“TYLER, are you aware that all the girls at Sexy Sirens have nicknamed you Cockzilla?”
He laughed. That at rich, deep sound Delaney Catalano hadn’t heard for two long years sang in the humid May air, making her heart clench. After all the trials and miles—and lately, the bullets— she never believed she’d hear Tyler Murphy’s familiar voice again. Certainly, she’d never imagined hearing it in BFE, Louisiana, as she hid in the shadows of his back patio like some sad stalker. She wasn’t at all surprised that a group of girls had given him a moniker about his sexual prowess. Women had always crawled all over him, and perpetually single Tyler liked it that way.
Once upon a time, his antics had made her laugh—until Delaney had experienced him for herself. To this day, she remembered exactly how good he’d been. She pushed the thought aside.
Peeking around the corner, she saw Tyler’s broad shoulders and upper back encased in a charcoal gray T-shirt. His blond hair had been cut brutally short, exposing the strong column of his sunkissed neck. He lounged in a chair, his forearms looking bronzed, heavily veined, and vital under the patio lights. Around a table, he was surrounded by a virtual harem: two redheads, a platinum blonde, a Latina brunette, and an auburn-haired model type—each totally gorgeous.
Some things never change. Not that it should matter to her. He’d been her friend first and foremost. And he’d never been hers to lose.
“And that’s a bad nickname why?” Tyler returned to the stunning blonde beside him, lifting his bottle of beer to his mouth and taking a long swallow.
As the other women laughed, Delaney glanced over her shoulder, hoping like hell that she hadn’t been followed. She breathed a sigh of relief when it appeared that she was alone. How nice would it be if her most pressing problem were others’ opinions? How nice would it be if someone didn’t want her dead?
“Ladies . . .” the blonde’s voice warned. “This is not funny. Remember the plan?”
“Alyssa is right,” said the brunette with sinful curves. “We’re worried about you.”
“That’s very sweet, Kata, but acting like you care isn’t going to persuade me to watch another crappy Twilight movie with you.”
“You liked it,” Kata accused.
Tyler snorted. “You wish.”
He probably had liked it more than he wanted to admit. Tyler liked high-testosterone thrillers, but he’d admitted under the influence of Senor Cuervo that he kinda liked chick flicks, too. Once upon a time, he’d been Delaney’s buddy of choice to curl up on the couch with and rent movies, she remembered with a wistful smile. Then reality crashed back in.
“Focus.” Alyssa snapped. “This is an intervention. The girls and I all agree that you need help.”
“C’mon. I’m not a drug addict or an alcoholic. I’m no danger to myself or others.”
“Wrong. You’re dangerous to womankind,” the auburn-haired beauty cut in. “Can you make it a whole day without getting in some stripper’s thong? Our guess is no.”
Delaney grimaced. Yep, same old Tyler. He’d always liked women easy and flashy. One reason—among many—she’d never taken his flirting seriously. Then again, it wasn’t his flirting that had been her downfall.
“Ouch, Kimber. You wound me.” Tyler slapped a hand dramatically over his chest.
“Cut the crap,” she demanded. “You can’t make it a whole day, can you?”
“Sure, I could. But why torture myself? I have to do something to stave off the loneliness.”
“I don’t need any more catfights on stage about who’s getting Cockzilla tonight,” Alyssa chimed in again.
“No catfights at a strip club? You’re kidding me? Your patrons loved the action. Better than Jell-O wrestling. Got a rise out of me.”
The women in Tyler’s life were staging an intervention, and he wasn’t taking it seriously. Delaney wasn’t really surprised. He would always be Mr. Good-Time. What did surprise her, however, was that none of the women seemed to be fighting over him. Yet, anyway.