Introducing a brand new, erotic romcom standalone, STRIPPED BARE, coming June 21st. Read the first THREE chapters today! Pre-order links are at the end.
Note: These chapters are unproofed and content may change before publication.
“I don't want to see a bunch of naked penises writhing at me!”
My best friend's words slid right over my head, but their meaning didn't: Taking my virgin best friend to Las Vegas for her bachelorette party might not have been the greatest idea.
All right. “Might not have been the greatest idea” was a total understatement. Las Vegas was the worst idea I'd ever had, mostly because the entire plan was a night at a strip club. On the Strip. Strippers on the Strip. Pole-dancing, hip-grinding, booty-shaking male strippers.
It was proving to be pretty damn hard convincing her to go.
“Since when were penises not naked?” Jaz snorted, putting her mascara wand down and flipping her jet-black hair over her shoulder. “They're not usually suited and booted with a bow tie, Al.”
My blond best friend and bride-to-be pouted glossy, pink lips and crossed her arms in annoyance. “I know that. I'm not a total virgin. I just... I don't know. I didn't know a cock fest was on the agenda.” She punctuated that with a dark look at me, but her heart wasn't in it.
Allie’s trying to be angry at me was like trying to be angry at a puppy. It was literally impossible. That's what twenty-four years of being attached at the hip will do to you.
“It’s your bachelorette party! What did you expect me to do? Buy you pajamas and fluffy socks for a slumber party?” I raised my eyebrows and handed her a glass of the Long Island Iced Tea I'd just finished shaking.
Yeah—we'd brought our own alcohol. We were...resourceful that way.
Plus, all of my cash may or may not have been in one-dollar bills, and I didn't want to check out the next day and find I had eight hundred dollars of alcohol on my bill.
Not that I'd found myself there before. Just, you know. Hypothetically.
“Allie, it's just a strip club,” Lucie reasoned, taking her glass from me. She tucked her dark-brown hair behind her ear, and not for the first time, I found myself mildly amused that, with my fiery, auburn hair, we were like a walking Pantene advertisement or something. “Besides,” she added, sipping on the cocktail. “It's not gonna hurt you to see some real-time peen.”
Twenty-seven years old or not, Allie had decided at fifteen—after a disastrous blow job incident when her mom had walked in on her—that she wasn't going to have sex until marriage. Her fiancé, Joe, was a reformed Christian and a supposedly born-again virgin, and I respected that, but lord... The girl needed a bit of peen in her life.
It was a wonder we were best friends at all.
“You guys act like I've never seen a cock before. I've seen a lot of cocks. I've touched a lot of cocks. I just don't want to see or touch...stripper cocks.” She shuddered as she spoke and then took a long drink through her straw. “Who knows where they've been?”
“Inside their tighty-whiteys, ready to play peekaboo for a good portion of my life savings?” I offered, fighting the smile my lips were threatening to form.
“I have no idea how I've tolerated you for this long.” Allie sighed and put her glass down.
“Because she's the crazy to your straitjacket?” Jaz suggested, pulling three pairs of heels out of her suitcase.
“The one-click to your Amazon?” Lucie added cheerfully.
“The smut book to your Kindle?”
“The bra to your boobs?”
“All right, all right,” Allie grumbled and picked her glass right back up. “These are strong. If I didn't know better, I'd say you're trying to get me drunk, Mia.”
I whistled low and turned around to check out Jaz's shoes. She had the best shoes known to man, and god only knows where she freakin' found them. She's the ultimate shoe hunter. She could make a career out of that shit.
Meanwhile, I wasn't even going to dignify Allie's comment with a response—honestly, she should have known I was damn well trying to get her drunk.
All right, so maybe the cocktails were a little stronger than I’d intended, but since we hadn't even left the room yet and we were already fighting about the club, it's not a bad thing. She was gonna need to be a little giggly—as in sober enough to walk but drunk enough to forget the plan.
“You know Joe's gonna be going to one, right?” Lucie slid her gaze over to Allie. “It's pretty much a given for most guys. Or one will be brought to him.”
I put one of Jaz's red shoes down and moved to my own. The red-soled, pointed Louboutins were born of the devil, but good lord, they looked like heaven when they were on. They'd also gotten me my current job and let me keep it, so I was pretty sure my baby toes had finally come to an agreement with them.
