There was a really great review this week on Cracklin’ Rosie and it was one I hadn’t been expecting to show up in my Twitter feed. I don’t typically read reviews anymore, but that one out of the blue surprised me enough that I had to take a peek. I was glad I did. The reviewer loved it, which is always nice. But it got me thinking about the book and how much I loved it myself and how much I’d loved writing it.
And the hero, Decker, yeah he ends up in the doghouse a few times…
He left. She couldn’t believe he just left after a kiss like that. He left her with a throbbing sex, a pounding heart, a confused head and lips wanting so many more kisses. And an ass…
She retraced her steps to the back of the cabin and quickly cleared away the rest of the dinner dishes. Decker had cleaned the grill while she got dessert out, and all that was left for her now was loading the dishwasher and putting the veggies in plastic storage bags.
The evening was still cooling but with him near, she hadn’t noticed. Now that he was gone, she was chillier than usual. She pulled a lightweight blanket from the storage container she kept on the deck near the chairs. She had Adirondack and rocking chairs and often liked to sit outside with her laptop as she researched recipes or wrote on her blog. She flopped down into one of the Adirondack’s and draped her legs over the wide arm.
She wiggled, trying to find the best spot, trying to stop the tingling in her ass at his remembered words. She was shocked that she’d let it show on her face how his mention of a spanking affected her. He’d caught her staring at him as well…how embarrassing. But damn. How could he just leave her like that? How could he turn tail and run after that?
“That son of a…”
Well, she just hoped he was in as much discomfort as she was. No, that wasn’t right. She hoped he was in more discomfort, bordering on pain. The man was a gorgeous tease.
She touched her fingertips to her lips and swore she could feel the heat from his lingering there, but that was just a fanciful notion. She could still hear his voice in her head, his words echoing through every cell in her body. “I think we’re going to find out soon.” He wanted her, told her so, and looking in his dark eyes, she knew he was telling the truth.
She pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders and sank deeper into the deck chair. Damn man. She couldn’t get comfortable and she kept squeezing her thighs together to try and do what, she wasn’t sure. The pressure only increased the need for release, the need for him. He hadn’t touched her in any sexual way yet, but if she closed her eyes and thought about it, she could feel those rough calloused hands on her body, sliding over her hips, spreading her legs, spanking her, scratching her tender skin in a caress…
And that bit of scruff on his face, that longer-than-average hair, that mouth caressing her…
She wanted him to come back. She wanted him to stay the hell away from her.
“Fuck this.” Rosie stood and dropped the blanket into the chair, then walked inside the house, closing and locking the door behind her.
A few minutes later she had her sneakers on and was on her way to the diner. She needed to do something, anything to get her mind off him, off what they could be doing right that very moment if he’d not left.
“I didn’t need him before he showed up, and I don’t need him now. What the hell was I thinking letting him get close?”
Muttering to herself always fueled her anger and frustration but at the same time, it always helped her figure things out.
When she came to the turn in the road that would take her into the center of town, Rosie stopped. She loved the little town. She loved the quaintness of it, that it had small novelty shops, antique stores, the bar and grill, the coffee shop that wasn’t a chain but rather owned and operated by a couple of local moms, the tiny hole-in-the-wall art gallery featuring local artists, a local artisan jewelry-maker. It was home to her and if she ever felt love for anything or anyone outside of food, her diner and her family, it was this town and its residents.
Putting one foot in front of the other, she started walking again. Half a mile from the edge of downtown sat her diner. The lights glowed from inside and from what she could see, it was still pretty well packed with people. It was a 24-hour place and oddly enough, it kept a steady clientele at all hours, especially on the weekends.
Cool air hit her when she opened the door and went inside. A few patrons waved and said hello, including Blue, her best childhood friend. She was sitting at the end of the counter, eating a piece of cherry pie. It was Rosie’s mother’s recipe and one of the favorites. Another was the blackberry cobbler. Her banana pudding didn’t do too badly either.
Just thinking about banana pudding made her think of Decker, and she could feel the scowl take over her face. She didn’t want to think about him, not tonight, not anymore. She was done with him. She wanted him to fix her roof and leave. Heck, she wasn’t even sure she wanted him to fix the roof anymore. She’d find someone else to do it or damn, she’d leave it the way it was. She just wanted him gone.
