Authors: Miller,Cassie-Ann L.
I glance up at the sign hanging from the rafters and grin to myself.
Welcome back, Master Kee!
Flynn and Murray’s Irish Pub is owned by some guys I went to high school with. They worked with Daniel to throw together a last-minute party celebrating my return to town. The place is packed with people I haven’t seen since senior year. It almost feels like our high school reunion.
I sit at the bar with some guys who were in my physics class and sip slowly on a creamy dark ale, zoning in and out of the conversation as I scope the place out. Dark, polished booths. Stone walls. Black and white checkered flooring.
But I’m not all that interested in the décor. It’s the ladies that have my attention tonight. My overeager cock spasms every time a woman passes by showing off some cleavage or a bit of thigh.
Yup — I still haven’t gotten laid.
Last night, my bike had barely made it to the house before it sputtered and croaked in the driveway. As horny as I was, I wasn’t willing to take the chance and ride down to Kennedy Square just to end up stranded on my first night back in Reyfield. And besides, I was tired as hell. So, I kicked back a few beers and passed out on the couch in a junk food coma. But now, I’m fresh and reinvigorated and ready to fuck into the wee hours of the morning.
Good thing the ladies here at Flynn and Murray’s are as hot as extra spicy Sriracha mayo. Cut-off jean shorts and cleavage-showing tank tops seem to be the uniform. The temptation to take one of them out to the service exit and have my way with her is strong, but this party is for me and if I disappeared 20 minutes in, that wouldn’t be cool. Daniel pulled a real ‘bro move’ to get everyone here tonight on such short notice so I’m gonna enjoy the party for a little while. Even though my dick is raging against me.
And speaking of enjoying the party, Daniel definitely isn’t having a good time tonight. His wife, Grace, has him cornered over by the washrooms and they’re arguing like the old married couple that they are.
They’re supposedly college sweethearts. From what he told me, they met at Wayne State and had a sickening insta-love, can’t-keep-their-hands-off-of-each-other, can’t-keep-their-underwear-on kind of love. Maybe taking on a mortgage and having a baby caused their relationship to deteriorate because the look in Grace’s eyes tells me that the only reason she’ll be yanking off her bra tonight is to use the strap as a noose to choke the fuck out of her husband.
I shake my head as I take a gulp of my beer. Committed relationships are all trouble.
After what happened to me in my last relationship, I’ve decided that I like my sex wild and hassle-free. You don’t need a wife or a girlfriend to have great sex. And besides, I wouldn’t make a good boyfriend anyway. I’m too damaged.
After Rhys, I don't even have it in me to trust another woman, let alone to love her.
So, I plan on enjoying my life as a free man. And I mean that in every sense of the word.
My gaze happens to drift to the door just as it swings open. A hot-as-fuck blonde with pale skin and long legs struts in. She’s followed by an earthy, auburn-haired goddess with a button nose, pouty lips. They both look good. Real good. But it isn’t until the third girl walks in that I literally lose my breath.
Samantha Freakin’ Trotten…
My eyes follow her as the trio settles in at a small round table in the middle of the room. Sammie shrugs out of her chunky sweater and she’s wearing a silky, white button-down with loose beige pants that obscure her delicious curves. Her hair is short now. It barely brushes her shoulders and dark tendrils fall loose, framing her oval face. Somehow, her chocolate-brown eyes are even more striking than I remember. She seems totally unaware of how naturally gorgeous she is. No thanks to her lackluster choice of clothing.
She has always had this innocent charm about her, even when she was an awkward teenager with braces and overly-thick eyebrows. Even when she preferred going to calculus study group on a Saturday afternoon instead of hanging out at the mall with the other girls from our school.
Even now while she’s dressed like a celibate librarian in a room full of scantily-clad women, she’s more beautiful than them all.
The past eight years have refined the hell out of her. She’s taken on more of her mother’s Latina features with time, especially that curvy figure. And the way she moves just accentuates her shape. She can’t be more than 5’2” but her strut rivals that of any of the legendary supermodels on the catwalk.
Her mood had been sour this morning when she saw me. And that’s understandable. After all, I disappeared on prom day and then suddenly I reappeared unannounced years later, trying to pretend that everything is all the same.
I’m painfully aware that we never got to finish what we started as teenagers. But it’s too late for that now. When Daniel rented the place to me, his one condition was that I keep my hands off of his sister.
And I intend to respect that request. Things are different now. I’m not the same guy that I was all those years ago. I’ve done things, horrible things. And now, Samantha Trotten is even more out of my league than she was back in high school.
Regardless, we can be civil towards each other. I can't just let her think that I'm a
unrepentant asshole…I feel like shit over the way I left things between us. Daniel told me that she took it really hard when I left town. That sucks because I wanted many 'firsts' with Samantha Trotten, but being the first asshole to break her heart? That's not a title that I’d ever dreamed of holding.
