Jonas couldn't believe his ears. Or his eyes. Had he walked into a bar or the twilight zone? Nothing else made any sense. Nor could any brand of reason explain why his no-cussing, virginal Ali was walking toward some smarmy guy about to enter a titty-flashing contest. No way in hell was this the real world.
Furious, Jonas rose from his seat, intent on grabbing Ali and dragging her sassy ass out of the bar. Sensing his anger, his friends jumped to their feet as well. Wyatt went a step further and grabbed his arm, preventing him from leaving. "Slow down, Jonas. You don't want to do anything crazy."
"The hell I don't." Jonas turned his icy gaze from Ali's retreating back to his friend's paling face. "Tell me something, Wyatt. You find this shit funny?"
"Surprisingly, not so much."
Jonas yanked his arm free. "Then maybe you should have thought of that before you filled her with alcohol."
"It was one drink." His friend gave a weak smile as he lowered himself into his seat. "Just one."
"And she didn't even drink it," Finn said. "She took a sip and we finished it for her."
"Why would you do that?"
"I don't suppose you'll just accept it seemed like a good idea at the time."
"No, I won't. This is all your fault, fucktard. Now how are you going to fix it?"
"Fix it?" Finn's eyebrows shot to his hairline. "I'd like to point out, we wouldn't be in this situation if it weren't for you and your caveman ways. Did you really think ordering her not to sign up would work? Who's the fucktard now?"
"Maybe. If you hadn't been egging her on tonight, this wouldn't even be an issue."
"That's right, Jonas. Blame everyone but yourself."
"Oh, I accept my part in this, Finn. The question is, do you?" Grabbing a napkin from the table, Jonas balled it up and threw it at his friend, smacking him square in the forehead.
The little act of aggression made him feel a smidge better. Not as good as he would have if he'd thrown the beer bottle, but Jonas couldn't chance the cops getting called before he figured out what to do about the Ali dilemma.
Fuckity-fuck-fuck. Jonas eased back down in his chair and contemplated his choices. It didn't take long, because as far as he could see, he didn't have many options. Just two. He could either storm into the back room where the contestants were lining up and spirit Ali away, or he could wait until she came back out, saw the crowd, and lost her nerve before he took her away and gave her bottom the spanking of a lifetime.
The second option seemed better. Much better. Not only would he hopefully teach her a lesson, it was also the one with the spanking in it. Two for the price of one.
"You're sitting." Finn's voice betrayed his outrage. "Why are you sitting? You should be doing something."
"Like what?" Now that his decision was made, Jonas felt calmer. Ali would never go through with this. Not in a million years.
"What do you mean like what?" Finn, on the other hand, looked as if he were about to blow a gasket. "Go get her before she does something stupid."
"She already did," Jonas reminded him. "She followed your lead. That was mistake number one."
"Are you going to let her do this to get back at me?"
"No, I'm going to kick your ass to get back at you. Right now, I'm just going to sit here and wait for Ali to slink out."
"And what if she doesn't?"
"Then there's going to be hell to pay."
"Fucking A." Finn ran his hands through his dark strands. "This is a disaster."
"Finn"--Lennon warily sat as well--"Jonas is right. Storming back there won't do him any good. We'll just have to wait for Ali to come to her senses on her own."
On her own seemed to take much longer than Jonas anticipated. The conversation around the two tables dropped off completely; the few stragglers who'd come to wish Finn a happy birthday slipped away unnoticed by Jonas, who was watching the back door like a hawk. His eyes weren't the only ones turned in that direction. The other three men were quietly staring at the back room, as if silently willing Ali to appear.
As the minutes ticked ever so slowly by, Jonas grew less sure of his plan. "What the fuck is going on back there?"
"I have no bloody idea." Finn sounded as tense as Jonas was. "How long does it take to chicken the fuck out?"
"Apparently more than ten minutes."
Irritated, Jonas shot Lennon a dirty look. He wasn't in the mood for his friend's wisecracking.
