Sweet Sinful Nights(6)

By: Lauren Blakely

Then earlier that year, the King Schmuck video had surfaced, making the rounds online and catching Colin’s eye. One evening when he was meeting her for dinner to discuss Shay’s expansion in Europe, he’d instead marched into her restaurant, slid into the booth, and thrust a phone in her face.

She’d eyed him inquisitively. “Why are you showing this to me?”

“Just watch,” he’d said insistently, and she’d zeroed in on the small screen.

Someone in the audience at a comedy club had recorded Brent. He strolled across the stage during a bit, looking far too handsome to be believed. Broader, sturdier, and older. A decade older, and she liked the way he’d aged. He shoved his hand through his hair—all that dark, soft hair.

He brought the mic to his lips. “Ever been that schmuck in a business meeting? You know which one I’m talking about. The one who has all sorts of shit up on his computer screen? You’ve seen this guy, right? He goes into a business meeting, he talks a good game, he flips open the laptop—he’s about ready to share some really key business point. Like, some big important thing. But he forgets he was watching ‘Hot, Horny Girls Who Get Off to Comedians’—wait, not that, that’s a good site.” He smiled briefly as the audience laughed. “So this guy, he forgets he was watching ‘The Postman Always Comes Twice’ or ‘Hot Girls Who Like Ugly Guys,’ and then his laptop gets plugged into the overhead. The guy is about to present at a meeting, and bam. There’s his presentation right there. On screen. Splattered for everyone to see.”

Laughter rippled through the crowd.

Shannon had craned her neck to stare at her brother. “I’m here to have dinner with you. Why do you think I want to see him talking about porn on his laptop?”

“Just trust me. I swear that’s not what the bit’s about,” he’d said, as if he’d had a naughty little secret up his sleeve, using that same kind of voice he’d relied on as a kid, when he’d tried to trick her into touching a frog or a worm. She didn’t trust that voice one bit.

But Brent had stage presence. He had that intangible quality known as charisma. Maybe it was the looks, maybe it was the charm, or maybe it was the sexy gravel of his voice. Who knew? Or maybe it was just that he was hot as hell, and he was funny. Rarely did those two traits exist in one man, but they resided in Brent, and she’d had a hard time looking away from the screen.

Brent had continued, pacing the other direction across the small stage. “So that was me. Yeah, me,” he’d said, pointing at himself, stabbing his finger against his chest. “So, I’m meeting with the head of this hotel chain, and I’m suited up, right? Got the tie, the jacket, the tailored pants,” he’d said, then glanced down at his jeans and loose T-shirt, as if to say I’m still casual when I moonlight on stage from time to time. “And we’re talking about moving my nightclubs into his hotel, and I said ‘let me show you the plans.’ And what do you think was on my screen?”

He’d stopped, shaking his head, utterly bemused with himself. That was the self-deprecating tone and expression that he alone had mastered. The one that had worked its way into her heart in seconds when they were younger and made her fall in love with him. He was so damn charming, so utterly irresistible like this. When he owned every second of who he was.

“No, it was not ‘Hot, Horny Girls Who Like Comedians,’ though that would be a fucking awesome site. Someone needs to make that if it doesn’t exist. And I will gladly sponsor it, bankroll it, whatever. Anyway, it was my ex’s Facebook profile. Yeah. I’m that guy. That idiot. King Schmuck. That asshole who Facebook stalks his ex,” he’d said, then he’d stopped pacing and tapped his chest, the look on his face one of utter disdain for his own antics.

She’d grabbed the phone from Colin’s hand and pressed end on the video.

“It was just getting to the part about you—”

She cut him off. “I don’t want to see him. I certainly don’t want to hear about him Facebook stalking some girlfriend.”

“Um, Shan. That ‘some girlfriend’ is you,” he’d said, sketching air quotes.

“I don’t care,” she’d said, and then gritted her teeth and tapped the menu. “Let’s order and talk about Europe.”

Colin had never brought it up again. While she knew the popular video was about her, she’d resisted every single urge to watch it. She didn’t care to hear anything he could possibly say about her that was uttered in the same breath as ‘porn on his computer screen,’ no matter how funny, or how trendy the video had become.

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