Rough Hard Fierce (Chicago Underground Boxed Set)(3)

By: Skye Warren


“I am sorry,” I said, wistfulness seeping into my voice. “You’ll thank me later.”

Regret panged in my chest as the crowd sucked him back in, but I’d done the right thing. Even if he were only interested in a one-night hookup, my type of sex was too toxic for the likes of him.

I turned back to the guy at the bar. He caught my eye, looking—if possible—surlier. Cold and mean. Perfect. I wouldn’t taint him, and he could give me what I craved. Since Tall, Dark, and Stoic hadn’t deigned to make a move on me, I would do the pursuing. A surprising little twist for the night, but I could go with it.

I squeezed in beside him at the bar. Up close his size was impressive and a little intimidating, but that only strengthened my resolve. He could give me what I needed.

“Hey, tough guy,” I shouted over the din.

He looked up at me from his beer. I faltered a bit at the total lack of emotion in his face and fought an automatic instinct to retreat. His eyes were a deep brown, almost pretty, but remote and flat. Dark hair was cut short, bristly. His nose was prominent and slightly crooked, like it had been broken. Maybe more than once.

He looked mean, which was a good thing, but I was used to a little more effort. Even assholes provided a fake smile or smarmy line for the sake of the pickup. There was a script to these things, but he wasn’t playing his part.

My club persona and beer from earlier lent me confidence. Whatever was bothering him—a bad day at the construction site or maybe a fight with the old lady—I didn’t care. He was here, so he needed this as much as I did.

I planted my elbow on the bar. “I saw you looking at me earlier.”

He raised an eyebrow. I shrugged. He was making me work for it, but I found myself more amused than annoyed.

“Buy me a drink?” I asked.

He considered me, then nodded and signaled the bartender.

The beat of the club reverberated as I took a sip. “So do you talk?”

His lips twitched. “Yeah, I talk.”

“Okay.” I leaned in close to hear him better. “What do you talk about?”

He ignored my question—or maybe answered it—by asking, “What are you doing here?” Almost like he was asking something deeper, but that had to be the alcohol talking.

“I’m trying to get laid, that’s what I’m doing here.” I pulled off a breathy laugh I was pretty proud of.

He didn’t react, didn’t appear surprised or even interested, the bastard. He just looked at me. “Why?”

I decided on honesty. “Because I need it.”

He seemed to weigh the truth of my words, then nodded toward the exit. “All right, let’s go.” He got up and threw some cash on the bar.

His easy acceptance caught me off guard, just for a moment. But it shouldn’t have surprised me, because…well, because men always wanted sex. That’s what I liked about them—they didn’t even bother trying to hide it. It was worse when I hadn’t seen it coming, when it had sneaked up on me— Now wasn’t the time to think of that. It was never the right time to think of that.

He tucked his hand under my elbow, guiding me. He used his body to maneuver us through the crowd, almost as a shield. The whole thing was so gentlemanly, given what we were about to do, that I wondered if he’d heard me right. Maybe he’d want to get coffee or something, and wouldn’t that be awkward all around?

But he was a man, and I was a woman wearing fuck-me clothes—this could only end one way.

When we exited the club, I couldn’t help sucking in several deep breaths. Even the faint smell of street sewage was refreshing, washing the stench of smoke, alcohol, and countless perfumes from my lungs. I never liked the crowds. The press of bodies, the mingling smell of sweat, the small bumps from all around. Tiny violations that were somehow okay since everyone did it.

As my heart rate settled, he inspected me as if he could read me. He couldn’t. “What’s your name?” I asked to distract him.

“Colin. Yours?”

“Allie.”

“Nice to meet you, Allie. Your place or mine?”

I was comfortable again. I knew this play: horny girl who can’t wait to get naked.

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