"Hey!" Wyatt exclaimed out of the blue. "Ivers still owns this place."
Jonas frowned at the mention of Smitty Ivers. Ivers was a fellow college classmate of theirs who would have never made it through school if it weren't for Wyatt's ability to make a computer sing. "And..."
"And that bastard still owes us."
"Yes, he does." Jonas nodded his head. He knew there was a reason he kept the blond around. "Do me a favor and check to see if he's here."
Jonas wasn't much of a fan of Ivers, but he didn't have a single problem using the bastard to find out what was going on in the back rooms. Before Wyatt could head off, the slimy promoter popped up next to the DJ and took the cordless mic from the stand.
"Wyatt, hold up," Lennon said and rose to his feet as two muscle-bound bouncers began to move the crowd back and away from the bar.
"All right, party people. Are you all having a good time?" The man's booming voice drew a loud chorus of "hell yeah" from the audience. "Well, it's about to get a whole lot better. I've just been in the back room with five of the hottest women around. These sexy bitches are about to join me at the bar for your viewing pleasure. Can I hear it for Darlene, Vanessa, Ali, Apryl, and Mona?"
At his announcement, the back door opened and the women came out in order of their names, smiling and waving at the crowd as they made their way to the bar, Ali included.
Fuck! She's going through with it.
"Wyatt." Jonas's voice was as ice-cold as the blood running through his veins.
"I'm on it." His friend disappeared into the growing crowd as Jonas rose to his feet. From where he was standing, he could clearly see the section of the bar the waitress had cleared of drinks and trash. And that wasn't all he could see. While in the back room, the women had changed out of their tops and lost their bras, replacing it with a supertight, thin white cotton T-shirt with the bar's logo printed on the back.
From the way the material clung to the women's skin, adding water seemed like overkill. The look was especially obscene on Ali, who appeared as if she was going to burst out of the seams at any moment. Where the shirts were a size too small for the reed-thin women in the lineup, on Ali's voluptuous frame it was two sizes too tiny.
"Good Lord," Lennon muttered, echoing the sentiment running through Jonas's mind. "I never knew Ali--"
"Was built like a brick shit house," Jonas finished for him, not needing Lennon to finish his thought. Jonas was well aware everybody's mind had gone to the gutter. He was vacationing there.
Flushed with anger, Finn moved in front of Jonas, blocking his view. "Are you just going to stand there, or are you going to do something about this?"
"Oh, don't worry, something will be done about this."
"Now," his friend insisted.
"No," Jonas said, sidestepping Finn so his view was no longer blocked. "I'm going to give Ali enough rope to hang herself with first."
"Christ," Finn muttered, turning back to watch the show himself just as the promoter, who was now standing on top of the bar, reached down his hand to assist the first contestant.
The perky blonde, with matching breasts, was the first to get doused with nipple-provoking, ice-cold water. She giggled and jiggled about as the water soaked through her shirt, giving the audience a good stare at not only her breasts, but what was under her short skirt as well.
"Looks as if someone's happy to see us." The announcer wiggled his brows at his not-so-subtle double entendre. "Show of hands, folks. Is she our winner?"
The applause was loud, but not nearly loud enough. The announcer waited for the noise to die down before he brought up the next woman. He went through the same song and dance before wetting her as well. From the sounds of everyone's whooping and hollering, Jonas could only surmise the redhead put on a good show.
He was too busy watching Ali's reaction to notice the results of the announcer's handiwork. Ali's gaze, on the other hand, was glued to the show taking place just inches in front of her. She worried her bottom lip, her nervousness as apparent as her dark areolae underneath the thin shirt.
"Shit. She's next," Finn announced, as if they all couldn't see her standing there.
Jonas tried his best to keep his shit together as Ali reached out and took the announcer's hand. With the help of two bouncers, she made it to the top of the bar.
"Wow. Wow. Wow." The announcer covered his eyes with one hand. "Baby, you need to turn your high beams off; you're blinding me."
