Park Avenue Player by Vi Keeland

Chapter 1



Sometimes, I wished I was ugly. Maybe not giant-wart-on-your-nose, three-of-my-teeth-turned-black-and-those-are-the-only-ones-I-have, scar-running-down-my-cheek, thinning-haired-woman-comb-over ugly—because I do have to look at my own reflection every once in a while—but it would be nice to walk into a room and not get eye-fucked by every shiny-suit-wearing, stockbroker asshole in the bar.

Do I sound bitter? I’m sorry. But downtown stockbroker bars always get to me. Aren’t brokers just used car salesmen in fancier suits? If they’re so great about picking stocks, why aren’t they home counting their thousand dollar bills earned from gold-laden investments, rather than selling advice to others?

I was minimally grateful that tonight’s catch wasn’t a stockbroker.

Speaking of which… My target had just noticed me. It took the leering pig a solid minute to work his way up to my face. At least this cheater looked exactly like the picture we’d been given: tall, fit, inky black hair slicked back, square jaw, imperious nose. Squinty eyes. One look, and I knew I’d walk the other way if this weren’t a job.

My unsuspecting opponent for tonight was an attorney from the Upper West Side—an entertainment lawyer with a penchant for fucking starlets who hadn’t yet learned to look beneath the three-thousand-dollar wool suit and check for a wolf.

Our non-refundable retainer was forty hours for this job. I’d bet money I could be done in a fraction of that time. Hmmm…maybe I will bet. Soren was always up for a little wager. Of course, it was a win-win for him since it motivated me to finish the job quickly, which, in turn, meant I was free to start another one sooner.

Only, I hoped there wouldn’t be any more jobs like this one. I had an interview for a real job tomorrow night—one that didn’t involve getting pawed on a daily basis—and with any luck, this crap would soon be over.

Sensing Larry the lawyer ogling me across the bar again, I fluttered my lashes as I looked up and shot him my best you’re-a-big-rich-tough-guy-and-I’m-just-a-little-old-stupid-girl smile. Just for fun, I added a twirl of my naturally platinum hair as I hoisted my D cups in his direction. His flat-chested brunette wife had mentioned he favored blondes with big boobs.

You’re in luck, Larry. Ring-a-ding-ding. Come and get it, you dog.

By the time I finished texting Soren about a wager, the courthouse conniver was already at my side.

“You look like you could use a drink,” he said.

I bit my lip and cast my eyes down, feigning shyness for a few seconds, then raised my big baby blues to him. “I don’t usually drink with strangers.”

He offered me his hand. “Garrett Lopresti.”

And so it begins. Lie number one, Larry Mercer.

Putting my hand in his, we shook. “Sienna Bancroft.”

He didn’t let go. “Now we’re not strangers, are we, Sienna?”

I smiled, as if flattered by his attention. As if men being attracted to long legs and a great rack wasn’t the bane of my existence. When my phone buzzed, I knew it was Soren. “Excuse me just a moment.”

Soren: Leo just parked. He should be inside any minute.

Elodie: I’m feeling lucky. Or should I say Larry is feeling he might get lucky tonight with Sienna. What do you say to my wager?

Soren responded seconds later.

Soren: Pull this job off in four hours or less, and I’ll double your fee.

Sorry, Larry/Garrett. You won’t even be copping a cheap feel tonight. But what you will be getting…is exactly what you deserve.

I tossed my phone into my purse and tilted my head coyly. “Did you mention a drink?”

Sometimes I felt badly about what I did. There were two sides to every story, and we only got to hear one of them. On occasion, the women who hired us were nasty bitches. Although that still didn’t give any man the right to cheat. Walk away, Prospective Mr. Cheater. There was always that option.

But then sometimes we got a bitchy wife coupled with a husband that took weeks to secure even the slightest hint of infidelity on camera. I might have felt a touch of guilt with those jobs. But tonight was definitely not one of those nights.

Thirty minutes after Garrett suggested we sit in a booth so we could have privacy, his wedding-ring-indented hand was on my knee under the table. Such a slimeball. Yet I still had to play along, knowing Leo wouldn’t be able to catch the hand with his video camera on the other side of the bar.

I wanted his hand off my knee.

I wanted him away from me.

So I played dirty. The camera wouldn’t be able to capture what I said.