As she passed through into the kitchen, she headed straight for the small walk-in cooler. She needed something to do and this was it. She’d inherited it from her mother. Cleaning out the fridge. The one in her house was spic-and-span, spotless and very tidy, this one though—this one could always use a good purging and organizing. And even if it didn’t, she’d do it anyway. It would keep her mind occupied and the cold would ease the heat still flowing through her blood that had nothing to do with the walk she just took and everything to do with him.
“What has you upset tonight?”
Blue’s sweet, soft voice floated in on the thin air as she stood just inside the doorway to the cooler. She walked in and closed the door behind her.
“Nothing has me upset.” Only irritated, horny, aching from the inside out.
Rosie started at the back of the walk-in. Everything was in a haphazard array. “Sometimes I think they do this because they know eventually I’ll come in and fix it all.”
She picked up a couple small containers of potato salad ingredients and put them on a tray on a shelf near the door. Next she moved the macaroni salad, the coleslaw and the egg salad to another tray on the same shelf. The individual lidded cups that held salad dressings were stacked neatly by flavor—ranch, blue cheese, Italian and French.
“Why aren’t you talking?” she asked Blue. The other woman had come to stand next to Rosie and began arranging the salad fixings on the trays beneath the shelf that held the dressings and other condiments when Rosie moved on to the next rack. Thank heavens for labels with dates.
“Because I know you will, and I don’t want to distract you from it.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” It wouldn’t do her any good to tell Blue there was nothing to talk about. Blue knew her better than anyone else in town.
The one-word answers were Blue’s way of being patient, and she knew Rosie would cave and spill her guts. Shit. “The man here to fix my roof, the one Caroline’s guy brought out here from California… We had dinner tonight. He’s been coming on to me and hitting on me and so I finally said yes.” She left out the part about the kiss in the diner earlier that morning.
“Good. Is he…you know, like you? Like me?”
“No no no. Not good.” To emphasize her point, she took a plastic container from the back corner of a shelf and tossed it into the garbage bag she’d grabbed on her way into the cooler. It wasn’t often, but she sometimes found containers that had been pushed to the back of a shelf or two that she didn’t want to open. Usually it was someone’s lunch or dinner they’d meant to eat or take home that in the hustle and bustle of the diner never made it to its intended destination.
She turned and faced her friend. “It’s not good, Blue. You know how I am, how I have tried to keep that part of me away from here. I can’t imagine the freakish looks I’d get if people knew about the club in Atlanta or the things I’m into.”
“So, that means, he’s into those things too? That is good. You need that, Rosie. You always have, or at least you have since you found it. And no one around here has to ever know what goes on in your house. They don’t have to know what goes on in private at all.”
“I barely know him, and it’s just not right that he can read me like he can.”
“Why not? We both know how hard it is.”
“Yeah, I do. But not you. You’ve always embraced your kinks. You’ve never cared what people think or might think.”
“Why do you?”
“I run a business. It wouldn’t look right.”
“Again, why does anyone have to know? You should stop being scared of the what-if’s Rosie and give in to the what is. Maybe this guy would be good for you if you’d just let him try. Stop fighting so hard and maybe you wouldn’t have to make the trek to Atlanta anymore.”
Blue was right, and Rosie knew it. She just didn’t like it, and she hoped if she just ignored it, ignored him, avoided him it would go away. And…as soon as her roof was done, he’d leave town, and she wouldn’t wonder about him anymore, wouldn’t want his kisses anymore, wouldn’t want hot sex and to try out those belts of his, wouldn’t want him to cook for her again.
There’s emotion in my writing for sure. Sometimes I even get called on it, in a bad way. It’s angsty. It’s hard. It’s definitely not sugar-coated or easy or glossed over. I like emotion in my books though. The ones I write and the ones I read. I don’t want light and fluffy and forgetful. I want ones that wrench my guts out, that make my heart pound, that make my eyes tear up, that make my stomach churn…
The books I find lately that do this are not the M/F books but rather the M/M books. I do find that a bit sad that I can’t find a good M/F book that gives me a good punch to the solar-plexis and makes me catch my breath… Even if it’s for just a moment… Even if it’s self-destructive in parts… Make me feel something. Love or hate it, make me FEEL something.
