STALEMATE: CHAPTER ONE

STALEMATE
© 2017 Lisa Suzanne


STALEMATE (noun):
1. a state where progress cannot be made; an impasse or deadlock


CHAPTER 1
EMME

“I need five shots of tequila.” I glance behind me as I think twice about that order and run a hand through my blonde hair. “Make that ten—and an extra one for me.”
Axel grins at me. He loves when I drink tequila. He claims it’s panty-dropping juice, but truthfully tonight it’s just my way of dealing with Anthrax’s Revenge, the rowdy band that’s playing The Port, the bar where I work as a promoter.
Axel is the guy I’m currently sleeping with, and he also recently became co-owner of The Port. I suppose someone on the outside might call him my boyfriend, but I don’t. I’m not dating anybody else, and neither is he.
But I still refuse to label what we have.
I watch a brooding Axel as he pours the shots for me. He’s in his element behind the bar. He’s tall and lean with abs for days under that button-down navy shirt. His dark hair is longish on the top and clipped closely on the sides, and tonight he’s got it slicked back. He has this sexy, short, well manicured beard, and every time he levels his dark gaze on me, I’m reminded of the tickle of that beard between my legs.
Axel slides a tray with eleven shots over to me.
“Thanks,” I say, and he presses his lips together in one of those smiles typically reserved for polite hellos to passing strangers.
I hate that smile. He only gives me that smile when something’s wrong, and even though he keeps telling me everything’s fine, I know he’s mad at me. He’s been trying to get me to talk to him, but I keep putting him off. It’s too late by the time we get home, and I know what he wants to talk about. He wants to talk in terms of the future, but I’m content to stay right here in the present.
I throw back my tequila and toss the empty shot glass on the bar without even looking at Axel, and then I carefully pick up the tray to bring it back to the rowdy band, knowing the tequila isn’t going to make them any less rowdy.
When I open the door to the back room, they’re still unloading their equipment. They’re scheduled to go on in a half hour, so we’re pretty much on schedule. There are four guys in this band, and to be honest, I can’t remember their names. Their assistant, Jamie, is the one I spoke with to schedule them, and she’s here to help unload and set up the stage, along with two other guys I assume are roadies.
I watch as one of the guys grabs Jamie by her leather-clad ass and yanks her over to him. He sticks his tongue so far down her throat, he’s got to be tasting whatever she had for dinner, and then he pushes her away. It’s gross the way he just did that, but it’s not my place to confront band members. It’s my job to schedule them, advertise that they’ll be here, get people in to see them, and pay them before they leave.
I spot a bottle of something being passed between two of the band members. The contract clearly states that no outside alcohol is allowed, but I let it slide. It’s one of those battles I’m just not willing to fight tonight, not with these guys.
“Where’s that hot chick with my fucking shot?” one of the guys grumbles loud enough for me to hear over the noise of their clanging instruments and speakers.
I take a deep breath, reminding myself that I love my job. I raise the tray into the air as comfortably as I can without dropping it, and then I yell, “Tequila!” Five heads swing in my direction, and it’s like I said the magic word. Silence falls over the back room. Only the sound of the music playing in the bar filters through the room, but it’s muffled thanks to the soundproofed walls.
Five bodies rush toward me—the four band members plus Jamie. The two roadies are still carrying equipment in from the parking lot behind the bar.
I lower the tray and use both hands to balance it as they each grab two shots. They make some toasts and throw back the shots. “Another round?” I ask with a smile, and they all toss their empty shot glasses on the tray with a rousing chorus of “Yes!”
