Authors: Jami Wagner
Just One Kiss
A Black Alcove Novel
Date in the Dark (A Novella)
Copyright © 2015 by Jami Wagner
Distributed by Smashwords
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage
and retrieval system without the written permission of the author,
except for the use of brief quotations in a review.
This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the
products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious
manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or
actual events is purely coincidental.
Cover: Christa Holland,
Paper and Sage Design,
Editor: Julie Sturgeon, CEO
Formatting: Jesse Gordon, a
Darned Good Book,
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ISBN -13: 978-1515037651
A first kiss is hard to forget—and Kelsey
Brian’s just walked into the bar where she works and isn’t planning
to leave anytime soon. It figures. With her last semester of
college finally here, Kelsey can’t wait to finish the year smoothly
and start a new chapter. She doesn’t need to drive over yet another
bump in the road.
Ethan Connelly has spent most of his adult
life trying to be accepted by his father, and now he has the chance
to make him proud. He’s also just stepped into another chance with
the girl who got away. Deciding who matters most to him isn’t an
easy choice. If he picks his father, he’ll lose her again—if he
picks her, everything he’s worked for will be for nothing.
Can Kelsey learn to trust him, or will
Ethan’s secret of why he’s really back in town tear them apart?
TABLE OF CONTENTS
There’s no point in making a plan because
somehow it always manages to fall apart.
“I’m sorry, could
that?” I ask, even though I heard her loud and clear the first
Sara Connelly did
just tell me that in
less than thirty days she’ll be leaving on some “extended” vacation
to finally travel the world — those are the exact words she used.
Throw in the fact that she isn’t sure when she’ll be back, she
isn’t leaving me in charge of the bar while she’s away, and someone
else will be making my schedule, this doesn’t look good for me. I
can’t decide whether to be relieved that she isn’t adding to my
newfound stress or hurt by her choice, seeing as a huge piece of my
plan just went to shit.
“Any particular reason you made this
choice?” I ask.
She just shakes her head.
After Sara graduated college at
twenty-one—thanks to early college classes she took while still in
high school—her father gave her The Bar. Sara hated that name, so
she had a reopening and renamed it The Black Alcove. Except
everyone refers to it as the BA, which is fitting because it’s been
a year since she took over and the entire place is pretty
That also means I’ve been
the bar manager for the last year. I know my way around this place
better than I do our apartment. I can do anything she can do, and
sometimes better. A new boss could and more than likely
ruin my already
polished class schedule.
I stop slicing the lime in
my hand, set the knife calmly on the bar top in front of me, and
focus on her. Sara hasn’t made eye contact with me once since she
shared her announcement.
She’s not telling
She’s sitting on one of the
high-top stools at the other side of the bar, planning the next
week’s work schedule. She looks up from her papers and her long,
blonde curls fall around her guilty face. Big, blue eyes look
everywhere but at me before returning to the calendar lying in
front of her. She clicks her pen twice before she says
“Come on, Kelsey, this is your final
semester of college. Do you really want to be running a bar and
going to class?” She glances up. “Besides, we both know you hate
working in general, and if I can’t rely on you to show up on time
to bartend the 3:00 p.m. shift, there’s no way you can manage this
place for a whole a year while I’m gone.”
A whole year!
I thought she didn’t know how long she was going
to be gone.
I let out a small huff, grabbing the knife
and cutting into the green ball in front of me a bit more harshly
than I should, all while cursing at how well she knows me. It’s
true. I hate being told what to do and when and where I need to be
somewhere. I hate working. Correction – I hate working on a
schedule someone else has made for me – even if it works around my
and rules are my enemy.
Yet here I am, about to graduate with a
degree in accounting, which has nothing to with writing, my dream
job. Writing would let me be anywhere at any time and be happy.
Accounting will do nothing but give me a job where I’ll have to
work eight to five behind a desk. I’ll probably work harder than I
do as a bartender while making half the money. And that says
something, because life as a bartender can be pretty intense work.
What was I thinking?
Make Daddy proud. Maybe an
accounting degree will get him to notice you.
