Next time will be better.

My brows inched up my forehead. Uh, what? I flipped the card over. No name. I turned it back over and read the message again. A slow smile tugged at the corner of my lips. It had to be from Reece. The message was kind of weird, but it had to be from him.

I curled my fingers along the edges of the dainty card as I bit down on my lip. Reece was normally off on Fridays, or at least, that’s what I thought. It was hard to keep track of his schedule. He’d been in the bar on Wednesday, and we had talked, but he hadn’t mentioned the whole wanting to be more than friends thing, and I hadn’t brought it up either, because I didn’t know what to do with that.

Well, I had plenty of ideas of what I could do with that. A lot of them involved getting naked and contorting our bodies into yoga-type positions and such, but as cliché as it sounded, I didn’t know how to handle wanting something/someone for so long and then finally getting it.

Maybe I could text him about the roses.

Grinning like a complete doofus, I slipped the card into the back of my jeans and headed back out to the bar. There was a crowd waiting to get served, and poor Pearl was running back and forth as fast as her legs would carry her.

Hours flew by before I even realized it or had a chance to pick up my phone and the crowd was finally thinning out a little. I took the precious downtime to gather my hair up into a quick ponytail and to grab a fresh Coke from the tap.

When the door opened one more time, the scent of summer rain tickled my nose, and I glanced up and over.

My heart flailed in my chest.

Reece walked in, his brown hair plastered to his forehead, the ends curling. Tiny drips of rain cascading down his temple and onto his shirt. As he reached up and smoothed his large hand over his head, brushing those wet strands back, he reminded me of Poseidon rising from the ocean.

Holy hotness.


He looked over, and our gazes collided. Held. As he crossed the floor, walked around the bar and came behind it, toward me, he didn’t look away for one second.

“Okay.” Nick stepped back before he got mowed over.

My lungs constricted as Reece took my hand and then turned, walking out from behind the bar, tugging me along.

“Nice to see you, too, Reece.” Jax shared a look with Reece and then nodded in Nick’s direction. “Don’t mind us. Take a break. We got it.”

Normally, I would’ve protested, especially since sarcasm dripped from half of what Jax said, but the wiggling in my tummy was back in full force. It was like that somewhat scary show I watched as a kid—The Wiggles.

Someone—was it Melvin?—catcalled as Reece led me down the hall, and my cheeks flushed. “Okay, he-man, I can walk all by my little self.”

He cast a look over his shoulder at me as he opened the office door. “I’m sure you can.”

Then he pulled me inside.

My gaze flipped to the roses—the roses!—but before I could say a word, he closed the door and my back was pressed against it, his hands planted on either side of my head and his face right in mine. Like right there, within kissing distance.


“So, I was at my father’s place in New Jersey most of the day, and you know, he lives out near the Pine Barrens, so service is shit.”

I nodded even though I really wasn’t processing what he was saying as I was too busy staring at his mouth. Those lips, fuller on the bottom, drove me to distraction.

“I pull out of his driveway and I have all these messages from Dennis,” he continued, and I finally caught on to what he was talking about. “I honestly thought he was messing with me at first.”

I cringed. “He . . . um, he wasn’t.”

He shot me a bland look. “That much I figured out.” His hands slid on the door, stopping just shy of touching my shoulders. “What did he do to you?”

“What?” I blinked.

“What did that bastard do to make you throw a book through his windshield?”

Oh. Oh. My heart was now wiggling along with my stomach. “He really didn’t do anything. I just lost my cool. He wanted to talk to me, and I didn’t want to talk to him.”

“You don’t have to talk to him.”

“That’s what Dennis said, but I shouldn’t have damaged his car.”

A muscle flexed along his right jaw. “That’s true.” He shook his head. “Damn, Roxy, can’t say I’m surprised.”

My brows flew up. “You’re not?”

He laughed under his breath. “Babe, you’ve always had a hell of a temper on you.”

Ah, that was kind of true. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

Reece cocked his head to the side. “A sexy thing, but vandalism and destruction of property doesn’t look good on you, sweets.”

“No. It doesn’t match my manicure.” I raised my hands, flashing him the blue nails.

He laughed again and then he sobered up, just like that. Cop Face was on, and yeah . . . the low coiling in my stomach told me I found Cop Face arousing. “You’re lucky. He could’ve pressed charges, and this conversation would be going in a whole different direction.”

My own half smile slipped off my face. “I know. It’s . . . I was just with Charlie, and he’s . . .” Unable to continue, I forced a casual shrug I didn’t feel. “What are you going to do with me?”

His lips parted as his chest rose with a deep breath, then his gaze dropped to my mouth, and his expression tightened. He looked . . . he looked hungry. “I have lots of ideas.”

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