Chapter 1 – Davis
The drinks and congratulations are flowing around Club Z. My best friend Zane just found out his wife, Briar, is carrying his baby and has decided we need to celebrate. And he’s right it’s a time for celebration. They didn’t have a traditional start to their relationship, but it’s working for them. I can only hope someday, in the very far future, I’ll have what they do. But until then I’m content being me. Davis Price. Card shark. Stripper. All-around player!
You could say I play the field. But it would be a huge understatement. I don’t only play the field, I fucking own it. I’m that good. The kind of good where I only have to flash my dimples and draw on the southern charm that comes from my small town Georgia roots, and the girls come running, begging for one night with me. I’m more than happy to give them that night, and on a very rare occasions I go back for seconds. But none of them, and I mean none, turn into a relationship. I’ve never been the “boyfriend”. As we’ve already pointed out I’ve been with plenty of women, it’s just not one of them has had the honor of calling herself my girlfriend. That title comes with way too much drama for my liking, so I steer clear.
A shot and a bottle of beer is set in front of me on the bar. I down the shot and pick up the beer, but before I can take a drink I feel my cell phone vibrating in my pocket. I pull it out to find my sister calling. I hit the talk button and make my way outside so I’ll be able to hear her.
“Hey little sister.” I answer with my normal greeting.
“Hi big brother.” She answers back. I nod at the bouncers, Trey and Vin, as I pass. Then when I’m far enough into the parking lot that the music from inside is muted I ask.
“So what’s wrong?” I love talking to my sister. We’re only a year apart in age and we’ve always been close, but it’s after midnight my time so it’s after three in Georgia. She’s never up this late unless something’s wrong. I hear her sigh through the phone and it causes me to grit my teeth. My mind is in overdrive and it’s leaning more towards guy problems. I might be a player, but that doesn’t mean I allow guys to treat my sister the way I treat girls. If that preppy ass guy she’s dating did anything to hurt her I’ll be driving back to Georgia tonight to teach him a lesson.
“It’s not me.” She rushes because she knows how my mind works almost as well as I do. “It’s Dixie.”
That’s almost as bad as someone hurting her. Dixie has been my sister Dallas’ best friend practically since the moment they were born. Seriously, they were delivered just hours apart in the same hospital. To top it off Dallas’ parents lived right across the road from ours. From day one those two were attached at the hip. As my momma would say they’re two peas in a pod. So Dixie was around, a lot, which made her like family to me. She hated that because she’s always had a little crush on me. But I refused to mess around with Dixie. I’d have had to see her at too many family get togethers after it went south for it to be worth it.
“What’s wrong with Dixie?”
“Well she’s moving out your way and she needs a place to stay till she can get a job and get on her feet.” I can tell Dallas’ is leaving something out, even if I didn’t know her as well as I do. I’d be able to hear the shake in her voice. Something bad has happened with Dixie. It had to have if that girl’s moving this far away from my sister.
I lean against the closest car and run my free hand through my hair. “Dallas, what aren’t you telling me?”
“Please, Davis. It isn’t my story to tell. If Dixie wants you to know she’ll tell you herself.”
“So it was bad.” I come to my own conclusion.
“Yes.” Dallas answers on a sob.
“Is she in trouble with the law?” If she isn’t going to give me all the details I at least need to know if helping out is going to land me behind bars.
“Not in the way you’re thinking.” She responds still crying. She just gave away more information than she probably wanted to with that answer. But I won’t push her on it because I can hear how upset she is. I’ll get the whole story from Dixie when she gets here in a few days.
“Fine. She can stay with me.”
Dallas sighs in relief. “I owe you one, big brother.”
I shake my head even though she can’t see it. “I’ve told you before. Helping you out is my job as your brother, so you don’t owe me a thing.”
“Have I told you today how much I love you?”
“Seeing how it’s a new day, nope. But don’t worry I already know and I love you too.”
“Momma and Daddy miss you.” She changes the direction of the conversation.
“I miss them too. Tell them I love them and I’ll try to come visit sometime soon.” She agrees and then I get back on topic. “When should I expect my new roommate?”
“Umm…” Dallas mumbles.
“When will Dixie be here, Dallas? I need to make sure I have the apartment ready in time.”
“I’m already here.” A sultry voice with a slight southern twang calls from somewhere behind me. I straighten up and spin to find the person that voice belongs to. The woman I find leaning against the new blue Camaro is so different from the girl I remember that I honestly can’t believe it’s her. The Dixie I remember was plumper and dressed like a tomboy. But this woman is curvy in all the right spots. And has matched those curves with a cut off denim skirt, a shirt that’s more handkerchief than top, and a pair of cowboy boots. Even her formerly wild red hair, has been wrangled in and styled in some sexy loose curls. As I’m taking her in I’m also moving closer. She doesn’t say a word, just watches me. Probably waiting on my reaction.
“Dixie?” I finally let my shock leak out.
“Hi Davis.” She says forcing a smile on her face.
