He’s hard to say no to, but I’ve been doing it for a while now, and every time he asks, it gets harder and harder. He’s gorgeous in this dirty-hot way that has always made me weak with his dark soulful eyes and his tattoos and the way he looks at me. It’s a look that says he wants more, that he wants everything and that’s what scares me.
I’m not the girl you marry. I’m the girl you have wild, hot sex with and live out your fantasies. You don’t take me home to meet your parents. I don’t know anything about Ed’s parents, but I’m certain I’m not who they hoped their son would fall in love with.
Sometimes I use the word cunt and think nothing of it. I change my hair color more than people change their underwear and if I’m being honest, I don’t like the idea of being tied down. Not literally, but more figuratively.
I like my freedom. My freedom to stay up late, eat what I want, travel when I want to and not have to consult someone on what I plan on doing with my life. While Ed doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would try to change me, I don’t know what the future holds. Fuck, I don’t even know if I even want to have kids and what if that’s something he wants.
Ripley is adorable and perfect, but she’s Lewis and Ava’s and I can return her whenever I’m done dealing with a baby. It all circles back to my freedom. Relationships and babies don’t scream freedom. Maybe that sounds super selfish.
“You’re killing me here, Victoria,” Ed says, his hand over his heart, his eyes gleaming as he awaits an answer.
A part of me wants to say yes, to see where this thing between us could go, but it feels like a risk. I spend a ton of time with Lewis and Ed works for Lewis. If it all falls flat, I’m going to run into Ed on a regular basis and I’m not great at keeping my feelings to myself. It would turn this bar into a very awkward place.
I lean across the bar, my lips nearly touching Ed’s as I murmur, “You are so fucking hot, and I imagine you’re amazing in bed. I think about tracing the outline of your tattoos with my tongue, but…”
“No, don’t say but, V,” Ed says, making me smile, his fingers holding onto my chin, one move from either of us and our lips would be touching. His breath peppers my skin, making it even harder to say no. I’d love to feel his lips against mine, but Lewis’ busy bar is not the place.
“Go bigger, Ed,” I whisper against his mouth, letting the tip of my tongue trail along his bottom lip. Before I can pull away, his hand is slipping around to the back of my neck, cupping tightly, he holds me to him, kissing me hard.
My knees go weak, and if it wasn’t for the bar holding me up, I’d be in a pool in the floor. Ed’s lips are soft and warm against mine, and he tastes like cherries and whisky, a heady combination. I’m starting to second guess my decision to say no.
One night with Ed wouldn’t hurt, but it wouldn’t just be one night and that’s where the problem lies. I’m a one-night good time girl and he’ll grow bored. It’s the chase he loves, not me.
“Bigger, Ed,” I say, pushing back from the bar and trying my damnedest not to look like I want to take him upstairs and fuck him.
“At least tell me that was a start,” he pleads, and I’m obsessed with how hard he’s trying and how fucking sexy he is.
“It definitely was.”
A cold shower and a few hours later, I’m walking into work, my head in the clouds and my mind solely focused on Ed and that kiss. It was pretty much the most epic thing that has happened to me in a while, not to mention the most romantic.
Sitting in my chair is none other than Julia Harris, celebrity elite and the reason my career has taken off. It’s all because of Ava actually. Looking back on it now, I was really horrible to her, and I still can’t believe she stood up to me the way she did. After that, it was all respect and love and friendship between us.
Ava set me up with Julia who then sang my praises to pretty much everyone in the industry and now here I am, the makeup artist to the stars. I was always a makeup artist, but I was barely scraping by in salons and with freelance jobs. Now, I’m busy all the damn time.
It’s one of those jobs that can happen at any time or any day and I have to be available. Today I’m getting Julia ready for a premier, something that she booked well in advance. We have three hours to get her ready, and the hair stylist, my friend Gemma, has already started working.
Gemma and I teamed up when things took off for me. I’m sure most people look at it as Gemma riding my coattails, but she was the reason I was employed before I started my own business. Gemma owned her own salon and gave it all up to travel with me doing hair on movie sets and for high-end celebrity clients.
“So what’s the look we’re going for tonight?” I ask Julia and she pulls up a picture on her phone.
“Dress, shoes, jewelry,” she says, flashing the screen to me. “Work your magic, V.”
I study the picture for a few minutes, plotting everything out in my head before I pull open a few drawers.
“I’m thinking heavy focus on the eyes, natural lips, but really make the eyes pop. Lashes for day. A double wing,” I say, starting immediately. Julia laughs, shaking her head as Gemma begins teasing the top.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Julia teases, a sweet little laugh echoing in the space.
“I know, but don’t worry. It’s going to be perfect. Thoughts, Gem?” I ask, watching her work for a second, hoping her vision aligns with mine.
“I’m thinking Botox hair,” she replies. “It will pull it all together and the eyes will stand out even more.”
“It’s like you two are speaking a foreign language,” Julia jokes, flitting a hand in my direction. “Just do what you both do best and make me not look like I just woke up.”
This comment makes both Gemma and I laugh. Like Julia Harris ever looks like she just woke up. She’s sitting in my chair right now looking like most women on their best day. Gorgeous, flawless and full of confidence.
We work in silence for about thirty minutes, my thoughts continually going back to that kiss with Ed in the bar. It replays in my mind as my daydreams take it one step further each time I let it play out. First, we’re kissing, then I’m peeling his shirt off and before I know it, we’re naked in my bed.
