking forward and backwards. The moment he was sure that she was on her way to nirvana, he started to move faster. His thrusts became shorter and more frantic. When her inner muscles spasmed in delight and squeezed him strongly, he lost all control.
“Fuck!” He groaned as he shoved himself completely inside her then spurted. His seed filled her to the brim to the point where some of it slipped down her inner thigh.
He collapsed over her as his orgasm overwhelmed him.
For a moment, they just lay like that, trying to catch their breaths. But finally he straightened so he could pull out of her.
“Sorry.” He winced when he saw the mess he’d made of her.
“It’s okay.” She turned to place a quick peck on his lips. With a cheeky grin, she added, “That’s why your office has an adjoining bathroom.”
With Pat chuckling in response, she fixed her dress, bent to pick up her panties then strutted to the bathroom. While in there, she cleaned up and redid her makeup with the supplies she kept in one of the drawers just for occasions like this. By the time she exited the bathroom, she looked like someone who’d just been innocently talking business with her boss.
The aforementioned boss had also straightened up and looked brand new… nothing like the untamed beast who’d almost ripped her apart just minutes ago.
Chuckling, Kenny headed back to him. “I even forgot to tell you what brought me into your office.”
Pat’s eyebrows flew up and his lips kicked up into a wicked smile. “You mean it wasn’t my amazing stroke-game that brought you in here.”
“No, playa.” She grinned. “Your amazing stroke game is just a perk of coming in here. I had another purpose.”
She started to round his desk but he stopped her with a raise of his palm. “Uh-uh, sit right there.” He pointed to the seats opposite his desk. “I don’t want you distracting me.”
“Ah… so now I’m a distraction?” she asked with a pout.
He was unmoved by her pout. “No, you’re not a distraction. You’re the distraction. Sit right there, sweetheart.”
With a laugh, she acquiesced to the order.
Once they were at a safe distance from each other, Pat asked, “Okay, so what did you want to talk about?”
“Ah!” Kenny put on her business face. “I wanted to know if you have any of your people coming in tonight and if we need to reserves rooms or booths for them.”
As an influential man who owned a string of high-end nightclubs and frequently brushed shoulders with the rich and famous, Pat always had VIP guests. It was Kenny’s job to make sure those VIPs were well taken care of so that they’d be satisfied enough to go out and spread the word to their moneyed friends.
“Hmm… tonight?” Pat thought over it for a second. “Otto Lazen asked if he could come in with his crew later tonight, but you know how he is. He might show up or he might not.”
Otto was a top comedian who often hung with other top celebrities. If he did show up, he and his entourage would likely spend someone’s annual salary just on drinks alone.
Kenny nodded “Okay, I’ll keep that in mind and save a spot for them just in case.”
“How’s Persia’s thing coming along?” Pat asked.
“I think it’ll be one for the books.” Kenny added, “Before I came up, the line outside was already starting to build. There should be even more people by now.”
“Good. Good. Good,” he complimented. “Make sure everyone with tickets gets in. We don’t want to be on social media tomorrow getting shredded because we took someone’s money but didn’t let them in.”
“Don’t worry,” Kenny reassured. “Everyone who bought a ticket has their spot reserved.”
“Are all the acts that are opening for her ready?”
“Almost.” Kenny went on to describe the status of all the acts.
She’d just finished when Joaquin called to let her know that a popular Tiktok influencer had shown up without a ticket and was kicking up a fuss at the door. As she stood, she said, “Let me go handle that.”
“Sure,” Pat said. But just as she was about to reach the door, he stopped her with, “Oh I forgot to ask you…”
“Yeah?” She turned to face him.
“You’re still taking next week off, right?”
“Right!” she confirmed. “Nothing’s changed.”
Pat’s gaze was piercing as he asked, “And you still won’t tell me why you need the week off?”
Immediately, Kenny was uncomfortable. Forcing a smile, she said, “I told you, it’s just a private family matter.”
Still watching her, he asked, “You mean a private family matter like… a wedding?”
Kenny’s breath immediately caught in her throat. How did he find out?
“I heard Marley’s getting married on Saturday,” Pat said. Answering the unasked question in her wide eyes, he said, “Rich told me.”
Rich told him? Weren’t bartenders supposed to be armored safes when it came to keeping secrets?
“No, actually Rich didn’t tell me directly,” Pat corrected himself. “He just asked me who would be running the club while we were in Sacramento.” Though he was smiling, the smile didn’t quite reach his eyes as he added, “He assumed that you and I would be going there together for your sister’s wedding.”