Remembering that Dallas is still on the phone I tell her that Dixie’s here and I’ll call her later. Then we say goodbye and both hang up. By the time the phone’s back in my pocket I’m close enough to grab Dixie into a hug and I’m just about to do that when the bruising around her right eye catches my attention. I can tell she’s tried to cover it with make-up, but there’s only so much Cover Girl can really hide. Not even thinking I reach out to touch her cheek right below the bruising. She flinches and with a shake of her head says. “Please don’t.”
I let my hand drop to my side, where it automatically clenches into a fist. I’m going to fucking kill who did this to her. I close my eyes to try to calm myself down. When I feel I have a little control I open them back up. Through a clenched jaw I tell her as gently as possible. “Tell me what happened.”
She hangs her head, letting her hair cover her face. She stays that way for several minutes before she finally lifts her head back up and I see the tears shinning in her eyes. Her voice is small when she asks. “Can we talk about it later?”
I want to push her for an explanation, but seeing her so fragile stops me so I nod my head instead. She’ll explain everything when she’s ready. I just have to be patient.
“I’m sorry to just show up like this, but Dallas insisted you wouldn’t mind.” She says as she wraps her arms around her middle. She looks fragile, so different from the strong girl I use to know. It makes me want to smash something with my fists, preferably the face of the jackass who did this to her.
“Dallas is right.” Is my only answer, because I’m still trying to calm myself down.
“I know you’re working, but do you mind if I go on to your apartment?”
I shake my head to clear the thoughts of payback. “Of course you can. Let’s go inside and I’ll get you a key and write down the directions.”
She stays anchored to the side of the Camaro. “Can I please just wait here for you?”
“Sure. I’ll only be a couple minutes.” I give in, though I’d rather her be where I can see her. I stop beside Vin and Trey before going back into the club and ask them to watch out for Dixie until I come back. They both give me a strange look, mostly because they know my reputation, but they agree. I stop behind the bar pulling out the pad of paper that Dex keeps to write drink orders on. Then I make my way to Zane’s office.
The doors closed so I knock. I can faintly hear people rushing around inside. Seems I’ve caught him and Briar in the middle of their “celebration”. After a few minutes Zane’s strained voice calls. “Come in.”
I open the door, not even trying to hide my knowing smile, and slip in to one of the empty seats in front of the desk. Zane’s sitting in his chair, sorting through papers, trying to look innocent. Though no act is going to hide that his shirt is buttoned up crooked. I look over my shoulder at Briar, who’s stretched out on the couch along the wall by the door. She’s typing away at a laptop, but her flushed face is a dead giveaway.
I turn back to Zane now fully grinning and ask. “You do realize you can’t actually start on number two while number one is still baking, right?”
A giggle slips from Briar and Zane narrows his eyes and instead of responding asks. “Do you need something?”
Scooting forward I put the pad of paper on his desk and swipe a pen out of a cup full of them. I start writing down directions to my apartment. Zane coughs to get my attention. I look up at him and he raises an eyebrow in question.
“Oh yeah. I need my spare apartment key.”
He pulls open his top desk drawer and digs out his keys. He slips my key off the ring and slides it across the desk. “Are you leaving early? You haven’t even hit the stage tonight.”
I pocket the key and then go back to writing out the directions. “Nah. Just had a bit of a surprise visit from family and she needs the key.”
“She?” Briar and Zane ask in unison.
I nod instead of responding. I’ve finished the directions now I’m reading through them to make sure they’re easy enough that she’ll understand them.
Something hits me in the head and I look down to see a crumpled piece of paper. Looking up at Zane I ask. “What the hell, Z?”
“If Dallas is in town you can take some time off. I’ll cover your dances.” Briar gasps at his offer, probably remembering the last time he danced, or as they like to remember it…their wedding night. I wave off the offer as I toss the pen back in the cup.
“No need. It’s not Dallas. I’m good to cover.” Should I take the time off? I could drive back to Georgia and kill the guy who laid his hands on Dixie. I’d have to get the full story from her first and I don’t think she’s ready to give it. I guess I’ll give her some space till she’s ready to spill, and then make the trip. Until then I continue to work.
Another wad of paper hits me in the head. I throw this one back. “Stop throwing shit at me!”
“If you’d stop spacing and answer my damn questions I wouldn’t have to.” Zane shoots back.
“What questions?” I ask confused.
Briar slips into the empty seat beside me, apparently deciding my life is more exciting than whatever was on her computer. “The question was ‘who’s the she that’s staying with you?”
“Oh. It’s Dixie.”
“Why the hell is Dixie here without Dallas?” Zane grills.
“Who’s Dixie?” Briar asks looking between the two of us.
“My sister Dallas’ best friend.” I explain.
She scrunches up her perfect face and says. “I thought you said she was family.”
“Well she’s not blood, but she might as well be. They’ve been friends since birth.”
She nods her head in understanding then repeats Zane’s earlier question. “So why’s she here without your sister?”
“Trouble back home is forcing her to relocate and since everyone else she knows is still located in Georgia I was her only option for help.” I explain the little bit I know. Maybe I shouldn’t be spilling Dixie’s secrets, but Zane and Briar are as good as family in my eyes and family helps each other. And I have a feeling I’ll need both their help with Dixie’s situation before it’s really over. Even if the only thing they help with is coming up with my bail money.
