One-night stands were a lot like apple pie as far as Jaden Monroe was concerned.
The notion of having sex with someone just for the sex had honestly never appealed to her. Like apple pie. Jaden had believed her whole life that she didn’t like apple pie simply because she’d never seen or smelled one that tempted her. But the truth was, her senses just hadn’t been introduced to the right one. Once she tasted the apple pie, she couldn’t get enough.
Especially à la mode.
The man now sitting at table sixteen near the front door of Big Billy’s Bar and Grill was the one that could change her mind about one-night stands. He wouldn’t even have to talk. He’d just have to be there, completely naked—of course—with those eyes that had been on her all night.
This guy didn’t just look at her, he didn’t just watch—he seemed to be studying her, even appreciating her, like someone did a painting in an art gallery. He took in every detail of how she moved—and breathed for that matter. She could feel it.
It wasn’t creepy, though it probably should seem a little stalker-ish. It made her hot and tingly and a bunch of other things she hadn’t been in a long time.
Looking at him now, Jaden couldn’t think of one reason why ice cream and sex couldn’t go together too. But with this guy it couldn’t be just vanilla. It would have to be something much more decadent. Double Fudge Brownie, maybe. Or Peanut Butter Passion. Spread all over him. And she definitely wouldn’t need a spoon.
Jaden was so into her thoughts that she didn’t notice the full beer mug until the beer came over the rim, drenched her hand and sloshed to the floor.
“Unless you’re planning to squeeze all that beer from a sponge into the glasses, pay attention,” Billy said, reaching over her shoulder and flipping the tap handle off.
Jaden only had half her mind on swearing under her breath and searching for a towel to dry her hand. “Sorry, Billy, I’m distracted tonight.”
“And for the past five months,” he grumbled, but he elbowed her gently to one side. “I know you’re going through a rough time, which is why I’m not going to make you pay for the three glasses you’ve broken, the fifteen dollars you’ve undercharged or the case of lemons that are rolling around all over the floor in back.”
He took the very full beer glass from Jaden’s fingers and set it on the waitress’, tray. “I’ll get the rest.” Billy grabbed the order pad and started pulling bottles together as he read.
It had been a bad night.
A bad week.
Hell, it had been a bad half year.
Jaden wiped up the excess beer with barely a corner of her mind on the task. She glanced toward table sixteen again. The man was on his cell phone, but his eyes were on her. Which felt good. One small spot of fun and pleasure in an otherwise sucky five months, three days, fourteen hours and twelve minutes.
Playfully, she leaned out over the bar surface, wiping at a non-existent spill. It put her cleavage—more remarkable in the stretchy, gauzy purple top she wore—straight in his line of sight.
She scrubbed for a moment, then glanced up. She was startled into straightening when she found his eyes still on her face, rather than her other assets.
But a small knowing smile lifted one corner of his mouth.
“Four more.” Roxanne, half of Big Billy’s wait staff for the night, placed her tray of empty beer bottles on the bar. “Apparently turning thirty is thirsty business.” She gestured toward the rowdy birthday party occupying the four tables closest to the stage and live band.
Jaden smiled weakly, relieved that Roxy had moved in to block her view of the man. What the hell was she doing showing off her cleavage to some stranger? While she was standing there getting all hot and bothered, he could very well be studying her to determine how best to cut her body up so that the pieces would fit in his freezer.
She shivered. She was comparing him to apple pie while he was working on wording the ransom note.
Jaden laughed out loud at that. He was going to be so disappointed when he figured out he was kidnapping someone whose close friends had about seventy-three dollars between them.
“You okay?” Roxy asked, fishing in her apron pocket for a bottle opener.
Jaden rubbed her forehead. Good grief, she couldn’t even open beer bottles tonight. It had been a difficult past twelve months for her—professionally and personally—and had gotten downright hellacious in the past five. And while drinking a vat of Amaretto sounded enticing, she wasn’t here tonight to relax, drown her sorrows or to celebrate. She was here to help cover her friend Gina’s shift while she went skiing with her boyfriend. Which was good. It was simple, it was straightforward, it provided her money and it had nothing to do with her ex-professional life or her ex-fiancé.
“Jaden,” Billy said wearily, holding up two large margarita glasses. “Why don’t you take a break?”
Jaden looked at the green contents of the glasses that looked barely touched. “What’s wrong?”
“They ordered mojitos.”
Well, at least she’d gotten the color right. Sort of.
“You know, Billy, maybe I’ll just head home.”
He looked relieved and Jaden smiled.
She glanced over to table sixteen again as she untied her apron and stuffed it in the laundry basket by the kitchen door. Being at home alone with her thoughts still rated higher than being tied up in the trunk of a car.
But for some reason, the idea of being tied up by the man whose eyes she met again, and whose gaze made even her pinky toe tingle, didn’t go in the direction of car trunks so much as four-poster beds. With silk scarves.
She huffed out a breath and wiped her hand across her forehead.
Yep, it was official. She was losing it.
You can read the whole first chapter at Samhain's site! Click here!