“Blue, we need to talk.” The words slipped from his mouth before he even realized they were on his tongue.
“Do we? Do we need to have another conversation about Neil and how I’m not sleeping with him? Or is it about us? Or not us? Are you even sure we need to talk? I thought we just needed to fuck, to have angry sex. Or is that what you need to do? Have angry sex with me until you…I don’t know until what. I’m so confused. One minute you act like you want me, the next minute you act like you want anything but me.”
He nodded and was proud of the fact that he didn’t wince at the chill in her voice. She also, toward the end, had sounded deflated, defeated. He didn’t want that. He didn’t want her to give up. “I know.”
“You know? Well good for you because I don’t seem to. Explain it to me, Cort. Explain to me what you know.” She sat down heavily in a chair at the kitchen table, her breasts bouncing, swaying and again, he was caught, momentarily unable to form a single, solid thought..
He debated suggesting clothes for the both of them, but if she was good with their mutual nudity, then so was he. He pulled a couple of cups from the cabinet, grabbed the press, and took both to the table before taking the cream from the fridge and picking up the sugar bowl, all the while very aware of her eyes following him. He set them on the table as well, pulled out a chair, and moved it in front of her, remembering at the last second they needed spoons to stir with. He got those and sat down.
It was his turn to sigh. He never, ever thought to have this conversation with anyone, her included, but Blue deserved the truth, deserved to know that she wasn’t the reason, only the excuse. If he wanted any kind of relationship with her, he had to open up.
God, he felt sick. He busied his hands by pushing the plunger down on the coffee press and pouring equal amounts into the cups. He took a deep breath and let the words pour out, not quite as smooth as the coffee had.
“Her name was Alicia. We met our junior year in college when I was playing baseball. Her boyfriend at the time was one of my teammates. She and I spent a few months trying to ignore each other because we both felt something, but eventually she broke up with him. He didn’t care and didn’t hold a grudge. She and I were inseparable from that moment on, and after graduation, we moved in together.”
“Were you in love with her?”
Blue never took her eyes off him and he fought the urge to shift against the wood seat of the chair. Neither had touched the coffee since he’d poured it. “Yes, I was in love with her.”
“Was she in love with you?”
He’d known the question was coming, but hearing it and actually having to form the answer made the knots in his stomach twist tighter. She’d asked it softly, almost hesitantly, and it was the first time he’ really allowed himself to believe she was as vulnerable in all this between them as he was. She had feelings for him the same as he had for her and listening to the tale about the woman that first broke his heart had to be as hard to hear as it was for him to tell.
The memory of the moment Alicia told him she didn’t want to marry him, the feel of his world finally crashing down around him after he’d seen the cracks in the walls for so long still had the power to make his chest constrict. “No. She was in lust with me. She loved me but not the way I loved her. I wanted to get married, her family wanted us to get married, all our friends thought we would get married. In the end, though, we didn’t. We didn’t want the same things out of life.”
“You wanted the white picket fence, and she wanted what?”
“Money. Her career. Hot Sex. A roommate. A friend. Anything but the white picket fence.”
“You didn’t figure that out in college?”
Cort shook his head and finally reached for his coffee, needing to do something with his hands. “Things changed after she was offered a very coveted associate position at a big law firm down in Denver. We went our own ways about two years after school, but we’d been over long before we actually split up. She moved away from Boise when I brought up marriage again. I went about it the wrong way. Told her I’d go with her if she’d marry me. She walked out the door without a word, and I haven’t seen her since.”
“And that put you off women?”
He laughed without humor or lightness. “No, I love women.”
“Okay.” She smiled and reached for her cup, a spoon, and the sugar cubes. “She put you off trying to find the kind of woman you wanted?” She lifted the cup and took a sip, spitting it back in almost immediately. “What in the hell did you do to the coffee?”
There was humor in his laugh this time. He took a sip of his own coffee and nearly spit it across the room. God, it was awful. “No idea.”
“Tastes like mud.”
She made a face and stuck her tongue out as though it could rid itself of the taste. He understood completely. He took their cups and dumped them in the sink at the same time she got up and grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge. She popped the top on both and set one down for him on the table and took a long swig of her own.
