Sinners’ lead guitarist, Brian Sinclair tugged at his restrictive collar and offered his best friend and fellow guitarist, Trey Mills, his most scathing look. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this. I look like a complete idiot.”
Trey scanned Brian from head to toe. “You look great.” Trey bit his lower lip and snorted. “For a wuss.”
Brian ran a hand over his quilted vest and stared down at his slippers.Slippers! He was wearing freakin’ slippers. And he couldn’t consider those things on his legs socks, more like hose. Rock stars did not wear hose. Eyeliner? Sure. But not hose. Had men actually worn this lame stuff back in the Elizabethan era?
Trey stifled his sniggering by popping a pair of pointed teeth into his mouth.
“I’m wearing frickin’ capris and a cape, Trey. A cape!” Brian’s knee-length pants were purple (purple!) to match his quilted vest and both garments had fancy designs sewn all over them with golden thread. The cape fell to his hips, which was wrong on so many levels. Brian didn’t even want to think about the ruffles at his throat and the loose, flowing sleeves of his blouse. Yeah, he looked like a complete tool.
“Not quite the same, bro.”
Trey wore mostly black, except his face which was painted white with red rimming his vivid green eyes. Lined with red satin, the hem of Trey’s cape just brushed the floor.
He looked cool, not like a tool.
Trey rang the doorbell. Loud music and boisterous voices came from within Sed’s beach condo, but the door was locked so they had to wait for admittance. This party was for invited guests only.
“Besides, you make a lovely prince.” Trey moved out of Brian’s reach before busting out laughing. “Charming even!”
Before Brian could thump him in the forehead, the door opened. Their lead singer, Sed, who was ripped beyond belief, stood there in nothing but a loincloth. From the tropical smell coming off him, he’d applied a healthy slathering of coconut oil to draw even more attention to his disgustingly perfect physique. Sed took one look at Brian and joined Trey’s riotous laughter. “You forgot your purse, Brian,” Sed said, his baritone voice breathy from laughing so hard.
“I’m leaving,” Brian said. He didn’t want to be here in the first place. What fun was a party without the woman you loved? Myrna was still in Kansas City working at her professor job and he was stuck here alone. Again. Sometimes he wished she’d give up her career and be a constant fixture at his side, but then, she wouldn’t be Myrna and he didn’t want her to change.
“What are you supposed to be?” Trey asked Sed.
“So where’s Jane?”
On cue, three fur-bikini clad young women plastered their bodies to Sed’s. Triplets. Where on earth had Sed found three hot triplets to act as his costume accessories?
“Here we are!” the three Janes said in unison.
When they noticed Brian their eyes opened wide in astonishment. He winced, waiting for the insults to start flying.
“Master Sinclair!” the three said in harmony. “You look so handsome!”
They moved away from Sed to wrap Brian in an enthusiastic group hug. While Brian was trying to untangle himself from long, female limbs, Trey moved up behind one of the young ladies, lifted a squeeze bottle, and trickled something red down the side of her neck. He lowered his head to suck the sticky syrup from her throat. She went limp in Trey’s arms and he pulled her into the open door of Sed’s condo.
“Do you really think Sinclair looks good like that?” Sed asked his two remaining Janes, a puzzled scowl on his face.
“Oh yes,” one of them said, “What girl wouldn’t want a handsome prince to sweep her around the dance floor? Will you dance with me, Brian?”
Jane Number 2 grabbed Brian’s hand and yanked him through the front door, leaving Sed with but one Jane of his own.
“I don’t dance,” Brian insisted.
“Wow,” Eric Sticks, Sinners’ tall drummer, said over the crowd. “Who’s the fine woman in the purple dress?”
Brian snarled at him. “Bite me.”
“Can do!” Trey headed toward Brian with his bottle of cherry syrup.
“Keep your fangs to yourself, Mills,” Brian said.
“My turn,” some attractive brunette said, intercepting Trey and tilting her head to the side to give him access to her long neck. Trey grinned and complied, sucking on her throat until she moaned in torment. A line of eager blood donors formed behind Trey’s current victim.
“Myrna is so gonna dump you for looking like a pansy,” Eric said to Brian, his own costume some mix of gangster, Rambo, and gladiator. Ammunition belts crossed his bare chest. A scabbard with sword hung from one hip. He’d strapped a pistol to his right thigh and had a small shield fixed to his left forearm. He was also wearing what had once been Brian’s lucky hat—a floppy black-leather fedora that had been tainted one steamy evening on a motorcycle with Myrna. Brian grinned to himself. If Eric knew what had happened in that hat, he would not be wearing it. Apparently, their bassist, Jace, who knew all about the events of that evening, could keep a secret.
Eric fished his camera phone out of the pocket of his low slung black cargo pants and aimed it at Brian. “I’ll send Myrna a pic. Maybe I’ll finally get my chance with her after she sees you like this.”
Brian smacked the phone out of Eric’s hand and it landed in a nearby punchbowl. Punch sloshed all over Jace who was drinking the stuff like it was water. From his obvious sway, the punch must’ve been spiked. He apparently needed something to increase his confidence. And who wouldn’t if their costume consisted of ass-less chaps and a pink thong.
Brian grinned, feeling slightly less ridiculous dressed as a prince. “Jace, what are you wearing?”
Jace wiped the punch from his naked chest and licked at his fingers. He shrugged, refusing to meet Brian’s eyes and chugged another glass of punch.
“He lost a bet,” Eric boasted.
“Eric cheated.” Jace scowled. “I could have easily done a hundred pull-ups if he hadn’t used that feather duster on me.”
“Did you know Jace is very ticklish?” Eric chuckled.