I can make nice with Sammie. I
make nice with Sammie. At the very least, it’s the
neighborly thing to do. Even Daniel wouldn’t be able to object to that.
I watch as her eyes scan the room. She’s searching, her gaze roaming restlessly…until it lands on me.
For one electric moment, our eyes lock.
God — she’s beautiful. And I’m not just saying that because my cock is harder than algebraic geometry right now. I’m not just saying that because I haven’t touched a woman in three years. She
I grab the barman’s attention and order a pitcher of sangrias.
Sangrias. That’s what hot girls drink at a bar, right?
even remember. It’s been so damn long.
The waitress drops the order off at their table, then leans towards them, pointing in my direction. Sammie looks over at me. Longing flashes in her eyes. But it’s quickly replaced by a double-dose of bitter contempt. Her friends seem very flattered, though. They bat their eyes at me and wave.
Despite Sammie’s scowl, I flash a smile as I grab my beer off of the bar and slide off of my stool. And I’ve got to say, I’m damned nervous as I stroll over to their table. My palms are a bit sweaty and I feel my pulse thumping in my neck.
Still, I venture forward. My hard-on demands it. I can’t retreat now.
“Hey ladies,” I say coolly as I grab a chair from a nearby table and drag it next to Sammie.
The blonde gives me a shy smile and a small ‘hi’, but the redhead grins at me full-force and chirps. “Hey Keeland. It’s so great to see you!”
I narrow my eyes at her, studying her face carefully. “Isla? Isla Hamilton?”
She giggles, setting her elbows on the dark, rustic table. “Yeah. Ha! You didn’t recognize me!”
I put my beer down next to the pitcher of sangria. “Yeah — sorry. You were a blonde in high school.”
“I was a lot of things in high school. A fake blonde, to boot,” she says quirking her eyebrow as she rakes her fingers through her mane. “I’ve decided to embrace my inner cinnamon.”
“Well, good for you. You look great.”
Her blonde friend leans forward slightly, her arm barely brushing against mine. “I’m Faith.”
I extend a hand to her. “Keeland. Nice to meet you.”
She shakes my hand enthusiastically and Isla says, “You’ve met Gracie, right?” I nod. “Well, Faith is her little sister.”
Faith glares at Isla before taking a hearty sip of her sangria. “I’m not
I chuckle, bringing my attention to Sammie. “And how are you doing this evening, neighbor?”
Her scowl deepens when she looks at me. “I’m fine.”
She turns her focus to the bowl of peanuts sitting in the middle of the table. But I’m not letting her off that easy. “No sangria for you?” I ask, tipping my chin towards her empty glass.
She gives me a look that says ‘you must be stupid’. “I’m
tonight.” Her lips pull into a tight line and she refuses to make eye contact with me, choosing to focus on the peanuts instead.
Seeming to sense the tension, Isla cuts in. “So what have you
been up to all these years, Keeland? You just disappeared on us.”
I feel a lump settle in my throat. When I decided to come back to Reyfield, I knew I would eventually have to answer that question, but I want to delay that as long as possible. I’m especially not ready for Sammie to find out what the past few years have been like for me.
My life since Reyfield has been a rollercoaster ride, a series of ups and downs and plot twists I never saw coming. Moments of serendipitous good fortune interspersed with indescribable pain and a whole lot of what-the-fuck? moments in between.
Now is not the time to explain that.
I shrug nonchalantly. “Ah, y’know. Here and there. This and that.” I quickly change the subject. “What have
been up to?”
Isla absolutely beams. “I’m a business owner.” She sticks her hand into her tiny gypsy satchel and hands me a business card printed on recycled bamboo card stock.
“Prasanna Light Oneness Studio,” I read. “Nice!”
“My yoga and wellness center. ‘Prasanna’ means clear and tranquil in Sanskrit,” she informs me. “Hot stone massages are fifty percent off on Tuesdays and your first yoga class is free. You should stop by.”
I smile at her. She seems to be so proud and to love what she does. “I think I will, Isla.”
But it’s Sammie that I really want to talk to.
I direct my attention to where she’s sitting. “What about you, Sam? Daniel tells me you're looking for a job."
She shrugs a shoulder uninterestedly, keeping her gaze straight ahead. "Yup."
She’s so tense, so uptight. I really just want to lighten the mood. “Well, I've got lots of money. You can come over and help me count it," I smirk at her.
Isla and Faith snicker but as far as Sammie is concerned, my joke falls flatter than store brand soda pop. She just glares at me like she could burn a hole clear through my forehead. I almost want to duck out of the way. Y’know, for my safety and stuff. "Look — I don't know what exactly you're trying to offer me, but I'm not interested."