Alyssa put a hand to her lips. They tingled where Dominic had kissed her, and she liked the feeling.
"What the hell." She said to herself.
Was she so desperate to be with a man that she'd settled for Dominic Sutter? She admonished herself for being so weak, for allowing him to get to her like she was just another one of his sexual conquests. And when had he even taken interest in her that way?
Her head was reeling, but her body was singing. She shivered as she thought about what could have happened, what she would have let happen had he not stopped. She wasn't sure what she was more upset about; the fact that she'd given in to him so easily, or that he didn't go further.
But, she thought, maybe it was a good thing. Alyssa was never the type of woman to partake in the casual hook up, and she was sure Dominic wasn't the shag and snuggle kind. So giving herself to him would have only ended in disaster. And although she could never see herself, in a million years, falling for the likes of him, she vowed to not even give him the opportunity to break her heart…..not like the men before him had.
Her mother had taught her to be tough, to never let a man see you sweat. But Alyssa had always wanted that epic love. The kind of love that swept you off your feet and left you breathless. But her mother had been the kind to believe all men were pigs. And with the way her love life was going, Alyssa was starting to believe it too.
She walked into her bedroom with a sigh and plopped down on the bed. She pulled open the drawer to her nightstand where a jewelry box lay.
As she opened it, her heart constricted. It had been five years but the pain was still there. The engagement ring felt foreign in the palm of her hand. She almost couldn't believe that there was a time she'd worn it on her finger.
She was twenty-two years old when her boyfriend at the time, Michael, had proposed to her. She'd thought he was the love of her life. They'd gone to high school together and he was the guy she'd wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Or at least she thought she did. But they hadn't been engaged for more than twenty-four hours before she caught him with another woman. She was glad she'd thought of keeping their engagement private until she was ready to let everyone know. It was at that moment she knew she'd been looking for love in all the wrong places. And every man she fell for seemed to be just like the father she'd never known but heard so much about.
"Your father wasn't the most faithful man." Her mother would tell her. "He always had a wandering eye. Not even this rack could keep him home."
And when he'd learned her mother was pregnant, he left. Alyssa wasn't surprised to learn that. With her father's history, she couldn't see him sticking around to care for a kid. If he couldn't even commit to one woman, how was he going to commit to raising a child?
Alyssa was starting to think that there wouldn't be anyone out there to truly love her. Hell, her own father didn't give a shit about her. So what made her think that any other man would love her in the way that she loved? Alyssa was never one to do anything half-assed, and that applied to her love life too. When she loved, she gave her all. And that had only resulted in disaster for her.
While she'd been putting her heart on reserve ever since her broken engagement, it never stopped her from looking and hoping she'd find love.
She slipped the ring back into the box and closed up the drawer. As she settled into bed that night, she found herself wishing (and not for the first time), that she had someone to share her bed with.
And with a blush, she thought about Dominic.
The next morning, Alyssa walked into her supervisor's office. Rob was an older man, in his late fifties. He was nice enough but always had the ability to make Alyssa uncomfortable. He had the gut of Santa Claus, a receding hairline, and a pedophile's mustache.
"There's my favorite producer." He smiled. "How are you, Alyssa?" He looked her up and down.
"I'm fine, Rob. What's going on?"
"Right, straight to business huh?" He sat on the edge of his desk in front of her. "There's a new morning TV show starting up in a few weeks in Sacramento."
"California?" Alyssa's brow rose.
"That's the one."
"Okay, what about it?" She was failing to see what that had to do with her.
"Well the guys over there need a producer. And I'd like to give them your name. It'll be a good promotion. Of course you'd have to move and we'd all miss you here but the opportunity is great and it'll be more money—"
"What?" She breathed, trying to process everything she'd just heard. "A promotion?"
"That's right." He grinned. "I couldn't think of anyone more deserving. You've been working hard here the past few years, Alyssa. You deserve this. So what do you say?"
"I…I don't know." She ran a hand through her hair. She loved her job and producing a new show in California would mean everything to her. But she never thought about moving all the way to California and being states away from her friends and family. "Can I think about it?"
Alyssa stood from the chair and was standing a bit too close to Rob for comfort. Something told her that he knew this would happen when she saw a hint of a smile playing around his mouth.
