Look Don't Touch

By: Tess Oliver

Jack settled on the stool and rested his forearms along the granite ledge. He was wearing that smug smile that sometimes made me want to throw my fist at him. "Well, Archer, you look like something my dog ate and puked back up."

"Thank you for lowering your voice, but one more rule. Don't talk about puking, otherwise you're going to find out what I had for dinner last night and something tells me it had to do with oysters." I pressed my arm against my stomach and closed my eyes until the spinning stopped.

"Nash, what the hell are you doing? It's been a month since you got fired. I thought you'd have your own equity firm up, running and steaming right past MG Enterprises already."

I pulled the coffee out and winced at the taste. "Shit, maybe this is even older than I thought." I dumped it into the sink. "I stupidly thought I could convince some of the big clients, people who I helped secure the equity they needed to start a successful business, to follow me or at least hand out some good recommendations. Turns out Morris Grant has a lot bigger hold on his clients than I realized."

"Fucking hell, so he got to them all before you could sweet talk them to your side?"

"Seems that way. Doesn't help that he let it be well known how I lost the deal with Rad Video. I think he sent out a 'lock up your daughters' kind of warning."

"Jeezus, you've got to start from scratch then."

I filled the coffee maker and pushed the extra strong brew button. "Or I could just, as you said, stay holed up here in my beach house, drinking and fucking until all the money runs out and my will to live goes with it."

"Fuck that. As your twisted old pop would say—stop feeling sorry for yourself. What happened to the crazy ass idea you had back at Fantasm the night you got canned? You were going to whip yourself into shape with some major self-denial."

"Is it all right if I use your shower?" an airy voice called from the hallway. The blonde with the tattoo was standing in the doorway holding my shirt in front of her naked body.

"Sure thing," I answered. Jack and I both watched as she turned around and walked away.

"Was that a dragonfly?" Jack asked.

"Yep."

He twirled back around on the stool. "Seems to me you are doing the exact opposite of your initial plan. Instead of self-denial, you are going full self-gratification. How many other women are hibernating in that big bed of yours?"

I shrugged. "Last I counted, there was one more. And that plan I had sounded fucking insane an hour after we left the strip club. I'll get my act together soon."

"Is that coffee I smell?" an unfamiliar voice popped up over the back of the living room sofa. A face with long dark lashes and curly brown hair popped up after it.

The woman peered at us. "Ooh, aren't you two a nice sight to see in the morning," she quipped before dropping back down. "Let me know when the coffee's done," she called.

Jack shot me a well-deserved judgmental scowl. "Apparently, you forgot how to count. Seriously, buddy, you're like a fucking runaway train. Put on the brakes before you careen off the tracks for good."

"Again with the stupid analogies."

"And you know I'm spot on with all of them. What about that dancer, Shay? She's still there. I was just in Fantasm a week ago. She twirled across stage and everyone went nuts."

I shook my head. "It was a crazy idea. Enough about my life, what have you been up to?" I poured myself some of the freshly brewed coffee. It slightly dulled the pain in my head. I pointed to the pot of coffee, but Jack shook his head.

"I'm dating someone," Jack announced suddenly. "It's only been three weeks, but I think I might have stumbled onto the real thing this time."

I nearly spit out my mouthful of coffee with a laugh. "Bullshit."

Footsteps carried our attention to the living room. The woman on the couch had strategically placed a pillow over her bare breasts and in front of her pussy. She surveyed the room as she headed toward the kitchen. "Has anyone seen my panties?"

Jack picked up the pair he had dropped on the floor on the toe of his shoe. He dangled them in the air. "Do these look familiar?"

She twirled her mouth as if she was trying to decide if they were hers. "I think I was wearing blue last night."

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