Rich people talking to other rich people about their rich people problems. Boring.
This was the main difference between Ryan and his brothers—they loved attending stuffy, pretentious, ten-thousand-dollar-a-plate functions while showcasing the latest acquisition they just brokered. Stuffy people wearing their requisite, and way too-expensive designer garb, complaining about some “sport”, like boating, water polo, and lacrosse, as if they were talking about the last-second shot by a point guard on his last legs that led the team to move onto the next round.
Ryan loved being at the bar, watching the latest game and talking shit with his fellow fans. Nothing compared to talking about stats and the last game with those who understood. Nothing compared to having a tailgating party right before the big game, sharing beers, burgers, and in Ryan’s younger days—broads.
He wished he was at the bar now. Preferably with Alyssa.
Instead, he was expected—no, required—to attend a fundraiser, along with the rest of the Jeffers family. Known for their philanthropy, the family regularly attended all fundraising functions, be it something for the children, animals, or politics. Ryan’s brothers were happily married and always brought their wives. Ryan, on the other hand was very much a bachelor, and routinely accosted at each fundraiser by a trust-fund darling. It seemed they all worked in rotation.
First, it was Victoria Hale. Blonde, perky, even if it wasn’t cold (he wasn’t referring to her personality), and so thin he could see her vertebrae. He never pursued her for fear he would break her during sex.
Then, it was Samantha Laws. A redhead with a law degree from Yale, she was the epitome of a Southern belle with a plantation personality. Anyone who wasn’t White was beneath her, no matter how much smarter or qualified they were. She was, and will always be, a defiant ‘hell, no’ in Ryan’s mind.
Finally, there was the ever so sneaky, and quite bitchy, Nikki Reed, whose sole claim to fame was being the cousin of advertising wunderkind, Scott Reed. Whatever charm, graciousness, and IT personality Scott had, he definitely didn’t share with his cousin, who was snarky, had a 24/7 attitude, and stank of desperation and thirst. Yet, Ryan’s father thought she was a perfect match for him. Ryan was convinced his father didn’t love him.
Grabbing a Samuel Adams at the bar, Ryan wandered around the gala, smiling a hello at other attendees and making sure he wasn’t in Nikki’s view at any given time. Truth is, he wished he hadn’t attended at all. He received his invite well in advance, it was too late and too costly, to extend the invitation to Alyssa as his date. She understood why she couldn’t attend and didn’t make a fuss about it, but it still didn’t feel right. He made a mental note—the next stuffy affair, he wasn’t going to be alone.
Good luck tonight.
He glanced down at the text message and quickly replied to her. After an insatiable weekend, they only took a couple of days off from each other to recoup. He went over to her home last night and, despite the temptation, they didn’t make love. Instead, they were up in the wee hours of the morning, talking about everything under the sun. Ryan wouldn’t go as far as saying Alyssa was his soul mate, but everything felt right. And when she snuggled against him when they fell asleep in her bed, he definitely knew she felt right.
“I’ve been looking for you.”
Fuck! Ryan stuffed his cell phone into his blazer and turned around to face Nikki. She was especially beautiful tonight with a low V-cut black sequined gown that was seemingly tailor-made for her. Long legs that went on forever. A short and sexy bob cut that highlighted her auburn hair. A thin build and delicious full lips. Too bad her conniving smile and evil brown eyes detracted from what many men would consider to be a masterpiece. Ryan forced a grin. Above everything else, he was pleasant to her, despite how much she made him want to take a nice, lingering bath in Clorox.
“Nicole,” Ryan greeted her as he shook her hand, though Nikki was expecting him to kiss it. “Nice to see you this evening.”
“Likewise,” Nikki smiled and stepped closer to Ryan, forcing him to step back. “Where is your date? I didn’t see her when you came in.”
Ryan smiled. Nikki didn’t see his date because she knew he didn’t have one. He wondered how long she was on the hunt for him before she finally found him. Since he’d arrived just a short time prior, he estimated she spent the past ten minutes scoping him out, and waiting for the perfect moment to seize the opportunity. “She’s at home tonight.”
Nicole smiled at Ryan’s revelation, though her eyes blinked in surprise. “I’m sorry she couldn’t attend.”
“I’m sure you are,” he took a sip of his beer.
“I saw your brothers and their wives,” Nikki’s eyes glittered with hope and wonder, “they look lovely tonight.”
Buttering him up by complimenting his family was the first step in her offensive attack. She still had a couple of more steps before she launched the full mission. “They’re lovely people,” Ryan replied.
“And how old are your nephews, again? They’re pretty big now, I imagine.”
Step Two. “They’re 16, 15, and 12.”
