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Excerpt Two...New Year’s Eve Aiden Every New Year’s Eve, the crowd at Dastardly Bastard’s surpasses all others. Couples. Singles. Drunks. Weirdos. Weirdos who shout innuendos at bartenders. I shake my head and smile at an obnoxious female customer who fits firmly into the weirdo category. “I’m double-jointed,” the customer yells above the music. She tosses her hair and bats her eyelashes at me. “You can bend me any way you like. You know, like one of those people in a freak show. I am that flexible. Want to take me for a test drive later?” “Thanks, but I can’t test drive customers.” A stunning redhead slides onto the bar stool next to the Incredible Bending Woman and I gratefully divert my attention to her. “What’ll you have?” I ask. I’m not easily impressed by a pretty face. I’ve met some of the most beautiful girls in Nashville. I serve them all with an equal dash of courtesy and conversation. But my newest customer isn’t dressed like most of the women here tonight, all set to party-like-it’s-1999 with their slinky dresses and glittery jewelry. “What?” She leans in and I enjoy a closer view of incredible hazel eyes that tip catlike at the corners, framed with dark lashes. She has one of those Cupid’s bow mouths, perfectly defined and a creamy complexion with a smattering of light freckles across her nose. “Drink? Can I get you something?” I ask with more volume so she can hear over the music. My phone number? A one-way ticket into my life? She shakes her head, glances toward the platform stage at the west end of the bar, and then back to me. “No thanks.” I nod and stare a little too long. Then I move even closer and lean across with my forearm resting on the bar. I bet a dozen guys have already hit on her tonight. “I’m Aiden. Let me know if you change your mind. You know…if you want water or anything. I’m your man.” I’m your man? I’m an idiot is more like it. I haven’t been this tongue-tied since I was in middle school and discovered girls for the first time. “Hey handsome,” the lady to her right shouts at me. “Give me some cherries and I’ll show you what I can do. My tongue has been called a secret weapon, an instrument to bring men to their knees. You have no idea what you’re missing.” I ignore her and pull a fresh container of sliced limes from the fridge underneath the bar. Glancing up, I smile at the redhead’s expression as she gives the woman next to her a look of incredulity. When she looks back to me, her fantastic cat-eyes crinkle at the corners and her lips part into a you-gotta-be-kidding smile. I take a step away to serve the next customer who orders a beer. “Hey,” says the Incredible Bending Woman to the redhead. “Are you making eyes at the bartender?” I hurriedly shove the beer tap down and glance at them. Do they realize I can hear this conversation? The redhead wrinkles her brow. “Me?” She even looks around to be sure. The Incredible Bending Woman sneers. “I know you think he’s hot. Can you deny it?” Red actually blushes, her cheeks coloring to a beautiful rose shade. Yes, I’m not the only one feeling the chemistry. “Don’t act innocent,” Incredible Bending Woman says with a definite sneer. “I know your type. Boyfriend stealing whore. He can’t handle a real woman anyway.” Uh oh. This conversation is taking a turn for the worse. Red pins her with a stare and straightens. “I’m pretty sure he’s sick of chicks who sexually harass him on the job. And what did you call me? I dare you to say that again.” Fuck. I’m on the wrong side of the bar to stop Red from doing serious damage to the crazy lady. “Ladies…” I really don’t know how to head this train off. “I think—” “Forget it,” the Incredible Bending Woman interrupts and hops from her stool. “You just lost your tip,” she says and stomps off in a huff. “Drink’s on the house,” I say to the redhead. “What did you say your name is?” “It’s Mak.” “That’s different.” A woman has never turned me on in less time. Damn. “Short for Makenna,” she says. Harper, a waitress, leans over the bar and shouts above the noise. “I need a Captain and Coke, Vodka Red Bull, four draft Buds, and a stun gun for that table near the stage.” I grab chilled mugs for the beer. Harper’s a wisp of a girl. Also, she dates my buddy, which puts her in the category of family. I watch out for her when I work. “Need me to do anything?” “No. It’s OK so far,” she says, then turns toward Makenna. “Mak, your band goes on in ten.” She belongs to one of tonight’s bands? Makenna rises from her seat and gives me a smile. “Stay safe. I won’t be around to protect your honor.” Then she walks down a few feet to the stage end of the bar. Harper taps me. “Earth to Aiden. Drinks?” I fill the mugs, grab two glasses for the mixed drinks, and slide my gaze back to Makenna. “You know her?” I ask Harper. “Not really. Met her earlier when she asked me about the band rotation,” Harper answers. She grabs the tray and balances it on one hand. “Cute, huh?” There’s no time to ask more before Harper heads off with her order. I make sure to keep Makenna in view. She bobs her head to the beat of the band on stage. I make a point to serve drinks closer to her, but she never even glances my way. The lead singer of Horny Dawg orders us to look to our right and left in order to find the nearest available lips. I stride to the end of the bar and the only lips I’ve noticed. The singer leans into the mic. “Wish somebody luck, my friends. If you don’t kiss somebody, your year’s fucked! Three. Twooooo.” He points to the crowd with his tumbler of whiskey. This is my chance. I step through the end of the bar and stand beside her. “Hi Makenna,” I say. “Want to help a guy out with a kiss? I need all the luck I can get.”
Meet The Author...Brinda Berry lives in the southern US with her family, where she surfs (the internet) too much, writes too much, and laughs too much. She's fond of a lot of things, including but not limited to Kings of Leon, peanut butter cookies, flip flops, and good friends. Oh...and books. Of course, books. She writes young adult fantasy and adult contemporary romance novels with strong females and swoonworthy males. Follow all her novels on Bookbub at https://www.bookbub.com/authors/brinda-berry. Sign up for her monthly newsletter for release announcements, contests, and special sneak previews for subscribers. Copy and paste this link into your browser: http://www.brindaberry.com/mailing-list.html .
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