He was grateful and tipped his bottle toward her before taking a long pull. He sat in the chair again.
“So? Gonna answer my question? She put you off trying to find who? Suzie Homemaker?”
He flinched. She faced him with that pointed stare again, and he put off the answer some more with another swallow of beer, smiling inside at the smooth slide down his throat. He really didn’t like the name brand domestic ones. They were almost as bad as that pot of coffee. He called it ‘domestic swill’ yesterday. The small microbrewery ones, though, like the one she’d just given him, he enjoyed trying those out. “Something like that, I guess.” He tilted the beer and looked at the label. It was from a small town in Texas and he’d have to make sure to remember the name. He’d like to try it out again.
“Something like that you guess?”
She sounded as though she didn’t believe him anymore than he believed himself. “I don’t know, Blue. I just know that after she left, I lost the desire to settle down. She was supposed to be the one, and it blew up in my face.”
“Do you believe there’s just one someone meant for everyone?”
“I don’t know that either.” Two more swallows and he’d have to get another beer in order to finish this conversation. He rubbed a hand along the back of his neck, trying to ease the tension building in his muscles. He didn’t do shit like this. Not anymore at least. Not since Alicia. He didn’t pour out his heart, and it was grating on him.
“And what about me?”
His gaze flew to her face. “You?”
“Yes. Because of her, you gave up on finding love again. What did I do?”
“Yes, we’ve established that. What did it make you want to do?”
“Do you want the truth?”
Could he give her the truth? He scooted his chair closer to her, invading her space. She watched but she didn’t move to get away. “I wanted to find you. I spent all day after I woke up looking for you. I scoured Savannah from one end to the other looking for you. I sat in that goddamn bar all night hoping you would walk in. I stayed one more night hoping you’d come back to the room.”
She looked surprised, and for the first time in five years, something cracked in his chest.
“You did? You did all that for me?”
“I wanted you. I wanted you in my bed again. I wanted your smile as you straddled me. I wanted your laugh when I tickled you unexpectedly. I wanted to hold you against me and listen to you whisper your dreams to me. I wanted to hold you while you slept. I wanted everything, Blue, but you never came back, and each hour that passed, each minute that ticked by, I became more and more angry at you, at her.”
“At least I’m not the only one.”
“You didn’t have to leave.”
She looked down, fiddled with her fingers. “Do you ever wish it had just been a normal one night stand? That it had been nothing more than sex?”
He didn’t hesitate in answering. “Not for a second. Do you?”
“No.” One corner of her mouth lifted in a smile when she lifted her gaze back to his., then she raised her eyes back to his. His cock twitched. He’d known he was getting hard again. The old anger fueled his lust, and he was doing the best he could to ignore it. Now that she’d drawn conscious attention to it, he couldn’t any longer.
His cock filled almost immediately and stood proud, slightly to the left. His gaze dropped to her nipples, and the longer he stared at them, the harder they became. Two could play that game. If he looked lower, though, between her legs where he wanted to bury himself, he’d be a lost man.
He dragged his focus back to her face. No, they had to get through this once and for all. They needed to move on or move away. He couldn’t work on her house and be near her without wanting her. He couldn’t stay in the area and work with his friends without wanting her. Whatever the hell hold she had on him, it was there to stay. Five years hadn’t done anything but make the ache worse, and seeing her now, again, more beautiful than before…
There was softness, a little pleading, a question. He had to ignore that too. Dammit, she wasn’t making this easy. “Why did you leave, Blue? Tell me why you left me.”
Please visit the following blogs for more Emotion-filled snippets…
Beginnings. Starting over. Changes. New friends. New dreams. New ideas. New directions. All of these are a beginning.
It’s just in your definition…
There are second chances too which are beginnings. Daring to try a new life and leave the old one behind. Daring to forgive. To try again… Cort and Blue from Forever In Blue Jeans, did just that… Dared to try again… To begin…
“What do you want from me?” He really hadn’t meant to ask the question, not like that at least. One minute he was comfortable and at ease with her, and the next he was out his element and awkward with her. The back and forth was giving him whiplash and it sucked.
She slid him a sidelong glance. “Want from you? Nothing you don’t already want to give.”
Great. A riddle. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You want me. I want you too. No promises.”
“I don’t think that’s all you want.”
