“Okay then. Fill this out, please.”

I scrawl a fake name and address on the clipboard that’s handed to me, then push it back at the clerk.

The guy doesn’t ask for ID, or even read what I wrote on the sheet. He barely spares me a second look before giving me a key. This hotel is so outdated it doesn’t even use keycards. I stare at the key, which is hanging from a red plastic keychain. Classy.

Two minutes later, I get off on the third floor and breathe in the scent of potpourri and lemon cleaner.

The hotel isn’t the type of accommodation I’m used to, but for once I don’t care that the carpet beneath my black boots is frayed or that the doors lining the narrow corridor are in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint.

I let myself into Room 312. I don’t bother turning on the light, just let my gaze adjust to the darkness and zero in on the double bed in the center of the room. Within seconds, my boots are off. T-shirt and leather jacket are tossed on the armchair. Jeans and boxers lie on the carpet.

All I care about is sleep. No phones. No agents and managers and publicists. No reporters or photographers.

Just. Fucking. Sleep.



My steps are unusually bouncy as I hurry down the street. Normally my feet kill after a shift at the Olive, especially on Friday nights, but the only part of my body that aches right now is the spot between my legs.

I’m going to have sex.

Hell to the yeah.

I don’t care if it’s pathetic. So what if my only source of sexual gratification are my infrequent hookups with Tony? Relationships require too much effort, whereas the only effort I have to make with Tony is unzipping his pants. Relationships drain you—with Tony, I’m only drained after the third or fourth orgasm.

And he never makes demands on me, monopolizes my time, or acts like being a workaholic is some horrible crime. He works as hard as I do, which officially makes him the perfect man to get involved with.

I dodge a group of teenagers loitering on the sidewalk, then wave at the hot dog vendor I pass every day on the way to work. My apartment is only a few blocks from the bar, but Tony and I avoid going there. We always meet in a hotel, where we can have fun all night long and then go our separate ways in the morning.

Another perk—not sharing an awkward breakfast together the morning after.

I reach the Lester Hotel a few minutes later. I head straight for the counter and request the key for Room 312. The clerk, a very scrawny, very bored-looking guy, replies in a monotone that the room is already occupied.

“I know. He’s expecting me,” I answer, my cheeks warming slightly. “There should be a spare key for me. Maggie Reilly? Do you need to see ID?”

“Nah.” The guy turns around and stares at the dozens of keys hanging off the hooks on the wall, then plucks one with his long, bony fingers.

Thanking the kid, I make my way to the elevator. Tony and I have visited the Lester before, so I know my way around and find the room quickly. My breasts grow heavy as I stick the key in the lock. God, I need this. With exams coming up in a few weeks, not to mention the billiards tournament the bar is holding next month, soon I’m going to be up to my eyeballs in work.

If I want to play, tonight’s it.

As I let myself into the room, I’m instantly engulfed by shadows. I blink and wait for my eyes to focus, while trying to figure out the reason for the dead silence hanging over the room. No, wait, not dead silence. My ears perk as the sound of light breathing floats from the direction of the bed.

“Oh, don’t do this to me, Anthony,” I chide softly, dropping my purse on the table beside me and turning to lock the door. “I see you three times a year, at least have the decency to stay awake.”

No response.

A slow grin spreads over my mouth as I take another step forward. I’m tempted to flick on the lights and maybe stomp my foot to jar Tony from his slumber, but that wouldn’t be fun, would it?

Instead, I reach for the hem of my T-shirt and pull the material over my head. I unhook my lacy bra. It falls onto the carpet, followed by my short denim skirt, skimpy panties and the heels on my feet.

I shiver when the cool air meets my naked skin. Then I creep toward the edge of the bed, still grinning.

“C’mon, Tony,” I murmur, “you only flew in from Aruba. Don’t plead jet lag.”

I’m answered by a husky male groan.

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