And Tate stalked out of the locker room.
Rafe’s eyes closed. A rock bottomed out in his stomach. “Fuck.”
Guilt spiraled through him, from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, but he didn’t have time to think of the way his life had veered off course.
After dropping his gear at his apartment, Rafe grabbed a taxi to the Bellissimo, a hip, upscale hotel, restaurant, and bar.
“Have you been to the Bellissimo before?” the friendly taxi driver asked. “I hear it’s very nice.”
“I haven’t.” Rafe stared out the window, distracted by the conflict brewing inside him.
“Pretty expensive, no?”
“Very. Luckily, I’m not paying tonight.” This dinner was on the team’s dime. Rafe only had to provide the entertainment. And now he was sure as hell hoping this woman was as hot as he’d been building her up to be, because he needed a full-scale distraction tonight.
His phone pinged with a message. Rafe pulled it from the pocket of his blazer with a sigh, but when he found a text from Mia, his heart jumped to his throat.
You’re not coming? WTF? I haven’t seen you in almost a year! Frowning emoji.
Emotions whirled in his gut. Emotions Mia had been the only person, the only woman, to ever stir inside him.
He blocked those feelings and texted back: Team PR commitment. Sorry.
Really. Scowling emoji. Tate says you’re ditching us to get laid.
Anger spiked. “Tate you—”
“I’m sorry?” the taxi driver asked.
“Nothing. Just talking to myself.” He texted Mia back. Your brother is a dumb shit.
That doesn’t make him wrong. Fine, go get laid. I’m going to do the same.
A carnal image of Mia, naked, in the throes of sex, flashed in Rafe’s brain, and his blood ran so hot, sweat broke out over his upper lip. He closed his eyes, wiped a hand down his face, and groaned.
He couldn’t remember exactly what her boyfriend looked like from the last time they’d visited. Hell, he couldn’t even remember the guy’s name. Even before Rafe’s affection for Mia had grown beyond platonic, he’d liked very few of her boyfriends. But this last one…
He shook the thought from his head. It didn’t matter. His opinion didn’t matter. The fact that he wanted to be the one to fulfill her need to get laid tonight didn’t matter.
Tate didn’t tell me you brought your boyfriend with you, he texted.
That’s because I didn’t.
He lifted one brow. You’re stepping out on your starched suit?
I’m done with starch. I’m ready for something different. Very different. And I think I’ve just found it.
Rafe’s brows snapped down. What does that mean? And how could you have found anything? You just got into town.
I work fast. Gotta go.
Rafe pulled in a breath. No. But he clenched his teeth around the useless word. Dropping his head back against the seat, he covered his eyes with one hand and bit out, “Shit.”
Emotions roiled so quickly, Rafe was on the edge of insanity when the driver pulled up to the Bellissimo. When the car stopped, Rafe rolled his head toward the ornate entrance and prayed to God this woman was as ready to be fucked as he’d portrayed to his team. Because he had to get the thought of Mia doing some other guy just blocks away out of his head if he wanted to stay sane.
He paid the driver and took a minute outside the hotel, in the thirty-degree weather, to cool down and get his head on straight.
Mia was out of bounds. Off-limits. No amount of wanting her would change that fact. And this “I’m ready for something different” was surely just a phase she was going through after yet another breakup. The woman went through men like her brother put away pucks.
He forced the thoughts from his mind and walked up the marble steps toward the hotel’s entrance with the cool late spring wind whipping the edges of his blazer open. Greeting the doorman, he passed through the glass entry and sauntered into the grand lobby.
Rafe paused, slid his hands into his pants pockets, and scanned the plush sofas and chairs of the foyer. A few couples dotted the space. Off to the left, the hotel’s registration desk stretched across one wall. On the right, the bar opened up to the lobby. Already in full swing, music and chatter and laughter spilled into the space and echoed off marble.
Man, he was so not in the mood to socialize now.
Movement near a bank of elevators drew his gaze as Ashlee strolled into the lobby. Her body was even more gorgeous than her headshot. She was definitely a fifteen on the one-to-ten scale. Tall, leggy, slim, tight. She wore one of those dresses that looked like they’d been painted on. It was deep pink, starting low on her chest and ending high on her thighs. Her breasts were obviously fake, but fake tits felt just as good against his cock as real ones. Sometimes even better.