The fear of getting caught is half the fun.
Romano and Albright, Book 1
Lowly art gallery assistant Caesar Romano is freely out of the closet. Now he'd just like to get out of his Nana's guest room. Everything--his reputation and his financial freedom--is riding on the success of tonight's gallery opening. If only he could shake free of the past so easily.
A mysterious gatecrasher, Dan Green, looks like a promising addition to his pending new life--until Caesar's ex shows up and suddenly the opening disintegrates into a half-naked dance melee. When the glitter settles, a missing sculpture of Justin Timberlake has Caesar up to his eyebrows in extortion, intrigue and a wild sexual adventure underneath, inside, and on top of a variety of furnishings.
As the cast of suspects piles up, so do the questions. Like who's really blackmailing whom? And what does a stolen paint-by-numbers clown matter when Dan is so outrageously capable of blowing Caesar's resistance to smithereens?
Warning: This book contains graphic language, sex, lies, intrigue, clowns, kleptomania, anal sex, oral sex, mutual masturbation, bad driving, good cooking, and the missing head of a Justin Timberlake statue. Not for the sour of disposition.
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March 02, 2010
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Excerpt from Catch Me if You Can by LB Gregg
Chapter One: Keeping It Brief
Jean Luc Pappineau
An Exhibition of Sculpted Works
Friday, 28 April
Peter Stuhlmann Gallery
I felt pretty damn good about the opening, until Shep McNamara strolled through the gallery door with a fresh new haircut and a spray-on tan and I aspirated the green olive floating in my martini. Fumbling my glass, I watched in disbelief as Shep sauntered by with a drink in either hand. I doubted he was carrying one for a friend. Sure, the drinks were free, but he didn't need to double fist. I coughed, trying to dislodge the olive, my chest seized, and Shep disappeared. What was he doing here? I coughed again, a little harder this time.
"You need help, Caesar?"
I shook my head at Brandon, our shirtless bartender, and hacked desperately into my soggy cocktail napkin. My nose watered; tears blurred my vision. The flipping olive wouldn't budge. I tried to expel it as gracefully as I could but it was...lodged...or something.
"Put your arms over your head," Mallory Albright instructed. The woman I most needed to impress this evening examined me through clever Lafont frames, her crimson lips pursed in concern. "That will lift your diaphragm."
She demonstrated by pulling her shoulders back and lifting her own diaphragm, one slender hand to her ribs. Her jet hair swung forward, making an angled point under her chin.
Normally, I'd have delivered a smart comment. Instead, I gasped, wheezed and banged on my sternum with a closed fist to no avail. That garnish wouldn't budge.
Brandon jumped the table to whack me on the back--the flat of his hand shoved me into Mallory. I horked up the olive, spitting it directly into her drink. She didn't flinch at the delicate plop it made on reentry or when droplets of gin spattered her bare arm. She merely flagged a waiter, who rushed over with a stack of paper napkins. He handed us both another much-appreciated martini, his silver tray dipping precariously close to the ornamental bust of Mayor Bloomberg.
Mallory set her dirty glass on the waiter's tray without acknowledging the remains of my olive. She peered over her glasses at me. "You're fine. Catastrophe averted. All better now, yes?"
"Yes. I beg your pardon." I dabbed my mouth with the cocktail napkin and then scrubbed the lapel of my new blazer. I glanced furtively around the perimeter of the room, searching the crowd for Shep and his deceitful cousin Poppy. That twit had promised me--promised me--she'd never invite him to one of my events.
I set my cuffs straight with a jerk and took a swig of liquor to settle my nerves and soothe my throat. No sign of either Shep or Poppy from my vantage point, but the urge to hide from one and kill the other had me shifting my feet restlessly.
Mallory continued to stare. "You're breathing fine now?"
Nodding politely, I rasped, "Yes, thank you, Mal," and carefully cleared my throat. "That olive must have gone down the wrong way." Much like me on the path to my career. Stuck at twenty-eight and barely making minimum wage. I'd have done better in the men's department of Saks or working in the restaurant with my pop and my brother. The art world didn't exactly pay well when you were in lower management.
Mallory looked thoughtful. "I knew someone who choked on a peach pit once--a girl at Smith. She scraped her esophagus and developed a bacterial infection. It turned into meningitis. She nearly died. These things happen sometimes. You didn't abrade anything, did you, dear?"
