Feeling uncharacteristically agitated, Craig just shook his head. “I think I’m just going to take my break.”

*   *   *

When he returned from break the bar was a little busier, and he was feeling somewhat better about the whole situation. Joss was right. His mother was a grown woman and he had to let her do this. He’d be there to protect her if she needed him.

As Jo passed him to take her break, she touched his arm. “I’m sorry about earlier. And I think it’s really nice you worry so much about your mum.”

He gave her a peck on the cheek. “We’re all cool, darlin’.”

She smiled, her stance relaxing a little before disappearing into the staff area.

“So . . . you’re really touchy about your mom,” Joss called down the bar to him as he poured a customer a draft of lager. Joss was anything but sensitive. He shot her a filthy look and she laughed. “I’m just saying . . . this is another side to you. It’s nice.” She shrugged and turned back to her customer.

He shook his head, wearing a small smile. Women. He’d never fully understand them. And that was all part of the appeal.

“And what can I get you, beautiful?” He grinned at his next customer, a mousy-haired brunette with gorgeous big brown eyes.

She blushed. “Two JD and Cokes, please.”

He winked at her. “Coming right up.”


He wandered down the bar to get a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, his gaze roaming over the club. There were more people dancing on the small dance floor at the back of the basement club, and plenty more sitting at tables and standing on the main floor. His gaze was just flitting past the doorway when a woman walked in and his attention automatically swung back to her.

It was the way she walked—sexy, slow, relaxed steps in her high red heels, a seductive sway in her hips that seemed unconscious, and an overall gracefulness about her movements that was incredibly appealing and feminine.

And then there was the way she was dressed.

She looked like some stunning 1940s pin-up girl. Her dark, shoulder-length hair was swept back off her forehead in high, curled waves, and the ends were curled under in a similar fashion. Her black dress might as well have been glued to her body it was so tightly fitted. She was tallish, perhaps not as tall as Jo, but only an inch or so off it in her heels, and she was slim with gentle curves. The square neckline of the dress showed off a very nice cleavage, the cap sleeves accentuated slender arms and the flash of what could be a tattoo on the inside of her upper left arm. The hemline of the dress stopped below her knees, showing off the prettiest, shapeliest calves he’d ever seen in his life.

And now that he had stopped to look, the third thing that froze him in place was her face.


She was stunning.

Big, thickly lashed eyes that he’d bet his life on were dark brown. A small, delicate nose. High, rounded cheekbones. A lush full mouth she’d painted red to match her shoes.

Lust shot through his blood and traveled south.

“You may want to wipe your chin,” Joss’s voice murmured in his ear. “You’re drooling.”

Snapping out of his preoccupation with the jitterbug babe who had just strutted into the bar, Craig scowled at Joss. “Are you just here to take the piss out of me all night?”

She grinned. “When you make it this easy, yes.”

He grunted at her teasing, fighting the urge to laugh, and returned to fixing his customer her drinks.

He worked on, halfheartedly flirting with his female customers and pretending to give them his full attention, when in fact seventy percent of his attention was on the woman.

And he only grew more intrigued as she wandered around the club, assuming an air of casualness while her eyes searched the faces of the punters with a real determination. She was up to something. He just knew it. When she didn’t come near the bar for a drink, his interest only grew as he watched her find a spot behind where Braden and co were sitting, her eagle eyes on the doorway.

For the next hour, Craig watched her as she watched the door.

And he was more than a little surprised by the disappointment he felt when she left the club without ever approaching the bar.


The sleazy, traitorous, arrogant little bastard wasn’t here.

I tried my best not to look angry, anxious, or out of place at Club 39. The truth was the basement bar on George Street wasn’t really my kind of hangout. It was too trendy and attracted too many yuppie types. Like my sister, Darcy’s, fuckwit of an ex-boyfriend.

I’d never understand what it was she saw in Angus York. She’d been dating him for a few weeks by the time I eventually met him, and I’d been ready to love him since Darcy was so smitten with him. The night we met he said, right in front of her, that I was—and I quote—“Absolutely stunning and incredibly fuckable.” And he did it in this leering, lascivious way that I thought would have prompted Darcy to slap him and tell him to get the hell out of her life. Instead she’d just nodded uncomfortably and changed the subject.

I’d disliked him ever since.

Now . . . now I hated him.

And I was going to find a way to destroy him.

Darcy had told me he loved this bar—he was there almost every weekend. But tonight there was no sign of him. Again.

I sighed, feeling impatient. I wanted to get the plan in motion so it could all be over with. Last night I’d felt like a complete idiot standing at the back of the bar on my own, watching the doorway for Angus. I needed to be more natural.

I needed a bloody drink.

I’d arrived earlier this evening so there wouldn’t be any chance of missing the disgusting ex if he did decide to show up. There were empty seats at the bar but I knew those would fill up soon. I slipped into one, catching the attention of a tall and exceptionally beautiful strawberry-blond bartender.

She smiled prettily at me. “What can I get you?”

“I’ve got this, Jo,” a deep, masculine voice said.

My gaze flickered down the bar and I tensed as I watched the bartender from last night stride toward us.

I’d noticed him watching me last night.

His interest was unsettling, and even more unsettling now that I was up close to him.

He was too good-looking.

Tall, very tall—and I liked my men tall since I wore heels that usually put me at five ten every day. He had thick dark brown hair that he wore in this unkempt, sexy, messy way that was real and not artfully made to look real with hair products. Warm blue-green eyes stared intently at me out of a ruggedly handsome face. He hadn’t shaved in a couple of days and it looked delicious on him.

The girl, Jo’s, quizzical gaze moved between us before she shrugged and moved out of her colleague’s way.

He took her place, his broad shoulders lengthening as he splayed his arms out, palms to the bar. It was as though he was trying to block out anything from distracting me from him.

My gaze ran up his long arms. They were muscled in a way that told me he visited the gym, and I had a sudden longing to see him without the black T-shirt he wore.

Heat flashed through me.


“You’re back,” he said, giving me a flirtatious smile.

So he wasn’t going to pretend he hadn’t been watching me like a hawk the night before. He was either really damn sure of himself or he was a bit of a creeper. I really hoped it was the former.

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