Phase I of "Operation: Get Julie Laid" was a success; they'd made it past the velvet ropes and into the swank, red and white lounge. It was time for Phase II: finding his friend a place to sit down for the night.
Julie beat him to it, painfully impractical heels giving her a two-inch advantage over him, and she grabbed his wrist and dragged him into the crowd.
The place was loud and packed with Hollywood hopefuls, and Kris was glad Julie had convinced him to bring a change of shirt to upgrade his server's uniform before they left work. Everyone looked glamorous and expensive, like runway models come down to Earth, and as he squeezed between beautifully-dressed bodies, multiple sets of fingers dragged across his chest and arms.
When Kris looked back over his shoulder, he couldn't identify who to thank.
Julie pushed herself up onto a freshly vacated stool and leaned over the corner of the bar to shout, "Hey, you, over here," waving a $20 bill at the busy bartenders.
After a minute with no response, she huffed and turned to sulk at Kris, "This place sucks."
Considering it'd been Julie's idea to drag him here after a 12-hour shift at the Ocean Greens Country Club, that wasn't what Kris wanted to hear. He sighed and handed her another two $20 bills.
The sight of $60 finally got some attention, and when the bartender walked away, Julie had traded all of his tip money for two bottles of beer and two Long Island Iced Teas. With the drinks lined up in front of them, she looked at Kris and said grimly, "Cheer the fuck up, damn it."
Kris grabbed an $8 bottle and smiled gamely. "I think it's kinda cool. The lighting on the walls is awesome."
"Dylan would've loved this place," she scowled, her eyes drifting restlessly around the room.
Kris sighed again and bit his tongue.
Dylan had broken up with Julie two days ago. By text message. Kris had wanted to be supportive, had started to tell her she was too good for an asshole like that, but after she practically bit his head off the first time he mentioned Dylan's name, he'd zipped his lips. So when she'd asked him to come to this ridiculously over-priced new club in Hollywood so she could get her rebound on, he'd leapt at the opportunity to help.
It wasn't like he had anything else to do on Valentine's Day this year, anyway.
"So what kind of guy are we looking for?" he said, elbowing the arms of the couple next to her until they made him a little space at the bar. "Sam Worthington? Ryan Reynolds?"
"God, no more frat-types," she groaned. "I need the opposite of frat."
They'd come to the right place. "Take your pick," Kris said, gesturing to the room.
"No, no," she shook her head. "We've seen what I choose when I pick the guy—total losers. For once, I want a guy to just walk up and sweep me off my feet."
Kris took a sip of his beer and sighed, "You and me, both."
Half an hour later, Julie was approaching the bottom of her second Long Island, and it was still just the two of them. Kris looked at the bar full of people ignoring them and leaned forward to say, "Hey, you know, I'm probably hurting your chances, here."
Her head jerked up, and she jabbed a finger in his chest. "Don't even think of bailing on me, Kris."
"I just meant, you know, what guy's gonna hit on you when it looks like you're already taken?"
She snorted. "Whatever, I don't fucking care. Men suck."
"Oh come on, you totally suck. Don't even try to deny it."
Kris saw the first smile of the evening on her lips and breathed a sigh of relief. "Alright, guilty as charged."
Her eyes brightened and she leaned in closer to ask, "Have you ever done it at work? Like, with any of the members?"
"No," he exclaimed. "Of course not!"
"Hmm. How about with one of the other waiters?"
Kris took a judicious sip of his beer.
"Really?" she gasped. "Where?"
"I didn't say I had."
"You didn't deny it, either. That's as good as a yes. Tell me! You've gotta tell me. The locker room? The coat room?"
Kris didn't like to kiss and tell, but this was the most excited he'd seen Julie in days. "The wine cellar," he admitted.
"Oh my god, I need details! It wasn't Jacques, was it? He's got a nice ass, but he's so stuck up—"
"Excuse me," a tall guy said, stepping between Kris and Julie on his way to the bar.
Only he didn't move to flag down a bartender.
Big hands came up to cup Kris's cheeks, and Kris got an impression of blue eyes and pretty lips, and suddenly he was being kissed full on the mouth, firm and insistent. Kris didn't even know what was going on, but something about it felt right, and his head tilted up instinctively for more. His lips parted, and he tasted the guy's breath, rum and coke and heat. Kris whimpered as all the blood in his brain fled south, and he leaned even further into the guy's hold. A thick tongue slid past his lips, tasting and taking, firing up every nerve ending in Kris's body with a few slow, deliberate licks before pulling back.
"Thanks," the guy said, a thumb stroking down Kris's cheek and across his lips. And then he turned and walked away, leaving Kris to gape after him.
"Holy cow," Julie whispered, staring after the stranger. "Kris, who was that? Kris?"
"I have no idea," Kris said, blinking dazedly at the guy's ass as he sauntered over to a low set of red sofas.
"But he just kissed you," Julie pointed out, in case he'd missed it.
