Restless Night, Insomniac Duet 1
I loathe Micah Reed. Yet, I can’t keep my eyes off him.
Years ago, he opened his mouth in a room full of our peers. Said nine words and ruined my life.
My high school crush did exactly that… crushed me.
But I am no longer the quiet, loner girl from high school. The girl who let others trample her spirit.
Now, I take charge. Stand tall. Bend to no one. Never again.
Especially Micah Reed.
Peyton Alexander makes me question my sanity. Yet, I refuse to stop antagonizing her.
Since her first day at work, she has given me the death glare. Lipped off and verbally slapped me.
And every night, I go back for another round.
Not sure what I did to deserve her animosity, but I plan to find out. Plan to fix whatever mistake I made.
Although I live for her banter, I want more with Peyton. The attention she gives other men, I want it for myself.
Call me presumptuous, but Peyton Alexander will be mine.
Micah wants me because I don’t fall for his charms.
Peyton resists to deny herself the truth.
Will he figure out who I am?
Will she ever let me in?
Release date: March 15, 2022
Publisher: Between Words Publishing LLC
Print pages: 302
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Restless Night, Insomniac Duet 1
Another day, another round of bullshit. High school… it goes one of two ways.
You are either popular—the queen bee with a swarm of followers. Every girl wants to be you. Wants your boyfriend. Dresses and talks like you. Is at your beck and call without question. And you are artificial as fuck.
Or two—my current life status—you walk around with a “kick me” sign stuck to your back. Girls point and laugh and say fucked-up shit. They write your name on bathroom stall walls with the word “trash” or “loser” or “slut” beneath it. They gather their posse and gang up on you. Start rumors and throw shit in your direction. Toss out every possible degrading word with your name to boost their own esteem and make others laugh and point.
How I landed in category two is beyond me. But here we are, another day in hell.
I exit the bus and spot them as I step off. As if they waited for me to arrive in the big tangerine beast. Just to antagonize me. To start their day with a fresh load of assholism.
Do mean bitches have nothing better to do with their lives?
“Mandy, did you hear the school slut banged the baseball team last night?”
That would be Mercedes, Queen Bitch.
“Ew.” And that would be Mandy, the girl parked so far up Mercedes’s ass, she no longer sees light. “But what else do sluts do?”
They laugh and start following me as I pass them without so much as a glance. As pretentious and mighty as they believe they are, one would think they have more in life to do than follow “trash” like me around campus. But whatever.
I walk through campus and head for my locker. They continue their not-so quiet artifice. And I continue to ignore them as best I can. After dealing with their bullshit for the last four months, I learned to tune them out. On occasion, anyway.
I spin the dial on my locker as they prattle on. Voices loud as they encourage others to join in on their hate fest. Only one other does. Meredith. Now my day is complete. Triple M is here and in their full glory.
While I swap my books and folders in my locker, I laugh at my own wayward thoughts. Triple M. Damn, those are big tits. Slut tits. Who’s the slut now?
“What’s so funny, loser?”
Shit. Did I laugh out loud? Oh well. No backpedaling now.
I spin around to face the blonde trio. Hair, makeup and clothes pristine and wrinkle free. Unlike me. My blonde locks currently wear a thick layer of black dye. My makeup equally dark and thick around my eyes. And my ensemble… you guessed it. Black. Let’s just say the current phase of life revolves around the saying black is life.
Courage bubbles in my chest as my nails dig crescents into my palms. Sick and tired of these bitches, I am ready to blow my top. Go full-on banshee and punch the smiles off their cakey faces. But not now. Maybe just a dose to appease my dark heart.
Just a dose.
“You,” I say with a laugh. “You’re what’s funny.” Confidence builds and I run with it. “If you’re not careful, someone might think you’re in love with me. Obsessed. I mean, god, you seek me out. Follow me like a lost pet. Talk about me all day. Like you have nothing else you’d rather be doing.” God, this feels good. Talking shit to her face. Calling her out in front of others. Should I kick it up a notch? Add to her embarrassment? Do it! “Hey, everyone,” I shout and several eyes glance our way. “Mercedes is in love with me.”
Her face turns stop sign red. If possible, steam would shoot from her ears. Her arms stiffen, hands fist at her sides and she literally stomps a foot. I bite my cheek to resist laughing at her charade, as it will definitely worsen the situation.
She shoves a finger in my face, centimeters from my glasses. “You’ll pay for that. When you least expect it.” She spins on her heel and storms down the hall with her followers up her ass.
At least she is gone for the time being. Shouldn’t see her or the other two until sixth period. Thank fuck.
Classes start and end as the day ticks by uneventful. And soon, the bell rings and a sea of bodies ambles toward the cafeteria. I hoist my messenger bag up my shoulder and follow the masses.
