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Here is a short sample from the book:
The one story building was brick and had no windows. A neon open sign hung in the glass door. This must be a bar, but I had no other options and was not about to start driving aimlessly looking for a more family-friendly place to eat alone. I parked and entered the building.
The smell of smoke and beer met me. A long bar lined the wall with bottles of liquor filling the shelves behind it. Low hung lights with green shades gave the place little lighting. Several guys played pool in the back corner. Several other men stopped to look at me from the tables scattered around the room.
I took a deep breath and made my way to the bartender, who was watching me from the bar. The older man had graying hair and looked slightly overweight. I tried to ignore the fact that I looked like an alien in here, with my stark white dress, expensive purse, jewelry and high heels clicking on the weathered tile. I took the barstool directly in front of the bartender, feeling eyes watch me the whole way there.
“Lost?” he asked bluntly.
“And very hungry sir,” I said meekly and embarrassed.
He gave me a sad smile and handed me a sheet of laminated paper they called a menu. After quickly scanning through, I ordered a burger and fries. I anxiously played with the charms of my bracelet while waiting for my food to come. I could feel the eyes burning into my back, but the voices picked back up as I no longer was the center of attention.
I couldn’t tell if it was dark out yet from inside the dark and dingy bar. I almost laughed when I thought of my mother’s reaction if she knew where I was, instead of her well-planned party. I never went out to bars and partied like my classmates did. I stayed in, concentrated on my studies and watched as Chloe and the girls got ready to head out for nights of fun and drinking. I didn’t imagine this would be the kind of bar they would go to, though.
My food arrived and I slowly ate the burger to stall from having to start the drive home. Driving in the dark on the winding country roads was the last thing I wanted to do. After all, I know how dangerous that could be. Maybe Carter would be sitting on my patio with me right now if it had been daylight for his drive home. Maybe I wouldn’t be in this smokey bar alone.
I slid my card to the bartender when he took my empty plate. “Do you want to start a tab?” he asked me.
“For drinks?” I asked, like I have never been in a bar before. “Yes,” I answered quickly to cover my embarrassment. I could at least try to look like I know what I am doing and remotely blend in. I grabbed my ID from my purse and slid it across the bar.
“What can I get you then, sweetie?” He tucked my card under the register.
“Scotch. On the rocks,” rolled off my tongue before even thinking. I had no idea what I was thinking. I saw it in so many movies and commercials, it seemed like the right thing to say.
The bartender tried to hide his laugh and shook his head. Taking a bottle from the shelves behind him, he filled a glass and slid it in front of me. The smell burned my nose as I lifted it to my lips. He watched me curiously as I inhaled a deep breath. I took a long drink from the glass to keep up my rouse.
The liquid burned my throat like I swallowed flames. I instantly started coughing and shaking my head to clear the burn. I kept my eyes down on the ice cubes in my glass to avoid looking at the bartender. Surely, he must know how deep over my head I am by now.
“Hey, Hank,” came from a voice from next to me, drawing the worried man away from me.
“Ryder,” he said back to the voice while popping the top off a beer bottle and sliding it across the bar. I didn’t even hear him ask for one.
I rolled the glass around in my hands and kept my gaze down. I just wanted to crawl up in a hole and hide from here, this bar, and home and my family. But, I currently have no where to hide that’s not any of those places.
“You’re not from around here, are you?” I heard in a deep voice near my ear.
I looked up quickly to see the guy, named Ryder, sliding over to the stool next to me. His eyes traveled from my high heels, up my bare legs and the rest of my body before landing on my face. I wanted to cringe away from his look, but my body made no moves. I could almost feel his eyes moving up my skin.
Even with an empty and broken heart, my mind could not ignore that the face in front of mine was striking. Black hair spiked in every direction. His pointed jaw and high cheekbones brought all your attention to piercing, dark brown eyes. Some stubble on his chin made him look older, but his broad shoulders and wide chest showed a body of someone younger. He raised one eyebrow at me, reminding me he asked a question.
“Um…no. I’m not,” I stuttered, turning away from his handsome face. He was opposite of Carter in almost every way. I could see him still watching me from the corner of my eye, so I took another drink to break the tension. My body shuddered as the Scotch burned it’s way down.
“Hank, Mojito,” he called out, slamming his hand on the bar.
Hank slid a tall glass with mint leaves and a clear liquid inside. I turned to look at Ryder in shock as he slid the Scotch away from me and downed the rest.
“This is better. Trust me,” he said, sliding the glass closer to me.
In utter curiosity, I took a small sniff. The smell of citrus and mint was a delightful contrast to the previous drink.
“Thank you,” I said, bringing the drink to my lips. The drink burned when swallowed, but then was washed away with the freshness of mint, lime and bubbles.
“Ryder,” the stranger said, sticking out his hand. His eyes shined bright with amusement and something that looked almost daring, like he was challenging me.
“Kallie,” I answered, putting my hand in his. His large hand covered mine. It was rough and instantly warmed my whole body.
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