Jace flipped him off.
“Eric always cheats, Jace. You should know that by now.”
A sexy cat woman wandered over to Jace and slid a hand over his bare butt. She whispered something into his ear and he blushed crimson to the roots of his bleached-blond hair. She slapped his butt with a resounding crack and slinked toward the spare bedroom. Jace tossed back the rest of his punch and followed. The vivid red handprint on one butt cheek wasn’t nearly as red as his face.
“I thought for sure the pink thong would keep the ladies away,” Eric said and slapped himself in the forehead. “That backfired.”
Someone tugged at Brian’s sleeve. He turned to find Jane Number 2, or 1, maybe 3 (he couldn’t tell them apart), looking up at him expectantly.
“Are you going to dance with me now?”
Brian didn’t want to dance with anyone. Well, Myrna. Maybe. If he were drunk enough and if she were present. God, he missed her. He felt so alone and exposed without her body pressed against his. “I think Sed is looking for you.”
Jane glanced across the room at Sed who was surrounded by the other two Janes and half a dozen additional women. “Doubtful.” She went to join him anyway.
Eric moved to the punchbowl and ladled his cell phone into a cup. “I lose more phones this way. Good thing it’s still under warranty.”
An expanse of ivory satin near the spiral staircase caught Brian’s attention. He could only see the woman’s back, but she was stunning. The wide skirt of her elegant ball gown brushed the steps as she ascended to the second floor. Her thick auburn hair was drawn up off her neck and fashioned into an intricate knot decorated with large pearls. Several tendrils of hair had escaped the severe style to caress the creamy skin of her neck and shoulders. She reminded Brian so much of Myrna his heart skipped a beat. Brian watched, transfixed, as her high-heeled shoe tumbled from beneath her skirt and down the steps.
Brian went after it instinctively. He collected it from the floor and looked up to find she hadn’t descended the steps to retrieve her shoe. She’d continued to climb, seeming oblivious to its loss.
“Miss, you dropped your shoe,” Brian said from the bottom of the staircase. When she didn’t respond, he started after her.
She climbed faster. When she reached the landing, she sprinted toward the back of the loft in the direction of Sed’s well-used bedroom.
Had Brian startled her? He hadn’t meant to. He probably should have just left her shoe at the top of the stairs, but he chased after her, not sure why his pulse was racing with excitement. He only had eyes for one woman, but for some reason he wanted to see this lovely stranger’s face. At the top of the stairs, he watched the hem of her ivory gown disappear into Sed’s bedroom. She must be one of Sed’s women. Maybe Sed had said something to hurt her feelings. The dude was notorious for crushing women’s hearts. For some reason, their tears always got to Brian. He couldn’t stand to see a woman cry.
Brian entered the bedroom and found the elegant lady seated on the loveseat. She had her skirt hiked just high enough to reveal one lovely barefoot and her face turned toward the large window along the far wall.
“Is everything okay?” he asked, his heart hammering with excitement. Why did this unknown woman unsettle him? Was it her mystery? Her elegance? That big freakin’ dress, which made her look impossibly feminine? When she didn’t answer, he eased further into the room. “You dropped your shoe.”
She wiggled her manicured toes, but still didn’t look at him. He had an unsettling feeling of familiarity when he looked at her. He carried her shoe closer and crouched down at her feet. When her delicate scent engulfed him, Brian’s eyes drifted closed.
Couldn’t make it, huh? Liar.
He didn’t know why Myrna was here when she’d insisted she couldn’t get out of work, but her scent was unmistakable. The sizzle of attraction between them undeniable. The instantaneous surge of lust to his groin unavoidable. He didn’t need to look up at her face to know it was her. It couldn’t be any other woman on the planet. No other woman drew this response from him. He dropped her shoe on the floor and massaged the instep of her foot with both thumbs. Her toes curled in response.
“Did you twist your ankle, miss?” he asked, his hands sliding up to her ankle. He chanced a peek at her face and found all but her mouth and chin concealed behind an elaborately decorated, ivory mask. Those pouty pink lips were definitely Myrna’s and he definitely wanted to kiss them.
She shook her head slightly.
His hands slid up her calf. “Did you lure me here to seduce me, princess? My lady’s out of town, so if we’re discrete, she’ll never kn—”
His teasing words were cut off by a hard foot to the chest. He tumbled back onto the carpet.
“What?” Myrna bellowed, standing over him with fists planted on either hip.
Brian laughed, reached up to grab her around the waist, and tumbled her to the floor. He pinned her beneath him with his body, knowing she couldn’t kick him with her legs all tangled in yards of satin.
“Don’t you dare touch me.”
He kissed her jaw. “I knew it was you, sweetheart.”
“No woman stirs me up the way you do. But if you want to pretend you’re a beautiful stranger who lured me to bed by losing her shoe…” His lips trailed along her jaw line to her chin.
The tension drained from her body and her arms slid around his back to draw him closer.
“I’m supposed to be Cinderella.”
“So if I place the slipper upon your foot and it fits, you’ll love me forever?”
“I already love you forever. The shoe fits and I wear it.” She touched his face and claimed his lips in a kiss that made his skin tingle. When she drew away, she said, “You do make a handsome prince, Brian Sinclair.”
“You’re beautiful. Always.” He stared into her green-flecked hazel eyes. Something about the mask obscuring her face made his blood run hot. “That was a naughty trick to play on me, princess. Making me think I was going to have to spend Halloween without you.”
She released the leather band holding his hair at his nape and ran her fingers though his shoulder-length locks until they settled around their faces. “If you can figure out how to get this obnoxious dress off me, I’d say you’re in for one heck of a treat, my prince.”