vi. fake date nights

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Ace's breath is still hot against my skin when I see my target, Ethan Tansin. His words echo inside my mind—"You have to wear that dress more often."

I can't help but become red at the blatant remark. Although right now, I shove all thoughts aside except for those relating to how to steal information from Ethan.

He's sitting in a seat right up against the bar. His dim silhouette shows well-groomed hair, the faint outline of a dark suit, and a Rolex adorned hand that clutches a half-empty bourbon. Alright. So our guy likes whiskey.

Dirty blond stubble scatters across his tightened jawline. The man stares blankly at his drink. He rotates it aimlessly between periodic sips, indicating some sort of deep thought.

I weave through the sea of people sitting down at tables to the empty seat next to Ethan.

"A scotch malt please. You know what, make it two," I motion to the bartender. A long, exaggerated sigh escapes my lips. I run a hand smoothly through my hair, letting strands fall to my face.

This catches Ethan's interest. I mentally thank Cosmo for this one flirting tip that actually worked.

"Having a rough night?" He asks.

"You have no idea." I take a scotch malt and down half the glass. Smooth, burning liquid slides down my throat, almost making my eyes water. Scratch that, my eyes were definitely watering like I'm watching the Titanic.

But drinking all that alcohol served its purpose—Ethan is now fully intrigued.

He raises both hands in defeat. "Must be some shit if you're downing eighty proof."

I lower my glass. "Sorry, I'm being rude. How's your night been?"

Ethan let out a dry laugh. "Let's just say it's been pretty shitty as well." A pang of guilt entered my stomach. I force it down using the rest of the intoxicating scotch. Ethan's had a hard night, and here I was, stringing this guy along as part of a CIA assessment.

It's fine Octavia. Focus. Just don't hurt him.

"Ava Jensen," I introduce while extending my hand. Ethan meets my hand with his. "Ethan Tansin," he returns.

"Ava," he says, the slick sound rolling off his tongue like the whiskey itself. "Since we're both dealing with issues, why don't we see if we can give each other advice."

I manage a charmed smile. "Alright. My ex-boyfriend just walked in here with his new girlfriend one week after we broke up. Worst part? She's never had a boyfriend. My ex is just using her to get back at me."

Ethan lets out a low whistle. "Which one is he?"

I tilt my glass to where Ace is playing pool with a red-haired girl. His hand lightly brushes against hers, but his eyes still flicker to meet mine. Of course, the girl he's playing pool with is just his assignment, but even so, a tightness clenches my chest.

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