Daniel’s chair scraped back, snapping him out of his thoughts. “She’s here.”
“Thank God,” he and Hayden muttered at the same time, followed by a mutual eye-roll.
Brent stood, unable to stop his sigh of relief when he saw Story walking toward them wearing a huge smile and waving in their direction. Daniel lifted her into a bear hug, then sat her down on his lap. Two months later, Brent could still hardly believe how fast and hard his womanizing best friend had fallen. If he wasn’t so damn happy for the guy, he would have groaned at the way Daniel couldn’t stop staring at the sunny, fedora-wearing blonde perched on his lap.
“You guys like the hat I bought on the way here?” Story looked between the guys and Hayden. “Am I hat girl?”
Hayden tilted her head. “You could definitely be hat girl. I’d like to see more options, though. Top hat, beanie…maybe the kind with the spinner on top?”
“A Mets hat,” Brent interjected.
Story laughed and stroked the back of Daniel’s neck. “So what are we doing tonight? Mexican food? I could drink my weight in sangria—”
Daniel shook his head, “My place.”
“Already? I just got here.” Story looked surprised, but when Daniel whispered something against her ear, she took a shaky breath and nodded. “Your place it is.”
“Brent, Matt, can you—” Daniel started.
“Don’t worry.” Brent gave Hayden a slow grin. “I’ll make sure Ms. Winstead gets home.”
Daniel didn’t wait for a response, taking Story’s hand and dragging her from the bar.
“Bye, guys!” Story called over her shoulder.
Hayden gave her friend a halfhearted salute, then refocused on Brent. “I’m not letting you drive me anywhere. You’ve been drinking.”
Brent held up the bottle so she could see the label. “Nonalcoholic.” He barely contained his laughter when her chin only went up another notch. “I don’t drink during the week.”
“Lucky me,” she said under her breath.
“That would be the plan.”
Hayden’s eyes widened as he tossed her words back in her face, right in front of Matt.
Matt not-so-discreetly checked his watch. “Damn, would you look at the time?” He pushed back his chair, then followed in Daniel and Story’s wake. “Try not to kill each other. I like this place.”
“You ready to call it a night, too?” Brent picked up his fresh beer and winked at Hayden. “Or do you want to keep going?”
“Call it a night?” She tossed her hair back over one shoulder. “We’re only getting started.”
For the first time in history, she and Brent were alone. Voluntarily, that is. Normally at this stage, they would flee each other’s presence without bothering to make an excuse. Unless you counted a certain obscene gesture as an excuse.
Hayden’s pulse accelerated as Brent rose to his full height and rounded the table to occupy the chair beside her. Why were her palms sweating? They were only playing a game. Any minute now, Brent would give in and she’d be free to strut out of Quincy’s, reveling in her victory. That hot look in his eye, the one that continued to dip and linger on her exposed neckline, was all for show.
When he draped an arm over the back of her chair and leaned in close, she ignored the flutter in her stomach. It had to be the wine. Brent Mason did not give her flutters. He only gave her hives.
“So tell me,” he started, his voice taking on a deeper tone. “Assuming we didn’t make it to your professionally decorated bedroom, how far would we make it?”
She doused a flare of annoyance. He never let her forget her status, not for a second. Or that she’d done so little to earn it. “Something tells me a man like you can’t hold out long enough to make it past the entryway. Just wham-bam, let me get back to playing Grand Theft Auto, ma’am.”
“I prefer Halo,” Brent said in a tight voice. “And let’s be honest. The real reason you don’t want me in your bed is because I’ll sully your lily-white sheets.”
Okay, that stung a little. It had been a while since her sheets were sullied, but he didn’t know that. His comment proved he thought of her as a cold fish, too focused on appearances to feel anything, sexually or otherwise. Especially for a man without an exorbitant bank account.
No way would she back down now. It would have to be him.
It suddenly became clear how to accomplish that end. A caveman like Brent would need to be the aggressor in bed, no doubt. She would lay odds that he would cling to that macho image with both hands. Hayden almost laughed out loud. He wouldn’t be able to cling on to much of anything with both hands secured behind his back.