Author: Kirsty Moseley “I’ll come with you.” I tugged my hand out of his and stepped closer to him, smiling reassuringly. “But I’ll be right there. There’s no need to worry, I promise. You can even still see me,” I murmured, going up on tiptoes and planting a chaste kiss on his cheek. “Please? No one even knows me here,” I whispered so that no one else could hear. He sighed, and his shoulders tightened as his eyes scanned the bar before he finally nodded in agreement. I grinned triumphantly. “Great, what do you want to drink then?” “Orange juice.” I frowned at that. “Can I put vodka in that?” Ashton shook his head sternly. “No, Anna,” was all he said. I knew that was a definite no, he only used my actual name when he was serious. Walking off before he could change his mind, I made my way to the bar, squeezing in next to the blonde girl I’d scouted for Nate. I smiled at her. “I love your dress, it’s gorgeous.” She smiled before brushing the skirt of her red dress gently. “Thanks! I got it on sale. It only cost thirty-five bucks, can you believe that?” “No way, that’s awesome,” I gasped, looking down at it enviously, wondering if I could ask Ashton to hunt out this mystery store so I could buy one before we left to go back to school. The barman stopped in front of me and smiled expectantly. “Hey, can I have four beers, an orange juice and a rum and coke?” I asked, praying he wouldn’t card me. He didn’t even bat an eyelid as I reeled off my alcohol order. While he was making it, I turned my attention to the girl again. “Are you here on your own?” She sighed and frowned, looking around quickly. “I’m supposed to be meeting friends, but I’m a little early.” “Do you want to come over and wait for them with us?” I asked, raising my eyebrows innocently. “I’m with my boyfriend and his friends.” I nodded over to where they were. They’d snagged a table, so were now sat around it, laughing and chatting. Her gaze flicked in that direction and her eyes widened. “Wow, they’re freaking hot!” she gasped. I chuckled and nodded in agreement. “Which one is your boyfriend? Ah, I bet it’s the one with black hair, he hasn’t taken his eyes off you yet.” She nudged me in the side, smiling. I grinned, looking over to see that Ashton was indeed watching me like a hawk to make sure I was alright. “Yep, that’s him,” I confirmed. “You can wait with us if you want, it’s no problem. It’s better than standing here on your own.” She nodded in agreement, smiling gratefully as she picked up her drink. “I’m Michelle, by the way.” “Anna.” When the barman set a tray down on the bar, I slid my money across the wood and then we made our way across to the boys’ table. “Guys, this is Michelle, she’s going to wait with us for a bit for her friends,” I introduced, nodding at her. Nate’s face lit up as he stood. “Hi, Michelle. I’m Nate.” He took her hand and looked straight into her eyes, leaning in a little too close for an informal greeting. A blush spread across her cheeks. I laughed and turned my attention to Ashton, who looked like he was finally relaxing now that I was back at his side. On quick inspection, I noticed that there weren’t enough chairs with Michelle here too, so I smiled and sat myself on Ashton’s lap, placing his orange juice down in front of him. “So, what will it take for me to get you to drink and enjoy your birthday?” I inquired. He grinned, shrugging. “I don’t need to drink to enjoy my birthday. I’ve had the best day of my life with you today.” My insides melted as I pressed myself closer to him. I still wanted to see him loosen up though. “Please? Just a drink or two, I’ll do anything you want,” I offered, raising one eyebrow suggestively. He gulped, and I could almost see the dirty thoughts running through his mind. “I don’t want anything,” he protested, but at the same time he licked his lips. I was no body language expert, but that subconscious move told me that he wanted something. Raising my hand, I ran one finger around the collar of his shirt, tracing his skin with my fingertip. “There must be something that you want, or that I can do for you,” I whispered in his ear. My skin prickled as I thought about all the things that I could do as a bribe for getting him to have a drink with me. There wasn’t that much that I wasn’t up for tonight. Tonight I would make sure he had a spectacular birthday. I smiled and pulled away teasingly, making him groan. “One drink and you can name your price,” I offered, smirking at him. “Baby Girl, come on, I can’t. It’s not that I don’t want what you’re offering because damn, that sounds like the best offer I’m ever going to get in my life, but I can’t do that, I won’t,” he answered sternly. I sighed and shook my head. I’d keep working on him; he’d cave eventually even if I had to insist that he suck a shot from my belly button. “You will by the end of the night,” I disagreed knowingly. He shook his head sternly and smiled confidently, both of us sure of the outcomes. He’d give in