Authors: Shara Azod
Lita wasn’t a football fan. She had no idea who Colton Jefferies really was. She did know that he never seemed to want to go anywhere public. Was it because she wasn’t a size 5, or blonde in the land of golden Barbie’s? Was he ashamed of his attraction to her?
Little did she know the quarterback was preparing to sneak past her defense to give her the happily ever after she’d always dreamed of.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews. This is a work of fiction. All references to real places, people, or events are coincidental, and if not coincidental, are used fictitiously. All trademarks, service marks, registered trademarks, and registered service marks are the property of their respective owners and are used herein for identification purposes only. eBooks are NOT transferable. Re-selling, sharing or giving eBooks is a copyright infringement.
© 2015 Allie Blocker
Cover Art: Marteeka Karland
Editor: Katriena Knights
eBooks are NOT transferable. Re-selling, sharing or giving eBooks is a copyright infringement.
"What'll it be, sugar?"
The first time Colton had gone to Lita’s Cafe he was hooked. The small Marina del Rey eatery was only open for brunch three days a week, so Colton made a special effort to go as often as possible when he was in town. The nouveau Southern cuisine with a California twist wasn’t the only reason he kept coming back. The cafe’s owner, Lita Davies, was more of a draw than her food was. Unlike the women who flocked the team parties, or stalked the hotels where the team stayed during away games. There was something natural about Lita, down home even, which was unique in Southern California. There was nothing fake or plastic about the miniature, full-figured woman.
In the land of size zero stick figures, Lita was lush; full hips, generous thighs, high pillowy breasts that mesmerized any male within a mile of her presence. And she was completely unaware of how absolutely gorgeous she was. Even better, she had no idea who the hell he was. To Lita, he was just another regular to smile and chat with whenever he came in. She always cooked his meals herself after he praised her shrimp and grits, but it wasn’t the preferential treatment he was used to from those who knew who he was. She just appreciated her customers. And he appreciated her. Everything about her reminded him of home. Her rich, warm laughter and bright sunny smile warmed him down to his toes. It was the kind of thing a man could get used to.
"What's the special?" Colton didn't have to ask. It was right there on the board, but he liked to hear her talk. That soft Southern drawl was just sexy as hell and something he wanted to hear every fucking day of his life.
Lita smiled, refraining -- as always -- of pointing out he should be able to read it for himself. "Pecan crusted snapper, with basil grits, and fried green tomatoes." Was it just him or did her smile seem to light up the whole fucking room? All he could do was stare at her with what had to be a stupid grin on his face. Again, she said nothing, only smiled at him while he sat there letting his brain descend into mush as he looked at her. Her smile got wider and she stepped closer to him, laying that small hand on his shoulder. "Why don't I give you a moment? Do you want your usual iced tea to drink?"
"Uh, yeah," Colton managed, clearing his throat. "And the special. Sounds delicious." This time he smiled. "I'm sorry."
"No need to be sorry. It sometimes takes folks a while to make up their minds." As always, Lita was completely oblivious to the havoc she created so effortlessly. She patted his shoulder, her fingers trailing along his back as she walked away to prepare his order. The tantalizing scent she left behind had him squirming in his chair, his jeans suddenly too tight over his crotch. How could one small woman have such a profound effect on him?
Women threw themselves at him on a daily basis. Being one of the NFL's most deadly quarterbacks had its perks -- and its pitfalls. But whenever he'd find himself in the sights of one of the fake, overblown money grubbing bimbos, he'd always picture Lita's face. It wasn't a conscious effort on his part. It simply happened. Then he'd make his way home and seek out her little cafe and sit here like a dolt, waiting on her company once more.
Well, that ended today. He was asking her out no matter how he tripped over his tongue. Today. The second she came back.
Colton found himself nervously jogging his leg and drumming his fingers on the table. His stomach churned. His palms sweated. God! He'd rather face the entire front line by himself! This was crazy; he was considered one of the country’s most eligible bachelors, yet he was terrified to ask out the owner of a local cafe. A woman who had no clue who he was, or the fact he had been voted one of the sexiest men alive three years running. Maybe he wasn’t her type. Shit, he was psyching himself out worse than a three hundred pound linebacker could.