My friends all thought I was crazy for wearing those things for a minimum of five days a week, but I called it love. And made the shoes promise to never, ever break on me, because it had taken me forever and a day to break them in.
“If Darren is in charge, they'll strip-club hop until five in the morning,” I reminded her.
“You said his name without spitting. I'm impressed.” Allie had skipped right over the club thing. Maybe that drink was hitting her already...
“I'm a mature adult.” I slammed both of my shoes down on the table. “I can speak about my ex-boyfriend without wanting to scoop his balls out with a potato masher.” Just.
“You sure about that? 'Cause, now, I'm more worried about taking you to a strip club than getting her out the door,” Jaz said, one scarlet-red heel hanging off her finger while she pointed between me and Allie.
“Look.” I gripped my glass a little too tightly, feeling the familiar buzz of frustration that zinged to life whenever my cheating son-of-a-bitch ex was mentioned. “This is one wedding where the maid of honor isn't gonna get it on with the best man, because she's already been there, done it, and got the 'fuck you, heart' T-shirt. So let me have tonight, will ya? I'm not getting it on the wedding night because I'm gonna be sitting by my phone, waiting for somebody to call me.”
Allie's cheeks flushed bright red. “I'm not going to call you right after I lose my virginity to my husband!”
“Uh... Yeah... You will. You're gonna call me and ask me why the hell you waited so long. You know...once you've forgotten that it kinda hurts.”
“Mia!” Jaz gasped. “You can't tell her that!”
“Sure I can! It's practically in the Best Friend Code of Ethics. It's my responsibility to make sure she's prepared for that night, and if that means telling her that her taco might get a crack, that's what I'm gonna do.”
“My taco might get a crack?” Allie half screeched. “The hell kinda explanation is that?”
“Oh, Allie.” I turned to her and sighed heavily, gently waving my glass. “It's a polite way to tell you that's it gonna hurt like a motherfucking bitch.”
“There we go. Break it to her gently, why don't you?” Lucie rolled her eyes and took a new, full glass of Long Island Iced Tea to Allie. “Drink this. With any luck, you'll forget her crap by tomorrow morning.”
“My crap? I take offense at that. You can't tell me it didn't hurt when you lost your V-card.”
“No idea,” she replied as she perched on the edge of the bed, her light-brown eyes lifting to meet mine. “I was crammed into the back seat of a Corolla and uncomfortable enough without thinking about the pain my vagina might have been experiencing.”
“A Corolla? Really?” Allie asked, her nose wrinkled.
Lucie shrugged a shoulder. “Junior prom. Where else was I gonna lose it?”
“In a bed. Like normal people,” Jaz fired at her, buckling one of her heels at her ankle before sitting up straight.
“You lost it on your dad's sofa.” Allie frowned delicately. “And I know for a fact Mia lost it in a tent when we went camping the summer before senior year.”
I groaned and covered my face with my hand. Why'd she have to go and bring that up? She knew how I felt about that awful night.
“How did we go from convincing Allie to go to strip club to the worst two and a half minutes of my entire life?”
“Two and a half minutes?” Jaz snorted. “You lucky duck.”
“Lucky? How is it lucky? He screwed me like he was a drill and I was a solid-brick wall. Then I hit my head on a rock I didn't know was in the tent. I still have freaking nightmares about it.”
“I had ten minutes of relentless pounding that felt like he was trying to break into Fort Knox via my cervix,” she said dryly, grabbing her glass. “I was thirty seconds away from calling the FBI to report an attempted break-in when I clenched, yelled, and he finally came.”
“You're all insane.” Allie sighed and ran her hand through her sleek, blond hair, messing it up.
Yep. She was getting drunk.
“If she's messing up her hair already, does that mean she's tipsy enough that we can go?” Lucie asked hopefully. “Because I've got a clutch full of ones ready and waiting.”
“No!” Jaz exclaimed. “Wait!” She grabbed her case and pulled out a hot-pink sash from the top. Then she shoved it in Allie's direction, a big grin on her face. “You've gotta look the part.”
Allie's eyes widened as she took in the bright pink satin sash. “No. I'm not wearing that.”
“And? Your cheeks are gonna be too the second one of the