I head back out to Axel. He’s busy on the other side of the bar, so I duck under the counter and toss the empty glasses into the sink. I grab eleven new glasses and locate the tequila. I hear some patrons at the bar trying to get my attention, but my job isn’t to serve them; it’s to serve the band in the back room, to keep them happy before they take the stage.
Another bartender who’s a new hire rushes over to the guys who are trying to get my attention. Olivia is young, blonde, gorgeous, and perky, just learning the ropes—Axel likes to throw the newbies to the wolves on a busy night. Luckily, Ben is also here tonight. He’s here almost as much as Axel.
I throw back another shot of my own, toss the glass in the sink, and grab my tray to head back to the band. When I get back there, I see three of the band members passing around a joint near the door as I set the tray on a table and yell, “More tequila!”
Then I get the hell out of there. I can’t be party to drugs, but it’s also not my job to get involved—that’s Kelvin the bouncer’s job. Normally we have a bouncer in the back room when a band plays, but tonight he called in sick.
I head to the bar first, and I don’t wait for a break in the action this time—instead, I duck under the counter and walk right up to Axel, who is in the middle of filling a pint glass with Blue Moon.
“Pot in back,” I say into his ear.
He gives me a look, almost like it’s my fault since I’m the one who booked this band—but that could just be me projecting. It’s not my fault Jordan called in sick the night we happen to have the rowdiest band that has ever played here. “Take over for me,” he says, and I grab the glass he’s filling as he nods to the customer who ordered it.
I watch him walk up front and trade places with Kelvin. I set the beer in front of the customer and take his payment, and then I watch as Kelvin walks to the back room.
I hate when things like this happen, hate making waves. I prefer things to just go as they’re supposed to, but instead I’m standing at the bar watching Ben and Olivia rush around while I wait for Axel to come back. “Emme, can you grab order sixty-one from the kitchen?” Ben asks me.
I nod and run for the food. It’s a huge order stuffed on a tiny tray, and weaving through the crowd with a tray of food is never easy.
A few French fries take the brunt of the people bumping into me, but I’ve carried food on trays enough times that I manage to maintain my balance. I set the tray on the bar for Ben, and Axel comes back a few seconds later.
“Kelvin said there might be other stuff.” He says it low and in my ear. “Babe, don’t get involved. You see anything, you come to me.”
“I will.” It’s the worried look in his eyes that concern me, not his words. This is his bar now, and this is the first time we’ve had a band like this here since he and his cousin Carter took ownership. I don’t want the band to destroy the place, don’t want one single thing out of order. I care about The Port now more than ever; it’s like a second home to me—or a third, I guess, considering I basically live at Axel’s. I haven’t seen the apartment where I pay rent in over three weeks.
He looks up at the shelves stacked with bottles above us and studies them for a moment. He does this a lot, like he’s meditating, deep in thought or prayer or something as he gazes at the bottles. He finally pulls down a bottle of tequila and hands it to me. “Give this to them on us. Kelvin told them if they’re caught with anything illegal, we’ll cancel the show, so hopefully that scared them enough to keep their shit in their car.”
I take the bottle, and my hand brushes Axel’s. It’s warm, and it reminds me of all the things he’s done to my body with that very hand.
He winks at me. “Wipe the fear off your face, babe. Everything’s fine.” He leans in and presses a soft kiss to my cheek, his short whiskers tickling my skin.

