Dropping The Ball: A New Year’s Billionaire Romance by Weston Parker

Chapter 1





CARTER





The club was hot and humid despite the air-conditioning. Bodies writhed on the dance floor beneath the flashing strobe lights, and the distinctive scents of alcohol, sweat, and excitement hung heavily in the air.

Bart, my boss and best friend, had built up the private security firm I worked for by his bootstraps and he took his rules very fucking seriously. The first rule of being a bodyguard was to know where my client was at all times.

Sometimes, we had clients who enjoyed trying to dodge us. It was a game of sorts, especially for the younger ones whose parents had stuck a detail on them for one reason or another.

Losing sight of my client would not be a problem this evening. Senator Mackey’s daughter had attached herself to me. Just not in a good way.

Another frozen cocktail sloshed down the front of my shirt, and the very much inebriated Ms. Mackey giggled as she pawed at my chest. At this rate, I was still going to be wringing this strawberry-flavored slush out of my skin by the time I was eighty.

Football players and sports stars often got a lot of flak for being difficult to guard, but they had nothing on socialites. No sportsperson I’d guarded—and that included men and women—had ever grabbed at me the way Mackey had been doing all night. They touched a little, flirted, and gave long lingering looks, but they didn’t fully grope or paw at me the way she was doing.

“Loosen up a little, Carson,” she purred, or tried to.

It came out as more of a slurry bundle of words that maybe, almost, sounded like the ones she’d meant to use. I didn’t speak, not even to correct my name. It’s Carter.

Batting the long, made-up lashes around her red yet still stunningly blue eyes, she peered up at me with the remainder of her drink in one hand and the other on my soaked chest. “Come on, Carson. Join the partaaaay. You know you want to.”

She did a little shimmy while pushing her boobs together with her arms. The dress she was wearing was so tight and flimsy that she nearly popped a nipple with just that one tiny dance move.

My eyes immediately did another sweep of the room, from one side to the other without my head moving at all. If any paparazzi had gotten in here and caught a photo of that, I could kiss my year-end bonus goodbye right in the center of its fat ass.

“I’m marrying Timmy in forty-something hours,” she slurred, evidently not having noticed how close she’d come to flashing the entire nightclub at the bougie hotel where her bachelorette party was being held.

She batted her lashes again, moving back to bring her unfocused eyes up to mine while shaking her hips in a way I thought was probably meant to be provocative. If anyone had asked for my opinion, I’d have told them she looked more like a cooked noodle being shaken by a toddler than a sexy dancer, but at least she was still standing on her own two feet—albeit barely.

At some point tonight, I’d have to drag her puffed and powdered ass out of here, and I already knew it wouldn’t be easy. The senator’s daughter was out to play, and apparently, I had been made a part of her game.

“Really?” She pouted her full lips. “You’re not even looking at me.”

Whatever you think. I was watching her, all right. I saw every move she made, but I knew she wouldn’t be able to tell I was paying any attention to her.

It was all part of the job. Blend in. See everything. Never look. Never get caught staring.

“Timmy isn’t any fun either,” she complained, sticking her bottom lip out.

I had to give it to her. The girl was something to look at even if one was in the business of not looking.

Her flaming-red hair was tied into a loose ponytail at the top of her head, the roots glowing amber in the low light emanating from the bar and the chandeliers overhead. Those blue eyes of hers were iconic, even when she had makeup smeared underneath her lids and her eyeballs were so glassy they looked like they might break.

Miranda Mackey was a favorite of the press. She was a good girl who appeared beside her parents at events while wearing suits buttoned up to her fucking chin, but she also had a rebellious streak that had left many a newsreader hard.

She was what Bart had called relatable when he’d booked this assignment for me. Parents and families loved her because she was perfect but not too perfect. She messed up from time to time and disappointed her Senator. Ahem. Father.

But she always bounced back better than ever. Smiling, waving, and sincerely apologizing for having acted out. People ate that shit up like it was the last chocolate-chip cookie in the batch.

Miranda tilted her head and walked her fingers from one of the buttons on my shirt to the next. “You could be the last person inside me before it’s only Timmy. Forever.”

She shuddered a little on the last word but didn’t break off the seductive look she was trying to give me. “Timmy only likes... missionary.”

She whispered it like it was a bad word before fluttering her lashes at me again. “I bet you can really fuck a girl, huh, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome?”

You’re right. I can, but I’m never telling you that. Nor was I telling her that I wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot barge-pole. She was a client.

Even if it wasn’t the second rule and I thought I could’ve gotten away with breaking Bart’s rules, the Timmy whose sexual preferences I now knew was none other than Timothy Hargrove. Son of Senator Tobias Hargrove, who just so happened to be rumored to be running for president next term.