King of Pride (Kings of Sin #2) by Ana Huang



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“So you didn’t use the glow-in-the-dark condoms I gave you?”

“Nope. Sorry.” Tessa returned my crestfallen stare with an amused one of her own. “It was our first date. Where did you get those condoms anyway?”

“At last month’s neon skate party.” I’d attended the party in hopes it would free me from my creeping life rut. It hadn’t, but it had supplied me with a bag of delightfully lurid party favors that I’d doled out to friends. Since I was suffering from a self-imposed man ban, I had to live vicariously through them, which was hard when said friends didn’t cooperate.

Tessa’s brow wrinkled. “Why were they handing out condoms at a skate party?”

“Because those parties always turn into giant orgies,” I explained. “I saw someone use one of those condoms right there in the middle of the ice rink.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope.” I restocked the garnishes, then turned to straighten the various glasses and tumblers. “Wild, right? It was fun, even if some of the things I witnessed traumatized me for a good week after…”

I rambled on, only half paying attention to my movements. After a year of bartending at the Valhalla Club, an exclusive members-only society for the world’s rich and powerful, most of my work was muscle memory.

It was six on a Monday evening—prime happy hour in other establishments but a dead zone at Valhalla. Tessa and I always used this time to gossip and catch each other up on our weekends.

I was only here for the paycheck until I finished my book and became a published author, but it was nice to work with someone I actually liked. A majority of my previous coworkers had been creeps.

“Did I tell you about the naked flag dude?” I said. “He was one of the ones who always participated in the orgies.”

“Uh, Isa.” My name squeaked out in a decidedly un-Tessa-like manner, but I was on too much of a roll to stop.

“Honestly, I never thought I’d see a glowing dick in—”

A polite cough interrupted my spiel.

A polite, masculine cough that very much did not belong to my favorite coworker.

My movements ground to a screeching halt. Tessa let out another distressed squeak, which confirmed what my gut already suspected: the newcomer was a club member, not our laid-back manager or one of the security guards dropping by on their break.

And they’d just overheard me talking about glowing dicks.


Flags of heat scorched my cheeks. Screw finishing my manuscript; what I wanted most now was for the earth to yawn and swallow me whole.

Sadly, not a single tremor quaked beneath my feet, so after a moment of wallowing in humiliation, I straightened my shoulders, pasted on my best customer service smile, and turned.

My mouth barely completed its upward curve before it froze. Just up and gave out, like a webpage that couldn’t finish loading.

Because standing less than five feet away, looking bemused and far more handsome than any man had the right to look, was Kai Young.

Esteemed member of the Valhalla Club’s managing committee, heir to a multibillion-dollar media empire, and owner of an uncanny ability to show up in the middle of my most embarrassing conversations every time, Kai Young.

A fresh wave of mortification blazed across my face.

“Apologies for interrupting,” he said, his neutral tone betraying no hint of his thoughts on our conversation. “But I’d like to order a drink, please.”

Despite an all-consuming desire to hide under the bar until he left, I couldn’t help but melt a little at the sound of his voice. Deep, smooth and velvety, wrapped in a British accent so posh it put the late Queen’s to shame. It poured into my bloodstream like a half dozen shots of potent whiskey.

My body warmed.

Kai’s brows lifted a fraction, and I realized I’d been so focused on his voice that I hadn’t responded to his request yet. Meanwhile Tessa, the little traitor, had disappeared into the back room, leaving me to fend for myself. She’s never getting a condom out of me again.

“Of course.” I cleared my throat, attempting to lighten the cloud of thickening tension. “But I’m afraid we don’t serve glow-in-the-dark gin and tonics.” Not without a black light to make the tonic glow, anyway.

He gave me a blank look.

“Because of the last time you overheard me talking about con—er, protective products,” I said. Nothing. I might as well be babbling about rush hour traffic patterns, for all the reaction he showed. “You ordered a strawberry gin and tonic because I was talking about strawberry-flavored…”

I was digging myself into a deeper and deeper hole. I didn’t want to remind Kai about the time he overheard me discussing strawberry condoms at the club’s fall gala, but I had to say something to divert his attention away from, well, my current condom predicament.

I should really stop talking about sex at work.

“Never mind,” I said quickly. “Do you want your usual?”

His one-off strawberry gin and tonic aside, Kai ordered a scotch, neat every time. He was more predictable than a Mariah Carey song during the holidays.

“Not today,” he said easily. “I’ll have a Death in the Afternoon instead.” He lifted his book so I could see the title scrawled across the worn cover. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. “Seems fitting.”