That’s what I was thinking.
“I’m only late because I get lost in my
studies.” My voice is cheery and exaggerated.
“Ha, yeah okay,
. I wasn’t aware
you were majoring in how to take the longest naps ever,” she says,
her voice dripping with sarcasm.
I give her my best sad face, bottom lip out
and all. I can’t help it when I fall asleep from a boring textbook.
Hand me a romance novel or some suspense, and I’ll pull an
“But the main reason I’m not leaving you in
charge is because you stress easily. I don’t want you becoming too
overwhelmed this semester. It’s your last one. Enjoy it.”
That’s sweet of her. But I still think she’s
holding back information.
The idea of new management terrifies me. I
admit I need someone who can cut me some slack— college isn’t as
easy as some people make it look.
“Who is your replacement, and what if they
fire me while you’re gone because they don’t know how I work? They
don’t know me like you, and they won’t ‘let it slide’ on account of
the best friend rule.”
It’s quite simple: We always forgive each
other no matter what and we don’t judge each other or do anything
that would cause the other to fail in life. Hence, if she fired me,
I would fail in helping pay our rent.
“My cousin is coming to take over. I promise
I already told him about you and that no matter what happens, he
can’t fire you.” She shrugs, continuing to write out the schedule.
Just like that. Problem solved. “Those weren’t my exact words, but
I run this place, not him. Technically he has to do what I say even
if I’m not here. So you can stop having whatever huge mental freak
out your having, because it doesn’t look good on you.”
I try not to smile. I was
not having a
freak out. Minor, possibly.
It’s the first week of my final semester of
college and everything should be going exactly the way I’ve written
in my planner. A day shouldn’t go by without having at least one
item checked off. Even if it’s as simple as watering the plants on
The main focus of my plan
is the fact I’m housesitting for my parents for most of the
semester, which means I’ll have plenty of alone time to study and
pass the last of my dreaded accounting classes. I still can’t
believe I left payroll accounting and tax income for the last
semester. If I were smart, I would’ve taken them earlier. Scratch
that, if I were
, I would have enrolled in a degree for creative writing and
taken a full credit load every semester to finish college earlier.
But no, I didn’t do that and now I’m graduating in the fall with a
degree that means more to my father than me.
The next piece that makes my life so easy
right now is working for Sara at the Black Alcove Bar. She’s my
best friend and my boss. It has its perks, such as my free-flowing
schedule to work around homework and class. This bartending shift
is defiantly a key player that’s holding me and my perfected plan
together. All my friends work here and it feels like home. We’re a
team that wants to succeed, and we do everything we can to help
each other whether it’s at work or not.
Another piece keeping me happy: the fact my
cheating ex-boyfriend lives on the other side of town. And thank
god for that because I throw up just a little in mouth every time I
lay eyes on him. All summer he’s been finding reasons to “bump”
into me. He feels like he needs to explain himself, but I
understood the girl underneath him just fine. I’m ready for space
to focus on me and what I want. To finish college and find a job
writing before I find one in accounting.
The last and best part of my plans, there’s
still one more month to enjoy weekends sunbathing at the lake. In
all honesty, I probably won’t make it out there, but knowing I have
the option is nice.
That’s the plan. Plain and simple with no
room for errors. Those details might not be the ones written down,
but they are engraved inside my head and they aren’t going
anywhere. This final five months of college should be something I
look forward to with a positive attitude. It’s the time in my life
when everything is finally coming together. I should be shouting
Unfortunately at this moment, I’m anything
“Well, maybe I can teach him to do what I
say, too.” We laugh at my joke even though a part of me really
isn’t joking. “Which cousin is it?” I ask, leaning my hip against
the bar and glancing at the cooler behind me.
It should have been stocked last night, but
Sara and Logan were closing. This is the third time in two weeks
she’s asked me to come in and help open after the two of them shut
the place down. After her announcement, I’m starting to think it’s
her way of getting in some extra friend time. Either that, or she
and Logan aren’t actually working when they’re together. I’m going
with option B, but if I say that out loud, they will both deny