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P.I.T.A. (L.A. Liaisons #3)

By:Brooke Blaine

P.I.T.A. (L.A. Liaisons #3)
        Author: Brooke Blaine

       
         
       
        
CHAPTER ONE

Classy Bitch


LAS VEGAS. SEX capital of the world. The place I ventured to when I'd run the man supply down to a veritable cesspool back in L.A.

So, someone please explain to me why I was there with my parents.

Or-I inched the ice sculpture engraved with Happy 30th Anniversary, Patrick and Delilah a bit to the right to better address their adoring audience of friends-should I say for my parents.

"Gather 'round, everyone, gather 'round." As the music from the small orchestra came to a close, my father's big, boastful voice filled one of the Bellagio's luxurious Galleria Rooms, and it was a sound entirely out of place with the elegant decor. He grabbed my mother by the waist and pulled her close, planting a kiss on her cheek, and in response, she giggled like a schoolgirl. One of her hands went up to his broad chest, and she flushed a lovely shade of pink.

You'd think they were a couple madly in love, wouldn't you? Hah. You would be wrong.

That hand going to his chest? It wasn't so much an adoring move as a cautionary watch-how-much-you-touch-me-tonight-because-I-will-be-taking-it-out-on-your-balls-later move. And that "lovely" flush and giggle? That was a signature Mrs. Traynor-Ashcroft move-she was pissed.

But the PDA did what it was intended to do, and everyone smiled and oohed and ahhed over how in love they still seemed to be after all these years. Hell, even I had to begrudgingly give them kudos, much as it pained me to do so. They knew how to fake it better than any couple I'd come across in my twenty-nine years of existence, and that was saying something, considering my day job.

My father held up his champagne glass with his free hand and looked down with an adoring expression at the still-stunning blonde in his arms. "Thirty years ago, I unwittingly became the luckiest man alive when the most beautiful woman ever to grace the earth trespassed onto my property and swan-dived into my pool."

Laughter echoed off the gilded walls, and I had to repress the urge to stab myself in the eyes with the cocktail toothpicks.

"It only took mild convincing on my part to get her to take my name," he continued.

"Don't you mean hyphenate?" my mother said with a wink, though I knew that was meant more as a dig. My father hated that she'd refused to give up her maiden name of Traynor and go all in with his. Sort of that whole Tarzan, man-beats-chest, alpha-male mentality. I personally loved that show of independence on Mom's part, though it would be the last time she asserted herself that I knew of. The steady supply of champagne and Xanax saw to that.

"Ahh, and it was that spirit, that fire, that made me fall for you. It's been a glorious thirty years, my Liles, and I can't wait to spend thirty more with you." Then my father kissed my mother like it was the first time in years-hell, it probably was-and the move sent bile up my throat, and I couldn't have stopped the eye roll then if I tried. 

I know what you're thinking. I seem to be pessimistic when it comes to love and romance and the glory of marriage.

You would be right.

Sure, I was one of the most in-demand wedding coordinators in Los Angeles, but that was less because I was a starry-eyed romantic and more because I was one hell of a party planner. Weddings just happened to be the most consistent-and expensive-parties around. So what if I had to put up with brides waxing poetic about their dream gowns and Prince Charmings? It afforded me an extravagant lifestyle that had nothing to do with my parents' money, and that was the important thing.

Lifting my French martini to my lips, I drained the glass dry just as a voice of smooth velvet-the type that typically dropped panties-came up behind me.

"I could see you gagging from across the room, Paige," he said, as the smell of his L'Homme Yves Saint Laurent cologne enveloped the air around me. The expensive scent also seemed to help the panty drop, not that I'd ever fallen for it. Quite the opposite, actually, which I was sure surprised no one except the man himself.

"A visual I'm sure you're used to," I replied, without bothering to turn around and acknowledge the unwanted presence in my midst. Richard "Dick" Dawson received more than enough attention as it was, what with his "rocker" appeal, though he didn't have any musical capabilities that I was aware of. Perhaps if he had, I would've found him mildly attractive. As he came to a stop beside me, I could see out of the corner of my eye that he'd stayed true to form tonight: his long dirty-blond hair was tied at the nape of his neck, and he wore a midnight-blue tux with an oversized, open white collar and more necklaces than I'd ever dared to at one time. Apparently, some women found that hot.