He’d been staring at my lips the last few minutes like he was about to devour them. I hated when any of my jobs kissed me on the mouth—or kissed me at all, for that matter. So a little push in the right direction was definitely in order. The bastard opened the door, enabling me to kick him right through.

“So whatta you say we get out of here?” he suggested. “Go back to your place?”

I leaned in and lowered my voice. “Don’t I get to sample the goods before I take them home?”

“Gorgeous, you can have anything you want. What do you have on your mind?”

“Well…” I pushed my arms tight against my sides, causing my breasts to pop up and out of my already low-cut blouse, showcasing a ridiculous amount of cleavage. His eyes followed. “My neck is very sensitive. I like the skin under my ear sucked.”

“I can do that. But what are you going to suck for me in return?”

I swallowed the bile in my throat and forced a smile. “Whatever you want.”

I didn’t even have a chance to brace myself before he was on me. His mouth went straight for my neck. I let him get in a few disgusting kisses and sucks before I glanced over to where I knew Leo was positioned. He gave me a curt nod, and I shoved Larry back and lied through my teeth.

“That feels so good. Let’s just go to my place. I’m dying to give you a good suck, too.”

“Lead the way.”

“Give me two minutes to go to the powder room so I can freshen up.”

He took my hand and cupped it around his hard-on through his pants. “We’ll be right here waiting for you. Hurry.”

“Oh, I will.”

My departure was always well planned in advance. A few days ago, I’d stopped by the bar and found an emergency exit at the end of the hallway that led to the bathroom. Since it was at the back of the building, I’d parked my car on the street behind the bar.

Pushing open the door, I strutted through and took a deep breath of fresh air. I was going to have to go home and shower after having that guy’s lips on me. But for now, I was done. I texted as I walked to my car.

Elodie: Done. There’s a sucker born every minute.

Soren responded quickly.

Soren: Are you referring to me because of our bet or Larry the lawyer?

Elodie: Both. Thanks for the extra cash. See you payday.




I closed my eyes. This was the last thing I needed. I was forty-five minutes early for my interview, but that wasn’t enough time to deal with an accident. I put the car into park, being careful to leave it exactly in the position the accident had occurred, and got out. The front fender of my old Jeep Wrangler had a small dent and a few scratches, but the other car definitely bore the brunt of the damage. Its back tire was hissing and already halfway to flat. The rear wheel well had crumpled inward and pressed against the tire. The fancy-looking new Mercedes seemed to almost implode on impact.

“What the hell? You’ve got to be kidding me.” The driver of the Mercedes got out of his car and joined me to look at the damage. He raked his hand through his hair. “Didn’t you see me? I was backing into the spot.”

Of course. I not only hit what was probably a hundred-thousand-dollar car, but the driver had to have the jawline of a Greek god. Figures he’d be gorgeous to match his ostentatious car. I disliked him instantly.

“I was there first. You started backing up after I’d already started pulling in.”

“Already pulling in? I don’t think so. You tried to slip in while I was already backing up to parallel park. No one was behind me when I started.”

My hands flew to my hips. “Oh, yes, I was. You just didn’t see me. I pulled up behind you and waited. When you didn’t move after a minute, I even honked my horn. So I figured you were just double-parked, and I was clear to take the open spot. If you wouldn’t have nailed the gas, you would’ve had time to see me and stop before you hit me.”

His brows jumped up. “Hit you?” He pointed to his car. “I think it’s pretty obvious who hit who by the damage.”

I ignored him. “What, were you on the phone or something?”

He scowled. “I hope you have insurance.”

“No. I drive around without insurance.” I rolled my eyes. “Just because I don’t drive a fancy car like you doesn’t mean I’m a criminal.”

Mr. Mercedes huffed. “I have an appointment to get to. Can we just exchange information and be on our way?”

I took out my phone and started to take pictures of the damage. “No. We need a police report.”

“That’ll take an hour or two, at least. We don’t need a police report for such an obvious accident.”

“Are you going to admit it was your fault to your insurance company? Because while you may be able to afford a rate hike, I can’t.”

“I’m not going to admit it was my fault, because it wasn’t my fault.”

“That’s why we need a police report.”

Mr. Mercedes grumbled something I couldn’t make out and pulled his phone from his pocket. I assumed he was calling the police. But apparently, he wasn’t. I listened as he barked at whomever was on the other end of the phone.

“Tell Addison I’m running late and to start without me.”

