Sweet little lies, p.10
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       Sweet Little Lies, p.10

         Part #1 of Heartbreaker Bay series by Jill Shalvis
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  Archer’s gaze cut to Finn’s face. “Nah,” he said. “He’d be more dazed. And happy.”

  Spence joined them. “What’s going on?”

  “The debate is whether or not Finn got laid,” Archer said.

  Spence took his turn studying Finn’s expression. “He’s not happy enough.”

  “That’s what I said.” Archer gave a rare smile. “Given how long it’s been, I’d assume he’d be doing cartwheels and shit.”

  Finn took a deep breath as they both laughed at his expression. “How about I assume my foot up your ass?”

  This only made them crack up harder.

  Eddie got himself together first. “Gotta go,” he said and headed for the alley. Trash day was his favorite day of the week because he loved nothing more than to go dumpster diving for treasures.

  Twice now, the entire building—all fond of Eddie and protective of him as well, had implemented a system where everyone bagged up anything that might be of interest to him separately so that he didn’t have to go searching.

  And then they discovered that Eddie was dumping out all the bags into the dumpster regardless.

  Turns out, Eddie liked the thrill of the find.

  “You smell like a skunk,” Archer said to Eddie.

  Eddie blinked. “Is that right? Well, I’m sure we have skunks around here somewhere.”

  “You think?” Archer asked casually. “Because I’m thinking it smells like weed.”

  “Huh,” Eddie said. “Good thing you’re not a cop these days, huh?”

  Oh boy, Finn thought. Even Old Man Eddie knew better than to remind Archer of his cop days, which in turn would remind him why he wasn’t one anymore.

  Archer’s eyes went flat. “You growing?”

  “Only exactly what I’m allowed,” Eddie said and pulled out a laminated card on a ribbon from beneath his shirt.

  “You selling?” Archer asked.

  “Sir, no sir,” Eddie responded, adding a smartass salute.

  Finn and Spence both grimaced. “Man,” Spence said. “What have we told you? Archer has zero sense of humor.”

  Eddie grinned. For reasons that Finn had never figured out, Eddie liked to fuck with Archer.

  Archer gave a slight head shake, like he was talking himself out of making Eddie disappear. “You know the rec center on Union?” he finally asked.

  Eddie nodded. “Past the porn shop but before the COME TO JESUS sign?”

  “Yeah,” Archer said. “They’re having a free meal tonight. Pot roast and potatoes.”

  “I love pot roast and potatoes,” Eddie said.

  “You want a ride, come by my office at six,” Archer told him.

  Eddie grinned at him. “See, I knew you liked me. Though not as much as Finn. Finn gave me five bucks.” Eddie looked hopefully at Archer.

  Well versed in this game, Archer snorted. “I’ll pay you ten if you tell me why lover boy here’s limping like he was rode hard and put away wet. I know you know more than you’re telling.”

  “You think he got his knob polished,” Eddie said.

  Archer flashed another grin. “Yeah.”

  Finn flipped Archer off, which only made Archer’s grin widen.

  “I don’t know everything,” Eddie said. “But I guess I do know some things.”

  “Such as?” Archer asked.

  Eddie held out his hand.

  Archer rolled his eyes, fished through his pockets and came up with the promised ten.

  “Okay,” Eddie said. “I know he went inside Trouble’s apartment with her, but only stayed a few minutes. He came back out in this condition. It wasn’t long enough for him to get laid . . .” He slid Finn a sideways look. “At least I hope it wasn’t. You ain’t a quick trigger, are you, boy?”

  Spence about busted a gut and handed Eddie another ten. “Totally worth every penny.”

  Finn shook his head and walked away from those assholes, and he wasn’t going back to the pub either. He needed a few hours horizontal on his bed—where he would absolutely not think about how he’d rather be getting his knob polished.

  Nineties Karaoke Night cheered Finn up considerably. First Archer bet the gang that Spence couldn’t rap “Baby Got Back.”

  Spence rapped “Baby Got Back.” Perfectly. He was in a suit too, evidently fresh from some business meeting.

  The ladies went nuts.

  In penance, Archer had to sing “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred.


  The crowd went wild. But even better was what happened when the girls showed up. They walked in together, Elle, Willa, Haley . . . and Pru, all dressed in vintage nineties.

