Emily handed over the elaborate card Jenn had received in the mail and waited while the burly man checked her friend’s name off the list on his clipboard. Sure, she could’ve used the one Gino had sent her, but she didn’t want to leave any trail. “Thank you, Miss McNeil.”
Seconds later she was inside Gino’s famously large apartment, instantly becoming one of the mass. Although most everyone there probably worked for the Smithsonian, so Emily had worked with and knew, she didn’t even try to guess who was behind which mask. There would be time later to catch up with old friends.
That particular night she had only one item on her to-do list. Fuck with Randall Kentworth’s head by seducing him. If she did a thorough enough job, she’d leave him wanting, wondering pointlessly who the hot woman in the gold brocade jacket was.
As she was making her way through the mob, scanning for her prey, something rubbery caressed her waist. She spun around to find a huge cactus staring at her.
“Can I get you a beer?” it shouted, holding up a half full plastic cup.
Emily pulled the cactus’s other hand off her waist, as she continued to stare at the insanely large Suaro cactus, complete with a cluster of yellow flowers and bird’s nest.
The blue eyes hiding inside the plant blinked and the muffled voice shouted in defense, “There’s catuses in the desert.”
Emily grinned. Museum people. Always looking for ways to prove how clever they are. “I’m meeting someone,” she said, but then to let him know she appreciated the offer, she patted the tiny wren sitting in the nest.
As the giant plastic cactus melted into the crowd, Emily made her way to toward the back yard where Gino always put the keg. Randall would be there, surrounded by an adoring mob.
Unbuttoning the jacket as she went, she mused, all I have to do is wait until he’s alone.
Once she was done with him she was hoping that he, like her, could end up hopelessly pinning for someone. In her case, that hopeless pinning was undoubtedly worse than anything he would end up with, because she had had to watch the object of her desire flirt with every person in their path—every person with the exception of her. He hadn’t even known she’d existed.
That invisibility had partly her own fault, she’d always been too shy to even be considered coy. She’d been damn invisible.
One thing her term in the Peace Corps had done for her—take away that life-ruining shyness. Who has time for hesitation when trying to find lost equipment through an interpreter?
Was it that she wanted to leave him with a sense of longing or was it that she finally wanted to get a piece of that yummy body?
Either way, she had nothing to lose and everything to gain.