“This one’s for the ball,” Mike said, slurping down his tequila shot. “And this one’s for the chain.” He chased it with his beer. “Your turn.”
Jack sat back as Mike pushed Dean to another round. Dean, the bachelor of the weekend, was well beyond three sheets but kept drinking anyway.
“W-what time is it?” Dean asked.
“You’re not allowed to ask until Sunday,” Tom reminded him.
“It’s not Sunday?” Dean’s gaze followed a cocktail waitress wearing a skintight miniskirt.
Jack, Tom, and Mike busted out laughing. “Damn, Moore, we might need to stay in your fine establishment for an entire week to work the bachelor out of this groom.”
Jack Morrison’s friends always called him Moore: more money, more women, and more time to do whatever he wanted due to his family’s portfolio. His buddies at the table had known him since high school. If they ever wanted to stay at the Morrison Hotel and Casino on the Vegas strip for a week or a month or however long, for that matter, Jack would make it happen. They all held executive positions or owned their own businesses, making it nearly impossible for them to get together as it was. The weekend bachelor party would have to do.
Jack had insisted they drive instead of jet over the California desert. With Dean walking the plank—or aisle, as it were—they wouldn’t have this golden opportunity again. Dean was the first of the four of them to get married, making this their last trip together as single men. The last time one of them didn’t need to rush home to a wife or kids. The last time they could all get pissing drunk and not have to explain themselves to a woman. One last bash, complete with Vegas and a road trip…what could be better? Once Dean said “I do,” it was all going to change. Deep inside Jack knew this…was ready for it. Life was a series of chapters, and this one would end in style if he had any say in the matter.
“Oh man, is that Heather?” Tom nudged Jack’s arm and nodded toward the casino floor.
Jack followed Tom’s gaze as it landed on the back of a woman he knew all too well. She had her platinum blonde hair piled high on her head; her shoulders were bare except for the spaghetti straps of the slim-fitting dress that hugged every surgically enhanced curve of her body. Just when Jack thought he could turn away without her noticing him, she shifted a glance over her shoulder and offered a painted-on smile.
“Well, hell, how did she know we’d be here?” If there was one woman Jack never wished to see again, it was probably Heather. As she swayed her hips while walking in his direction, Jack knew he wasn’t going to get his wish.
“She probably heard through the grapevine it was Dean’s bachelor party. And you do own the hotel, so where else would the party be,” Tom reminded him.
“Jack, sweetheart, what a surprise finding you here.” Heather’s wispy tone was born of practice and not sincerity.
Unable to avoid her, Jack stood as she approached. She leaned in and kissed his cheek. He quickly stood back and motioned toward his friends. “You remember Tom, Mike, and Dean?”
“Of course.” She offered them the fakest of smiles, her eyes narrowing on Dean momentarily before moving back to Jack.
“What brings you to Vegas?” Jack asked, as if he didn’t know.
“You told me this was one of your nicer hotels. I thought it was past time for me to spend time in it.”
“My father owns the casinos, Heather, not me.” All Heather saw was money. Didn’t matter where it came from so long as she could access it.
She waved a hand in the air. “You’re splitting straws again, Jack.”
“Hairs. Splitting hairs.”
She placed her fingers on his arm and squeezed. “You know how I dislike being corrected,” she reminded him.
You know how I hated you always showing up where I didn’t want you. And that was when they were dating. Jack had broken up with her midsummer.
It was now November.
She leaned in and whispered in his ear. “Can we find a moment alone?”
He loosened his tie and tilted his Stetson back on his head. “We’re in the middle of a bachelor party, Heather.”
Dean tossed back another tequila and sucked on a lime.
“Won’t take but a minute, darling.”
It hurts to smile when you’re gritting your teeth. Jack forced his jaw to unclench at her syrupy endearments. He remembered the day he put a halt to their brief affair. They were attending a fundraiser at the club in Houston and Jack noticed a beautiful brunette across the room eyeing him. Heather had scolded him with her breathy voice. “Jack, dear, please try and keep your eyes on me when we’re together. I don’t care what you do or who you might play with once we’re married, but to be so obvious when we’re standing next to each other, it’s simply boorish, don’t you think, darling?”
Where Heather cooked up the idea she would ever be Mrs. Jack Morrison, he’d never know, but it was then Jack realized how superficial his arm candy was. In a way, he felt sorry for her.
“Well?” Heather pulled him into the present with her question.
Jack knew exactly how to get rid of her, for the last time.
He nodded toward Tom. “Out front in ten?”
Tom grinned. “We’ll walk this one around, sober him up a little.”
Mike helped Dean to his feet while Jack motioned Heather toward the door.
The two of them wiggled around the people hovering at the slot machines. Someone at a craps table yelled out and the crowd around him cheered. An older woman leaned back in her chair as Heather walked by and brushed against her. Heather scowled and muttered something ugly under her breath.