"Uh, thanks Rob." Alyssa reached out her hand at the same time that Rob opened his arm.
"Oh." He sounded disappointed as he took her hand and shook it. "Congratulations."
"I haven't taken the job yet." Alyssa said.
"We both know you'll make the right decision." He gave her hand a squeeze.
"I will." She pulled her hand away and resisted the urge to drown it in hand sanitizer until she left his office.
Alyssa couldn't keep herself from smiling. Although she had suspected that Rob's weird crush on her had something to do with her promotion, she also knew that there was something to be said about the work she'd put in at CCB. She'd told Rob she'd think about taking the job, but she already knew that she would. There was nothing tying her down in Texas and while she'd miss all of her friends and family, this was something she couldn't pass up.
There was only one thing she was worried about. How was she going to tell Kirsten?
Dominic had chopped Alyssa's silence up to their little make out session the night before. But he'd been wrong. When she'd blurted out her news, even he was speechless.
"I got a promotion for a job in California." She'd said in a rush.
Even Levi and Kirsten had just stared at her, their mouths agape in surprise
"California?" Kirsten was the first to come back to reality. "Wow, Alyssa…that's…far?" She furrowed her brows. "I mean, of course it's far but…California?"
"Yeah." Alyssa looked down at her wine glass.
"That's great Alyssa." Levi spoke up then. "I'm happy for you."
"Even though she's going to be a thousand miles away?" Kirsten gave him a pointed look to which Levi just shrugged.
Dominic snorted and gave a shake of his head. Women.
"Aren't you happy here? With your job at CCB?" Kirsten questioned.
"Well yeah, but this is a great opportunity. I thought you'd be kind of happy for me Kirsten." Alyssa sighed.
"I am." Kirsten cleared her throat.
"You could at least try to sound like you mean it." Dominic heard himself say. He hadn't meant to get involved.
"Oh, shut up Dom." Kirsten waved a hand at him. "You don't understand."
Well, since he was in it now.
"Sure I do." He ran a hand through his hair as he stood and went to stand behind Alyssa. "You're just going to miss her is all." He put his hands on her shoulders and felt her tense up. "But our little Alyssa is going to be off to bigger and better things. We should all be happy for her."
Kirsten rolled her eyes. "That's easy for you to say. You won't even miss her."
He thought about it. Would he miss her? Alyssa was a handful, and he enjoyed teasing her. But he never thought about what it would be like not to see her, what it would be like not to see those blue eyes of hers go wild whenever he got her riled up, or what it would be like without her simple, yet encompassing, presence.
He would miss her. But he pushed the thought aside.
"Oh come on Kirsten. Once you and Levi are married, you're barely going to notice that Alyssa isn't around."
"That's not true." Kirsten objected.
"It isn't?" Alyssa spoke up.
Dominic heard the uncertainty in her voice. It was as if she'd already thought about all the ways she'd be forgotten once her best friend was married. Dominic should know the feeling, for he'd thought the same. But being the macho man that he was, he never admitted to feeling left behind by the only true friend he'd ever had.
He gave Alyssa's shoulders a squeeze, and as if she could tell what he was feeling, she placed her hand over his. He wasn't used to a woman's touch being so tender to him. She was comforting him, and he was doing the same for her.
"You two are awfully touchy today." Kirsten stared at their touching hands and Dominic quickly pulled away.
"Anyway," Dominic cleared his throat. "the point is that we should all want this for Alyssa. Aren't you supposed to be her best friend?"
"And it's not like we couldn't visit her. Or like she'd never come here to visit us." Levi gave Alyssa a smile. "Right?"
"Of course I'll visit. And you guys can come see me whenever you want."
"Well…I've never been to California." Kirsten said.
"I'll be your tour guide." Alyssa smiled.
"Sounds good to me." Dominic went to pull a beer from the fridge.
"And what kind of friend would I be if I didn't support my best friend?" Kirsten walked around the kitchen island to wrap an arm around Alyssa.
"A pretty bad one." Levi laughed.
"That was a rhetorical question honey." Kirsten glared at him.
"Right." Levi nodded.