When she approached with his tea, Colton swallowed, stilling his leg and fingers. The smile on her face robbed him of breath. All he could do was stare.
"Sugar, are you all right?" She still smiled, but now that little eyebrow raised in inquiry. The thing was, Colton knew she was truly interested, at least in whether he was currently okay or not. It wasn't just a question asked automatically, she truly cared about people.
He cleared his throat. "Yeah. I'm fine. Listen," he began, rubbing his palms on his jeans. Had he even been this nervous before his very first game? "I was wondering if you'd like to take a walk on the beach with me after you get off?" As the double meaning of his words hit him, he hastily amended, "I mean, after you get off work. I didn't mean actually
." This was getting bad. What would his team think of their star quarterback now? "I mean…"
Laughing, she sank gracefully into the chair across from him, reaching out to grip his hand. "I know what you meant. That sounds wonderful." Again, that smile…
Fuck! He was such a goner!
"What time should I pick you up?" Why was he holding his breath? She'd already said yes.
"We can go after you finish your meal. I had planned on leaving early today anyway."
"Oh," Colton knew his face fell. "I don't want to take you away from anything important."
"You're not," she grinned again. That smile seemed to always be there. And the thing was, it was genuine; not pasted on because it was socially appropriate or good for business. Everything about Lita was the genuine article.
As she spoke, she stood and sashayed to the back, presumably for his order. The way her hips moved when she walked was hypnotic. Sure enough, ten minutes later, she arrived, piping hot plate of food in hand. Despite his earlier nervousness Colton's mouth watered at the sight and scent of the dish. As much as he would like to think of something witty to say, maybe to regain some cool points, the delicious meal she sat before him was going to have to take precedence. After he ate, he would regroup and be charming.
Five long walks on the beach, three candlelit dinners, and two drives up the coast, and Colton had still yet to make a serious move. Lita was having a hard time trying to figure him out. He seemed to be really into her, and yet he hadn’t even tried to kiss her. And then there was the fact he never took her anywhere public. Maybe he had a fat black girl fetish and was ashamed. That was the only thing she could think of. Other than at her cafe, Colton Jeffries might as well be a fictional boyfriend she made up.
“You look pensive,” he offered as he maneuvered his little sports car up Pacific Coast Highway. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Lita offered automatically, staring out the window at the passing scenery.
It really was beautiful, the way the hills and cliffs gave way to the beach and the ocean beyond. It was the perfect kind of date, with the sun setting over the Pacific in all kinds of vibrant colors reflecting off the glassy waters. Still, she couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling Colton didn’t want to be seen with her in public. As much as she tried not to let it bother her, it did. She was at a point in her life where she didn’t want to be someone’s secret good time girl. One of the main reasons she moved to California was despite her success in business, she always seemed to attract the kind of guys who wanted her in the dark, but ignored her in the light of day. She’d thought she could reinvent herself here. It had been going so well until Colton walked into her cafe.
The man was six foot four inches of pure dreamy rock hard sinewy arms and legs, a washboard stomach, topped with curly blonde hair and the most incredible bluish-gray eyes ever. She should’ve known better than to think a man who looked like him would ever be seriously interested in a woman who looked like her- short, more than a little generously padded, with an okay face but a really great personality.
Oh well, she might as well enjoy it now, but she had to cut this off before she got her heart broken. Surely one night of fantasy couldn’t be all bad right? This had to be the last date though. She’d make her move, then let him fade away like the dream he was.
“You’re being all quiet,” Colton observed as he got off the freeway and headed toward Venice Beach. “You can talk to me about anything, you know that right?”
“Are we going to Venice Beach? I love it there! The natives are all kinds of kooky, my favorite kind of people,” Lita announced brightly, completely ignoring his statement. The last thing she wanted to do was have a serious heart to heart.
