Acer: No Prisoners MC Book 3
Fia stepped into the ballroom and ran a trembling hand down the front of her dress. She plastered what was probably an overly syrupy smile on her face and nodded at the son of a California State Senator who raised a hand in greeting. It wouldn’t serve her well to wear her anger on the outside, so she put years of practice and grooming to good use and played the rich socialite.
The senator’s son abandoned his conversation and strode toward her, a smug, women-love-me-for-my-money-and-looks smile on his face. Fia resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Gordon had been pursuing her for a while now, and she had less than no interest in the man who thought he was God’s gift to women everywhere.
“Good evening, Serafina. I must say, you look lovely tonight.”
She winced. Strike one.
“Hello, Gordon. You’re looking very handsome yourself, and please call me Fia.”
He wrinkled his perfect nose. “I don’t know why you insist on people calling you by that foolish nickname. Serafina is a lovely name, and you should be proud to have it.” He took her hand and drew her out on the dance floor.
It took every ounce of strength she possessed to avoid ripping her hand from his weak hold. Arrogant jerk didn’t even have the decency to ask if she’d like to dance with him. No, he just assumed any woman would be honored to have the privilege of being led around the floor by him.
Sure, his five-hundred-dollar haircut had each dark strand lying in a perfect arrangement, and his manicured nails were impeccable, but the soft hands they adorned did nothing for her as a woman. Neither did the metaphorically turned up nose and literal lack of work ethic. There are some things a thousand-watt smile and gorgeous deep green eyes just can’t overcome.
She hated these events. If rich people actually donated as much money to charities as they spent on balls and banquets, the unfortunate would be much more fortunate. But, tonight’s event was for a cause she believed in, so she was here. And with no desire to embarrass herself or her family, she’d behave, even if that meant enduring a dance with a man who viewed himself as an angle sent to earth for the sake of women everywhere.
Fia preferred her angels with a bit of a crooked halo.
Her own was pretty off kilter.
She allowed Gordon to draw her into his embrace and swayed with him to the music, careful to keep a bit of distance between their bodies. Too bad he couldn’t take a hint.
He leaned down and brushed his nose along the curve of her neck. “You smell lovely, Serafina.”
Did the man know any compliments besides lovely?”
“Fia,” she ground out.
He chuckled against her ear as though she were a child who’d said something cute, and she pulled her head back, narrowing her eyes at him. He really was handsome. He was tall and wore a suite well. Unfortunately, she’d seen him at the country club, and what was under the suit could only be described as soft. He was a man who spent his time indoors, behind a desk.
Not her type.
“Okay, fine, Fia.”
Gordon rambled on about his ambitions to take over his father’s seat in the senate, and she tuned him out, instead letting her gaze drift around the room. Her focus landed on a man, standing in the corner with a scowl on his face as he listened to another, older gentleman speak.
She couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was about the man that captured her attention. At first glance, he looked like any other male in the room, expensive tuxedo, expertly styled dark blond hair, flawless facial features. But the energy he gave off was almost palpable, like a caged tiger seconds away from escape. She shivered. If all that power was unleashed, the effects could be devastating.
Gordon turned them and Fia lost sight of the intriguing guy.
With a laugh, Gordon let out a surprising and unrefined curse. “Shit, there he is. And I wagered this would be the year he finally quit showing up here and upsetting his family.”
Fia pulled back and looked up at him. “Who are you talking about?”
He spun her a second time so they both faced the very man she’d been staring at, only he wasn’t in the same spot he’d been in seconds before. She watched the back of his head as he trailed after the man he’d been speaking with.
“See the blond guy, the one walking out of the room?”
“Yes, I see him, who is he?”
“That’s Adam Wellington.”
Her jaw dropped and Gordon laughed at her. Adam was a bit of an urban society legend. He was the only son of corporate developer Reginald Wellington. Story was, he’d dropped out of society to join a gang after a friend of his went to prison for assault.
Fia wasn’t stupid enough to believe the story was that simple, but it was intriguing.
“He comes to this one charity event every year. No one knows why. Some say he’s planning something. Biding his time until he can get back at everyone he blames for his low status in life now.”
Fia rolled her eyes. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
The man in question turned, meeting her gaze as though he heard her from fifty feet away. His eyes smoldered with a mixture of anger, frustration and…could that be desire?
Unnerved by the intensity, she tore her gaze away and stepped back from Gordon as the song ended. “Thank you for the dance, Gordon. Please excuse me, I’m going to get some air.”
He nodded. “Would you like me to join you, Serafina?” His tone suggested she’d be getting more than air.
“No, Gordon, I’d like a moment alone. And if I have to tell you to call me Fia again, I’ll be doing so while you’re doubled over with my knee against your balls.”
She turned and walked away from a slack-jawed Gordon.
Whoops. So much for acting like a lady.
Relief was instantaneous as she stepped outside onto a balcony and into the warm night air. It wasn’t fresh air, as it was L.A., but at least she was no longer surrounded by hundreds of society’s most elite and pretentious.
Today had been long day full of frustrations and failures. What she really wanted was peace, quiet and a warm bath full of bubbles. And wine, lots of wine. But she believed in the cause and wanted to show her support.
Once a year, at a different one of his hotels, Reginald Wellington held a large gala to raise money for state penitentiaries in whichever state the ball was held in. The money was used to provide counseling services to inmates.
Fia had a friend in college who ran into some trouble with the law, and spent a year in jail. When he got out, he remained on a straight path, and was now a successful defense attorney, but his time in prison had taken a large psychological toll, and she’d watched her friend struggle for years with depression.
This event meant something to her, and with her own career in jeopardy, it gave her something to focus on besides her own battles. She grasped the railing of the balcony and stared at the glittering lights of L.A. She had some significant decisions to make, and no clue which direction she should take.