No hi or hello. The man might be handsome and drive a nice car, but he was rude. He swiped to hang up without a goodbye, too.

My face apparently didn’t hide my disdain.

The jerk looked at me. “What?”

“I hope that wasn’t your wife. You weren’t very polite.”

He squinted at me. “I need to make another call. Why don’t you make yourself useful and call the police in the meantime?”

What a dick. I walked around to the other side of my car to grab my registration and insurance information from the glove compartment. When I walked back to where Mr. Rude Mercedes stood barking into his phone again, his eyes were glued to my legs. I shook my head and dialed 9-1-1.

The operator answered. “9-1-1. What’s the nature of your emergency?”

“Hi. I just had an accident on the corner of Park and 24th.”

“Okay. Is anyone hurt and in need of medical treatment?”

I covered the phone and asked the other driver, “Are you hurt in any way? They’re asking if we need medical treatment.”

His response was curt. “I’m fine. Just tell them to hurry it up.”

I returned to the operator. “No, thank you. We’re both okay. Apparently the only things damaged are our cars and the other driver’s manners.”

Mr. Mercedes scowled at me.

I scowled right back.

After I hung up, I held out my paperwork to him. “Why don’t we exchange insurance information before the police come? I also have an important appointment to get to.”

He grabbed papers from his own car and pulled his license from his wallet. I took a photo of Hollis LaCroix’s ID. Naturally, he actually lived on Park Avenue—that went with the whole package. After snapping a shot of his insurance and registration, I noticed he was still examining my license when I finished.

“I can assure you it’s real, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

He took a photo of my license and held it out to me with my other paperwork. “Connecticut, huh? That explains a lot.”

I snatched my stuff from Mr. Rude Hollis LaCroix. “How so?”

“You don’t know how to parallel park.”

My eyes narrowed. “I’ll have you know, I’m a very good driver.”

He tilted his head toward his car. “I have ten thousand dollars’ worth of damage that says otherwise.”

I shook my head. “You’re an ass. You know that?”

I could’ve sworn I saw his lip twitch, like he enjoyed getting a rise out of me. Thankfully the police arrived so I didn’t have to deal with him anymore. After talking to the officer and giving my version of the story, I went to sit in my car. The police then spoke to Hollis. My stomach growled while I watched the two men talk outside, so I grabbed the bag of junk food I’d bought to watch movies with Bree tomorrow night and munched on a box of Junior Mints. Eating the snack made it feel like I was in the audience watching a show—a show with one damn good-looking leading man.

Hollis really was handsome. Tall, broad shoulders, narrow waist, Coppertone tan, dark hair that was a little too long at the collar and didn’t exactly match his immaculately tailored suit. But it was his bright green eyes and thick, dark eyelashes that were the showstoppers.

As if he felt me staring, he looked over at my car, and our eyes met. I didn’t bother to turn away and pretend I hadn’t been watching. Screw him. If he could check out my legs, I could look at his pretty-boy face. When he didn’t stop staring, I flashed an overzealous and clearly phony full-tooth smile.

That time there was no mistaking the twitch, mostly because it was followed by a full smirk. Hollis looked away, turning to speak to the police officer again, and I felt like I’d won an unspoken staring contest. By the time they finished and the officer walked over to my car, I’d downed the entire box of Junior Mints.

“Alright, Ms. Atlier. This paper has your police report number on it. You can go online and get the actual report in about twenty-four to forty-eight hours, or stop down at the precinct and pick up a copy.”

I took the paper. “Thank you. Did you put down that the accident wasn’t my fault?”

“I listed the facts. It’s up to insurance to assign the percentage of fault to each driver.”

I sighed. “Okay. Thank you. Is there anything else? Because I have an appointment I really need to get to.”

“No, ma’am. If your car is drivable, you’re free to go. Mr. LaCroix has to wait for a tow.”

“Okay. Great. Have a good day, officer.”

“You, too. And be careful driving.”

It felt odd to just pull away without saying anything to Hollis. So I waited a minute, until the cop got back into his car and drove off. Then I got out of my car and walked over to the Mercedes. Hollis was leaning against his trunk, playing with his phone.

“Umm…is there anything you need?” I asked. “A ride or anything?”

“I think you’ve done enough for the day. Thank you.”

God, why did I even ask?

“Great.” I offered an insincere, plastic smile. “Have a nice life.”