Country Love - Page 41

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"Can I get you anything?" The bartender is a pretty, punky looking white girl who doesn't look old enough to be serving drinks. Her neon pink hair is caught back in a neat, professional bun, and she is dressed in the black suit and tie of the country club staff, but I can tell at a glance that her preferred uniform is tattered fishnets and eyeliner.

"Something weak enough that I can pretend I'm not drinking, but strong enough to feel it?" I say, feeling sheepish.

She nods briskly. "I make this for myself," she confides, pouring deftly. Then her eyes go wide. "Oh shit, please don't say anything to my boss."

I have to laugh. "Please don't say anything to my bride," I answer, raising the glass she hands me. "Cheers."

"What are we toasting?" she smiles.

I think for a moment. "Being an idiot?"

"Ha! Yeah I will definitely drink to that." She gulps a hurried beer, then moves over to another sloshed uncle of the bride who is taking full advantage of the open bar. I lean on a stool and contemplate what I have just said.

Why did I say that? I made the decision to leave Carter's because I thought it was the smartest thing to do. Sleeping with my bride's brother was never part of the plan, and sleeping with a man like Carter Easton was a distraction I didn't need right now. I was poised to break into the big time. I didn't have time for a relationship.

Fuck, where did that come from? A relationship?

"You okay over here?" The punky bartender is eyeing me with some concern and I realize I must be mumbling to myself.

Hastily, I straighten up. "You know what, I'm not really sure what I am."

"You want to talk about it?" She shoots me a smile. "I'm a bartender, I listen to people's problems and then they tip me well. It's sorta how this whole thing works."

I laugh and extend my hand. "Sanniyah."

She takes it like a queen receiving a commoner, then laughs at herself. "Kat," she replies with a huff and roll of her black-rimmed eyes.

"Kat, well, I don't know what to say except," I think for a second, then it comes to me. "I don't know why I called myself an idiot just now. I think I made the right decision, no, scratch that, I know I did. But if I did, why does it feel so hard and hollow?"

"What did you decide?"

I grimace. "Not to have the sexiest man I have ever laid eyes on make me breakfast."

"Oof," she says sympathetically. "That's a tough one. Why didn't he?"

"Because I left as soon as I woke up."

"Why did you leave?"

"Because he's the brother of a client and sleeping with him was probably the worst thing I could have ever done."

Kat widens her eyes even further. "Are you like, married something?"

"What? No!

"Oh." She looks confused.

"Why did you ask?"

She shrugs dramatically. "I dunno, the way you're talking, I thought you were like, married with kids and this was some fling you had. If you're single and so is he, what's the problem?"

I huff. "The problem is that it's unprofessional!"

"You like him?"

"Yeah." Saying it out loud fills me with a desperate little thrill.

"And I'm going to go out on a limb here and say he likes you too, right?" She wiggles her eyebrows. "Men are usually pretty fucked up, in my opinion. But he'd have to be blind not to like you, you're absolutely gorgeous."

"Thank you," I smile at her.

"Did he tell you you're gorgeous?"

I think back, flushing down in my core. "Multiple times."

"Well then," Kat slaps her hands together like this is a done deal. "I honestly can't figure out why you think you have a problem, so I am using my power as a bartender to say that you don't. I have that power, you know. It's in the handbook or something."

"Oh yeah?" I might be getting a little more drunk than I intended, because she's making me giggle. "Is it a secret handbook?"

"Well of course it is. You can't see it, they'd take away my powers and I'd be a mere mortal again. But, I can at least do this." She lifts her hands in a dramatic gesture of blessing. "By the power invested in me by the state of alcoholism, I hereby absolve you of your guilt. Go forth and have breakfast with the sexy guy.

I burst out laughing. "Thank you!" I lean sloppily against the bar. "I wish it was that easy, but it's not. It's not actually that easy."

"Sure it is."

Kat claps her hands together again, but the humor of the moment drains quickly away the more I think about it. My smile fades as I realize, "No, it actually isn't." I'm shaking my head back and forth like a metronome. "I didn't exactly leave him on the best terms."

Kat huffs dramatically, clearly annoyed with my drunken hemming and hawing. "So call him and say you're sorry!" she explodes. Gesturing to my drink, she wiggles her eyebrows. "I could make you a few more of those, if you need some liquid courage. "

I waver and glance down at my now empty glass. My heart is racing. Just call him, huh? All I have to do is swallow my pride and call Carter. No big deal, right? Just apologize for losing my shit and hope that he's not as angry as he looked on the helipad. Then I just have to somehow manage to keep business and pleasure from mixing too much and also hope that Camilla isn't thoroughly disgusted by my actions while at the same time keeping my brand and business moving forward on the track I had been planning out for years while also being a good daughter to my dying stepfather who I haven't visited yet....


Oh god.

"You know what, yeah. I'm definitely going to need a few more."

Chapter Twenty-Two


When I finally stumble home, I am more than slightly drunk. I need to sleep, but I am way too keyed up to do anything other than text Tricia. "You up?"

In reply, I hear a dull thud. She's banging on the wall to let me know that she is still up. The faint sounds of music accompany her invitation.

Just as I raising my hand to knock, Tricia flings open the door, shotglass in hand. "Bottom's up, bitch! Rita got a new job!"

Rita is behind her, rolling her eyes so hard they might fall out of her head. I raise my glass to her. "Congratulations!" I shout, a little too loudly. The bourbon blazes a trail down my throat and I can feel my tattered emotions rising even closer to the surface. "What are you going to be doing?"

She squares her shoulders, then collapses, giggling and shaking her head. Tricia eyes her with drunken pride. "You're looking at the new Senior Fellow for Journalism Ethics at Haywood University."

"That's incredible! I'm honored to be in your illustrious presence."

Rita rolls her eyes again. "It sounds lot more prestigious on paper. Honestly, I'm not even sure why they chose me."

Tricia fixes her with a glare. "Because you're incredible. And you're damn good at your job. The paper hasn't been using you the way they should be. Not at all. You're finally going to get to shine, baby!" She breaks out into a spontaneous jig that has us both laughing.

"Haywood University, that's one I haven't heard of."

Rita shakes h

er head. "You probably wouldn't, unless you were looking for journalism schools in New England."

I feel my heart sink. " have to like, live there and stuff, right?"

Tricia stops her spastic dancing. "Oh, um, yeah Yahya." She darts a quick look at Rita who shakes her head imperceptibly. "We're going to have to move."

Tags: Mia Caldwell Erotic