  It was a cornucopia of hotness but Finn’s gaze went straight to Pru. His heart about stopped. She wore a tight, short, high-waisted denim miniskirt that showed off her mile-long legs to mouth-watering perfection, a cropped white tee with an equally cropped leather jacket that kept giving sneak, tantalizing peeks of smooth, flat belly, and some serious platforms that told him Elle had been in charge. Her hair had been teased to within an inch of its life and she appeared to be wearing glitter as makeup.

  Everyone had fun ordering nineties-style cocktails, so he made Pru a special one—a Chocolate Mock-tini. She raved over it so much that everyone else wanted one as well, and it became the night’s special.

  Eventually the ladies all got up to sing “Kiss” by Prince and brought down the house. Not because they were good. But because they were so bad.

  Pru had been right. She couldn’t sing. Couldn’t dance either. Or keep rhythm. Not that this stopped her or the glitter floating around her in a cloud everywhere she moved.

  Finn loved every second of it.

  That was until she dragged his ass up on stage and made him do a duet with her. “The Boy Is Mine.”

  He was pretty sure not a single one of the guys would ever let him forget it either.

  Sean bailed shortly after that, a woman on his arm, a smile on his face. Finn was happy for him, but when the night ended and the girls went to leave, he realized he was screwed because he didn’t have the option of taking Pru home.

  Even if that was only up two flights of stairs.

  He had to stay until closing, add up the till, make sure everything got closed and locked up.

  Which means he got to watch Pru, his Fun Whisperer, walk out.

  She hugged him good-bye, and the feel of her up against him almost had him saying fuck it to the pub. But he couldn’t. He showered and hit his bed two hours later. Alone.

  And when he woke up the next morning he had glitter all over his pillow.

  Chapter 12


  The next few days were busy at work, with Pru’s shifts consisting of one cruise after another, but she still had plenty of time to think. A lot.

  Karaoke night had been fun. Watching Finn laugh with Archer and Spence had been a highlight for her.

  Fun looked good on him. It made her happy to see him happy, and she realized it’d been a good week for her, too. Willa, Elle, and Haley had been so welcoming, taking her in, adding her to their group without hesitation.

  It meant a lot. It also meant that she wasn’t entirely alone. She knew she had Jake, but he was like a brother at this point. An overprotective, obnoxious one.

  You have Finn . . .

  Even if she had no idea what to do with him. Although she’d had plenty of ideas the other night.

  It turned out that dancing and singing karaoke in front of a crowd with Finn’s eyes on her had been shockingly arousing.

  Which apparently had been obvious. Haley had given her a knowing glance at the bar. “You look hungry,” she’d said.

  “Oh, no,” Pru had told her. “I’m fine, I had a plate of chicken wings.”

  Haley and Willa had laughed.

  Even Elle had smiled.

  “You’re not hungry for food,” Elle had informed her, with Curly and Mo nodding their heads in agreement. “You’re hungry for a good time. With ou
r boy Finn.”

  “Well that’s just . . . a bad idea,” she’d finished weakly. She looked at Willa and Haley for confirmation of that fact.

  “Hey, sometimes bad ideas turn out to be the best ideas of all,” Willa had said. “Just do it. Have some magical sex. And whatever happens, happens.”

  What would happen is that Pru would screw up one of the only good things she had going for her right now. “Just do it? That’s your big advice?”

  “Or in this case, him. Just do him.”

  Pru snorted.

  Willa had turned to Elle and asked, “Think she’ll follow my sage advice?”

  Elle studied Pru’s face carefully. “Hard to say. She’s cute and sharp, but she’s got some healthy survivor instincts. That might hold her up some.”

  “Stupid survivor instincts,” Willa had said on a sigh.

  And Pru agreed. She had some survivor instincts, and they often got in her own way.

  “For days a cloud of glitter has been following you around,” Jake said, startling Pru back into the here and now.

  “I went to Karaoke the other night,” she said. “Rocked it too.”

  “But you can’t sing,” Jake said.

  “I can totally sing.”

  He snorted. “And the glitter?”

  “It was Nineties Night. This required copious amounts of glitter, which apparently is like the STD of the craft supplies. Once you use it without protection, you can’t get rid of it.” Pru looked down at herself. “Ever.”

