Home > Come As You Are(9)

Come As You Are(9)
Author: Lauren Blakely

His eyes narrow. “I believe in taking risks. Being scrappy. Going for broke. That’s what I do, and that’s who I want to work with.” Before I can answer, his eyes drift across the room, and he speaks again. “I need to talk to someone. I’ll catch you another time.”

Kermit, who is aptly costumed tonight, turns away, his cloak trailing behind him.

As he exits, I’m unable to make heads or tails of that interaction, though it’s safe to say there won’t be any work coming my way from Kermit the Douche.

I head to the nearby bar, so I don’t look like I was ditched by a frog. I spot a button on the floor, like the kind you’d use to make eyes on a sock puppet. It’s bright red, with the word start on it in black marker. Grabbing it, I tuck it into my clutch in case I come across someone missing a button.

As I wait at the bar for the bartender to pour my champagne, I watch the crowd. Some people are dancing, most are mingling, and even though my phone hasn’t rung, it’s still a good night.

I’ll drink this champagne then get out of here. I could probably make some headway on a new minidress I want to make from some emerald-green velvet I snagged at a thrift shop. Hell, if I play my cards right, I can catch a subway in ten minutes, spend some time with my Singer, and brainstorm story ideas to pitch to Henry and Caroline.

Sounds like a good end to a decent night.

The bartender hands me the champagne. I thank him, take a quick sip, and have just set it down to leave, since I shouldn’t sew while buzzed, when I hear a voice.

“You’re no ordinary angel. You’re a next-generation angel.”

I turn around and see a man dressed all in black, with lips that are made for sin.

5

Flynn

I’m batting zero. My night has gone like this:

A woman asks, “Are you a code ninja?”

I scowl and shake my head.

The next guess comes from an employee. “You’re an awesome Dark Web.”

“I’m not the dark web,” I tell him.

A woman wearing a pink mustache cocks a smile and says, “You must be an SEO ninja.”

Seriously, I am not a ninja at all. Maybe the all-black get-up is throwing them off, but I’m definitely not a ninja. Don’t they get why I can’t be a ninja?

“Nope,” I say, with the dejected sigh of someone whose costume is understood by no one. It’s quite sad to fail at dressing up. But I’ve earned my F in this class tonight.

As the woman dressed as Lyft walks away, I notice an angel chatting with Evil Kermit.

And I can’t look away from her.

Those legs.

That waist.

That body.

The little bit I can see of her face tells me I can’t complain about the shape of her jawline or those lips like a pink bow. But honestly, it’s the costume that has me most intrigued. Because it says she has a brain that works well.

That’s what I find most attractive in a woman.

When she’s done with Kermit, she heads for the bar, and shortly after, I walk over to her.

“You’re no ordinary angel. You’re a next-generation angel,” I say, since a clever costume deserves something much better than a pickup line.

Her lips quirk up. “I am?”

“And let me state, for the record, the costumes here are damn good. But yours is the best one I’ve seen tonight.” I take a beat. “Angel investor. That’s brilliant.”

She wears a white dress, a halo over her head, and has the coolest wings I’ve ever seen, because that’s where she stops being a regular angel.

She juts out her hip and gives me a smile. “Would you like to see my wingspan?” Her invitation sounds vaguely dirty but also adorably cute.

“I would love to see your wingspan,” I say, meaning it from the bottom of my heart, and maybe from other parts too.

She steps away from the bar and spreads her arms wide. They flutter with ribbons of white fabric, something satiny or shiny, shimmering faintly. The strips of material that hang from her arms are covered in Monopoly money. Ones, fives, tens, and hundreds.

I reach for a strand. “May I?”

“By all means, touch my money.”

I laugh as I run a finger over a yellow ten-dollar bill. The money is pinned to the fabric, covering her wings. It’s the perfect sexy costume, with a twist and a wink and nod to our world, where angel investors often set new start-ups in motion with their first cash infusion.

But the insider joke doesn’t stop at her wings. The concept extends all the way to her gold halo. The best part? She’s wrapped bigger bills around it—a handful of thousand-dollar bills.

“I see you don’t just have a halo. You have a halo effect,” I say, referring to the marketing term as I signal to the bartender for a glass of champagne.

“Why stop at one bit of wordplay when I can have two?” she says, with a clever grin I’m pretty sure I want to kiss off her face.

“Where did you find a one-thousand-dollar Monopoly bill? I thought the game only went to five-hundred-dollar denomination.”

“It does. Unless you have Mega Monopoly,” she answers.

I mime an explosion by my temples. “Mind blown.”

She gestures to her ensemble. “I made the whole thing myself.”

“Clever and handy. I’m defenseless before your charms.”

She laughs. “Good to know, since I make all my clothes. Will that render you completely helpless?”

“That’s a likely possibility. As long as you aren’t about to pitch me an app for how to make your clothes.”

She laughs and shakes her head. Her hair is light brown, almost a caramel color, and it’s braided down one side. From behind her gold mask, her hazel eyes twinkle at me.

“No. My app would say go buy scissors, a sewing machine, and a pattern.” She raises her flute to her lips, and I watch her drink, wondering briefly how the champagne tastes on her lips. She sets down the glass. A faint imprint of pink from her lip gloss decorates the rim. “Can you even imagine if someone tried to make an app for how to do that? There can’t actually be an app for everything.”

“But people try. Next thing you know, someone will make an app with a sign that says taxi on your phone screen, and you hold it up to hail one.”

“I think someone did make that. Also, I didn’t fund it,” she says, laughing, as the bartender slides me a champagne.

“I didn’t either.”

She runs one hand along a wing full of money. “I only fund the best and brightest ideas with my Monopoly money.” Her voice turns slightly more serious. “Do you get pitched on apps a lot?”

I take a drink of the bubbly. “I get pitched on everything all the time.”

She nods. “That must be par for the course, being a VC and all.”

I part my lips to speak, to tell her I’m not a VC. But I flash back to the racquetball game, to the face-lift suggestion from my sister. If this angel thinks I’m a VC, that means my face-lift is working. My costume is doing what I want it to do—it’s making it possible for me to be me. To have a conversation as Flynn Parker the guy, not as Flynn Parker the multimillionaire.

She doesn’t know who I am. And I don’t correct her. “It can be.”

She nods thoughtfully then roams her gaze over my black attire. She taps her bottom lip. “Hmm. Let’s see what we have here tonight because I don’t think you’re a ninja.”

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