The Boss Deal - Penny Wylder Page 0,1

“We've been here long enough, right?”

“Yeah, I think we can sneak away now. Sandy's going to close up the store, and Beth's going to finish up here. So,” she says, holding out her hands, “looks like I'm free tonight.”

We walk up Fifth Ave. and hit the little bar we used to love back in college. I'm genuinely excited about this new endeavor Vanessa is taking me on. Lately things have felt. . . stale.

Change will be good, and I get to do what I do best, put that shit on the map. All my experience with Get Baked is only going to help skyrocket the new stores to the top.

Vanessa pushes the door open to the bar and stops to hand her I.D. to the doorman, then steps inside and waits for me. I do the same, and once inside, she snags my wrist and starts to drag me to the bar.

“Slow down, the liquor isn't going anywhere,” I say, busting her balls.

“I'm here to celebrate, and so are you. We're not wasting any time.” Vanessa laughs out loud, bopping her head to the music as we push ourselves through the crowd.

The place looks the same as it did when we were in school. The walls are still covered in dollar bills that people stapled in place. They're tagged with names, years, hearts, and quotes. The chairs still have the same red leather seats, and the floor tiles are stained with shoe scuffs and years of dirt.

Gotta love a good dive bar.

Reaching the bar, Vanessa rests on her forearms as she leans in and orders our drinks. I lean my back against the edge, just looking out across the room.

Her hand jumps in front of my eyes, passing me a shot glass. “Thanks,” I say, taking it from her.

“Tonight is for us.” She raises her glass as she looks off like she's thinking. “To a fresh future,” she finally says, clinking her glass against mine, and downing the shot.

“To a fresh future,” I repeat back, sucking down the alcohol. The liquor burns as it goes down, and I hack loudly. “Wow, Vanessa, what the hell was that? Gasoline?”

“Ha! Not exactly.” She sets her glass on the bar, and orders two more. Passing me another shot, she says, “This is the Pickleback. It's whiskey and pickle juice. It not only tastes really fucking good, it gets you fucked up.”

“Well,” I say, waggling my eyebrows, “I wouldn't say it tastes good, but getting fucked up is why we're here, right?” Throwing the shot back, I let out a gush of air. “Whoa, that's strong.” My eyes close naturally, and I exhale a hot breath.

“Another round,” she tells the bartender, turning back to me. “I only have one rule for tonight—no work talk. Nothing. No talking about plans, or cupcakes, or those cute little sugar toppings we just got in. Nothing at all. Tonight we drink and enjoy ourselves. Sound good?” she asks, leaning into my ear, and speaking loudly so I can hear her over the music.

I reach back and grab shot number three, giving her a big smile. “Agreed.” The shot goes down a little easier this time, and I already feel the warmth in my belly as it begins to spread.

Vanessa and I take shot after shot, and I eventually melt into a state of nothing but relaxation, which I'm welcoming with open arms. A little break will be good before we spread our wings.

Music pumps through the speakers, spreading through my muscles and causing my foot to start tapping. I'm bobbing my head, laughing and just enjoying this time. Grabbing Vanessa's wrist, I start to pull her.

“Come on, let's go dance.”

She digs her feet in a little and groans. “I'm not drunk enough for that yet, Mist.” She pulls back against me, leaning toward the bar.

“This was your idea, you brought this on yourself.” I pull harder, and she stumbles forward with a smile on her face. “It's time to shake that ass.”

She giggles and reluctantly moves with me to the center of the dance floor. “Fine, but only for a song or two.” Holding up her finger, she gives me a stern look.

“Fair enough,” I yell across the space between us as I start to move to the beat.

I take her hand and spin her around. We laugh and sway our hips, grinding against each other as we dance. Other people's bodies are bumping against us, and we're squished on the dancefloor. Neither of us care, though, we're