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 Teasing Me 

Season 3

Episode 8

A hand lands on cowboy’s shoulder. “Actually, I believe she’s waiting for me.”

There. That voice. That’s Hudson. Somehow I forgot how tall he was even though it’s only been a few hours. He yanks the cowboy away from me and makes it look easy. He nods his head towards the back of the bar and suddenly a security guard is there. “Escort him out. Make sure you get his name and photo for the ban list.”

“You’re banning me?” The cowboy explodes, causing the people around us to look. Apparently wherever I go I cause scenes that make people curious. “Why?”

Hudson smiles that small, amused, smile that I saw this morning. “If you’re here you know the rules. Zero-tolerance. No means no. I think it’s pretty clear that the lady was saying no. I was standing there long enough to see you ignore her wishes more than once.”

The cowboy looks at me, mouth gaping, like I’m going to defend him. Like he thinks that this accusation is somehow ridiculous. Instead, I shrug. “I told you to stop. You didn’t. Bye now.”

I hear Hudson chuckle, though I think it’s low enough that only I hear it. Cowboy is still gaping as the security guard drags him across the dance floor. Watching him leave, ass-less pants weren’t a good choice on him. I’m sure that some women rejected him on that alone.

Hudson leans on the bar next to me, keeping a careful distance. “Are you all right?”

“It seems like you keep having to ask me that.”

He smiles. “I don’t mind, so long as you are all right.”

“I think so,” I say. “But I’m glad that you have excellent timing.” I take a moment to absorb him. He’s wearing all black, a button down and pants. And he’s wearing a simple black mask like mine. Though I don’t think anyone would have trouble picking him out even if he were wearing an obvious costume.

“I’m sorry that happened,” he says, sighing. “We really try to keep the atmosphere here safe and positive. Some bad apples always manage to slip through.”

I take a deep breath, my body relaxing, my instincts telling me that I’m safe now. “It’s not your fault. Creeps are always creeps. Though it’s nice to know he won’t ever be coming back.”

“He won’t.” His voice is all certainty.

“Good,” I say. “And I think you offered to buy me a drink this morning?”

I can see his eyes crinkle with his smile behind the mask. “I did, and seeing that you’re in my club, and you just had an unpleasant experience, I insist.”

“Wait, what? You’re the owner?” That’s why the bouncer upstairs said he was a V.I.P. And also why security came over instantly. Holy crap.

Hudson gestures for the bartender. “I’m one of them, yes. I share the ownership with two close friends.” He orders a beer and I order a martini. It’s been a while since I’ve had one, and why not.

“Well, shit. No wonder you couldn’t come out for dinner.”

“Yeah,” he says. “It might have looked bad if I hadn’t shown up to our own party.”

“Even though you’re not really in costume.”

“Neither are you,” he says, his eyes drawing down my body all the way to my toes. It has the opposite effect of the cowboy. My body heats the same way it did watching that couple on the stage, and I lean back further on the bar, letting the robe slip open a little bit more. Dressed in this costume, I feel like I can be the kind of woman that deserves him.

“I don’t know. This just seemed right.”

“Believe me,” he says, taking a sip of his beer. “I’m not complaining.”

I take a sip of my martini, and for a moment I feel like I’m looking at myself through someone else’s eyes. Decked out in an outrageous outfit, perched against a bar with the hottest man I’ve ever seen, drinking a cocktail. How is this my life? That little tagline from the business card and the website pops into my head. Be who you really are. Is this who I really am? I have no idea, but it doesn’t hurt to find out, just for the night. For tonight, I can be…somebody else. A woman of mystery who isn’t a boring girl who spends most of her evenings watching TV and editing pictures. It feels good to let that go for a bit. My heart rate spikes. I can be whoever I want.

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