“Whose ass are we beating?” Zane growls as his hands that are laying on top the desk ball in to fists. See I told you he’s family. Because only family would risk a night in lock up to help you out.
Briar gets out of her chair and moves around the desk to sit on Zane’s lap. She rubs her hand up and down his chest, all the while whispering something in his ear. When his hands are no longer fisted on the desk, but instead resting against her soft curves I know her ploy is working. I stand up done with the interrogation and move towards the door.
Briar calls my name stopping me. “Davis?” Not dropping my hand from the door knob I look over my shoulder. She doesn’t wait for me to ask what before she continues. “You tell Dixie if she needs help with anything I’ll be there.”
“And if you need help dealing with her trouble. I got your back.” Zane adds.
I smile at Briar and give Zane a chin lift. Without a word I’m out of there and making my way back out of the bar. They know I appreciate their help no need to throw out flowery words.
Dex is standing behind the bar chatting up a couple of customers. I throw the pad of paper his way. He catches sight of it before it can hit him in the face, managing to catch it. He flips me off and I laugh the rest of the way out of the bar. That asshole is too damn slick.
My laugh dies in my throat when I walk out the exit and find Vin chatting up Dixie. He was supposed to watch out for her not make a move on her. I get the sudden urge to stomp over and stake my claim. To show the muscle bound jackass whose territory he’s crossing into. But I come crashing back to reality, remembering she isn’t mine. Never has been. I don’t claim girls. I fuck them and leave them. I don’t like these kind of urges and the only sure way I know to get rid of them is to remind myself why I love my freedom. Spending the night wrapped around some stranger should help with that. I’m long overdue for a one night stand. Hope Zane doesn’t mind me breaking his number one rule, No messing with the customers. Who am I kidding? I’ve never followed that rule to begin with.
I stride over to where Dixie and Vin are standing beside her car. I pull the key out of my pocket and hand it and the directions over to her. I give Vin a look letting him know to give us a minute alone. He smiles at Dixie and tells her. “It was nice meeting you. I hope I see you around.”
She smiles back, but knowing Dixie the way I do I know it’s her forced smile, and responds. “Thanks. You too.”
I watch him walk away and then turn my attention back to her. She’s rolling the key around her right palm, while she looks over the directions she’s holding in her left. When she looks up to find me watching her she gives me her genuine smile. “Thanks for this.”
“No thanks are needed.”
“Yeah, they are. I’m sure me staying with you is going to mess up your…” she hesitates, swallowing hard like the words she’s going to say next are hard for her. “social life.”
“Social life?” I ask confused, but then it dawns on me. “Hell no! I don’t bring women back to my apartment. If I do that they can stalk my ass when I end it and I sure as hell don’t want that.”
She shakes her head. “I see you haven’t grown up.”
I straighten my back and cross my arms against my chest. “Why should I when I’m having so much fun?”
She leans into me, placing her hand against my chest, and looking up at me with those big blue-green eyes says. “Because sometimes it’s more fun giving someone the time to show you everything they have to offer. The one night stands would never be satisfying, ever again.”
My body goes tight at her words practically screaming please show me, but my head is reminding me over and over that this is my sister’s best friend. This is Dixie. I’m not good for anything but one night stands and she deserves more than that.
As much as I hate doing it, I take a step back to dislodge her hand. She doesn’t show any disappointment, maybe because she was just trying to talk reason in to me instead of putting a move on me. With what she’s been through recently I doubt she wants to rush into another man’s arms so soon. So she must only have been trying to talk reason into me.
I change the subject. “Do you think you’ll be able to find the apartment alright?”
“Um…yeah. The directions you wrote down look pretty easy to follow.”
I uncross my arms and let them fall to my sides. “Well I better get back inside. I have to go on sometime tonight.”
“Of course. Sorry I bothered you at work.” She says as she pushes the key into her skirt pocket.
“It’s no problem. Zane doesn’t mind. And Briar said if you need help getting settled to get ahold of her.” I relay the information Briar asked me to.
“Dallas told me Zane got married. Tell Briar I’ll probably take her up on that.” I nod. She motions to the car. “Well I’ll get going. Should I leave a light on for you?”
I remember my plan to hook up tonight, feeling suddenly embarrassed I look at the ground. Rubbing the back of my neck I tell her. “Actually no. I’ll probably be out late.”
“Umm. Okay. Well I guess I’ll see you later.” I look up in time to see her getting into her car.
When she’s in the driver seat with the door firmly shut I go over and with an arm resting on the roof of the car I lean down to talk again. “Be careful. And don’t hesitate to make yourself at home. Eat all my food. Drink my beer. Clean up all my messes. You know what you’d normally do.”
“Ha! Nice try. I’ll drink your beer and eat your food, but you’re picking up your stinky socks yourself.” She shoots right back.
“I thought it was worth a shot.” I chuckle. Then telling her bye I straighten and move away from the car. I watch her pull out and head down the road. When I can no longer see her tail lights I head back towards the bar. Time to find my next one night woman.