Page 29 of Fast & Sexy

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Damn, Duncan! Hell! He used that same threat on the last guy I dated a year ago. “My brother is a jerk. It’s just a scare tactic—"

“Scare tactic, my ass! He’s in a bike gang, he’s an outlaw. No thanks, Holly. I want to keep my balls. Goodbye.”

My parents drove to Louisville, Kentucky the day before for my Uncle Gordy’s funeral and they depended on me to open, close, and run the store by myself for a week. I was already riled up by late morning when I got to the general store, and the AC unit in the window behind the counter was on the fritz again. I was covered in a sheen of sweat by the time I opened the store, and the humidity did wonders to my blonde wavy hair, encrusted with a good dose of Aqua Net hairspray.

I leaned down and planted my elbows on the counter next to the cash register, feeling a bit of relief from a small fan to cool me down. And that’s when he walked in. The bearded man had broad shoulders and was as tall as a giant bear. He wore a black tank top; his biceps were like boulders and were covered with intricate tattoo designs. There was even a tattoo on his neck, making him appear even more intimidating.

He sauntered by the counter with an arrogant swagger down the refrigerator aisle of sodas and beer. Our eyes met—his were as blue as mine—and he winked. It flustered me in a weird way, so I stood up and turned around, pretending to organize the cigarette shelf. Moments later, I heard the sound of his booted heels coming toward me. I turned around as he placed a six-pack of Budweiser on the counter.

When he came to a stop on the other side of the counter, his larger-than-life presence consumed the space around us. He pulled out his leather wallet that was hooked on a chain to his jeans and looked past me to the display of cigarettes behind me. “I’ll take a pack of Marlboro Reds too.”

His voice was rich and deep, making my throat dry and my nipples hard. I fumbled for the pack of cigarettes and rang them up with the beer. He handed me the cash and then I gave him his change.

He smirked. “Thanks, Blondie.” And snatched up the six-pack of beer and the cigarettes. My eyes were glued to his ass as he walked out of the store.

That evening was a much-needed girls' night out with my friends Emily and Crystal. We took a cab to our favorite weekend dance club in Richmond. I was dressed in a tight black mini-dress and stilettos with one goal in mind—to attract every single male in the club. After drinking a few screwdrivers, the girls and I danced as the disco and strobe lights hypnotized us with the sound of the pounding hip-hop music.

Just before midnight, we left the dance club and walked a few blocks to a quieter setting of an old Irish pub. The place was a hot spot for bikers and was the reason I dragged Emily and Crystal there. If my brother got wind that I was even sitting in the pub, his head would explode.

The bartender was an older man with long scraggly hair and a beard. He just grunted when he came to our table to serve us our Blue Hawaiian cocktails. Someone put some coins in the jukebox and picked a few county music songs.

I sipped on the blue cocktail and opened up to Crystal and Emily about what happened that morning. “This is now the fourth time my warped brother totally ruined another good thing I had with a really nice guy.”

Crystal rolled her eyes. “What happened this time?”

“He walked right into the music store that Jimmy works at and threatened him with castration if he ever talked to me again.”

“Eww!” both of them shouted in unison.

“I know! Totally lame! I’m sick and tired of him ruining my chances of having a normal relationship and being happy.”

I sipped on my cocktail again, my eyes scanning the pub, and caught sight of the big man who’d come into the store that morning. He sauntered in alone with a confident stride, almost arrogant. Crystal was talking about something, but I couldn’t look away. He walked by our table, and when his eyes pivoted to mine, I suddenly felt a weird quiver in my stomach as I watched him take a seat at the bar.

Crystal snapped her fingers. “Earth to Holly. You’re spacing out on us.”

I blinked. “Huh? Oh. Let’s get another drink.”

Crystal’s eyes steered to the bar to see the big man. Her mouth dropped open, “Oh, he is fine—and tough-looking, too!”

“He came into my store yesterday to buy cigarettes and beer.”

“He looks dangerous. The kind of guy I bet your brother would totally wig out on if he saw you even within five feet of him.”

“Yeah. Well, Duncan gets bent out of shape if I’m within eyesight ofanyman in the city of Richmond.”

Emily giggled. “He looks like a big caveman. Men like that totally freak me out.”

Then the idea came to me like a light bulb switching on. I waved the brooding bartender over and asked him to pour the big man at the bar a shot of tequila and to put it on my tab.

Emily gasped as the bartender walked away.

All three of us were so obvious as we watched the bartender slide the shot glass to him, then pointed in our direction. Emily giggled. The man looked at me, raised his shot glass, leaned his head back, and downed the shot in one swallow.

Crystal had a devilish grin on her face and handed me one of her cigarettes. “I triple dog dare you to walk right up to him and ask him for a light.”

I sipped the rest of my cocktail, the straw making that slurpy sound, then hopped off my barstool. I wiggled my hips to smooth down my tight black dress and flipped my hair, then sashayed my way toward him in my high heels.

His eyes roamed down my body as I stepped up to the bar beside him, holding out the cigarette. “You got a light?”

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