“What do you do?” I ask, keeping my voice casual.
“I’m a real estate broker.” His smile turns the slightest bit smarmy again. I can tell he’s impressed with himself. Ugh. “In Beverly Hills.”
“Ah.” I look him over as discreetly as possible, not wanting him to think I’m interested. I note the perfectly cut light brown hair, the Tommy Bahama shirt, the fact that there’s not even a single line or wrinkle in his face and I’d bet big money he’s at least ten years older than me, maybe more. Probably uses Botox. And the Rolex on his wrist is ostentatious. Big and bold, with the face trimmed in diamonds.
Hmm. He may look designer, but I bet he doesn’t have much cash in his bank account. Probably in debt to his eyeballs, trying to impress any and every silly woman he meets.
“What do you do?” he asks as he rests his hand once more on my elbow, his fingers cupping my skin. When I send him a questioning look he clarifies, “For work.”
“Oh. I’m, um, in computers.” Not far from the truth. I am into computers. I just don’t get paid for it, not usually.
Well, there were those few times back in my late teens when Daddy would cut me off financially. I’d end up doing some IT jobs for people, work one of my good friends from high school would find me. I’d also secretly do some sneaky hacking work, but those jobs were few and far between because I didn’t want the trouble.
It’s one thing to be a teenager and change up your friends’ bad grades by hacking into the school’s computer system. It’s another thing entirely to fuck someone’s life up by, say, depleting the person’s bank account. Or forward that extra-sexy email from a mistress to the man’s wife. I’ve had those sorts of requests more than once but I never took them. Not from strangers, and not for money.
Once I turned twenty-one and received my trust fund, I didn’t have to worry about picking up odd jobs anymore. Now any hacking work I do is for fun.
And that’s what typically gets me into trouble.
“Beauty and brains, huh? Sounds like you’re the full package.” He runs his fingers down the length of my arm. My immediate instinct is to jerk away from his touch, but I don’t. I shouldn’t be so hung up on Max, especially since I’m the one who walked away from him. I need to focus on Russ. Pretend that he interests me.
Despite every instinct screaming inside of me to run away, I stay. I’ll give him another chance. But if he does one more thing that creeps me out, I’m gone.
“Why do men always assume if a woman is attractive, she must be dumb?” I keep my voice light as I ask the question, but I can see the quick flash of anger in his eyes.
He looks offended. “I never said you were dumb.”
“Ah, but you did say beauty and brains, as if you were surprised,” I point out.
“Well, I have to admit, I am surprised. You really are the full package. Hot. Smart.” He lets his gaze dip to my chest as he checks me out. Blatantly. The full-body disgusted shiver is hard to contain and I wonder if he notices.
Worse, I wonder if he thinks I’m shivering in anticipation. Ick.
I say nothing. I’m afraid if I open my mouth, I’ll probably insult him and piss him off. Luckily enough, he continues on with the conversation.
“So where are you from?”
“The East Coast.” I don’t want to say anything else personal. The less information I give him, the better. Glancing at my glass, I decide I’m not going to drink anymore. I need to get out of here. This guy gives me the creeps.
“My, uh, ex-wife is from Connecticut,” he offers, and I want to roll my eyes but don’t. Of course he was married. Now that I’m studying him a bit closer, I can see he has that I just got divorced and I’m on the hunt look to him.
Probably has kids, too. Most likely he cheated on his wife or he was a total workaholic or a combination of both, and they ended up involved in a nasty divorce that resulted in a horrific custody battle. And now he’s paying her alimony and child support through the nose, bitter every month as he writes out the check.
I’ve met his type before. They’re all the same. Yet here I am getting mad at his generalizations and I’m doing the same exact thing to him. I need to get over myself.
“Hmm, how nice.” I set my glass down on a nearby cocktail table and turn to smile at him. “It’s been great talking to you, but I’m afraid I have to go.”
“What’s your hurry?” Russ grabs hold of my upper arm, his fingers pressing into my skin. It’s a possessive hold that makes me uncomfortable, though I try my best to play it off.
“I’ve had a long day of too much sun. And I hurt myself yesterday, so I’m still dealing with that.” I offer him a view of my bandaged hand but he doesn’t even glance at it. His gaze is entirely focused on mine, his body looming over me, his expression serious. Too serious.
“I got you a drink,” he reminds me.
I try to withdraw from his hold but he tightens his fingers. “And I thanked you for it.”
“It’s not like you have any other plans. You’re here alone, right?” He glances around as if wanting to make sure no one’s paying us any mind, and I’m sure no one is. The place is packed, the music loud. Everyone’s in their own little world and I’m stuck with a creep who looks like he wants to maul me. And not in a good way, either.