“No? You don’t think I can satisfy myself with sex with you? You think I’ll overstep and fall in love?”
Her voice was light, there was a smile on her face, and teasing in her eyes, but Cort’s heart stopped just the same. No, he wasn’t thinking she would overstep and fall in love. He was thinking he would. Hell, he was thinking he already had.
Blue got to him, right in the center of his chest and all the way down to his balls. He should have left right after breakfast, put some distance between them, but as it was, they were sitting on her front porch. The rain still fell, and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. The lack of civilization was like they’d stepped back in time, a million miles away from everyone and everything.
He turned his head. Blue was rocking slowly in the chair beside him with her eyes closed. There was a small smile on her lips, and he wanted to lean over, kiss her, touch her. “Blue.” He whispered her name so softly he wasn’t sure she’d hear him, but she had. She opened her eyes and looked at him.
Lust radiated from the liquid brown orbs. His gazed traveled down her body, taking in each compact inch, each soft curve before traveling back up.
This woman got to him on a level he hadn’t even known existed inside him anymore. When he’d fallen in love with Alicia, he’d given her everything: his heart, his soul, and when she left, he could have sworn part of him left with her. Then he met Blue, and it was a different kind of love, a different kind of feeling, but no less intense. He’d not craved the touch, the feel of a woman so much since her, until now, until Blue was dropped back into his life.
“When will Neil come back?”
“I don’t know, but as long as it’s raining, he won’t.”
“And how long did you say it was supposed to rain?”
“Through the night.”
“I want to stay.”
“In your bed.”
Cort stood. “Starting now.”
She stared at him, and he could see the questions, the concerns, but whatever she saw in his eyes must have helped because she stood too and led the way into the house.
Then she began stripping.
Read about the whole Blue Jeans and Hard Hats series, here…
Visit these other blogs for Beginnings snippets. I’m headed off to write about cupcakes…
What do you have to do? Answer the following question: Who is your #1 hunky hero?
Like my Facebook Fan page (click on the coffee cup icon on the sidebar).
You can follow me on Twitter (click on the coffee cup icon on the sidebar).
You may also sign up for my quarterly newsletter (form on the sidebar). There are several ways to follow my blog as well… RSS, email, Networked Blogs, Linky Followers (all of these options are located on the sidebar over ——–> there).
This hop is brought to you by Riverina Romantics and I don’t think they’d be too disappointed if you decided to follow their blog or Like their Facebook page. 🙂
Ah, hell y’all…character sass is our theme for today. This is an easy one. I’m about as full of sass and sarcasm and smart mouthedness (Yes it’s a word! I just made it up. I can do that. I’m a writer!). And if Southerners know anything, it’s how to sass. Whether it be our elders, for which we get the switch taken to us for, or our frenemies, or our boyfriends…no one is safe from sass.
As I was thinking about this post and thinking about my books, well there is one very good sass giver…Rosie. She doesn’t let Decker have a moment of peace from her sharp retorts and back talk. It gets her a behind numbing spankin’, but her mouth is one of the most loveable things about her character.
“Rose!” Decker pulled up alongside her and called out her name through the open window. When she didn’t acknowledge him or his beat up work truck, he called out again. “Rose!”
She finally turned, pulled the bright green earbuds from her ears, and cocked her hip out to the side with her hands on her waist. “The name is Rosie. Not Rose. R. O. S. I. E. Rosie. Now, you try it.”
She gestured toward him, and he grinned. She hated being called Rose. He didn’t think there was a real reason why, but after a few days he’d learned that she wasn’t going to respond to anything with any kind of delicious heat unless he called her Rosie. “Rosie. Better?”
She grinned back. His dick hardened, and his heart melted. He wasn’t sure what it was about the curvy, pint-sized waitress that turned him on, but he couldn’t stop thinking about her, wanting her and damn when the roofing job was done, he was going to figure out her weakness and get her into bed with him.
“Yes, better. What do you want, Decker? I’m on my way to work and don’t want to be late. Besides, you’re blocking traffic.”
Decker laughed and shook his head. There was no traffic in the small town at this ungodly hour of the morning because everyone was either still asleep or having a nice leisurely breakfast down at the diner. “I stopped to see if you’d like a ride to work.”