“Yeah, I uh, wanted to show you my place,” he answered sheepishly. If she wasn’t mistaken, she swore she saw a blush creep up his cheekbones. “I’m going to cook for you.”
“You can cook?” Okay, she hadn’t meant for it to come out sounding like an insult, but generally men who could cook for themselves weren’t at her cafe every time they were open. At least, often.
It occurred to her she never saw him on the Monday’s she was open. At least not in the fall. Maybe he was some kind of seasonal worker. Then again, he place was nestled in the trendy part of Marina del Rey, so her prices weren’t cheap. It was one of the ways she could afford to only be open until 2 and only open three to four days a week. The rest of the time she had a little dress boutique specializing in handmade clothing for larger women. That too was only open part time. It was a charmed life, but it had taken a hell of a lot to get there.
“What do you do for living?” Lita asked suddenly. It was probably something she should’ve asked around the first date, but never got around to it. It had to be something lucrative; homes in Venice Beach weren’t cheap.
“Umm, sports entertainment.” Like that didn’t sound dodgy.
She would’ve questioned him more, but he pulled up to one of the most beautiful homes she’d yet to see living in California. It was ultra-chic, all modern glass and wood. It wasn’t right on the beach, but it was on the canal, complete with a rooftop patio that overlooked the ocean.
“Wow, whatever you’re doing it is certainly paying off,” Lita breathed out as she followed him through the modern marvel. The kitchen is where she stopped, her eyes going round as she checked out the double range, built in grill, double ovens and super-sized fridge. “Oh my Gawd, I could live in here!”
She heard him chuckle behind her, but she was too far gone to pay attention. Everything was so perfect! The meals she could create in this space! Her own home was an art nouveau cottage in Marina del Rey, not cheap, but certainly nothing compared to this. It was a few million easy. Forgetting she was a guest, she started to go through the cabinets and the refrigerator, pulling out the necessary ingredients for a feast. Veal Piccata over spaghetti she decided, humming as she went about making the meal.
It was only when Colton placed a glass of wine at her elbow did she realize what she’d done.
“Oh, you wanted to cook for us,” Lita blushed, pushing a lock of hair from her forehead. “I’m sorry but you just can’t bring me to a kitchen like this and not expect me to cook.”
“I didn’t think of that,” he smiled warmly, settling on a stool to watch her. “I was planning on cooking the same thing, but you can probably do it better.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to promise he could do it next time, only there wouldn’t be a next time. This would be the last time, it had to be. Keeping the conversation light, she finished the meal, allowing Colton to load the finished plates on a tray and guide her up to the roof. They laughed freely, sipping the wine as they ate. For a little while, Lita allowed herself to believe this was a real date. She found out Colton was from Alabama, attended school in Nebraska but had lived in California for the last five years. She learned the name of his parents, his sisters, even his favorite teacher in grade school, but he avoided telling her what he did for a living. She would’ve thought it was something illegal, but he just didn't seem like the type.
Lita found herself telling him about the restaurant she’d had in South Carolina, glossing over the real reasons she left to come here. Bad break ups were never good conversation on a date. She told him about the cafe, the dress shop, even about some of the exclusive contracts she had with celebrities to create clothing for those who didn't fit the designer labels. It was one of the things that allowed her to live so well. She told him a lot of things she never meant to. It was just too easy to talk to him.
“You’re really beautiful, Lita,” Colton surprised her by saying in the middle of the conversation. That certainly came from left field. All she could do was stare at him as he traced his fingers over her face. “Really beautiful. I’m a lucky man.”
“How so?” She never promised him anything, did she? Surely he couldn’t expect her to be like committed or something.
“I’m lucky some man hasn’t snapped you up before I got a chance to get to know you.”
“Oh.” Her heart dropped a little, despite her best efforts to be unaffected. That didn't sound like a declaration. It sounded like more of the same- a guy really wanting her as long as there was no one around to see it.
“Can I kiss you?” He certainly looked like he really wanted to, along with a few other things.
What the hell, it was her last night with him, she might as well make it last. “Yes, Colton Jeffries, you can kiss me. Hope that’s not all you want to do.”