The crowd roared their approval.
Her breasts might not have been the perkiest, but they were hands down the largest and sexiest by far. And from the catcalls coming from the audience, Jonas wasn't the only one who thought so.
"I don't think we even need water for the beauties." When the crowd voiced their disapproval, the announcer grabbed the pitcher and poured it over Ali's shirt. "But I think we'll use it anyway."
Ali's eyes widened as she let out a wordless gasp, bowing her back to escape the frigid water. It was no use, though. The damage was done and her breasts were on display.
"My, oh my," the giddy man said, grinning lewdly at Ali. "If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would have never thought it possible. These babies are standing at attention like good little soldiers. Tell me something sweetheart, are these D's or double D's?" He held the mic in front of Ali, whose cheeks were fire engine red.
"Triple," she muttered as the crowd whooped louder in approval.
"I'm in love."
No, what he was, was a dead man. Unable to watch anymore and keep up this facade of a rationally thinking man, Jonas turned his back on the show. His temper raged as the hoots and hollers continued and the next contestant was brought on to the stage.
Wyatt, who had returned to the table with a stout, dark-haired man, saved him from his own self-imposed insanity.
"Hey, man," Ivers said, clapping Jonas on the shoulder as if they were old friends. Ivers looked much the way he did back in college, but a bit slimier around the edges. "It's been a long time. How've you been?"
"I've been better," Jonas said, stiffly inching away from the space-crowding man. Ivers was a bit jittery; his pupils were dilated to epic proportions. He was high, and it wasn't on life. What a fucking waste. "And yourself?"
"Good, man, real good." Grinning, Ivers spread his arms wide. "What do you think of my place? We've added a lot since you guys were here last. What do you think of the show?"
Jonas gritted his teeth. Where should he start? Not at the truth, that was for sure. "It's interesting, all right."
"We're making it a weekly event. Get the college kids in here. They're real loose with Mommy and Daddy's money, you know."
Like you were, Jonas wanted to say, but refrained. Instead he looked over at Wyatt, who was wearing a pained expressed. Good. Jonas had always preferred to share his suffering of fools.
"I hear you guys are doing real well also. You four looking to invest in some clubs? I know some guys who are--"
"And the winner by a nipple..." Jonas's attention was stolen away from Ivers and placed solidly on the announcer. "Come on back up here Ali, my love. Come claim your prize and my heart."
Ali was boosted back on the bar and into the arms of the grinning announcer. She looked stunned by the limelight and the win. Her gaze darted around the room as if she was searching for something or someone. But not once did she try to get down or get away from the beaming man. It was her second mistake of the evening.
To add insult to injury, the announcer gripped her around the waist and pulled her in even tighter to him. "Give me a kiss, love."
"If she kisses him, he's a dea--" The words weren't even out of his mouth before she did just that.
Jonas couldn't tell if Ali was forced to kiss the other man or not; all he could see was his woman locking lips with another man. Then all he saw was red.
"I'll get the shovel," Lennon deadpanned.
"And I'll warm up the bloody car."
As tempting as that sounded, Jonas had a better idea. "Ivers."
"Clear out your office. I need to have a word with one of your contestants." Turning his rapt attention away from Ali, Jonas focused the bulk of his rage on the sweating man beside him. "Now."
"Sure. Sure, Jonas. No problem, man. I'll make sur--right away." Ivers scurried off as fast as his stubby legs could carry him, leaving Jonas alone at the table with his friends.
"Go easy on her, man," Wyatt said. "She's innocent. Sweet. Your words, man. Keep them in mind."
"I'll keep them in mind." Not that they would do her any good. "But maybe you all should have kept that in mind before you decided to play this little game of yours."
"It wasn't a game." Finn looked ill at ease. Good. It served the prying bastard right. "Come on, boyo. This is Ali we're talking about here. You know she has no idea the effect she has on you."
"I promise you this." Jonas said. "Before the night is over, she will."