"Yeah, I was there for that part." A woman tried to lean past Kris to get to their corner of the bar, and he jostled her to the side so he could keep staring at the man.
It looked like Kris's guy was with the group of men and women on the sofas. Most of them were laughing, and then the guy held out his hand, and a short, pretty—really pretty—guy frowned and passed him some bills. Kris's guy kissed the cash, folded it, and tucked it in a back pocket of his tight black jeans, and oh my god….
"Oh my god," Julie echoed his thoughts. "Was that a bet? Did that guy just kiss you for a bet?"
Kris grabbed the glass out of her hand, threw the straw on the bar, and gulped the last of her watery iced tea. "Jesus."
"That was, like, insanely hot."
"Yeah, I know. I was the one getting kissed, remember?"
"And he's gorgeous!"
"Well what are we gonna do about it?" she demanded.
"Yes, we. At least one of has to get laid, tonight—that's a Valentine's Day rule. You've gotta go talk to him."
"Um," Kris said. How did you just walk up to a stranger and say, 'Hi, you just kissed me. Wanna do it again?' He glanced over at the hot guy…who was looking back at him. Kris looked away quickly.
"Exactly. I'm not letting you chicken out on this. That guy is, like, perfect. I'll tell you what—" Julie went fishing in the front of her black dress, pulling a $20 from her bra. She slapped it on the bar.
"Classy," Kris snickered.
"Bite me." She tapped the bill and stared him down. "$20 bucks says you don't have the balls to walk over there and kiss that guy. Right now."
Kris's stomach flipped, and he wished he had another drink in his hand. He eyed the bill; he could really use that money—and he could really go for another of those kisses. "Seriously?"
"Seriously. And if you forfeit, I'm gonna tell everyone about you going down on Jacques in the wine cellar."
"It wasn't Jacques," Kris protested. "It was Kevin! And don't you dare!"
She just raised her eyebrows at him and slid the bill a little further across the bar. "He's watching you right now."
Kris looked over and caught the guy staring at him again. This time, the guy looked away first. "Are you sure that's a good thing?" he asked her.
"Kris. Do you wanna kiss the insanely hot guy again, or not?"
"I do," he groaned.
She picked up the bill and dangled it in front of him.
"Fuck," he announced, grabbing the bill and stuffing it in his pocket. "Wish me luck."
"Good luck," she said. And then she slapped his ass as he took the first step over there.
"Hey," he yelped.
"Go!" she ordered, giggling after him.
Kris took a deep breath and looked at his target. The guy was laughing at something, his head turned away. Just one more look, just give me a sign, Kris prayed. On cue, the guy's head turned, and blue eyes locked on Kris's for a moment before jerking away.
Okay, he could do this. Kris started walking, dodging the guys in skinny ties talking about movie deals, the girls in short skirts leaning on each other as they stumbled toward the bathroom.
None of the guy's friends saw his approach, but Kris's guy looked up just as Kris reached the low, crowded sofas. Blue eyes widened with surprise.
"Excuse me," Kris mumbled to the short, pretty guy in his way, stepping over his knees to stand in front of his guy. And then, because there wasn't a better way to get to his lips, he sat in the guy's lap and leaned down to kiss him.
And just like the kiss at the bar, Kris didn't hold back. Because if the guy was going to push him off, or if a boyfriend was going to pull him away, he would at least have this. But the guy didn't push, nobody protested, and when the guy moaned into his mouth and bit at his lip, Kris lost track of the bets they'd made and where they were, just closed his eyes and enjoyed the mouth under his, the soft, talented lips, and the hot hands that slid up and down his back.
"Uh, I don't mean to interrupt—" somebody drawled eventually, tapping Kris firmly on the shoulder.
"Then don't," the guy said, nuzzling down Kris's throat and nipping at his neck.
"But I want my $50 bucks back. Come on, you totally cheated."
"Hey, he looked straight," a woman argued. "We all agreed, Brad."
"He looks as straight as a figure eight right now," Brad snorted. "He's practically orgasming in Adam's lap."
Kris opened his eyes, embarrassment kicking in at the frank way the guy's—Adam's—friends were discussing him. He started to pull back, but Adam's arms tightened, dragging him close again.
"Ignore them," he whispered, one of his big hands sliding down and squeezing Kris's ass.
Kris barely managed not to squeak with startled pleasure. "Um, hi," he said, a blush creeping up his neck.
"Hi to you, too," Adam smiled, and his lips found Kris's earlobe and sucked.
"Oh my god," Kris groaned, sagging helplessly against his chest.
Adam's friends kept arguing around them, but Kris didn't pay them any attention—couldn't, really, not with Adam working a hand up under his shirt and making his toes curl in his shoes—until somebody said, "They looked like boyfriend and girlfriend, how the hell were we supposed to know?"
The reminder made Kris focus on his surroundings and check on his friend.
Judging by the champagne flute in her hand and the sharply-dressed Italian guy leaning into her space, Julie was doing just fine. She caught his eye and raised her glass with a wink.