  “Even Thor’s wearing glitter,” he said. “You’re messing with his manhood.”

  “Real men aren’t afraid of glitter,” she said.

  “Real men are terrified of glitter.”

  At the end of the day, Pru collected her dog from Jake’s office, where she found him asleep sprawled on top of the desk.

  “Seriously?” she asked.

  “He likes to see what’s going on,” Jake said.

  And Jake liked the company. She’d almost feel bad about taking Thor away when she’d moved but oh yeah, it’d been Jake’s idea for her to go. “I hope he got glitter all over you.”

  “Hell no,” Jake said. “Glitter doesn’t dare stick to me. But you’ve got some on your face.”

  She couldn’t get rid of it. She’d already sent Elle an I-hate-you text. Twice.

  “We’re going to have to forfeit tonight’s game,” Jake said. “We’re short a player. Trev’s out with mono.”

  She and a group of Jake’s other friends and employees played on a local rec center league softball team. Jake was their coach. Coach Tyrant. “Who gets mono at our age?” she asked.

  Jake shrugged. “He’s a ship captain, he sees a lot of action.”

  “I’m a ship captain,” she said. “I see no action.”

  “And we both know why,” Jake said.

  Not going there. “Don’t forfeit,” she said. “I’ll find us a player.”

  Jake raised a brow. “Who?”

  “Hey, I have other people in my life besides you, you know.”

  “Since when?”

  She rolled her eyes and ran out. Well, okay, she didn’t run exactly. Thor refused to run. But they walked fast because she had an idea, one that would further her plan to bring Finn more fun.

  Of course she’d deviated from the plan a couple of times now, starting with allowing her lips to fall onto his—not once but a holy-cow twice—but she’d decided to give herself a break because he was so . . . well, kissable.

  And hey, now she knew that his mouth was a danger zone, she’d just steer clear. Her inner voice laughed hysterically at this, but whatever. She could do it.



  In the courtyard, she tied Thor’s leash to a bench, kissed him right between his adorable brown eyes and dashed through the open doors of the pub. Breathless, she scanned for Finn, but couldn’t find him.

  Sean flashed her a smile. “Hey, Trouble.” He gestured to her face. “You’ve got some glitter—”

  “I know!”

  His smile widened. “Okay then, what can I get you?”

  “Finn,” she said, and then blushed when he just kept grinning. “I mean, I need to see him. Is he in his office?”

  “Nope, boss man isn’t in.”

  She’d never been here when Finn hadn’t. “But he’s always here.”

  Sean laughed. “Almost always,” he agreed. “But right now, he’s . . . well, let’s just say he’s pissed off at me, so we decided he’d work from the house office so I could live to see another day.”

  He didn’t seem all too worried by this. “I need a favor,” she said.

  He leaned over the bar, eyes warm. “Name it.”

  “I need his address.”

  Sean went brows up. “His address.”

  “Yes, please.”

  “You going to show him a good time?” he asked. “Because darlin’, he sure could use it.”

  “I’m on it,” she said and then realized what he’d meant, which was not what she’d meant. “Wait, that’s not—”

  “Oh, it’s way too late,” Sean said, laughing his ass off.

  “I just need to talk to him,” she said, trying to regain some dignity.

  “Whatever you say.” Grabbing a cocktail napkin, he pulled a pen from behind his ear, scrawled an address down, and handed it over to her. “We share a house in Pacific Heights. Less than a mile from here. Go do your thing.”

  “Which is talking,” she said.

  “If that’s what you kids are calling it these days,” he said. “Good luck, Trouble.”

  Not sure why she’d need good luck, she grabbed Thor and headed back out.

  Finn lived straight up Divisadero Street, a steep hill that had Thor sitting down and refusing to go another step about a hundred yards in.

  Which was a hundred yards past when Pru had wanted to sit down as well. But she scooped the dog up and determinedly kept going, making a quick stop along the way for a spur-of-the-moment gag gift that she sincerely hoped Finn found funny.

  By the time she arrived at his house near the top of the hill, she was huffing some serious air. She looked back at the view and was reminded of why she loved this city so much. She could see all of Cow Hollow and the marina, and beyond that, the gorgeous blue of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge as well.


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