“So, are you still doing that coffee shop venture?” She inquired.
Step Three. Ryan was convinced Nikki was upset Ryan didn’t go into the legal or medical fields, not out of disappointment for him but rather, her. A Southern socialite belle who grew up privileged and never had a strand of hair out of place, she’d had her eye on Ryan since high school and had to settle for being a friend of his (though Ryan would differ on her definition of friend) and nothing more. She could easily attain a millionaire, or even a billionaire.
She wanted Ryan, and was going to pursue him as much as she could until it killed her. “I’m still operating Caffeinated. We just opened another shop in Buckhead, and we’re thinking about expanding to Duluth.”
Nikki nodded as if she understood. Ryan studied her eyes and could’ve sworn he saw dollar signs flashing in her orbs. “I’m glad to hear that.” She moved a step closer and if Ryan could, he would’ve moved away. A brick wall pressed against his back had him undeniably trapped. “You were always ambitious.” She murmured.
She finally had launched her full-scale attack. Ryan felt her body pressed against his and briefly closed his eyes. She smelled of all things feminine—jasmine, vanilla, and floral. She looked like a goddess and felt like sex. “Yeah, I was. My girlfriend would agree with you, too.”
It was like the proverbial record scratched. Nikki pulled away and shot Ryan a look. “Girlfriend? What girlfriend?”
A bell chime signaled dinner was about to start, and Ryan couldn’t have been more thankful to be literally saved by the bell. “I think dinner is ready.” He walked back inside the hotel and entered the ballroom. He quickly found the table where his family was sitting and found a seat. He was about to enjoy the rest of his night when he saw the chair to his left pull out and a body sit beside him. He took a sip of beer and tried hard not to roll his eyes when Nikki’s perfume entered his nostrils. “Stalking, much?”
“Your father invited me to sit at your table,” Nikki scooted her chair closer to him. “I thought that was lovely of him.”
“Yeah,” Ryan took another sip of beer. It was about to be a long night. “Lovely.”
This is the last time I’m planning this or anything close to this, or anything that has to do with anything to do with events.
After building her readership for years, along with a host of YouTube tutorials, it was time for Alyssa to branch out more. What better way than to have her first natural lifestyle event, complete with hairstylists, chefs, participating restaurants, and other vendors?
The Curls Come Out at Night was going to showcase the best in natural hair products and vegan food. From free product samples to a DJ spinning the hits all night, to a silent auction with all proceeds going to raising awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, the event was guaranteed to be a hit.
If only Alyssa could stop her mind from going a mile a minute.
Sure, it all sounded great in theory, and just about all of the vendors Alyssa contacted agreed to show up. But it was the planning and the execution of the event that created the most headaches. Next time, Alyssa silently promised herself, she was just going to hire an event planner.
The event was important in more ways than one—Alyssa was going to showcase her new line of skin and hair care products. She got the name for her line—Buttered Soul—after an evening of listening to one too many Isaac Hayes’ records. She was tired of spending way too much money and filling someone else’s pocketbooks for things she could create better on her own.
It sounded simple on paper, as all of her ideas did. Researching the best coconut oil base paired with the finest essential oils and other natural products took a lot of time and energy. Plus, there was a demand that she be different. A line like Carol’s Daughter paved the way, but Alyssa needed to prove they weren’t the only game in town.
“My mom wanted to know if you have any more of that Whip Me Real Good,” Jordin asked her as she moved the cell phone from her ear, “she really liked it.”
“Yeah, there should be some in that box,” Alyssa pointed over to a corner.
The homemade concoctions worked well on her and her friends and family but that was different. Friends and family were supposed to be nice and flatter her, even if they didn’t think she would do well.
It was the buying public who had no strings attached to her that was going to determine if she had a future.
Stay up for me. I’m going to bury myself deep inside you tonight.
Alyssa pressed her thighs together as her clit quivered in desire. Ryan always knew what to say to get her going. Hell, all he had to do was say ‘hi’ to her and she wanted to jump him. No, no, no. Tonight was all business. Ryan explained to her he had to attend a fundraiser on his family’s behalf and she understood. She needed to get her event together and Ryan being present would only distract her. She had three days and that wasn’t nearly enough time.
I can’t wait to wrap my lips around your cock and feel you in the back of my throat.
Alyssa replied, and set her phone aside. “I need to work. Work, work, work.” She said to herself. She still needed to label the body and hair butters (Whip Me Real Good), the body and hair oils (Oil Me Down), and the cowashing conditioners (Gettin’ Kinky). Alyssa sat back on her heels for a moment. Maybe she was hornier than she thought if all of her hair and body products had sexual innuendos to them.