Tonight he finally lost his power to control the lust he felt toward her, and now, he had her. His woman…No, he thought, just her body. That’s all I want. No emotions, no entanglements…
He ran his hand slowly up Janie’s jean-clad thigh and breathed in deep.
“Fuck,” he sighed out loud. He was in trouble.
Lyla nursed the last of her drink and tried to push the mystery man with his whisky-laced voice and his leathery, cedar scent out of her mind. Danny came back to the bar to regale her with disgusting stories of bathroom horror. Laughing hysterically, she dipped her head, covered her eyes, and begged him to stop the torture.
“Ew! Stop! You’re gonna make me pee myself,” she squealed. “Then your poor staff is going to have another mess to deal with. Plus, I would never be able to show my face in here again!”
Danny’s expression went from relaxed to tense in a blink. “Oh, honey, don’t ever say that. You and Janie are like family now. Go ahead and pee on the floor! I won’t care. In fact, after we’re all done laughing at you, we will bronze the spot!”
Lyla knew that Danny and his wife Julie had tried for years to have children unsuccessfully. They treated their employees like family, and she and Janie, in the few short months, had become like surrogate daughters to the couple.
“Thanks, Danny. You know that means the world to me…especially since I don’t really…” She didn’t finish her sentence.
“Yeah, and you have ADD when it comes to men.” He effectively changed the subject without any sense of how he got from point A to point B.
She lifted her eyebrows, ready with a sassy comeback, but it wouldn’t come out of her mouth. Because he was right. Lyla could practically choose her sexual partner any night of the week. But sex is where she drew her line. She didn’t do commitment. Hell, she didn’t even do sleepovers. She let them use her body, and she used theirs right back. Two consenting adults—perfect.
“I don’t need anyone but Janie…and you guys, of course.” She smiled sheepishly. The truth was the thought of getting close to any one man made her physically ill. The men she had trusted in her past had not just let her down but had nearly killed her. She was no longer a full person, just a bunch of broken pieces held together with glue and hope. She didn’t want or need a man in her life. She could take care of herself. Lyla had her own money, so financial security would never be a problem for her, and she certainly didn’t want some guy thinking she was going to support his ass. She needed a man, not a boy, anyway. Someone who didn’t need constant ego stroking, who knew how to handle her body.
God, what was she thinking? That sounded like relationship talk. Hence the reason why she always stuck to the one night stands. Two nights if the sex was actually good, but no more.
Danny gave her his best fatherly smile-hug combo—at least that was what she thought it was, since she had never received one from her own father—and he whispered in her ear. “Ly, you are not an island, and you deserve so much love…so much.”
She felt her throat tighten but refused to show any emotion. While she could, and would, help people deal with their own feelings, hers were off limits. So she took a deep breath and gave him one final squeeze before letting go.
Lyla’s thoughts quickly shifted back to her best friend. It was always better to think about Janie than it was to give any headspace to her own life.
“She is such a good person. God, I hope I did the right thing.”
“Who are you talking about?” Danny asked. “You mean, Janie?”
“Shit, was I thinking out loud again? I really need to stop doing that,” she sputtered, her blue eyes bright.
“Listen, Lyla,” Danny said with what the group referred to as his ‘serious face.’ “Max has been thinking, and talking, about Janie for what feels like forever. He is a good guy no matter what he—”
Lyla interrupted. “Danny, I’m sure he’s a great guy, but what Janie needs is a good fu—”
Danny placed his hand over Lyla’s mouth. “Max is a good guy. Listen to what I am not saying. I see him as a son, so please don’t make me say it more clearly than this.” A bashful blush crept up Danny’s neck. “He will give her whatever she needs tonight. Understand?”
She looked into Danny’s pleading eyes, and with a smile as huge as the relief she was feeling, she stood up, hugged him, and said good night to the rest of the staff. They firmed up Sunday dinner plans, and she walked out to her car, parked in her special spot right by the front door.