If Jocelyn Swann weren't so furious, she'd probably laugh. Her best friend, Dan Jansen, has launched a campaign worthy of his Special Forces training to arrange their wedding, from music and minister to flowers and food. What part of no does he not understand?
Their marriage "agreement" was a tipsy scrawl on the back of a coaster...three years ago! It's not a question of love. Of course she loves Dan. She's loved him all her life. If only she could get him to slow down a minute and listen—to be the friend she needs right now—she could convince him that marriage would ruin everything.
It was at the point her bar pickup started whispering the naughty things he wanted to do to her that Jocelyn Swann realized that, while she was drunk, she wasn't drunk enough.
Rubbing the tickle out of her ear, she planted an encouraging kiss on Tony-the-Corporate-High-Flyer's sexy mouth and said, "Hold that thought, hotshot." Wriggling seductively out of the circular booth, she threaded past the ladies' room and doubled back to the dimly lit bar.
One more shooter should do it—silence the disapproving voice that kept whining, "This is not a good idea."
"Shut up," she muttered. The bartender, a student who looked as out of place in the hotel's funky bar as she felt, looked up. "Not you...Sorry, Phil." Leaning over, she patted his scrawny shoulder.
His bespectacled gaze instinctively dropped to the girls, nicely displayed by Jo's push-up bra and low-cut chiffon top. She froze on a sudden upwelling of grief, then laughed and shimmied them. "Pretty good, huh? One of my best features, I'm told."
Phil averted his gaze. "Um...yeah, sure...What would you like?"
"A sublime sexual experience that I'll remember the rest of my life," she confided. "But right now, another Jagerbomb will do."
"Okaaay," said Phil slowly. "On your room tab again, Ms. Swann? Eight oh One, wasn't it?"
"Thanks, mate." He filled a tumbler with Red Bull, then dropped in a shot glass of Jagermeister. Jo watched the red-brown liqueur billow into the gold and told herself it didn't look like a blood spill because that would be morbid and tonight was all about having fun with a capital F.
"Got the time?" she asked. "Hard to tell in this place." Plush and windowless with pods of circular white booths, Bar None was an artful contrast of shadows and soft blue spotlights that spilled nowhere useful. Jo had to squint to sign for her drink.
"Guess this better be my last." Picking up her cocktail, Jo knocked it back with a grimace. The anise flavor wasn't as nice as it had been two shots ago. "Nothing by mouth after midnight," she commented. "But you're the med student, Phil. A couple of buffer hours would be sensible, right?"
His eyes bugged. "You're drinking...the night before surgery?" He snatched her glass. "You shouldn't touch alcohol for at least forty-eight hours before."
Does the joy never end? Then the Jagerbomb dropped its alcohol load, the song changed to Ben Harper's version of "Sexual Healing" and Jo started to laugh. "I should care but I don't. No, don't nag, Phil, your future patients won't like it."
Riding the buzz, Jo danced back to her prey. He was engrossed in a call—how cutely corporate—cell to one ear, hand over the other. As Jo did a last hip swivel she heard "I love you, too," and stopped mid twist. Please let that be his mother.
Tony glanced up, caught sight of her and his face said it all. Married.
Her stomach plummeted. "You despicable, lying worm, you told me you were single."
Cutting off the call, he pocketed his cell. "Jo, I—"
"Forget it. I've just wasted two precious hours on you...hours I'll never ever get back." Her voice shook. "I haven't even got the time to make you suffer...now get out!"
Tony didn't need to be told twice. When he'd gone, Jo sank into the booth, rested her elbows on the table and cradled her spinning head until her nausea subsided. Married! Thank God she'd found out before she slept with him. There was a jug of water on the table. She slopped some into Tony's empty glass, wiped the rim with a cocktail napkin and drank it, desperately scanning the bar for new prospects. Too old, too young, too thin, too slick.
Dammit, the alcohol wasn't just for Dutch courage—it was...