A strange square chunk of mystery casserole, a banana and water bottle on my tray, I weave through the tables in search of an available seat. Parked in the corner, I poke at the food and remind myself—again—that I need to bring food tomorrow.
The buzz in the room quiets an octave when a group enters the cafeteria. Micah Reed and half the district-winning track team. They saunter past several tables, all eyes on them, and sit at their usual spot. Chatter resumes and people pick at their mystery lunch.
But I keep an eye on Micah through my raven locks.
The first time I paid any attention to Micah Reed was a week into the school year. Parked under a tree, I read Wuthering Heights for English Honors. Micah and several others on the track team jogged out of the gym in tank tops and short shorts in the school colors, with bright running shoes on their feet. I followed them as they went toward the paved oval track surrounding the school football field. Watched as they stretched and bounced on their toes before they took off running.
I dog-eared my page and observed Micah with fascination. His long, lithe frame glided over the pavement like the gazelles on nature documentaries. Blond hair a bird’s nest from the breeze. Cheeks red as he huffed and circled the track.
He never saw me under that tree. No one did. No one ever sees me. And I am okay with not being seen. Okay with being the odd girl that makes others gawk. The loner who sits in the corner and keeps to herself. The quiet girl who admires a guy from a distance.
The next time I peek up, Mercedes stands beside Micah in the cafeteria. She smiles and laughs and flips her hair, all but begging for attention.
“Fake bitch,” I mutter to myself.
As if she hears the words leave my lips, her eyes scan the room and land on me. She notices the one time my eyes dart between her and Micah, and I hate the action immediately. Because a slow, wicked grin plumps her cheeks.
She combs her fingers through Micah’s short locks. He peers up at her with a what the hell are you doing look on his face. But what she says next wipes the look off his face.
“I had a good time the other night,” she says to Micah loud enough for half the cafeteria to hear. Especially me. “Sorry I’m not as easy as the school slut, though.” Her lips protrude in a fake pout, but her eyes scream pure evil.
Not that I have expressed my baby crush on Micah, but she saw it the second I let my eyes drift to him. And I royally fucked myself.
Micah shakes his head and doesn’t feed into her comment. This pisses Mercedes off.
“Didn’t you hear?” she asks, as if her lies are common knowledge.
“Hear what?” he says with boredom in his voice. And he doesn’t meet her gaze.
“Little Miss Slut” —she points her polished dagger directly at me— “had an orgy with the baseball team.”
My face lights on fire as every set of eyes in the cafeteria turns my way. I fucking hate her. Hate. Her.
But the way Micah looks at me flips my stomach upside down. Has the mystery casserole ready to reappear.
The first time Micah Reed notices me, really sees me, and he stares me down as if I am an easy lay. A conquest to mark on his bedpost and brag over with his jock buddies. His eyes narrow as he rises from the table. For a split second, I think he may walk off and ignore the bullshit Mercedes dishes out.
But I am dead wrong.
“Hey, pretty slut.” Eyes searing my skin, Micah fists his dick through the denim and licks his lips. “The track team is always game.”
The silence of moments ago vanishes as the entire cafeteria bursts into laughter. Fingers point my direction as eyes spill tears from laughing so hard.
Whooshing floods my ears as the laughter fades and the room swallows me whole. Pressure compresses my rib cage and squashes the tiny, erratic beating organ in the center. The small bites of casserole in my stomach threaten to make an appearance.
God, I want to stab something. Or someone.
And just like that, I am done.
Can’t. Do. This. Anymore.
I shoot up from the table, scream at the top of my lungs and throw my tray toward Mercedes. And before I act on my irrational thoughts, I scoop up my messenger bag and run. Run from the cafeteria. Run from every person in this piece of shit school. Run from a life I didn’t ask for and don’t deserve.
Fuck this place. Fuck Mercedes. And fuck Micah Reed.
Music blares in my ears and vibrates my bones as I walk through Roar.
Hot, sweaty bodies rub against each other in time with the music. Hands grope and lips tease and hips grind. Alcohol drains from glasses faster than refills can keep up. And clothes get looser. As do inhibitions.
I weave through the crowd, brush arms with several women, and toss out my flirtatious smile. Some smile in return. Others reach out and graze an arm or my chest. And I let them. It comes with the territory when you manage a night club. Can’t work in a place like Roar without being groped or hit on at least once a night.
I love and hate the attention in equal measure.
Love it because I have easy access to women. Love it because most of the women that come to Roar are hot as fuck. I have a different woman between the sheets each week. None complain when we go separate ways. And none beg for another round. They know the hookup is a one-time deal. No names, no numbers exchanged. Just sex.
Which is part of the reason I hate it. Hate my official manwhore status. A badge I wear often because of my cheating ex, Rochelle.
