Nights With Him(4)

By: Lauren Blakely

“And now there’s something else we need to talk about,” Henry began, steepling his fingers together, his tone shifting to serious as he motioned for someone to join them at the bar—a suited man with black hair, and a blue-and-red striped tie. Only politicians wore such ties. Jack tensed; politics was not his favorite playground.

“Jack, I want to introduce you to Marquita’s brother, Paul Denkler. He’s running for city councilman in our neck of the woods and he’s been focused on safe streets, schools and a balanced budget. But somehow that message has been subverted by his opponent, who’s decided to fight below the belt and attack our business. If Paul doesn’t win, it could be very bad for business,” Henry said, and Jack’s ears pricked at the words bad for business. He didn’t like those words. Not one bit. He preferred good for business, so if this fellow played on the good side, then he’d hear him out.

“Lay it on me,” Jack said, and a meeting about selling The Wild One quickly became something else entirely.

* * *

The deal had been signed. The new product would have both prominent in-store and online placement, and Jack had promised an extra shipment for Marquita and Henry’s personal stash. The undecided part? How he felt about Denkler. How he felt about getting involved in politics. He didn’t have a thorny past with a politician; he didn’t have a senator dad he detested. He simply followed the news, and knew that politics was a slimy, dirty battlefield. Jack had served his country for six years and that was about the extent of his interest in matters of state. This thing with Denkler, though—it wasn’t a matter of state, so much as a matter of business, and a matter of personal business. Jack cared deeply about Henry; the man was a business partner, and had been through hell and back during the past year as his wife battled and beat breast cancer.

What pissed him off was the opponent’s tactics, and how the other guy was going after Paul Denkler through his brother-in-law’s business, which had nothing to do with the race. That was underhanded, and that didn’t sit well with Jack.

But whatever he decided to do, he’d do it with Casey on board. The two were a team, and always had been, so he’d have to table Henry’s request until he spoke with his sister and laid it all out for her. For now, he shoved thoughts of politics and campaigns and consequences aside. Henry and Marquita were off to a dinner meeting, and Jack was alone, so he settled in at the bar and ordered a vodka tonic, scrolling through his phone as he waited for his drink.

He’d been planning on having a drink with his good buddy Nate tonight, but Nate had to work late on a last-minute deal. They’d agreed to still meet tomorrow morning for a round of hoops before work. That meant Jack’s agenda for the rest of the evening was simple—a quick drink, then he’d watch some of the Yankees game from the comfort of his living room. Those twin activities would help him crash later, because he sure could use a decent night’s sleep before the appointment that Casey had arranged tomorrow at two. Just the thought of dealing then with the shit that was in his head gave him an ulcer, but he knew Casey would kick his ass if he didn’t give it a shot.

She wanted him to start dating again. She’d told him the upcoming charity event they were sponsoring next month for breast cancer research would be the perfect time to get back on the market, or at the very least, to slough off all his regret from the past. As if that were possible. But Casey had her mind set. She seemed ready and eager to get him back on the scene, judging from the story link she’d just emailed him. The note was titled, New York’s Most Eligible Bachelors.

Look! You’re on the list! Sex-toy mogul Jack Sullivan tops this year’s list of the city’s most eligible bachelors in business. Don’t you think he needs a new woman to mend his broken heart? Makes you just want to nab that man even more.

He rolled his eyes, and replied, The depth of their insight never fails to astound me.

He turned the damn thing to silent. He could do without the reminders tonight. Reminders of anything. Of the woman he’d lost, of the fascination the gossip rags seemed to have with his dating or non-dating status—as the case had been for the last year—and of the claws some women wanted to sink into him, thanks to the growth trajectory Joy Delivered had been on. While at dinner with Casey last week, he’d been propositioned by a young woman who’d said she was on the hunt for an eligible bachelor businessman.

Call him old-fashioned, but the next time he got involved, he’d like it to be with someone who actually gave a shit about him, rather than what he did for a living, the company he ran, or his prior love life.

Or with the absolutely stunning brunette who was walking past him and—hello, lucky stars—was now sitting at the other end of the bar. The same one who’d caught his eye when she’d stepped into the elevator earlier in the evening. Her hair was in a twist that showed off her neck. She had a fantastic pair of legs, strong and muscular, a nice trim waist, and she was rocking some kind of buttoned-up-on-the outside vibe with her blouse and pencil skirt that made him wonder if she was buttoned up on the inside too.

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