I’m distracted and Gemma notices, tapping the top of my shoe with her foot. She widens her eyes and then looks down at the back of my hand which is currently loaded down with far too much foundation. It’s like I’ve been pumping it without even thinking. I’ve got enough here that I could cover an elephant.
“Shit,” I mutter, grabbing a wipe and cleaning off my hand. I quickly walk over to the sink and wash any remnants off before returning back to Julia. Luckily she doesn’t notice my distractedness, but obviously Gemma does, waiting for me to fess up to what the fuck is with me.
“Ed kissed me at the bar tonight,” I blurt out and Julia and Gemma both stare at me wide-eyed, jaws on the floor waiting for me to fill in the massive gap I’ve left by just spitting out my news.
“And?” Gemma says, rolling her hand to get me talking. If I hadn’t worked for Julia for this long now, this conversation would be totally unprofessional.
She knows who Ed is, she also knows he’s been asking me out for a while. Being close friends with Ava, Julia and her husband Aiden are around a lot, which means, nights at the bar, hanging out with Lewis and Ava, and basically being in this social circle that has grown beyond just Lewis and me.
“Yes, and!” Julia squeals, flapping her hands in a way that show these two are far more excited about this kiss than I might have been.
Okay, that’s a lie. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since it happened and I’m fucking up Julia’s makeup because of it. Distraction is a makeup artist’s worst nightmare.
“And that was it. He asked me out, I said no, and then he kissed me.” I spit it all out in a rush, and the way I say it makes me sound like a cunt. Like a cold, heartless bitch who is keeping him away for my own pleasure. It’s not that at all, but it’s certainly coming across that way.
“Why the hell did you say no?” Julia quips, confusion in her voice. Trust me, I’m nothing but confused myself.
“I don’t know. Come on, this job, my hours, my track record with men, and not to mention, I’m a bit of a spicy disaster. No one wants to get involved in that.”
“Harshness and your crass demeanor aside, you’re fucking catch, V,” Gemma defends, somewhat backhandedly, making me swat at her.
“Hey, you know the rule,” Gemma scolds, waggling a finger at me. “Hands to yourself unless you want a major fuck up. Imagine if I swatted your arm mid eyeliner swipe?”
“She right, V,” Julia chimes in and I wonder if she’s talking about the eyeliner or my current situation. “Ed’s been waiting you out for what now, like months? Why not give it a go? What’s the worst that can happen?”
My mind immediately goes to all the worst-case scenarios, but the main one, me never being able to set foot in Lewis’ bar again. If it doesn’t work about between Ed and me, it will be like a fucking divorce. Ed will get the bar and I’ll get Lewis on the weekends and his nights off.
“Worst that could happen?” I question. “Where do you want me to start?” I let out a slow breath, trapped in this limbo of wonder if I should just take the plunge and go out with Ed.
I told him to go big, and now that has me intrigued on what’s going to come next. First the kiss and fuck me if it wasn’t the best kiss of my life. Unexpected and sexy, his lips against mine, a soft low growl coming from his chest. I loved the way he felt possessive and didn’t give a single fuck that the bar was packed with people. But I want to hold out and see what else he has up his sleeve.
“There’s a lot of bad shit that could happen,” I say, returning to Julia’s face, my arm poised and ready to add some highlighter to her cheekbones.
“There’s a lot of good shit that could happen too,” Gemma replies back, smiling.
“What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” Julia adds, a smile plastered on her face that matches Gemma’s. “I love those words. A poem that I think about whenever I feel like a situation is scary as hell. The feeling of flying far outweighs the feeling of falling.”
“Does it outweigh the feeling of falling in love and then having it come crumbling down?” I ask, the forever pessimist in me coming out.
“Someone needs to slap some sense into you. He’s only going to try for so long before some other girl comes along and sees what you keep missing,” Gemma now says, making me feel guilty. Ed really is a catch.
He’s gorgeous and funny and kind. Basically, he’s the kind of guy every girl is out searching for and he’s standing right in front of me.
“So what do you suggest I do?” I don’t care to admit that it’s been a while since I’ve dated. Most of the time the sexy times fall in my lap and I go with it. But I rarely let it get any farther than that.
“Show up at the bar after it closes wearing a black trench coat and under it, some seriously sexy black undies,” Gemma says, and I burst out laughing.
“Are you serious?”
“I mean, kinda.”
“I think Gemma is on to something,” Julia adds. “Go big or go home. He might be waiting for you to make the first move, especially since you’ve been turning him down. He knows you’re interested; we all know you’re interested,” she adds, rolling her eyes. “All that flirting.”
She makes me laugh. Ed and I do have a hard time controlling ourselves when we’re together. The subtle touches, the flirty words and don’t even get me started on the way he looks at me. It sets my fucking panties on fire.
I’m an idiot for avoiding him.
My phone chimes out, and for some reason it makes Gemma squeal like a teenage girl. “Maybe it’s Ed,” she shrieks, and when I look at my phone, who would’ve fucking thought, but it is Ed.
Ed: Hey V. Huge favor. The bar is swamped tonight and one of the guys called in. Do you think you could come by and give me a hand after you’re done? No big deal if not. Thanks.
I read the text to Gemma and Julia and what comes out of Gemma’s mouth next has all of us laughing hysterically.
“I know what kind of hand you can give him.” She waggles her eyebrows, her mouth falling open into a perfect O-shape.
“What are you going to do?” Julia asks, and I pause, not answering her right away.
“I’m not sure.”