I’ve jumped into the story and grabbed some time with Elliot, Bain, and Mike before they get down to brass tacks. And before Elliot ever lays eyes on Diesel…
Tucked in the back corner of Rosie O’Grady’s, Elliot is anxiously awaiting the arrival of his dinner guests, the keepers of Eden. From the bar, I can see how restless he is, clearly anxious for this meeting. I feel bad, but he is adorable when he’s bent out of shape. I leave my seat at the bar and walk toward a man so engrossed in his thoughts, he doesn’t see me until I’m next to him.
“Hello, stranger. Buy a girl a drink?”
He jumps, ripped from his ruminations. A scowl crosses his face before he realizes it’s me. His tension eases once he is focused on me and no longer chasing the scenarios flying through his head. He leans back and shoves a hand roughly through that unruly tangle of brown and red before signaling to the waiter. He’s not cracked so much as a smirk, I hope I’m not in for a public execution for this one.
“Merlot, Miss Malone?”
“Today and every day, Elliot.”
He orders, his British lit warming me as his tongue curls around the simplest of words.
The waiter leaves and, true to form, I pounce. “Okay, spill it. You look like you’re ready to heave your lunch.”
His irritation is back, accompanied by an eye roll and derisive snort. “How could I not be ready to throw up? This job means everything. I don’t get access to Eden, I’m screwed. Who are these guys I’m meeting with?”
Yikes. “They are the owners of Eden.” As I sip my drink, his eyes implore me to elaborate. “They don’t bite, Elliot.”
“And Diesel? Will he be here tonight?”
He? “Of course. Isn’t that why you’re here? To talk about your assignment with Diesel? That’s what Bain said, right?”
“Is that who I met today? The beast that almost slammed the door in my face?” He takes a drink before glaring at me. “He almost tossed me out on my ass.”
I do my best to cover the giggle, but Elliot’s eyes narrow, clearly irritated with me. “Bain struggles with pleasantries sometimes. He’s the walking embodiment of bull in a china shop.”
“Well, he can be a crackpot for all I care, I need to talk to Diesel and seal this deal.”
“And if you don’t?”
He huffs. The frustration is back, creasing his forehead. “I’m out of a job. My boss, who I’m convinced is Lucifer’s girlfriend, has me by the balls. No Diesel, no story, no job. I like my apartment and I’m a big fan of eating.”
Elliot is so freakin’ cute when he’s irritated. He makes me want to wrap him up and smooch the grouchy away. He really is too handsome to be irritable. I reach across the table and cover his hand with mine, offering an encouraging squeeze. “Elliot, have a little confidence.”
He traps my hand between both of his before popping an eyebrow and pulling me a little closer. “I think you know how confident I am when I’m not in precarious situations.”
“Yes, Mr. Archer,” I laugh, “I’m fully aware of your prowess when it comes to being self-assured. Don’t worry about tonight, I have faith in you.”
“I just don’t trust this whole set up. I feel like I’m being made.” He surveys the restaurant. “This guy is going to show, right?”
I thank all things holy my glass covers my smirk. “You’ll meet everyone when they get here. Until then, just get your thoughts together and pitch your story. Despite Bain’s behavior, I think they will listen.” I finish my drink and get up from the table. “Good luck tonight.”
“Thanks,” he raises his glass to me. “I think I’ll need it.”
I give him a quick wink before heading out the door. No sooner do my feet hit the concrete, I see two of the hottest men I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with. Mike sees me first, thumping Bain in the chest and pointing a finger my way. Before I can politely wave, Bain is charging toward me. He wraps me up, spinning us in the middle of the bustling New York sidewalk.
“Hello, stud muffin!” Of everyone in Eden, Bain and I have known each other the longest. With him, I see a mirror of myself, a twin who is in no way an opposite.
Once Bain puts me down, I get a gentle hug from Mike before he starts peering in the windows trying to sneak a glance at Elliot. “Is he in there?”
“Yes, I just spent a little time with him.”
“Can I shut him down now?” Mike’s normally calm mien is edgy, defensive. “I want to make sure we aren’t getting screwed by this guy.”
“No, you may not.” I huff. “You can listen to him and hear him out. He’s a decent guy, Mike. Go easy on him, please.”
“Even if you did shut him down, he’s persistent,” Bain offers. “I tried to push him out this afternoon and he threw his body in front of the steel door.”
“Yeah.” I smack Bain’s shoulder. “And I hear you didn’t introduce yourself or anything. When you get in there, how about you shake his hand and tell him who you are?”
Bain shrugs. “He was all I need to talk to Diesel so I figured he didn’t care who I was.” He gives me a sad puppy dog face. “Nobody cares who we are, Piper.”
“Oh, please, Bain. Let’s not ruin my beautiful shoes by letting it get too deep in here. And, Elliot is caught on Diesel being a guy.”
Bain’s eyes widen, his smile is radiant and completely devilish. “I know! He totally thinks she’s a dude. I can’t wait till he sees her. I told her to wear something hot tonight. I hope she glams it up good for him. I think she’ll really like him.”
“She’s going to kill you.”
“It won’t be the first time.”
“Wait, you think she’s going to like him like him? You didn’t tell me that.” Mike looks mildly offended that Bain kept him out of the loop.
“Well, let’s see.” Bain taps his chin, contemplating the possibilities. “He’s a good-looking guy. I’m mean, he’s not me, but he’ll do.”
“He’s hot,” I offer to Mike before turning back to Bain. “I know we’re outside but it would be good if you could get that big head through the door at some point this evening.”
He continues without missing a beat. “Let’s also add that we know Diesel’s affinity for all things English, and she’s not dated anyone in years.” We all take a moment, reflecting on our girl’s difficult past before Bain lightens the mood the only way he knows how. “I vote she’s melting in her panties before the end of dinner. Maybe she’ll have him for dessert.”
Mikes groan collides with my, “Oh, my…okay…that’s it…I’m outta here.” I hug and kiss both of them on the cheek. “Please be nice to him. Give him a chance?”
“Anything for you, Piper. But, just for the record, it’s not us you have to worry about, it’s Diesel.” I understand Bain’s concern. She has the capacity to make or break everything that enters into her club. This could be over before it even starts.
“Trust me, guys, I know.”
I bid my boys goodbye and merge into the flow of people trapped in their own worlds. I offer a hopeful prayer to the universe as I walk away from Rosie O’Grady’s and the meeting that has the potential to open the gilded gates of Eden, and Diesel, to the world.
If you want to spend more time with Elliot, Bain, and Mike, please check out DIESEL, now available.
Thanks for reading! <3