Alex’s apartment was at odds with the dilapidated building that contained it. Tastefully painted and attractively furnished, the Den of Seduction was an oasis of sophistication in a desert of frat boy chic. It reflected the perfectly groomed image of its owner. Usually. At the moment, he was a disheveled drunken mess sprawled facedown across his couch. At least he was dressed.
I dropped my bag by the door, shouldered past Cam and took a running leap onto the prostrate fool. “Damn, Alex, you reek! What were you drinking?”
Cursing quietly in Italian, Alex rolled us both off the couch, his 6’4” brawny frame trapping me underneath him. “Moonshine. Won it in a poker game.”
I shoved at him, laughing. “Well, you smell like you slept in the still. How much did you have?”
Toby strolled out from the kitchen, chuckling at my futile efforts to move the uncooperative brute. “Two quarts.”
“Two…” Horrified, I smacked Alex in the head, satisfied with the resulting groan. “Idiot.”
Cam slid onto the vacated couch as Toby pulled Alex off me. I scrambled up, unfazed by the aggravated grimace Alex sent my way. Cam tapped the back of the couch to get Toby’s attention. “Quick. Get some popcorn, the show’s starting.”
“And miss the opening act? Not happening.” Toby dropped next to his love, draping a long arm behind Cam. I spared them a smile; they were such a striking couple. Toby’s lean form and dark good looks were a stunning contrast to the burly tattooed canvas of Cameron’s body. I must have paused too long, because Toby waved for me to get on with it. “C’mon now, I’ve missed watching you take him down a few pegs.”
Alex staggered toward the half wall that separated his kitchen and the living room. I beat him there, cutting off access to the coffee. “Sandie came to see me this morning.”
Alex growled, grabbed a mug from behind me. “You can yell at me for drinking or sex. Not both.”
“Well, I guess I’ll have to gripe about you being a lush. After two quarts of moonshine, no part of you was upright last night.”
That earned me a smack on the ass which morphed into a none-too-gentle shove. “Bitch.”
“In every sense of the word.” Covering the mug with my hand got me elbowed. I almost gave him a quick jab in the kidneys, stopping short when he snatched the coffee pot up. It wasn’t worth getting burned. Instead, I nicked the sugar bowl.
“Like I can’t figure out where that went.” Alex rolled his eyes as he added cream to his coffee.
I stuck my tongue out at him. “You’re too hung over to figure out how to get it without spilling.”
Alex scoffed “I’m not an idiot. Unlike some people, I already have my PhD.”
I snorted. “In porn.”
That earned me a glare. “Sociology.”
Cam and Toby chimed in from the couch. “In sexual subcultures.”
Yes, we have had this conversation before. Often.
It was my turn to roll my eyes. “Which means you have a truly frightening collection of porn.”
“It only counts as erotica if it actually has a plot. The rest is just porn. Seven servers full of porn, plus all those bookshelves in your spare room. Face it, Alex, no one thinks you’re smart because you have a PhD. They think you’re a genius because you found a way to make your smut addiction not only tax deductible but somewhat socially acceptable.”
Alex practically preened. “I’m just that good.”
“Last night you weren’t, I can guarantee it. You’ve been a man-whore long enough to know that drunk men don’t perform up to standard.”
“Oh, yeah? What does Stacy have to say about that?”
“That she’s pregnant.” God, I love when Alex is not awake and still sort of drunk. His face is so much more expressive that way. The horror, stark fear and absolute confusion parading across his fine features had our audience leaning on each other to smother their laughter. I knew he’d realize the baby wasn’t his soon enough, but for now his alcohol induced stupidity was so enjoyable.
“Fuck.” He swayed a little and just barely sat on the stool next to him. “I don’t want kids. What do I do now?”
“Get a vasectomy.” A warning hiss came from the peanut gallery to go along with the bemused stare from Alex.
“That doesn’t help me now.”
He looked so pathetic, I just had to have a little mercy. “Oh, sweetheart, it’s not yours.”
He looks up at me hopefully. “How do you know?”
“Because you were too drunk to sleep with her. “ His growl made me laugh. “I’m just surprised there hasn’t been a whole pack of women showing up with your pups.”
“They’d have to know his name for that.” Toby added dryly.
I raised an eyebrow thoughtfully. “That makes much more sense than my explanation.”
Alex ground out, “Which is?”
“Sterility.” I smiled sweetly. Cameron roared with laughter. Toby’s shoulders shook as he leaned his head against the couch. Alex went white, then red, and I held my ground. “What? Think of it this way, you wouldn’t need a vasectomy.”
I slid the sugar bowl toward him with a small smirk. He snatched it up, sending me a mock glare. Whatever retort he was about to make was lost as everyone’s cell phones went off in quick succession. The guys all had texts. I got the joy of a call from Mark.
“You find the boys and all of you get your asses back to the ranch. Right now.”
I felt the fear numb my body and knew my earlier unease was not paranoia. One look at my now deadly serious friends told me I was going to be in trouble for not pointing out Stalker Boy and Blue Eyes.
Damn. Play time’s over.