Authors: Kelly Jamieson
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary
The Wild Rose Press
Copyright ©2008 by Kathleen Thomson
First published in 2009-02-13
sexual tension snapping between them. The urgent hunger he felt for her made him lean down for another kiss. This time, standing face to face rather than sitting on barstools, he could put his arms around her and pull her against him. God, she felt good in his arms, all warm and soft, her curves fitting his harder body perfectly, her fresh fruity scent filling his head. He kissed her, a long, deep, swallowing kiss, open-mouthed, tongues sliding, body pressed to body. Everything inside him drew up tighter until he thought he was going to combust right there on the sidewalk. He pulled back to stare at her. Ashlyn, too, was breathing in shallow pants, her eyes drownin-me liquid and hot.
She touched his cheek. “I'll meet you at my place."
Zach nodded, brushed his mouth over hers again, and then smiled as she slowly, almost dreamily moved away from him. He watched her walk down the street and around the corner.
And that was the last he saw of her.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
2008 by Kathleen Thomson
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
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Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press
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First Champagne Rose Edition, 2008
Print ISBN 1-60154-406-5
Published in the United States of America
Zach checked his watch for the tenth time and sighed with irritation. Where the hell was Connor?
He tipped the beer bottle to his mouth and drained it. He'd dragged it out as long he could, but that was already one whole beer down while waiting for his brother to show up.
With everything happening at work right now, he could have stayed at the office and been productive, instead of sitting here in the bar all alone like a loser. He tapped his foot against the rung of his bar stool.
Zach looked around the dimly lit bar, which was starting to get busier now. There was still one empty pool table. The green felt top glowed under the low-hanging lights, calling to him, and his hands itched to pick up a cue, to feel the smooth wood sliding between his fingers. The crack of balls against each other only added to his frustration.
Someone took the seat next to him at the bar. Zach glanced to his right, expecting Connor, but did a fast double take as he took in the most gorgeous girl he'd ever seen. Definitely not Connor.
Gold hair hung long and straight down her back, and she lifted a hand to flick some strands over her shoulder as she settled onto the barstool. She seemed oblivious to him as she set her chunky purse on the bar to her right. She leaned forward to catch the eye of the bartender, who appeared in an instant.
She smiled at the bartender, a flash of perfect white teeth. Her profile revealed a small nose and incredibly long eyelashes. As she leaned forward, her breasts thrust forward in her snug blue tee.
Zach's gaze moved lower to the strip of flesh at the hem of her T-shirt. The low-riding jeans dipped even lower as she leaned forward, and he swallowed hard as he caught a glimpse of a pale blue lace thong.
He was always attracted to blondes, but for some reason this girl had extra appeal.
Then she glanced at him, or rather, at his empty beer bottle. “I'll have one of those,” she told the bartender, who nodded.
Zach lifted his bottle to catch the bartender's attention, but he had already disappeared to look after the new customer.
"Damn,” he muttered, and got a glance from Blondie.
"Sorry,” she said, her voice smooth and warm. “He should have got you, too."
"Not your fault,” Zach said with a sigh. “That's the way my day has been going."
She smiled with impersonal sympathy, her eyes cautious, but man, they were stunning eyes—beautiful green-gold irises framed with those long, thick lashes. Her reserve appealed to him way more than if she'd been checking him out.
The bartender brought her beer along with a glass, which she declined. Zach liked that. He waved his empty bottle again.
"Another of the same?” the young bartender asked, barely able to drag his eyes away from the woman to his right. Zach grinned.
He continued to study her, noting her short unpolished fingernails and long slim fingers holding the bottle lightly as she drank.
Then she glanced at her watch. “Are you meeting someone?” he asked, and she turned to face him again, nodding.
"Yes,” she said, turning away again.
He nodded. “Hope you have better luck than me. I've been waiting an hour.” He grimaced. “I think I've been stood up."
She smiled a little. “That's too bad."
She gave him her shoulder again, and he got the message: she didn't want to talk. Which only upped his interest.
She swiveled her stool so her back was to the bar and she could watch the pool players. She laughed as someone made an outstanding shot.
"You play?” Zach asked, hoping to continue their conversation.
Again, she glanced at him and nodded, eyes on the game being played at the nearest table.
"Me too. Looks like I won't get to play tonight, though.” Nothing. Jesus, he felt like he was talking to himself.
The bartender set Zach's beer on the counter, and he picked it up and took a long pull of the fresh, cold brew, the bubbles pleasantly stinging his palate. Damn, it was good, if he did say so himself.
He held up the bottle. “You like this beer?” he asked her, trying one more time.