Abrade? "No. I'm just a little embarrassed, that's all. I'm sure the gin will kill any bacteria. Olives are soft. Don't worry about me, Mal."
"Oh, don't be silly. Sometimes we swallow wrong. You need to swallow slowly, dear." Mallory sipped her martini. She smiled with good humor at the bust of Howard Stern.
I couldn't possibly comment, although Brandon snickered.
"He could always practice swallowing," Brandon muttered.
I gave him an I'm-paying-you look, and he winked back at me but held his tongue. Brandon's massive pectorals gleamed with some kind of oil, but under the gallery lights he was beginning to show signs of age. He'd covered his gray, though he couldn't hide the crow's feet. Of course, they merely heightened his masculinity. "Shouldn't you be back at the bar?"
Mallory didn't spare Brandon a word. "It's a good turnout, Caesar. You've done a magnificent job putting together Jean's...pieces..." She said this as if she should finish her thought with the words "of crap" but was too cultured to do so. "I'm sure something will sell. The gin is flowing freely enough."
"It's flooding rather than flowing. Hopefully that will loosen people up to purchase." I needed for them to sell. Not for my boss or for Jean, but for myself. For my future. I wasn't proud of this, but I'd ride Jean and Peter's coattails to a better job if I could.
And tonight was the night. The gallery was clogged with well-lubricated art enthusiasts. Everything had been planned accordingly: the music festive yet discreet, the food excellent, the booze plentiful and the waiters mostly naked. Poppy and I had hoped that every girl and boy present would be amused. I was scheming to impress my targeted future boss, Ms. Mallory Albright of The Albright Gallery of Fine Art. She had no idea, but her assistant was about to give notice on Monday. I knew this because Steph had pulled me aside two weeks ago, at her own catered event, and said I could land a lucrative job if I didn't screw up. My plan appeared to be working--until the olive.
I looked around for Shep. If I had a do-over, I'd aim that olive at his head.
Mallory took a delicate sip from her fresh glass, leaving a blood-red mark on its rim. Her fingers pinched the stem precisely. "This event must have cost a fortune. Did you adhere to your budget?"
"Somewhat," I hedged. "I called in a few favors."
That much was true. My family and friends may never speak to me again.
"I'm impressed. I don't think Peter understands how good you really are."
"He's been kind to me," I fibbed.
"Well, you let me know if he's unkind to you, and I'll set him straight." She patted my hand and floated away in her black eveningwear.
I took another look around the room. Brandon had returned to his station behind the bar, mixing cocktails with great flair. "Brandon, if you see Poppy, you inform her that I need to speak with her. Tell her to drop what she's doing and find me."
"Any message?" He speared an olive on a toothpick and flipped it into the air. It landed neatly in a martini glass.
"That was the message."
I headed to the kitchen. I was five steps from the hall when a hand clapped me on the back, propelling me forward again. I caught myself on a patron, juggled my drink and pasted a smile on my face. "Oh, excuse me!" Somewhere in the room a camera shutter clicked.
Jean Luc Pappineau, the man of the hour, swayed drunkenly on his feet beside me. He'd lost his shirt, but his bow tie remained. His nipple rings gleamed in the gallery light. He might be in great shape at forty, but Jesus, what the hell was he doing? His smile was unguarded and his eyes were unfocused. Maybe we should cut back the flow of gin.
"Romano, what a night," he crowed.
"Yes. Congratulations. I'm pretty sure I've seen no fewer than six critics here." God help him. "Your name is getting recognition."
"Oh that's all b.s., buddy. What we need is to make some sales."
"Excuse me?" I croaked. He was completely plowed. He had to be.
"You know--the dough. I need cash." He made the universal sign of money grubbing--that roll of his thumb along the flat of his blunt fingertips. Jeez, there was nothing like a little avarice to make a true artist shine. He gave me a curious look. "What's wrong with your voice? You sound froggy."
"Must be the night air."
"Sounds like you choked on something." He offered me his drink. "Need to wet your whistle."
"Jean. Focus. You need to go charm some of these people so they'll buy a bust for their front entry or their house in the Hamptons." I had no clue what I was saying. I was from Brooklyn. "You need to create buzz--think big picture. It's not simply about sales."
"It is when the rent's due, boy-o, and the ex says that the kid needs braces."