"This has officially turned into a celebration! We should go out tonight." Kirsten said excitedly.
"What? No, that's okay." Alyssa shook her head. "We don't have to go out."
"Nonsense. Besides, it's not like we'll have a lot of opportunities to go out like this once you move."
"She's right, Princess." Dominic said. "This is a reason to celebrate."
Alyssa cut her eyes at him. "It's a Monday night."
"So?" Dominic shrugged.
"I think this is a perfect reason to go out." Levi agreed.
It was three against one and Dominic grinned as she said, "Okay. We can go out."
Later that night, Dominic couldn't keep himself from staring as Alyssa walked outside of her house. She wore a burnt orange long sleeved and lacey crop top that showed off a pair of taut abs. The high waisted black jeans she wore hugged her hips, and when she turned around to lock the door, Dominic's eyes landed on the ass that he'd grabbed just the night before. And he wanted to do it again, right now.
"What are you doing here?" She asked as she walked up to him.
"Designated driver." He smiled.
"I don't need a designated driver."
"You sure about that? You got pretty drunk last time."
She blushed. "I wasn't expecting to."
"Well it's a celebration tonight. You never know what'll happen." He winked.
She glowered at him. "What's going on here?"
"What do you mean?" He asked innocently.
"You know exactly what I mean Dominic." She folded her arms over her chest. "Last night…and then today."
"What about last night?" He tilted his head.
"I know what you're doing."
"Yes. And I'm not one of your little…whores. You don't get to play me."
"Don't mock me." She spat. "I know your type and I'm not falling for it."
"Nobody said anything about falling for me."
"I didn't say anything about falling for you."
"Come on, Princess. You're moving away and sex," he stepped closer to her. "will be fun for both of us. No commitments, no attachments. And you hate my guts remember? What's better than angry sex?" He stopped in front of her and pushed a lock of hair out of her face.
She inhaled sharply at the contact before pulling her face away.
"That's not my thing."
She rolled her eyes at him. "You're ridiculous."
"I'm many things that we don't have time to stand around and talk about. Let's go."
"I can drive myself." She protested.
Dominic was getting impatient. Alyssa was always so stubborn and he hated it.
"I have no doubt in my mind about that, Princess."
"Don't call me that."
"But," he ignored her. "how are you planning to do that when I've got you blocked in?"
"Ugh." She groaned before finally accepting her fate to ride in his car. "You're an asshole."
"Tell me something I don't know."
She muttered something that he couldn't quite hear. But since he'd won in their little face-off, he decided to ignore it.
Alyssa was beyond irritated with herself, and with Dominic. Every nerve was screaming at her to jump him right there in his car, to let him have his way with her, but she fought against it. And damn, it was hard. She refused to let him see how he affected her. But she had a sinking feeling that he could see right through her. She'd always been so translucent when it came to her feelings and her body language was no exception.
But Dominic was just toying with her. Once he got what he wanted form her, he'd leave her high and dry. But whether or not he'd leave with her heart was up to her. And she wasn't going to let him in that way.
They'd all decided to go to Lucky's that night. Lucky's was one of the most popular clubs in Dallas, right behind Dominic's bar. As Alyssa stepped out of the car, she spotted the long line at the door.
"Don't worry, we won't have to wait." Dominic said.
"Let me guess, you know the owner?"
"Something like that." He smiled knowingly. "Come on."
Well, Dominic didn't know the owner, but he knew the bouncer and that was enough to get them in ahead of the line and for free. The place was crowded for a Monday night. There was a sea of people stretched out in front of them and Alyssa had no choice but to hold Dominic's hand as he weaved them through the crowd and to a table not too far from the bar.
"Where are Kirsten and Levi?" Alyssa had to lean in close so he could hear her. She didn't like that. She was so close that she could smell him. His scent was intoxicating; like soap and sexy male musk.
"On the way." He said. "What are you drinking?"
"I'll just have a beer." She said.
"Sure you don't want to try lagavulin again?"
She shoved his arm. "Just get me the got damned beer."
As he walked away, Alyssa saw several pairs of eyes land on him. Dominic was quite the looker and the women picked up on that quickly. She felt a pang of jealousy but tried to ignore it.
