Sweet Sinful Nights(5)

By: Lauren Blakely

She held up her hand, then walked out the door and out of his life.

As the latch clanged shut, he knew she was right. He was the one walking away, but there was no going back now.


Present day

“He’s not going to be there tonight.”

Colin spoke as if he were a soothsayer, as if he’d peered into the oracle itself and been granted a view into the future, three hours from now when they were to meet with the Edge nightclub to seal the deal.

“How do you know for sure?” Shannon asked as she rested her ankle atop the barre in the studio at the Shay Productions offices, a few miles from downtown. Effortlessly, because she’d been doing it since she was four, she reached for her ankle and stretched. She’d just finished putting some of the new girls through their paces, and they were fantastic—sexy, gorgeous, enticing—everything her dancers were hired to be at clubs around the country, and the world now, too.

The late afternoon sun dipped in the sky, blasting its blinding light through the floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out on, oddly enough, sidewalks and trees. It always shocked outsiders that her Vegas-based company was actually located in an office park, not in the glittering skyscrapers and hotels that greeted visitors with neon and lights. No need for spark and dazzle during the day.

“Because the meeting is with James, his business advisor and main investor. James is the guy at Edge that I’ve been working the deal with,” Colin said. A venture capitalist, Colin ran his own firm but also handled the business partnerships at Shay Productions. He’d been in talks with the second-in-command at Brent’s nightclubs about integrating Shannon’s choreography. Shannon hadn’t followed her ex’s every move, but she was well aware that after a wildly successful career in comedy, he had transitioned to the business world and opened a string of popular nightclubs. Those clubs needed dancers.

“So it’s just James going tonight?” she asked, triple confirming what she hoped would be the line-up at the meeting. She didn’t care if this dude brought his poodle if he had one. As long as Brent wasn’t present, she’d be good to go.

Colin nodded. “Just James. Besides, he said Brent’s not even in town. He’s in the Caribbean or something, and I have a date at nine, so it’ll be short and it’ll be done,” he reassured her, as he tugged at his wine-red tie, which was already close to unknotted.

Shannon rose. “Stop it,” she said, tsking her twin brother gently. “You always do that.”

“Do what?”

“Tug at your tie.”

“I hate these stupid things.”

“Then why do you wear one?”

Colin shrugged, and ran a hand through his dark, nearly black, hair. Funny that she and Colin were the twins in their quartet of siblings, but they couldn’t have looked more different. Not that fraternal boy-girl twins should look the same. It was just ironic that Colin, the one closest to her, had the darkest hair and darkest eyes of her three brothers, while Shannon’s natural coloring was fair.

“It’s expected,” he grumbled, as she straightened the knot in his neckwear. “I swear sometimes you treat me like I’m still the baby of the family.”

“You always will be,” she said, as she finished her task and held up five fingers to remind him. Five minutes younger.

“Anyway, James wants to meet you, since you’re the face of the company. You’re the star.”

She scoffed, as she stretched her neck from side to side. “I’m absolutely not a star. Does this investor guy know it’s me, though?”

Colin arched an eyebrow. “As in, does he think he’s contracting entertainment services from Shay Sloan or from the woman who’s the object of Brent’s desire in ‘King Schmuck,’ one of the most popular viral videos in the last year?”

She rolled her eyes as she walked to the other side of the room to grab her water bottle. “I presume he knows the first,” she said, taking a sip. “How about the second?”

Colin laughed. “I’m guessing no. That’s what’s so funny about it. Brent has no fucking clue that you’ve been under his nose all these years.”

“Well, I had no clue he was here, either, until you started talking to his business guy. I didn’t go looking him up,” she said, though that wasn’t entirely true. For the first few months after they’d split, she’d Googled Brent nearly every day. Hungry for breadcrumbs, she’d gobbled up each and every bit of information she could find, reading posts here and there in the entertainment trades about his show. But then she’d stopped searching for him regularly, because what was the point? They were through, they were over—they were done. She’d sent a friend to pick up her things from his place, and though he had called a few times in the days after he took off for L.A., she hadn’t answered. After she’d left for London, she’d tried him once or twice from overseas, but had never reached him.

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