Well, he had me there. Before I could respond, my ex passed by the door again--this time with one of the half-dressed waiters. Shep was decked out to party--black jeans and a cashmere V-neck sweater in vibrant sapphire blue. He had on a tooled silver belt and black cowboy boots, which were frankly ridiculous. He preferred being ridden. His platinum hair was nearly white in the down light--and that dick still had a drink in either hand. He glanced through the doorway. Eyes the color of caramel found Jean Luc, and then his gaze locked on to mine.
He had to go.
"If you'll excuse me. I need to find the caterer."
"Poppy? That's a hot piece of ass right there, I tell you what." He made a crude gesture with his hands at breast level as if he were dialing the knobs on some...well...on some woman's chest. I checked to see if anyone was photographing us. He was all about the big hand gestures tonight, which wasn't exactly what we needed for the papers. Jean winked at me conspiratorially. "She's got a set of knockers on her I'd love to cast in bronze. If you hear me. Sweet mouthwatering nuggets. Perfectly proportioned. I thought you didn't swing that way."
"I swing howsoever I choose," I answered stiffly. "Now, I need to find the caterer to discuss the canap?s. She's a friend. Please, spare me. And you need to find your shirt and go make nice. You look like the hired help. You need to impress these people."
"Are you not impressed?" He flexed with pride. Those nipple rings were bloody huge. Admittedly I was impressed. He laughed, his sloppy hair wavering around his head in an unruly, unkempt mass of gypsy curls. This time he managed to spill most of his gin on my good shoes. "Sure, Romano, but when you're done, you send our little friend this way." He winked.
"I just may."
My little friend. I considered her my dearest friend--the closest thing to a sister I had. After the final nail had been driven into the coffin of my relationship with Shep, she'd sworn to me that she'd keep our paths separate--and I had sworn to Poppy McNamara, launched debutante and Greenwich's most likely to land the cash cow, that she could fade into obscurity in the city. She wanted to be a caterer, much to the disapproval of her silver-spooned parents, and I promised to set her up. Over the past few years she'd managed pretty well. Christ, she made five times what I did these days because she cooked as good as she looked.
I pressed forward, dodging as guests snatched delicacies from the bare-chested waiters, swilled gin and laughed without restraint--I had to presume it wasn't at the artwork.
The gallery overflowed with friends, critics, buyers and freeloaders. I could barely move. Another photographer popped by, flash flashing in my eyes, and lumbered up the stairs. His bag smacked the wall, the clod. An ugly black smear marred the wall I'd painted early in the week.
Across the hall, the North Salon was even more crammed than the room I'd come from. Inside, Pappineau's sculptures stood on simple pedestals. Each bust was constructed from a bizarre and often shimmery jigsaw of men's accessories: shoe buckles, colorful condoms, odd tie clips, cuff links, watchbands. Anything Jean Luc could lay his nimble hands on, he'd used to create the heads. They were weirdly lifelike.
With discretion, I craned my neck, hoping to spy Shep. I sipped gin and watched as faces swirled by. Where was he? Not that I knew what to do once I found him. I couldn't toss him out of New York--well my cousin Joey would know someone who could, although that wasn't the done thing, particularly since Joey was retired from crime now and was in law school. But I could damn well toss Shep from the gallery without making a scene.
A man stepped out of the restroom in a Peter Falk overcoat and a rumpled beige dress shirt. His tie was plaid flannel, and by his stance I knew he was a cop. His hair was ungodly thick. He was a tall, masculine dude with peppered five o'clock shadow and a strong jaw. His coloring spoke of Italian heritage--irises and hair as dark as my own.
There were droplets of water clinging to him. Even his eyelashes were wet. Either he'd taken a quick rinse in the men's room sink, or he'd just come in. Evidently, the drizzle hadn't stopped. It was going to be a long ride back to Brooklyn tonight.
The door closer trapped the man's coat against the frame, and he struggled to turn around. I freed him from the door and offered my hand. "Caesar Romano. And you are?"
He peered at me without expression. "Detective Dan Green."
We shook, his long fingers wrapping around my hand in a grip that was warm and firm, but not bruising. He nodded, as if he knew who I was. He probably did if he was in the gallery. Maybe he had a fondness for Jean's work? Christ, wouldn't that be something? A fan. He didn't seem the type to appreciate more than an Escher print or a tapestry of dogs playing poker. Maybe I was being unfair.