Though Kenny had worked hard to keep their coworkers from finding out about hers and Pat’s shenanigans, two people knew; Tara because she was too close to Pat not to know, and Rich because he had the eyes of a hawk and the instincts of Sherlock Holmes. Within the first day of Pat and Kenny sleeping together, Rich had already figured it out for himself.
“Oh, that Rich!” Kenny laughed, but that laugh was so forced and filled with nervousness that it was rough enough to hurt the ear. “He really likes to make nonsensical assumptions.”
“Are they really nonsensical assumptions?” Pat reminded her, “You and I have been messing around for two years now. Anyone would logically assume that I’d be invited to your sister’s wedding. Marley knows about us, right?”
“Yeah, she knows about us.” Kenny rushed to add, “And she wanted to invite you, but she’s having a small wedding and the guest list was very limited. So many people wanted to come but unfortunately… no space. Sorry. Maybe next time.”
And before Pat could question her further, she looked at the slim watch on her wrist. “Oh damn! It’s getting late. I need to go sort out issues down there. We’ll talk later, Pat.”
She threw him a quick wave and smile before beating a hasty retreat.
It was only once she was safe in the elevator that she took her first easy breath. God, she hated when Pat did this; when he tried to insert himself into her personal life.
The story about there being no space for him in Marley’s wedding was total hogwash. Marley had wanted to invite him. With their grandmother having passed away just a few months ago, the two sisters had no other living relatives which meant that Marley’s side of the aisle would be pretty sparse. According to Marley, Pat would be a welcome addition.
But Kenny didn’t want him there.
The moment Pat’s name came up, she vetoed the idea. Pat was just pleasure… nothing more. He wasn’t her boyfriend. He wasn’t someone she wanted getting chummy with her family, because she certainly wasn’t interested in getting closer to his. He wasn’t someone that she wanted to peek into her private life. And he certainly wasn’t someone she told her deepest feelings.
That role would never belong to any man.
That position was closed… forever!
It was something she’d made clear to Pat right from the moment they’d started messing around. They were just sex-buddies and nothing more. At first, he’d been down for that, even excited. However, in the past year or so, she’d noticed him continuously attempting to insert himself into the parts of her life that he had no business being in. It was obvious that he was catching feelings.
And that was bad because Kenny didn’t deal with men who caught feelings for her.
Feelings came with too much drama. Feelings would lead to demands for more than just a sexual relationship. People with feelings wanted to get to know each other beyond the bedroom. For any other woman that wouldn’t be a problem. However, Kenny was a woman who looked better on the surface then on the inside.
On the surface, she was a vivacious, gorgeous, successful woman who had her life all sorted. She was someone to be admired and lusted after. But in reality, she was a mess; a rotting, dismembered carcass with more sins and scars than any man could handle. She could never let any man see that diseased part of her because she was sure that once they did, those feelings would fizzle into nothing or worse transform into disgust.
She liked the way Pat looked at her now. His gaze always held awe, adoration and desire.
She didn’t want to see the disgust eclipse all that admiration when he found out who she really was beneath the glitz and glamour. She didn’t want to feel the heartache and sadness when he finally realized that she was nothing like the mask she put on for him. She didn’t want to feel the shame when he finally told her that she wasn’t and would never be good enough for him.
Things were just fine the way they were.
But yet here Pat was, straying out of his lane and trying to get into hers. If he kept this up, she’d be left with only one choice.
She’d have to let him go!
TO NO ONE’S SURPRISE, THE event went off without a hitch and was a roaring success. Kenny knew her stuff, and Pat expected no less from her.
By the time Pat came down from his office, it was almost midnight. Persia was done with her performance and the DJ had taken over. Even so, the club was still packed to the brim. Many revelers were on the floor dancing their asses off. Others were at their tables, by the bar or in the private booths, drinking and socializing. Even Persia herself hadn’t left. She and her friends had settled in one of the VIP booths as had some of the other celebrities who’d come to support her.
With a smile, Pat took in the electric atmosphere. Who would’ve thought that a kid who’d come from practically nothing and started out by selling sneakers in his high-school bathroom would end up owning a popular club like this one. And not just one club; six of them. Man, life sure was strange!
“Yo, Pat!” Someone called for him over the crowd.
