The Pucking Wrong Number: Epilogue No. 2

LINCOLN

My phone rang at midnight, right when I was about to wrap myself around Monroe. I glanced at it and saw that it was Ari.

“I need to answer it. He knows better than to call me this late nowadays, so he probably needs something,” I told Monroe. She nodded sleepily, her eyes heavy-lidded and satisfied from the three orgasms I’d just given her.

“Hey. Everything okay?” I asked without saying hello.

There was a long pause.

“No,” Ari finally said, his voice sounding choked and funny.

“What’s going on?”

“Can you meet me at that bar on 7th?” he asked gruffly.

“Yeah, of course. I’ll see you in fifteen minutes.”

“Thanks,” he murmured before hanging up.

I was still for a minute, feeling uneasy. It was Tuesday night at midnight. Not our usual night for a bar crawl, even before I’d met Monroe.

“I’ve got to go meet up with Ari for a little bit, he doesn’t sound good,” I whispered to Monroe, softly stroking her hair and breathing through the ever present lust I felt whenever I was around her—so fucking always nowadays.

I drove over to the bar he’d picked, one we’d go to from time to time when we wanted a quiet place to drink. I was relieved when I walked in to see that it was even slower than usual tonight. The place was dimly lit, the soft glow of neon lights casting a red and blue haze across the room. The air was thick with the scent of alcohol, a mixture of stale and fresh. The wooden bar top was well-worn and marked with rings from countless glasses and bottles. Behind the bar, shelves lined with bottles of all shapes and sizes reached up to the ceiling. The music was loud and upbeat, the bass vibrating through the floor. The place had a gritty, chill atmosphere that we’d always liked.

I spotted Ari right away. There were four beer bottles in front of him. He’d been busy.

Striding over to where he was seated, I noted he looked like shit. His usually bright and lively demeanor seemed to have been sucked out of him, replaced by an expression of exhaustion and anxiety etched into every line of his face. His eyes were sunken and dull, with dark circles underneath as though he hadn’t slept in days. His shoulders sagged with weariness as he sat at the table.

What the fuck was going on?

I’d just lifted with him a few days ago—or was that last week? A slash of guilt hit me…I’d been a bit preoccupied lately with Monroe.

“Hey, Lancaster, why’d you start the party without me?” I joked as I slid into the seat across from him.

His lips barely twitched…and I got even more worried.

His phone was lying on the table, a vaguely familiar looking woman on the screen. Had Monroe pointed out her picture on a billboard recently?

I glanced at Ari expectantly and he met my gaze, reluctantly it seemed.

“I just wanted to tell you before the news breaks tomorrow, Linc.”

“Tell me what?” I asked, confused and anxious for what he was about to say.

“I’ve asked to be traded to L.A.”

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