This time she did look right at him, and her gaze almost knocked him off his stool. He felt like he'd been punched in the gut, the wind knocked out of him, every thought in his head scattered. It was hard to drag in a breath and, alarmed at his reaction, he gulped his beer.
"It's my favorite,” she said. “This microbrewery makes a great amber ale too. But they don't have it here."
He raised his brows in surprise. “Yeah,” he said, his voice still choked. “You don't look like a beer connoisseur."
Her smile deepened and tugged at something inside him. Oh, man.
"Why not?” she inquired, eyes glinting. “Because I'm a girl?"
Oh yeah, she was most definitely a girl. “No, no,” he stuttered. “You know, women are actually better at men than distinguishing nuances in taste. They have better-developed taste buds."
"Tell me what you like about this beer."
She pursed her luscious lips. “Um ... well, it's crisp and clear, and even though it's full-flavored, it's light ... kind of citrusy and ... I don't know ... it makes me think of flowers."
He nodded. “You have good taste,” he said. “Not many people pick up on the slightly floral aroma."
"How do you know so much about it?"
Now he had her attention. “I own the brewery that makes it,” he said modestly.
Her eyes widened. “You're kidding. Wow! You own Surf Coast Brewery?"
"Well, my brother and I do,” he said, grinning. “We started it about eight years ago. It's going pretty well."
"I should say so! Wow.” She shook her head. “Well, it is so nice to meet you."
He looked at her admiringly. “Not many women are into beer."
She shrugged. “I like beer. I guess it comes from having three older brothers and a dad who are all beer drinkers."
"Good family.” He smiled and tipped the bottle to his lips again.
She smiled back at him, and then glanced down at her watch.
"Maybe we're both being stood up,” he commented.
Her eyebrows drew together. “It's not like Sara to be late."
So she was meeting a girl. That was good. Very good.
She rummaged through the purse sitting on the bar and pulled out a small silver cell phone, and then punched in some numbers and waited. Finally, she snapped the phone shut and set it on the bar with a sigh. “She's not answering.” She picked up her beer again. It was the first comment she'd made to him without being spoken to first.
"Maybe you and I could have a game?” he suggested. “While we wait."
She studied him. “I guess that would be okay,” she said slowly. “I'm not very good, though, I have to warn you."
He laughed. “That's okay. I'm no shark."
He held out a hand to help her slide off the high stool. She seemed little, standing beside his six feet two inches. He'd noticed the heels she wore with her jeans, which still only brought her to his chin. Little, but curvy in the right places, with toned, sleek muscles and an athletic grace.
They went to the rack on the wall and selected cues, and then moved over to the empty table. He racked the balls and let her break. She sunk the nine ball, and he watched her carefully line up her next shot. She'd played before, he could tell, but it was cute how hard she was trying to make a good shot.
Well, well, well, Blondie. After she took her second, third and fourth shots, he realized maybe she wasn't trying as hard as he thought. He waited and waited for his turn as she sank ball after ball, her lovely face intent, beautiful eyes darting over the table and assessing, measuring angles, setting up. He stood with his pool cue in his hands, watching, smiling faintly.
Then she looked up at him and gave a breathy laugh. “I'm doing pretty good, aren't I?"
"Uh ... yeah.” Then she took careful aim and shot. The ball rolled and nicked the edge of the one at which she'd aimed, but it was ever so slightly off, and the ball rolled toward the pocket and stopped.
Her eyes met his and she shrugged, smiling. “Oh well. Your turn."
He proceeded to clear the table, taking his time, making sure no careless slips caused him to give up his turn. If Blondie got one more turn, he might not get another chance, the way things were going.
She stood there, smiling, watching him, and as he straightened up from an awesome curve shot, he looked at her. She grinned, and her eyes gleamed with admiration. “You're good,” she said. He smiled back at her. Their eyes locked, and once again his heart lurched to a stop. The air in the bar seemed suddenly heavy and warm, and as his heart picked up a rapid rhythm, he felt himself break into a sweat.
"Think you can sink that...?” she murmured, nodding at the impossible shot, flipping her hair.
He sucked in a breath, tore his gaze away from her, and assessed the shot. He walked around the table. Yeah. He could do it. He pictured it in his mind, the perfect angle, the spin he'd need. Too bad his damn hands were shaking.
As he walked around, she didn't move out of his way, and their bodies brushed together. Heat shot straight to his groin. He even went lightheaded. Jesus.
He shook his head and took a moment to steady his nerves and his hands. Why was she having this effect on him? It was only a pool game. He'd played games with big money riding and never felt this kind of pressure.