Pat turned to see that Otto, the popular comedian, was waving from his booth. Otto, a short, stocky black guy, was flunked by two, pretty girls in ridiculously short dresses, as well as some other guys who had girls of their own. With a grin, Pat made his way there.
“What’s up, my man!” Pat dapped Otto then offered the man’s entourage the same enthusiastic greeting.
“This show you had on tonight… Fire!” Otto complimented. Pointing to a spot next to one of his girls, he offered, “Have a seat. Let me buy you a drink.”
“A little later.” Pat declined the offer. “I gotta see someone, then I’ll be right with you.”
“Someone who?” His ego showing, Otto demanded, “Someone more important than me?”
“No one’s as important as you, Otto,” Pat soothed with a chuckle. “Give me a sec.”
Then he was out of there. Normally, he had no problems giving his regulars the personalized attention they demanded for patronizing his club. It was always a win-win. He made them feel special and they poured boatloads of their money into alcohol. Win-win!
But right now, he had something more important to deal with.
He needed to find Kenny and make sure she wasn’t blacked out in a corner somewhere. Given how early she’d started drinking, the chances of that happening were pretty high.
After a few minutes of searching, he found her.
Kenny was in one of the private booths hanging out with Persia’s co-stars; three men and two women.
And of course, she was smashed.
“Oh, look who it is. It’s the boss-man!” Kenny exclaimed when she saw him. Grinning hard, she waved him over. “Come meet my friends, Patrick.”
Most people wouldn’t have clocked that she was drunk given that there was no slur to her words or hooding of her eyes. Kenny was the type of drunk who was fine one moment and blacked out the next.
However, Pat had known her long enough to tell when she’d crossed the ‘just tipsy’ line into ‘definitely drunk’. It was in how boisterous and hyper she became. It was in how uninhibited she was and how she let people she considered dangerous get too close when she was normally very careful with them.
Like now, for instance, one of the men in the group had settled next to Kenny and had his arm around her shoulders. If she was sober, that never would’ve happened. Sure, she wouldn’t have punched the guy but he’d be on the other side of the room nursing serious burns from the tongue-lashing he got from her.
Though Pat wanted to punch the guy who had his arm around Kenny, he forced a smile and greeted the group. “Hi!”
“Hi!” They all drunkenly yelled back.
The two single women’s greeting was even more enthusiastic as they blatantly checked him out. One of them said, “So you’re Patrick Hughes, the owner of this place.”
Pat acknowledged. “That I am.”
Single-woman-number-two fawned. “Has anyone ever told you that you are fine?”
“I’ve heard it here and there.”
“A man who is confident in himself.” Single-woman-number-one shot him a seductive smile. “I love it.”
“You said he’s single, right?” Single-woman-number-two asked Kenny.
“As a dollar bill,” Kenny confirmed with a grin directed towards Pat.
Anyone who didn’t know Kenny would’ve assumed that this was just a bad attempt at setting him up. But Pat knew better. This was her way of putting him in his place. She was reminding him that theirs wasn’t a relationship; it was a situationship founded on sex and sex alone. Obviously, she hadn’t appreciated him calling her out for not inviting him to her sister’s wedding.
And that hurt!
Sure, he’d known upfront what dealing with Kenny entailed. But people change and feelings evolve. Coming in, he was already a little infatuated with her. Kenny had been his first employee back when he was starting this whole club thing. She was just twenty-one to his twenty-three, but even then, she’d impressed him with her work ethic and ambition to be much more than just the bartender he’d hired her to be.
She was vivacious, driven and very instrumental in helping him get to where he was now. What man wouldn’t be attracted to a woman like her? It was inevitable that Pat would fall for her. But he’d held it in because he didn’t want to mess up their fantastic business relationship.
However, two years ago, things had just exploded and they’d slept together. From that moment on, there was no turning back for him. He’d jumped headfirst into the roller-coaster that was Kennedy Carter.
Maybe if he was younger he would’ve stayed happy with what she was offering. But he’d just recently turned thirty-two. Marriage and starting a family were now on his to-do list. Other than Kenny, there was no one else he wanted as his wife. Sure, she had her issues. But he couldn’t even imagine spending the rest of his life with any other woman.
Knowing that Kenny would react badly if he just told her what he wanted, he’d decided to go the slow-route. His plan was to slowly but surely change their relationship. First, he’d get to know her life outside the club better. Then he’d gradually try to get her to see that he was much more than just a boss and breathing dildo; that he could be a great partner, lover and friend.