"I'm surprised you bothered to come," I said. "Tell me, was it the allure of an open bar or a room full of young debutantes that enticed you more?"

Dawson laughed, a deep, throaty laugh, and then his arm went around my shoulders and he lifted the empty glass from my hand. As he steered us to the bar, he said, "You forgot option three, love: spending quality time with my favorite girl."

I groaned and attempted to shrug out of his hold, but his grasp on me was unyielding. "Favorite girl to torture, you mean. Can't you go find a new object of your affection? One who doesn't want to castrate you?"

"I doubt anyone else would be up for that kind of foreplay." He placed the glass on the bar, nodded at the bartender, and held up two fingers. Less than two minutes later, there were two bright pink martinis in front of us.

I quirked an eyebrow at Dawson. "Trying to get me drunk to put me in an embarrassing blackmail sitch?"

"Not exactly what I had in mind." He smirked, and those kohl-rimmed hazel eyes twinkled with mischief.

Dirty manslut. I bet not.

Shaking my head, I said, "Newsflash, Dick: no amount of alcohol could get me into your bed. You'll have to raid the Strip for a bachelorette to bang."

"There you go, Pita, always thinking the worst. Can't I just be a good friend trying to help you get through this parental charade?" He leaned in to me, his lips by my ear. "You can thank me later."

I pushed him away, ignoring-okay, well, trying to ignore-the way his chest felt rock hard beneath my fingertips, and took up my martini. When the hell did he start working out outside the bedroom? Damn.

"Speaking of friends … " Dawson glanced around the room and then lifted his brow. "I don't see any of your girls here tonight. Couldn't sweet-talk them into coming, eh?"



       
         
       
        

Okay, that jab hit a sore spot. My "girls"-otherwise known as my best friends, Ryleigh, Shayne, and Quinn-and I were practically attached at the hip, so it was strange to be here without at least one of them. But Ryleigh had a couple of big holiday events scheduled at her ice creamery and booziery, Licked, as well as its companion bar, the After Dark; Shayne was attending a premiere with her director boyfriend, Nate; and Quinn … well, who knew what Quinn was really up to. She'd just said she was MIA for the weekend, which probably meant she was climbing poles half-naked, or escorting foreign billionaires, or on some undercover Mission: Impossible classified shit. There was no telling, but one of these days she was bound to slip up and spill her guts. Hopefully not literally.

"Can't blame my friends for having a life. Some people have more important things to do than follow me around," I said.

"That doesn't sound like a woman who's jealous all her friends are shacking up with boyfriends at all."

"Please. The last thing I want is to be tied down and having boring, missionary-style monogamous sex once a week."

"And here I thought being tied down was right up your alley."

"Only if it involves a pair of handcuffs-otherwise, pass."

Dawson gave a put-upon sigh. "Yes, we know 'all men are evil dogs who are only useful for kinky sex and not relationships.' Your mother has rubbed off on you too much."

"Says the man who eats out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner." I scoffed and shook my head. "See, this is the problem-when guys screw everything on two legs, it's no big deal and actually expected of them, but God forbid a woman have a healthy sexual appetite."

"You're no woman, Pita. You're a man-eater."

"You say that like it's a bad thing."

His lips turned up. "It's admirable. I do enjoy watching you devour your prey before spitting them back out."

"Spit? Hmm. Would I do that?"

When his eyes widened, my lips curved and then I forced myself to tune back in to what my father was saying as he wrapped up his speech.

"Thank you all for coming, and please-stay as long as you want, drink as much as you want, and come visit us at our new home in Paris whenever you want. Cheers." My father raised his glass and nodded at the group before him, and as everyone raised their glasses at his toast, my mouth dropped open.

Did he say … new home … in Paris?

And then-because I retain no filter whatsoever-I blurted, "What the fuck? You're moving? To Paris? Like, eleven-hours-on-a-nonstop-flight Paris?" 

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