I was paid to be friendly, so I strove to be so. "Are you enjoying the show?"
He gave me an odd smile. "Which one?"
"I'm sorry, I'm only aware of one show, and that's Jean Pappineau's."
"Ah. You're not a connoisseur. Did you see all the pieces? There's another level upstairs. You don't have to purchase. Most people are here to look and to have a good time," I croaked. My throat lost all wetness again. I needed some water. I put my gin on the hall table and grabbed a gallery brochure. Handing it to him, I saw that his hands weren't only large, they were crisscrossed with white scars. He wore a ring.
He saw me notice and slowly stuffed his hands into his overcoat pockets. We weighed each other for a moment, and then he nodded at the nearest sculpture--the bust of Justin Timberlake. It was life-sized and hobbled together with silver-plated watchbands, cuff links, buckles and laces. Justin's eyes were shimmery watch faces. Swatch Swiss. The placard read: Time waits for no man.
I'd seen them all, had typed the cards and laminated them myself. Even so, I had to work to keep a straight face.
"This is...interesting." He fought a losing battle to keep his own face straight.
I needed to tread carefully. "Yes. It is a conversation piece at the very least."
We reflected wordlessly on JT as the waiters and the gallery guests swarmed the hall. The music seemed overly loud all of a sudden.
Brandon paraded past, striding into the kitchen, his ass swishing in tailored tux pants. He must be out of something at the bar. Detective Green surveyed him silently until the swinging door swung shut. "You always make your staff serve naked?"
"He's hardly naked. He's a model. I don't think Brandon, or any of the other men, will catch a chill wandering around semi-clothed. They're fairly seasoned. And it's a good gig for them because of the press. My caterer and I thought the naked chests of the models would counter balance the ornamental and stylized busts Pappineau created for this exhibit." Actually that was true.
The detective was anything but convinced. "It's not a health-code violation?"
"Is Hooters, Detective?"
He gave me a tight smile and let it go. "You're right. I guess I'd rather be at Hooters."
No kidding. "Well the gin here is free. If you'll excuse me, I need to speak with the caterer. Nice to have met you."
"Wait." He stopped me with a fast move, his spread hand landing a mere two inches from my chest. He was a big strapping guy and his action startled me. I froze, eyes wide. What the hell? We'd said everything that needed saying, what was his problem?
He cleared his throat, dropped his hand. "So. What exactly do you do here, Mr. Romano? I'm curious."
"Well, in a perfect world, I see to the caterer--which is what I need to do right now," I said curtly. "My job is to keep everyone happy and out of trouble. Is there something I can help you with?"
"I'm just interested. You greet the guests by name, and you seem to be the one running the show."
He was watching me? Unsettled, I distanced myself by taking a step toward the kitchen. "Yes. That's often the case. My job is to make sure Peter looks good, that the pieces sell, the evening runs smoothly, and to know everyone here by name--except the gatecrashers, of course." I gave him an innocent look.
"I'm here with a friend," he said smoothly.
No way. He'd walked in for the free food. "Well. I hope you're both having a nice evening. If you'll excuse me, I really do need to check with the caterer."
"Is she a friend of yours? The Posh Nosh chick? Do you work with her frequently? I understand she's in and out of galleries all over the city."
I stilled at the too-inquisitive gaze of the frumpy detective. "Yes. Poppy and I went to school together." What a strange conversation. He was pumping me...like a cop. Maybe it wasn't that odd, but I was immediately defensive. "I can give you her card if you're planning a party, Detective." I dismissed him. "Have a good evening."
"I understand." He glanced around the packed hallway. "Maybe we could talk later this evening, if you're free?"
I blinked. Holy hell. The light dawned and suddenly his behavior made sense: the dude was hitting on me. This was a gallery first. I glanced down at the spiffy new blazer Joey had found for me in the garment district. I must look like a sure thing. I gave the cop a once-over beginning with his scuffed loafers, working my way up the surprisingly fit body beneath those rumpled clothes and ending with the strong lines of his face. Was he gay? He stared unflinchingly back, his gaze level. His eyes grew darker as the space between us narrowed and heat flooded my face. I couldn't decide who was acting more rudely inappropriate at that second.
A waiter flew through the door, and whatever passed between us evaporated. "Perhaps...uhm...another time." I extricated myself from the detective with alacrity.