I hate that I let her tear me down. That she still holds power over my thoughts and life. That her actions still sway my decisions.
After walking in on her, I should be free. Free of her and the bullshit. Small things I didn’t notice until after she was caught in the act. I had been her pawn. A middleman in her game to get an even younger guy. Cougar isn’t an appropriate term for Rochelle. More like super cougar. Jaguar. Maybe she likes it when he calls her mommy.
A shiver rolls up my spine and I shake away all thoughts of Rochelle. I may be down to try new shit in the bedroom, but that isn’t one of them.
“Hey, man,” I shout as I approach Dan, one of the bouncers. “All good?”
Dan, a man twice my muscle mass, gives a thumbs-up. “Yeah, boss. Busy tonight.” He scans the crowd with a straight, serious face. All business once he punches his time card, Dan is one of our best bouncers.
Outside of work, Dan is all smiles and laughter. But I appreciate his professionalism inside the Roar walls. Never know what someone will do after too much alcohol.
I pat his shoulder. “Let me know if you need anything.” He nods and I move on.
Several times a night, I weave through the club. Check on each staff member. Make sure everything is on the up-and-up. And I always end each round at the bar. Where Peyton pours drinks like a bartender from Cocktail.
Peyton Alexander. The bane of my existence. Pure, undiluted, sexy-as-sin torture.
She glides around her end of the bar. Flirts with males and females alike. Bats her lashes and pushes up her breasts to enhance her cleavage. Licks her lips and leans in close.
I fucking hate her. Hate that she flirts with every goddamn person who sets foot in Roar. Every person but me.
Most of all, I hate that this eats at my psyche. Keeps me up at night while I fist my cock between the sheets.
I step behind the bar—where I hang when not doing rounds on the floor or managerial tasks in the office—and unleash my undesirable jealousy.
“Peyton,” I shout. And I know she hears me because her spine straightens. Her fingers coil, then flatten out.
She glares past Adam, another bartender, and curls her lip a beat. “Yeah, boss,” she shouts back, voice saccharine.
“Quit fucking flirting and pour drinks,” I bark out. Adam cringes beside me as he pours a beer from the tap.
Peyton lifts her middle finger to her forehead and mock salutes me. “You got it, Micky.”
“Bitch,” I mutter.
She turns her back to me and goes back to flirting. Goddamnit.
Like every other night I work with Peyton, I regret the day I hired her. But one of the owners interviewed and loved her before I had a say in the matter. So now, I grit my teeth, make her life miserable, and trudge forward.
Peyton actually tends the bar better than the other employees. People gravitate toward her each night. Loiter at her end of the bar and wait patiently. Buy more drinks when she tosses them a bright smile and flirts without care. And her tips are proof the crowd loves her. She earns double, if not triple, what the others do in tips.
Her only downfall… she seems to hate me to the pits of hell. The I want to gouge out your eyes kind of hate. And I have no idea why.
Unable to witness her endless flirting any longer, I exit the bar and distract myself with another round. Engage in idle chitchat with the staff and patrons.
On the dance floor, I pass a curvaceous blonde. Her golden locks remind me of a certain feisty bartender across the room. So, I step closer and do a little flirting of my own. One song fades into another as she grinds her ass against my dick and wraps her hands around the back of my head to keep me close.
I’m not going anywhere.
Ani and Sean, the club owners, don’t mind if the staff join the scene. In fact, they encourage it so long as the partying doesn’t interfere with business. Drinks are acceptable, but we don’t go past tipsy. Grinding patrons on the dance floor is fair game, but we don’t make anyone uncomfortable or assume it will go further. If it does go further, it happens outside these walls.
So, I dance with the woman who grabs and rubs me like she would fuck me in the middle of the room. I kiss down her neck and fist her hips. When the song transitions into the next, I step back. She spins and pouts and it is adorable as fuck.
I bring my lips to her ear. “Gotta work, sorry. Stick around till close?” She nods. “Wait for me. We can have fun after.” I back away and she smiles.
The next few hours go by as per usual. Alcohol flows freely, intoxicating the patrons as much as the music. Every now and again, I look down at the other end of the bar and watch Peyton. Inconspicuously stare at her as her eyes glitter under the lights. As she bites her lower lip and half smiles. As she throws her arms in the air and dances behind the bar and several people wolf whistle.
During those hours, my dick strains against my zipper. Aches for an ounce of her attention. To have those glittery eyes shift their focus my way. Her plump lips around my cock. Her curves bouncing above me in a dark room on cool sheets.
But that will never happen.
The blonde from the dance floor wiggles her way between people at the bar. After serving a drink, I saunter her way and she smiles at my approach. I catch Peyton in my periphery and note her not-so-subtle staring at our interaction.
“Should be done soon. Still good with waiting?”