“It’s only about a half mile down the road. I think I can make it. Thanks. And you’re going in the wrong direction anyway.” She started walking again, summarily dismissing him. He drove up to the next street and turned around. When he pulled up alongside her again, she didn’t wait until he’d shouted her name to look at him. She kept walking though.
The way her peach-colored dress pulled across her hips and ass when she walked did nothing to sway his libido in any direction other than the current where’s-the-nearest-flat-surface one. The bodice hugged her breasts in just the right way, not too tight, not too loose, but dear Lord in heaven she had a beautiful pair. He hadn’t seen them naked yet, but he had a pretty good imagination and it told him that she’d overflow his hands and respond so well to the teasing tip of his tongue.
She had pretty, blemish free skin, save for the few freckles dotting her nose and cheeks. She walked to work every day, too, and had strong-looking legs. She wasn’t thin, slender or skinny. She had too many curves for that, which suited him just fine. He didn’t go for the rail thin, magazine-size women. Never had and it was too bad that L.A. was all about skinny and bikini and boy hips. He didn’t go for the centerfold type either. He’d always been partial to real women that took care of themselves but weren’t afraid to indulge in real food and that had a little extra flesh. It marked up so well to his spankings, floggings, whippings. They could take a real good fucking, too, and he wasn’t afraid he’d break them in half. Oh yeah, Miss Rosie was perfect for him. He just had to convince her of that.
“Why are you following me? Aren’t you supposed to be working on my house?”
She was still walking but had looked in his direction as she spoke. “I’m not following you. I’m walking you to work. Sort of.”
“Cute. You don’t have to. I can make it there on my own.”
“I know, but I wanted to. What’s wrong with that? Ever hear of something called chivalry? Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?”
Was that a blush he saw coloring her cheeks? “You seem a little grumpy.”
“Oh. Well, I’m not grumpy. I just don’t like to talk in the mornings.”
“You’re in the wrong line of work then, aren’t you? Don’t you have to talk to people?”
“That’s different. I prefer not talking to anyone on my way to work.”
“Kind of like your alone time? Gearing up for the day ahead?”
“Exactly.” Her face brightened in the early morning sun. “That’s exactly what it’s like. Thanks for understanding. Now, go away.”
“Afraid I can’t do that. We’re too close to the diner, and I’m suddenly famished. I need a good breakfast before I start my day. As they say, breakfast is the most important meal.”
She stopped then, and he put on the brakes. He was a little surprised when she pulled open the door and climbed up into the cab of the truck. She slammed the door and stared straight ahead with her arms crossed over her chest. “Fine. Take me to work so I can get you some food and then you can get me a roof.”
Decker grinned again. Hell, he’d been grinning since he woke up and realized the hard-on he was sporting was all because of her. Then, he spotted her walking this morning and knew he was in danger of that grin being a permanent fixture on his face He couldn’t remember another woman with that effect on him. Ever.
Rosie was special.
When Buck, one of his best friends, contacted him about a roofing job and new business opportunity, Decker had packed his gear, grabbed the keys to his truck and headed out. He didn’t stay in one place very long, liked travel, liked seeing different parts of the country and Buck’s call had come at just the right time.
During the last storm, a branch had dropped from a tree outside Rosie’s little cabin and straight through the roof into the kitchen, leaving a large gaping hole.
He was replacing the old shingled roof with a beautiful red metal one. The red would stand out against the green mountain countryside the cabin was nestled in. Surrounded by trees, the dark worn wood would take on a whole new life with the red.
“I think I know what the problem is,” he said quietly.
“What the problem is with what?”
She turned her head sharply in his direction. Dark auburn tendrils of hair framed her face while the rest was pulled back in a ponytail that hung against the top of her dress collar. He rarely saw her without her hair up or pulled back, but then he rarely saw her anywhere other than the diner.
He’d been in town for two weeks and had taken to her like a fish to water. He was hooked and wasn’t afraid to admit it.
“Me? What the hell are you talking about?”
“The problem is that you want me. You’re trying to deny it, trying to fight it. It’s making you really grumpy.”
She dipped her head, looked up at him from under her lashes and over the bronze metal frame of her glasses. “I want you?”
“If I wanted you, shouldn’t it make me happy rather than grumpy?”