"Sure." He handed me his card, which I took knowing I'd toss it, and then he nodded again and I walked away. I felt him watch me, my skin prickling as we parted. Hit on. At a show, no less. I'd be far more amused if Shep wasn't trolling the hallways like the ghost of lovers past.
I swung around. My boss floated down the stairwell, his tux neat, his silver hair gelled into submission, his Gucci shoes freshly shined and reflective under the down lights. Suave, dapper, tall and trim, Peter was everything gentlemanly and correct. He had the usual hangers-on hanging on, and he was deep into his moment, as was the entourage. They nodded politely. I nodded back. It was all quite civil. We knew each other by day, but tonight I needed to mind my place. I was merely Peter's darkly attractive assistant.
"There you are."
As if I was the one sequestered on the plush second floor, surrounded by gushing pseudo celebrities and a bevy of beefy half-dressed waiters--no, I was the one manning the floor. Which was actually my job, so I adjusted my attitude appropriately. "Peter. Yes. You've found me. Clever of you."
"Now, Caesar, don't make a puss."
I swallowed and croaked, "How can I help you?"
"There are some interested people on the second floor. You need to send Jean Luc upstairs."
"I don't think that's a good idea."
Peter came in close, and I forced myself not to rear back. Had he reapplied his cologne with a goddamn ladle? My sinuses clogged with sandalwood and...my nose tingled. Was that Noxzema?
Peter went on. "What a crowd. We'll be in the art section on Sunday, I'm sure. Peter Stuhlmann Gallery art show a bust."
"I don't think that's actually the headline we want."
He clapped me on the shoulder, and I took a breath through my mouth. I let him continue congratulating himself--pretty much an established pattern of his. "We've done it. I'd give myself a raise, but that's not necessary."
"You could always give me one."
"What's wrong with your voice? You sound like Colleen Dewhurst." The entourage tittered.
"I had an incident." I swallowed more gin. I needed to find a Perrier before I fell down. A waiter came by with a tray of chicken satay, which I declined. Peter took two. Armed with skewered poultry, he entered the North Salon brandishing his treats. He gave a hearty, "Ah-ha! There's the man of the hour."
I really needed to keep those two from making a scene. From the corner of my eye I noticed Detective Dan swiping a crab-stuffed mushroom cap from a silver tray. Then the kitchen door swung and I caught a glimpse of silver-blonde hair. Poppy. She was in the kitchen, where she damn well belonged. I spun and banged through the door.
Inside, the kitchen was a hive of activity. Waiters dumped glasses into the dishwasher and flew out of the swinging door brandishing refilled platters. Poppy frantically assembled hors d'oeuvres in decorative fantails on silver trays. Her platinum hair was neatly held in place by her customary headband--this one a soft periwinkle blue that matched both her dress and her eyes. In a white apron she looked deceptively innocent, like Alice in Wonderland.
Brandon stood with the fridge door open rifling for something. He dug out a Diet Coke. Poppy's assistant Rachel--I had no idea what she was doing, but it appeared she was hitting the warming oven with a wrench. She squawked. "Why won't this goddamn thing work?"
Poppy handed a tray off as another waiter came in and deposited an empty in the lineup. "I don't know, but you've got to figure it out."
Rachel blew out a breath and opened the oven door. "I told you we needed a new one. Did you listen? No." She turned the entire appliance around on its casters and contemplated the back thoughtfully. "Let's just serve all the hot stuff at once and then finish with dessert."
"Then get your ass over here and start loading trays. You may have to serve too."
"Well, I'll need to find some other shoes." We all stared at her stacked four-inch Mary Janes. "These are a bit tall."
I elbowed Brandon aside and grabbed a Perrier. "Poppy."
She didn't even pause. "Not now, Ce, I'm busy. You're so lucky I love you, because this is insane. No more freebies. Unless you're stripping down to serve?" She stopped cold and shot me a cunning smile. "You know, you could. You're tight. Who doesn't like a good-looking paesan with a little chest hair? And that would be a huge help. The warmer is done for and all this food will be cold before we can feed the masses. You didn't tell me it was going to be a damn crush."
The waiters were giving me a skeptical once-over. Rachel did as well. She eyed me cutely. Chesty and sweet, she reminded me of Betty Boop, more so when she opened her mouth. "Really? He seems scrawny. Take your shirt off, Ce. I wanna see your abs. We're having a crisis and this could lighten the mood."