She licks her lips and I hear Peyton groan. “Yeah. Got nowhere else to be.”
And just to irritate Peyton further, I pinch the blonde’s chin between my thumb and finger, then crush my lips to hers. The kiss quick and angry and meaningless and all for show. I give two fucks about this woman. Actually, only one fuck.
“Hey, Micky,” Peyton shouts. Her nickname for me makes my blood pressure rise. She says it just to piss me off. And I let it, but don’t flaunt that fact.
“Yeah, bar wench,” I throw back with a cocked brow.
She bristles and my insides sing. “Shouldn’t you be, I don’t know, managing something.” Her words meant to be a stab. To throw my own words in my face when I tell her to quit flirting.
But unlike her, I take her bait and roll with it.
I point to the blonde. “That’s what I’m doing.” Peyton furrows her brows. “Managing my hookup.” Her eyes go wide at my bluntness. The fact that I own my manwhore status shocks her. “Should try it sometime.”
She glances at the blonde, then back at me. Bass rattles the air around us while I wait for her comeback. Our banter turns me on and fuels the hungry beast inside.
“Nah,” she shrugs and taps her chest. “Not one-night stand material.” She turns her eyes on the blonde. “I have standards when it comes to who lies in my bed.” Her eyes shift back to mine. “Sluts aren’t my thing.”
Internally, I laugh. But I mask it and come to the blonde’s defense—kind of—who shoots daggers at Peyton.
“But sluts are so much fun,” I tease. The blonde turns her attention to me. Her jaw drops, but closes when I suck my lower lip in my mouth. “Don’t like fun, wench?”
God, I’m hard as fuck right now.
“Oh, I love fun.” Peyton saunters closer, but keeps a good five feet between us. “Never been a fan of venereal diseases, though.”
I don’t hold back my laughter this time. In fact, I double over and release the sexual tension between us. She may not recognize it as such, but what the hell else would it be?
The blonde mutters, “Bitch.”
Peyton faces the blonde, leans on the bar and cocks a brow. She shakes her head with light laughter. “I’m the bitch?” Peyton pushes off the bar and takes a step back. “Maybe I am.” She shrugs. “But I’d rather be a bitch than spread my legs for every guy who gives me attention.”
Heat crawls up the blonde’s neck and blooms on her cheeks. I should be worried, but this whole situation amuses me too much to care.
The blonde shifts her attention from Peyton to me. “I’ll wait at a table.” She points in a general direction behind her.
“Be done soon.” I pinch her chin again and crush her lips. “Don’t worry about her.”
The blonde melts in my hand. “She’s just jealous.” Then she turns and wanders to an empty table.
Peyton and I return to our typical uncomfortable, disgruntled silence. I pour a few more drinks before last call gets announced. The crowd thins and the first set of overhead lights kicks on. I grab and clean drained glasses. Then wipe down the empty sections of bar top.
When the next set of lights flicker on, ninety percent of the club is vacant.
I toss my towel in the bleach mix. Closing out the registers, I take the tills and tip jars to the office. Once the tills are reset and the cash balances, I stash the cash in the safe and lock up the office.
In the club, the blonde scrolls over her phone screen while Peyton throws her a murderous glare. Peyton has yet to see me walk out, so I hang back a moment and observe. How she washes glasses with aggression. How she wipes down the bar like she needs to remove the varnish.
Interesting. Is she actually jealous? Her actions indicate a flare of jealousy.
So, I use this to my advantage.
I step out from the hall and pass the end of the bar. Peyton locks on to me as I stroll over to the blonde. Her eyes burn my skin—not with hatred, though. They burn with bitterness and maybe a hint of lust. The fire trails over my skin and I stow it away.
I will need it in an hour.
“Ready?” I ask, approaching the blonde.
She peers up from her phone and smiles. In the light, she still flaunts pretty features. Not take my breath away gorgeous, but pretty enough to look at while I fuck her brains out. And when I flip her on her hands and knees, I will picture a different blonde.
“Yeah.” She locks her phone and stows it in her back pocket. Her eyes shoot over my shoulder and narrow before coming back. “Let’s get out of here.” She slides off the stool. “Mine or yours?”
“Yours,” I say as I wrap an arm around her shoulders.
No one comes back to my house. Ever.
We head for the exit, but I halt us a moment and glance over my shoulder. “Peyton,” I bark out and she glances up from the bar with a bored expression. “Bar better not look like shit in the morning.”
Her jaw muscles tighten and shift. Scarlet pricks her cheeks. “Has it ever?” she bites.
I don’t answer her question and opt to bark another order. “Don’t leave until everything’s spotless.”
The blonde and I head for the door, but I don’t miss Peyton’s grumbled asshole as we walk out. The ammunition I needed to get through the next couple of hours.
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