* * *

I’m ecstatic (and a little drunk) by the time the band leaves. It’s two more hours until close and the party is still in full swing, mostly because the band drank here for an hour after they finished playing. Their fans are hard drinkers, and I’m doing my best to keep up with them.
“Can you help with backroom cleanup?” Axel asks me once things start to calm down. While the bar is still pretty full, it isn’t packed like it was earlier. Ben and the new girl should be able to handle those who are left.
The back room isn’t too messy since I did some basic straightening after I paid the band as their roadies finished clearing out their equipment, but there are still a few piles of broken glass. A sweep from the cleaning crew who comes through in the early morning will take care of that.
Axel walks toward his office. I assume he needs help cleaning something in there, so I follow him. His desk is a perpetual mess covered in folders and papers and notebooks, and the Type A part of my personality so badly wants to get in there and organize it for him. My own desk in the office right next door is completely organized and clean. But, I’m currently a little (a lot) tequila drunk, so I put it out of my mind for now.
“I know you desperately need to clean this office, but I don’t think drunk Emme is the best maid for you.” I giggle as he flips on the light then kicks the door shut behind him.
His eyes land on me, and it’s only when I feel their searing burn wherever they land on my body that I realize the real reason he brought me back here. “We didn’t come back here to clean.”
I want to sass him, but my words die on my tongue as his gaze heats me all over. “Oh?” I say instead of something more articulate. “Then why are we here?”
He takes a step toward me, and my heart races. This man still gives me butterflies even though we’ve been together for six months. Sometimes the haze of tequila gives those butterflies wings, and right now they’re flying around my stomach like they’re trying to find their way out.
“I think you know.” He steps closer to me, reaches out his arm, and runs a knuckle from my cheek to my jaw.
I look up at him.
“God, Emme, when you look at me like that…and that tequila you drank…a man can’t even form a goddamn sentence.”
“What are you going to do to me?” I whisper.
His lips lift into a smile, but his beard hides it. He leans in close to me, so close I can smell him. He smells a little like beer, probably because he’s poured a million glasses of it tonight and some slipped onto his arm. He also smells a little like lemons, likely because he squeezed them into some mixed drink he made and some squirted onto his shirt. He smells like Axel, some comforting combination of man and sandalwood.
His lips close in toward my ear. “I’m going to fuck you on my desk.”
“Just on your desk?”
“Maybe against the door, too.”
“What makes you so sure of that?”
He leans back and grins at me. “You had tequila tonight.”
I nod in confirmation. “I did. A lot.”
“You know I love it when you drink tequila.”
“Remind me why again?”
“Panty. Dropping. Juice.” He presses kisses to my skin between each word, trailing from my ear toward my mouth, and then his mouth covers mine and there’s no more talking.
He pulls me against his body with both his hands on my ass while he kisses me, and he shoves his hips into me. He’s hot and ready for me—there’s no mistaking that.
He shoves me against his door, his mouth still hot on mine. He pulls back for just a second. “You taste like tequila and sex,” he growls, and I raise an eyebrow before his mouth slams back toward mine. His hands aren’t on my ass anymore; instead they’re grappling for my breasts. This is far from the first time we’ve fucked here, though the first time we were together was also here in his office. It wasn’t romantic, but it was fun. Axel isn’t always romantic; he’s a man’s man—he works hard, he plays hard, and, in my experience, he fucks hard.
Tonight, I’m the lucky recipient of some combination of all three of those.
He unbuttons my jeans and shoves my pants down my legs, my panties going with them, and I kick them the rest of the way off along with my shoes. He breaks his mouth from mine just long enough to lick his fingers before he drives two of them into me. My eyes roll back at the pleasure and my head lightly hits the door. He’s so focused on what he’s doing that he doesn’t even notice.
He kisses me hard on the mouth once more, his beard rubbing fire against the sensitive skin around my lips, and then he drops to his knees, throws my leg over his shoulder, and thrusts his tongue against my clit. His fingers are still working me, too, and I don’t even notice when my head slams against the door because I’m so lost in the combination of lips and tongue and fingers.
It must be the beard. I’ve never been with a man who knew how to dive right into me the way he does. His neatly trimmed whiskers brush against the delicate skin of my thigh, and it heightens every other sensation he’s delivering.
He fucks me with his tongue for a few glorious minutes as he gives his fingers a short rest, and he can always tell when I’m chasing my orgasm. He stops everything abruptly because he loves being inside me when I come. He loves the feel of my body squeezing his, pulsating and contracting around him as I luxuriate in him consuming me.
He stands up and unbuckles his belt.
“Bend over the desk,” he commands, and I walk over to his desk and do as I’m told; I love when Axel is aggressive and controlling when he’s about to fuck me.
“Hands behind your back,” he says, and I know it’s because he’s going to grab my arms and use them as leverage to fuck me harder.
I rest my cheek against his desk over some papers, and then I lift my arms behind me for him to grab. He shoves his length immediately into me, and then he fists my forearms as he starts to move—slowly at first, but he picks up the pace as he glides in and out of me. I’m so wet for him I’m practically already coming, but I want to hold off as long as I can because it feels so good.
He drops my arms and leans over me, reaching one of his hands around to stroke my clit. That’s when I lose all control. I tense up for a second before my orgasm batters into me, and then I come and come and come. I yell out in pleasure—loudly. I don’t care if anybody can hear us; the guy currently inside me owns this place, so if he wants to fuck me in his office, that’s his right. And wow, does he fuck me good.
He starts coming just as I finish, and his release sends me right back into a second wave of bliss.
By the time he pulls out of me, I’m so spent that I can’t even stand up. Honest to God, I feel like I could just sleep here in Axel’s office, bent over his desk…but he doesn’t let me. He pulls me up and helps me collapse in one of his chairs.
“You okay?” he asks.
I grin. “Never better, babe.” 


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