She looked on as one woman decided to try her luck. She wore a barely there slip of a dress. If she bent over, Alyssa was sure all of her breasts would fall out; something that Dominic wouldn't have had a problem with.
She approached Dominic and put a hand on his shoulder. He turned to her with a smile and it made Alyssa sick. They exchanged words and subtle touches that left the other wanting more. Alyssa watched as she put her number in his phone and looked away just before he started to walk back to their table.
"Here's your beer." He handed it to her with a smile.
Alyssa couldn't understand how a man could entertain so many women at once. Sure, she was only one woman, but he'd had no problem pretending like he hadn't just been flirting with her.
"Thanks." She said flatly.
"What's wrong?" He frowned.
"Nothing." She got ahold of herself. Why was she being so jealous? It's not like they were there on a date. Dominic wasn't hers. In fact, Dominic wasn't anybody's.
As she turned up her bottle, she saw Kirsten and Levi walking towards them.
"It's about time you two got here." Alyssa said.
"Are you drinking beer?" Kirsten eyed her.
"Girl we need shots!"
"No we don't." Alyssa shook her head.
"Are you forgetting that this is a celebration? I refuse to let you sip on a lame beer." Kirsten snatched the drink out of her hand and gave it to Dominic. "I can't believe you let her get this."
"My fault." Dominic shrugged.
"Let's get you a real drink." Kirsten grinned.
About thirty minutes later, Alyssa was sipping on her third cup of vodka and cranberry juice. Really, the drink was mostly vodka as Kirsten had insisted there only be a splash of cranberry. Needless to say, Alyssa was buzzed. She'd started to sway to the music, and when Dominic asked her to dance, she didn't hesitate to take him up on the offer.
They made their way to the middle of the dance floor and Alyssa felt the bass of the music hum through her. She swayed her hips and twirled around seductively, dancing as if she were the only one there. Dominic kept up with her, performing his own routine as he wrapped a hand around her waist.
They danced together, hip to hip, chest to chest. What started out as an innocent dance quickly became something more. Suddenly, the music was something in the background and there was just the two of them. She let her hands slide up his arms and wrap around his neck. His leg was settled in between hers and she ground against him.
She let him graze his lips against the side of her face until he placed a kiss on her neck. It set her body on fire and she stepped back.
"I think we should go." She said.
They walked back to the table where Kirsten and Levi were cuddled up.
"We're gonna head out." Alyssa announced.
"You two are leaving together?" Kirsten giggled.
"Its not like that." Alyssa said. "He drove me here."
"Riiiiight." Kirsten gave her an exaggerated wink.
Alyssa decided that she was way too drunk to try and reason with, so she let her think what she wanted.
As they stepped outside, the chilly air did little to sober her up, but she did feel as if her head were a bit clearer.
Dominic was oddly silent on the ride back to her house, and it annoyed her. Maybe it was the alcohol, or the fact that her body was singing, but the words came out of her mouth as clear as day as he parked in her driveway.
"You sure about that?" He asked, shocked.
"Yes. That's what you want isn't it?"
"I think you've had too much to drink. Do you know what you're saying?"
She wasn't nearly as drunk as she'd gotten the other night, but the alcohol was making her brave.
"I'm not drunk. And I know exactly what I'm saying." She opened the door to get out. "So are you going to come in or not?" She didn't wait for his answer before she closed the car door and walked onto her front porch.
To her satisfaction, she heard his car door close behind her and she let them into her home.
"So, what now Princess?" He asked.
She turned to face him and the air was charged with sexual tension. She swallowed and thought about what she was about to do. Was she really ready to go down this road with him? It was just sex, like he said. And it had been so long for her…so embarrassingly long. And she'd be moving soon. So what was it going to hurt if she indulged in a little sexual activity with the man who had no intention of pulling at her heart strings?
Fuck it all.
"Okay. Let's get it over with." Alyssa pulled her shirt up over her head.
He flicked a brow. "Do what?"
She cut her ocean blue eyes at him. "I want you to work your magic on me. I want to see what all the fuss is about."
He stalked towards her, a mischievous grin pulling at his lips. "You sure?" He unbuttoned his pants.
She swallowed and said, "Yes" with false bravado.