But his plan wasn’t working.
Even just getting to know her family was incredibly hard. The little he knew about her family and past came from decades-old news articles and Google. He’d read about her famous (and late) dad, about her mom who’d been charged with the dad’s murder, and about Marley who’d witnessed the murder along with Kenny, but he knew nothing more. He hadn’t even known that Kenny had a grandmother until Kenny asked for a leave so she could organize her grandmother’s funeral.
Every time, he tried to bring up their families or pasts, Kenny shut down like a maximum security prison. He couldn’t get anything out of her.
The only reason he even knew Marley beyond the news was because she’d come to pick up Kenny several times when Kenny was too inebriated to get home by herself. But even then, Kenny had never let him exchange more than pleasantries with Marley.
He’d never even been inside the apartment the two sisters shared. Whenever he and Kenny had sex, it was either at his condo or at Jack’s. Never at her place! That’s how determined Kenny was to draw a line between him and her personal life.
“Sit down,” one of the women fawning over Pat offered. “Keep us company.”
“Don’t mind if I do,” Pat agreed.
But he didn’t sit down right away. He took Kenny by her wrist and pulled her to her feet. While she was still wondering what the hell he was doing, he edged past her to clamp his hand on the shoulder of the guy who’d been hanging all over her.
“Could you move over?” Though Pat’s tone was courteous, his gaze was steely and cold.
Correctly reading that this wasn’t a request but rather an order, the man quickly shifted away. “Sure thing, bro.”
Pat settled in the man’s former spot. He tugged at Kenny’s wrist urging her to sit. Kenny was no fool. She quickly figured out what had just happened. Pat had just claimed her in front of all these people.
Her eyes narrowed as she studied him. For a second, he feared that she’d rip into him with no thought of who was listening. But she still had some control over her impulses. After a roll of her eyes and an irritated huff, she sat down.
Soon, she was chatting animatedly with the rest of the group again. A foolish man would’ve assumed that all was forgiven. It was not. When Pat tried to touch her thigh under the table, she pinched the skin atop his hand with more force than a grandmother pinching the ears of a naughty child. It was incredibly painful, and it took everything in Pat not to wince or make a sound.
But he took his hand off her.
Kenny stayed with the group for a couple of minutes before Joaquin came to let her know that another guest was looking for her. She happily sashayed away, leaving Pat with strangers he’d only sat with for her sake. Still, he was a good host and managed to hide his dissatisfaction with the situation. Thankfully, someone he knew came to take him away too.
Even as both he and Kenny floated around the large space mingling with their patrons, Pat kept an eye on her. Part of that was because he could never concentrate on anyone else when he knew that Kenny was in the vicinity. Another part of it was because he needed to make sure that she was fine and no one was taking advantage of her inebriated state to make unwanted advances.
Thankfully, the horny-squad stayed away.
But that didn’t ease Pat’s worry because he noticed how much Kenny was drinking. Every time she flitted to a new table, she drank something there. Given all the tables she visited, it was a lot of drinking. He was surprised that she was still standing upright given all the alcohol that was running in her bloodstream.
Because he was worried about her, Pat headed to the bar to tell Rich to start diluting Kenny’s drinks. But the moment Kenny tossed her first shot after the order, she caught them.
Instinctively knowing that this wasn’t Rich’s doing, she turned her gaze to the room, searching for Pat. When she found him, she flipped him the bird then poured the watered-down drink into the nearest trashcan. She then headed to the bar and let them know that anyone who tried to water down her drinks would be dealing with her. Knowing Kenny and her temper, everyone there cowered. Pat could only sigh.
Her drinking continued well into the wee hours as did her socializing. But every good (or bad) thing comes to an end. Eventually, people started trooping out of the club. Normally, Pat would’ve left a long time ago. But since Kenny was still around, he stayed behind too.
Kenny waited until just a few stragglers were left, before heading to the staffroom and grabbing her purse. Without even a goodbye to Pat, she headed out the door. Pat followed her.
The moment he stepped out of the club, the three a.m. chill smacked him right in the face and seared into his bones. Even though he was wearing a jacket, he still shivered. Kenny who was wearing just her little dress was rubbing her bare arms as she headed to the parking lot. Though she wasn’t stumbling around, the careful way she was taking each step said she was right on the edge of a blackout.
Pat expected her to find a cab. But she headed towards her truck.
Please tell me you’re not planning to drive when you’re that drunk. Horrified, Pat hurried after her.