Decker shook his head and pulled into the diner drive, parking in a spot directly in front of the door. He shifted in his seat to look at her, hooking his arm over the steering wheel. “Not if you don’t want to want me. Which, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t. I mean, I’m rather amazing.”
He puffed out his chest and tilted his head in profile like the kings of old he’d seen painted in portraits. The next thing he heard was the slamming of the truck door for the second time that morning. Rosie stood on the ground, scowling and trying to fight a laugh. Her lips were quivering, and her beautiful eyes were crinkled at the corners. He drove her crazy and he liked it, was proud of it, but after two weeks of her fighting the heat and attraction between them, the time had come to make some forward progress.
“Well, let me put your mind at ease before you hurt yourself preening like a peacock. I do want you. I want you so much I can’t sleep at night because when I do manage a little of it, I dream about you. It’s driving me nuts. You—,” she pointed a finger at him, “—are driving me nuts.”
He sat there stunned and speechless, nothing coherent forming in his mind beyond the admission that she wanted him. Her words played over and over in his head as he stared at her, mute.
“I’m going inside now. When you’ve gotten your wits about you again, come on in and I’ll get you some food so you can go work on my house and get the hell out of my life. Okay?”
She turned on her heel and walked up the concrete steps, flung open the glass door, and went through, out of sight. She wanted him. She’d said so and even though he’d already known it, her admitting it…well there were no sweeter words at the moment.
She said she dreamed about him too.
Of course, then she’d said she wanted him out of her life. No way, no how. Not after that confession, no matter how grudgingly given. She was stuck with his happy ass now.
He pulled the keys from the ignition and got out of the truck. She thought she was going to get rid of him. Decker laughed. She hadn’t seen the glint in her own eyes. She hadn’t seen the way she looked at him, the way she let her gaze wander over him every time they saw one another. She would see it though. He’d make sure of it.
* * *
The bell chimed above the door and out of the corner of her eye, Rosie saw the bane of her existence walk through. Though bane was a really harsh word and not at all accurate. He was more or less every bit of her fantasy life. He took a seat at the far end of the counter, straddling the barstool, and all she could think about was straddling him. She didn’t want to serve him breakfast and coffee. She wanted to serve him herself, on a platter, in a bed or in the bed of his truck. She didn’t care where or when or how…she just wanted him.
And she didn’t know how to handle it. She hid behind her snark and sarcasm because it kept her safe, kept the locals and those just passing through at a distance unable to see the naughty secret she hid. They all knew her as sweet, part girl part tomboy Rosie with the ex-hippie mother that had fallen in love with the most eligible bachelor in town at the time. Rosie hadn’t grown up to be a shy or timid woman. In her line of work, she couldn’t be. She wasn’t uncertain about herself either. She just liked to keep her personal life…personal.
She’d lived in this little town all her life, loved it, didn’t want to live anywhere else. She met interesting people every day, learned a lot from the tourists, and essentially that’s what Decker was—a tourist. He was there for a short period of time and for a specific reason—to put a roof on her house. He was there as a favor, with a purpose, and wasn’t going to be hanging around after the job was done. She couldn’t want him. It was a dumb idea to want him, but damn… From the first minute she saw him, she’d wanted him. Completely, totally.
He sparked the kind of want and need and hunger and desire that was flat out too close to what she craved and what she tried so hard to hide from everyone that had known her since she was knee-high. Only one other person knew her secret longings because they’d grown up together, were best friends, and had accepted the differences in one another.
Though, it was a good bet that her new friend, Caroline had figured it out, too. She and her boyfriend, Buck, had moved to Blue Ridge about a few months ago during the summer and the two women had hit it off immediately.
A few times when Rosie had gone to hang out with Caroline at the woman’s cabin, little things had captured her attention—the wooden paddle left on the end table, the riding crop on the coffee table, the strips of leather on the end of a counter. But it was the ball gag that had really piqued her interest and made her ask questions.
Caroline never shied away from them and never blushed when talking about it. Rosie didn’t try to hide her curiosity, but she thought she’d at least hidden her hunger and envy at what Caroline and Buck had.
“You want me to get his order?”
