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Full of Fire

People call me feisty. They also call me an introvert. But one thing I’ve never told anyone? I’m unsettled. As in, I don’t feel comfortable anywhere I go. 

This is why it doesn't make any sense when a womanizing club-owner waltzes into my life and I feel more at home with him than any place I’ve ever been. 

Xavier and I shouldn't have met, we shouldn't be attracted to one another, and we definitely shouldn’t be falling in love. He’s experienced and worldly, and has the notches on his bedpost to prove it. But then the door to his past opens wide, and out tumbles something I never saw coming. 

And his past? It’s angry.

Excerpt:

This was a bad idea. "What if Gigi forgot? What if I go up there and look like the idiot I am for thinking I belong in a place like this? No way." I shake my head.

Jessica sighs and glares at me with exasperation before she marches off toward Townsend, the line, and the two big guys who will laugh me out of The Martin. 

I hurry after Jessica to stop her, but she already has the attention of one of the guys. I show up just in time to hear her say my name and tell him I’m on the list, courtesy of Gigi. 

He grabs the list and looks it over. His eyes pause momentarily, then he nods and unlocks the velvet rope. "Go on in ladies. Gigi is in the sky tonight, but she has you reserved at table six. Have fun and happy birthday."

I'm stunned into silence, but thankfully my best friend has a working brain. 

"Thank you." She smiles sincerely at the man and pulls me into the club. 

The music is thumping in my chest the second we walk in. It’s dark, but there are blue, yellow, and pink lights coming from all over the place. And there are so many people that we have to squeeze by them as we make our way in. 

"Look for table six," Jessica yells. Thankfully I can read her lips, because I sure as hell can't hear her. 

We spot a reserved sign on a table and slowly make our way through the writhing bodies. I follow Jess up two stairs and into the reserved area, a u-shaped white leather couch surrounding a glass table.  

"It's for us!" Jessica squeals, plucking a handwritten note off the table and handing it to me. 

I read it aloud. "Happy Birthday Lila, xoxo Gigi and the Townsend Girls." Wow, this person is really going above and beyond to make sure I celebrate my birthday. 

"Ladies, hello." A women in a tank top and hot pants takes both steps up and smiles sweetly at us. She leans into me and yells in my ear. "Happy birthday, Lila. I'm Serena. Don't worry about anything tonight. As Gigi's special guests, everything is on the house. She said to start you off with this." Serena sets down an ice bucket and two glasses I didn't even notice she was carrying. With a flourish she pulls the bottle out of the ice and effortlessly pops the cork. 

"I hope you enjoy your evening.” Serena fills our glasses. "Don’t hesitate to ask me for anything." She replaces the bottle back in the ice and retreats with a smile. 

Eyes wide, I look at Jessica. Her face mirrors mine. "Holy shit!" we yell in unison. 

We both settle onto the couch, and I pick up the glasses and hand one to Jessica. 

"Cheers!" We clink glasses. Tentatively I try the champagne. 

Oh. My. Gosh. It's delicious. Why have I never had this before? Eagerly I take another sip. The crisp taste and the effervescence are delectable.  

A thought occurs to me. I turn to Jessica, who is already dancing from a seated position. I cup my hand and yell into her ear. 

"What did the door guy mean when he said Gigi was in the sky?" 

We both look up, and I see exactly what he meant. Are those cages? 

On the wall opposite our table are three boxes, spaced evenly apart. They have bars on them like jail cells, and inside girls are dancing, one per box. And the one with red hair is none other than Gigi.   

I take another sip of the champagne, trying not to gape at the cage dancers. No big deal. I see this stuff all the time.

"The middle one is Gigi." I yell to Jessica. 

"Wow," mouthes Jessica. "She can dance."

I watch her for a minute as I sip my champagne. The music is hypnotic, and I find myself moving my shoulders, just a little. 

"Excuse me, are you the birthday girl?" 

The voice is a yell, coming from behind me. I turn around and find myself looking right into the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen, even greener than my own. His hair is dark, styled perfectly in that crisp and clean way, and his jaw is strong and angled. Suddenly my heart is pounding, my skin pulsing with electricity. Who the hell is this man?

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