As soon as Kenny was close to her truck, she clicked on her keys. There was a beep and the doors opened. Pat caught up to Kenny just as she got to the car. He put his hand right over hers on the door handle.
Kenny whipped around to glare at him. “What the hell, Pat!”
“You’re not driving.” He was surprised that he sounded so calm when he was actually furious. “You’re drunk.”
“I’m not drunk.” She tried to pull the door open. But he slammed it shut again.
“You’re not driving,” he repeated between gritted teeth. “You’re drunk.”
“Says me. The person who was watching you chug shot after shot the whole night.” He scolded, “Are you trying to kill yourself? Or would you be just comfortable taking out a few people when you crash your car?”
“What? Don’t be so dramatic.” Kenny rolled her eyes. “I won’t crash anything.”
“You’re damn right you won’t.” With his free hand, he snatched her car-keys.
“Give me back my keys.” She exploded. Turning to face him, she tried to take the keys but he held them above his head. He was so much taller than her that even she knew that jumping to try and get them would be a waste of time. So, she settled for a ferocious scowl. “Give me my keys, Pat.”
“No.” His tone was firm and determined. “You have two choices. My driver’s around. We can either use my car or I can call Marley to get you.”
“What kind of a bullshit choice is that?” Kenny demanded. “Marley isn’t even in the city to come get me.”
Pat shrugged. “Then I guess we’re taking my car.”
“No, we’re not,” she bit out. “Who died and made you my father. Don’t tell me what to do.”
Normally, he wasn’t one to force his will on her. But these were special circumstances. “Do you want to walk there yourself or should I carry you?”
Practically vibrating with rage, she demanded, “Are you serious right now?”
He didn’t answer, but his expression made it clear that he was very serious.
A more docile woman would’ve taken this as a cue to surrender. But docile wasn’t a word in Kenny’s dictionary.
“Screw you and screw your car.” With no care for her expensive dress, she sat down right where she was. On the asphalt. “You can’t make me do shit.”
“Kenny, come on.” He bent to pick her up, but she stopped him.
“I swear to God, Pat. Touch me and I’ll call the police,” she threatened. “I’ll tell them you tried to sexually assault me.”
Normally, he wouldn’t have been scared of such a threat because she wasn’t the type to make baseless threats and waste public officials’ time. But right now, the alcohol was doing all the talking and acting. When drunk, she was capable of anything. Anything!
“Try me if you want,” Kenny threatened with a smirk. “Try me.”
He hated when she got this way. It always made him wonder why he was so into her and whether he could handle dating her.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath to calm himself even as he tried to figure out a solution to their quandary.
Finally, he offered, “Okay fine. You don’t want to get into my car, right?”
“So you heard me, huh?” she retorted sarcastically.
Pat ignored the sarcasm. “And I don’t want you driving yourself home then hurting yourself or someone else. Which means we only have one solution.”
“Why don’t tell me what that solution is, genius?” she mocked. “I’m sure I’m going to loooove it.”
“Let me call you a cab,” he suggested calmly. “You’ll get home safe without me having to drive you there.”
Kenny’s lips parted, probably to protest. But she paused, stared at him then shrugged lazily. “As long as you’re paying for it, then whatever!”
Breathing a sigh of relief, Pat reached for his phone.
The cab didn’t even take ten minutes to show up, but apparently that was too long. By the time it sidled next to them, Kenny was lying on the ground blacked out. Pat was tempted to put her into his car, but he was too scared that she’d wake up while in there and throw a tantrum of epic proportions.
The only option he could think of was putting her in the cab then following her in his car. The cab took her right to the gate of her apartment complex. Pat was prepared to carry her out of the cab and somehow find a way to get her into her apartment without her ever knowing that he’d been in there. But that was unnecessary.
Surprisingly, Kenny got out of the cab on her own. Her steps slow, she made her way to the gate. The security guards who were there welcomed her, but it was only after those gates shut safely behind her that Pat exhaled in relief.
“Let’s go home,” he ordered his driver.
“Yes, sir.” The driver started the car.
As Pat sat in the back seat, he sighed. What was he going to do about Kenny? Getting her to consider him as a potential boyfriend was already hard enough. How was he supposed to convince her that her drinking was becoming a problem and she needed to ease up?
Jeez! He exhaled heavily. How could a woman who was so loveable be such a handful at the same time? Maybe it was time to admit that she was above his pay-grade.
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