though, I was sure of it, he wasn’t that strong. Giving up for now, I turned my attention back to Nate. He and Michelle were locked in the middle of a full scale makeout session. I smiled and shook my head incredulously. The stories that Ashton had told me about his best friend being the master of seduction were clearly not exaggerated. Two hours later and I was having a fantastic night. Michelle’s friends had turned up a little while later, so she’d made her exit – not before keying her number into Nate’s cell phone and telling him to call her later. I’d made sure not to drink too much; I’d only had three drinks before moving onto orange juice too. Nate and Ashton’s other friends were growing on me more and more by the second. Los Angeles was turning out to be everything I thought it would be, and more. “Ashton, your turn for drinks, bud,” Nate announced, knocking on the table to get his attention. Ashton groaned and stood, sending me a meaningful look that told me to stay put and not move. I watched as he deliberately walked to the corner of the bar so that he could still see me easily. I grinned and shook my head at how overprotective he was. Nate turned to me and smiled. “So, where did you two meet anyway? Ashton never said.” Okay, time for some fun; let’s see how gullible Nate is! “We met in a strip club, I gave him a dance,” I lied, shrugging casually. “Shut up! You’re a stripper?” Nate cried with wide eyes. “No!” I snapped, faking horror. “Oh, sorry, I just thought when you said… oh, never mind,” Nate stuttered, smiling apologetically. “I’m most certainly not a stripper. I’m a lap dancer,” I replied, trying not to laugh as he choked on his beer. “A lap dancer?” he asked, shocked. “Yep, there’s a big difference.” Ashton came back then, setting the drinks down on the table. He smiled but didn’t ruin my game as he slid into the seat next to mine. “Really? You’re serious?” Nate inquired. I grinned. It looked like Nate was extremely gullible after all! “Yep,” I nodded, trying to keep a straight face. “Well, how much, Anna? I’ll take one,” he chirped, grabbing his wallet out of his pocket, grinning like crazy. “How much you got?” I leant in as he opened his wallet. He counted for a couple of seconds. “Fifty eight dollars and twenty five cents,” he answered, looking at me hopefully. I waved my hand dismissively. “Nowhere near enough,” I replied, scrunching my nose up. Ashton laughed, so I turned to him and raised one eyebrow. “You, on the other hand, can get one for one drink. Two drinks will get you a private one. And for three drinks, I’ll do it in my sexiest underwear,” I offered. He groaned and a pained looked crossed his face. “I’ll buy you three drinks, Anna,” Seth interjected, jumping up quickly. I shook my head, smiling apologetically. “Sorry, Seth, your price is much higher. This one’s just for my man,” I explained. I scooted to the edge of my seat, pressing my side against Ashton’s as I leant in closer, leaving our mouths millimetres apart. “Three drinks is all it takes. I might even forgo the no touching rule, seeing as it’s your birthday.” My body was begging for him to accept, I would definitely forgo the no touching rule they usually had for lap dances. “I can’t,” he whined, looking at me pleadingly. I shrugged nonchalantly. “Offer expires at midnight, that’s when your birthday is officially over.” I ran my nose up the side of his, listening to my heart thumping wildly in my chest. “Anna, please?” he begged, closing his eyes. “Anna please… what?” I asked, nibbling on the edge of his jaw. “You’re killing me,” he moaned, shaking his head. I pressed my lips to his, kissing him gently before pulling back and grinning wickedly. From the corner of my eye, I saw Nate stand and walk off. A minute later he came back and set three shot glasses down in front of Ashton. “You’ve only got until midnight before the offer expires, Taylor. If I were you, I would drink them the hell down, right now,” he suggested, looking at me longingly. Ashton glanced at his watch and groaned. “It’s ten to twelve now.” I smiled. He was definitely wavering. “Well, how about you do one shot and I give you a taster, and if you like it you can do the other two,” I offered. I watched his face as the offer sank in. He wanted it badly. As if unable to help himself, he picked up one of the glasses. My stomach clenched in anticipation of having to give him a lap dance in front of everyone, but the alcohol in my system was giving me the confidence. Putting my hand on the bottom of the glass, I guided it towards his lips, watching his face as he tried to decide. Before he could make up his mind though, a fight broke out in the bar. I didn’t even get the chance to flinch before Ashton was out of his seat and had yanked me to my feet, pushing me against the wall as he stepped in front of me protectively. As sounds of a struggle rang out, I hooked my fingers into his belt loops and stayed still and quiet, just like he had taught me to.