"No. What the hell is going on, Poppy? Shep's here."
"You need to put the liquor down because he's not here. He's out celebrating. That pilot got picked up last week. Some...kid's show or something, and he and his people went clubbing. Can you either help or leave? Please? I'm not digging this. You're stressing me."
I took a sip of my drink and watched Miss Poppy. She did seem flustered. The waiters were staring between the two of us. Even Rachel went silent. "He's here. He's in the other room wandering around with Andre the hand model, and he's practically swimming in gin."
Poppy shrieked at the help, "Pick up a goddamn tray and get your tight asses back to work. I don't pay you to look pretty." They dove for the food and flew through the door. "Are there any more trays?"
"See if he's here. Text him and tell him to leave."
"Fine. I'll check. Rachel, load these. And you. Brandon. What the hell are you doing? Get the eff out there to the bar."
"Just here for some limes, chief." Brandon industriously located a plastic bin from the refrigerator then skipped back out the door.
"He's a good egg, but I think he's getting too old for this thing anymore. He's forty-five."
"Poppy. Goddamn it," I snapped. "I can't concentrate with Shep wandering around. He's a distraction and he's macking on the help."
"Fine. He's not here, though. I'm telling you." She brushed her hands off on her apron, reached in to the pocket and found her tiny pink cell phone. "Just hold on and calm thyself down."
I stuffed a chunk of lime into my Perrier bottle and took a sip. It burned. Oh God. Maybe I had abraded my throat.
The door swung on its hinge again as another waiter flew in. From the door I could see Sheppard answering his text. He'd taken his sweater off. Apparently, he hadn't seen the need for an undershirt. "Oh my God. He's half naked."
My horror must have radiated from the kitchen. He glanced up and our eyes met. One corner of his mouth hitched, and he winked--like we were having some kind of private moment or an intimate joke. But there was nothing funny about this. Shep smiled as a slinky young woman slid her arm around his trim hips and the door closed.
"Oops," Poppy muttered. "Yeah. That's Shep, all right. What the hell?"
I flew out of the kitchen, the door banging against the freshly painted wall, my fists clenched, my ass clenched, and my jaw--you guessed it--clenched. I heard Poppy say, "Well that popped his cork. Did you see that, Rach?"
Shep stood there waiting for me, smiling like a goon and nonchalantly sipping his gin. His chest was orange, but beautiful. Sculpted by a true artist--or paid for by Shep. He must have a personal trainer these days. That pissed me off more. I was living in my nana's guestroom eating Pop Tarts and my dad's pizza pie four days a week, and Shep McNamara had hit the big time. He'd landed the breakthrough role at twenty-eight. What was he doing here? No doubt rubbing my nose in his latest success.
My manly vigor went unnoticed by everyone except Rach and Poppy. The hall on my end was remarkably empty. Not a good sign. Peter and Jean must be in the South Salon where, had the fire marshal been invited, we'd be running into a problem with room capacity. There were easily over a hundred people squished in that room, and more spilled into the hall behind Shep and into the North Salon. What the hell was going on? Maybe Jean Luc was offering an impromptu discourse on sculpture? Not likely.
I arrived ready to blast my ex, but behind him, Jean Pappineau wasn't lecturing unintelligibly about the integrity of his art.
Everyone in the room was topless. The men were at any rate. For many, this was a poorly conceived plan.
Shep waited for me to react to what I now saw was his vie for my attention--honest to God, why?--while, utterly distracted, I prayed no one had lost more clothing. Jesus. This could be a full-fledged disaster. The room was flashing with the white light of flash bulbs and the music was now much too loud and not at all appropriate for the event. Were we listening to...Biggie Smalls? Cringing, I searched for the detective. I wasn't sure if this constituted public indecency--technically Jean still had his skimpy black briefs on, and they couldn't begin to cover what God had quite unjustly been damned generous with.
I caught Dan Green's dark stare from across the room. He leaned against the far wall, his brawny arms folded across his equally brawny chest. His coat was gone, and in his left hand he held a colorless cocktail garnished with olives. His sole focus was on me--not Jean and his ass-hugging undershorts, not the shirtless guests or the equally bare waiters, and certainly not on the pumping bass or the free food. He was watching me with sharp-eyed intensity. His brow lifted and heat crawled up my neck. I'd have to wear this blazer more often.