Rosie glanced at Decker who was staring at her. Evidently, Caroline had picked up on Rosie wanting more than to live vicariously through her and Buck, too. She shifted her gaze back to Betsy, her partner at the counter this morning. “No, I’ll get to him. Eventually.”
Problem wasn’t her getting to him. Problem was him getting to her. And the longer he remained in Blue Ridge, the more he got to her. She’d just admitted to wanting him, just told him she couldn’t sleep because of him. She shouldn’t be admitting things like that. She knew deep down it wasn’t going to deter him, either. Hell no, it was only to make him more determined.
“You sure? I don’t mind. Thinkin’ I might like to get more than his order.”
Rosie would be irritated if it was anyone else, but Betsy was pushing sixty-five. She winked at the other waitress. “Go for it then, Bets. He might be into cougars.”
Betsy laughed. “You bad girl. That man is young enough to be my son. Sadly, I don’t think he comes in here to see me. I believe he’s only got eyes for you.”
Yes, Rosie knew that to be true. He did. And it sucked. He was still staring at her, too, smiling. She didn’t know his friend Buck all that well, but at the moment, she wanted to kill him for asking Decker to come and work on her house. Which in turn would lead to her wanting to kill Caroline because Rosie had no doubt the other woman had mentioned it to Buck. Yeah, mass murder all around.
“He’s a good one.”
Rosie snorted. “How do you know that?”
“I can just tell. You know, my Bert proposed to me three days after we met. The heart knows.”
“So your heart knows that the roofer is what? A good man?”
“Yes. But more importantly, your heart knows it, too.”
“Things don’t happen like that anymore, Bets.”
“Oh, girl, please. The heart is the same. The feelings are the same. The details may be different, but in the end the heart knows. He’s one of the good ones. He’s one of the few worthy ones. Now, are you gonna go get his order or…?
“I’m going. I’m going. You drive a hard bargain. You know that?”
“That’s my job. You’re the granddaughter I never had. Now scoot and stop giving that young man such a hard time.”
Rosie stuck her tongue out at the grandmother she never had and made her way to the other end of the counter. It just wasn’t as easy as Betsy made it sound. Rosie wished it were, but… She shook her head and glared at Decker. “You want the usual? To go?”
“Nope. I’m not in a hurry this morning.”
Of course not. “Well, we’re pretty busy, so how about I get it all bagged up for you anyway and you can give up your seat for another customer. That would be the gentlemanly thing to do.”
“You’re not being very hospitable, Rosie. Might have to talk to your manager.”
It’s not that she didn’t want him around. It’s that she wanted him around too much. It threw her off her game. She didn’t know how to handle a man’s interest like his. Hell, she didn’t know how to handle her own interest in him. She was thirty-seven years old and had never come across a man as potent as him—straight sun-streaked brown hair to his collar, black-rimmed glasses with skulls on the frames, dark chocolate eyes, and tattoos. He had tattoos up and down his back. She’d seen him once without his shirt and stared and drooled like a damn fool. He was gorgeous. At least to her. Most people in town gave him a wide berth until he smiled at them. Then they warmed up, shaking his hand, talking to him, making him feel welcome and at home in their little community. She didn’t want him feeling at home here. She wanted him to go home, back to wherever he came from.
And speaking of that damned smile of his. It was very disarming and melted every woman, even ones older than Betsy, into a puddle. He had eyes for only one woman though.
Why couldn’t he have been one of those overweight, beer-bellied, crack-showing blue-collar guys? It would have made life lately so much easier.
“I am the manager.”
Then there was the megawatt grin. His teeth were pearly white in his tan face, straight and beautiful. Could teeth be beautiful?
“Well, isn’t that fortunate for you? Not to mention, I never said I was anything close to a gentleman.”
He hadn’t, but she knew he was. He opened doors for little old ladies. He shook hands with little old men. He smiled, made small talk with people, and she knew he’d give his last dollar to anyone that might need it. He had that bad-boy look yes, but he was a gentleman through and through. It sucked. Why couldn’t he be a jerk? “Seriously, Decker, what can I get you? We are busy, and I just…I don’t like you.”
“So you were lying out at the truck?”
“No I wasn’t lying. I don’t lie.” At least not to anyone but herself. “I said I wanted you. I said nothing at all about liking you.”
Please enjoy sassy snippets from the following awesome authors: