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Cocktails & Crushes
Publication date: April 14th 2022
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Out of the Ashes will be the best bar in the county. At least that’s what I promised my uncle before he passed away.
With all the changes we’re making, more challenges arise. The crowd seems to get rowdier with every day that passes, and most days I feel like I can’t keep my head above water.
That is until Dylan, the kid I used to babysit, walks in. He’s definitely not a kid anymore. But he might just be what I need to keep the bar running smoothly. Too bad he isn’t staying in town.
Guarding my heart is the least of my problems, but I’m not sure how long I can fight my attraction.
No. I shake my head in disbelief. This boy, I mean man, did not just waltz in here like he’s someone and plop himself on one of my barstools. He must be out of his ever-loving mind if he thinks he can come in here and demand an audience with me. I mean seriously, who the hell does he think he is?
I pick up a new rag and continue wiping down the counters, waiting for him to say whatever he’s come to say. I’m not trying to be hostile toward him, but I am trying to tamp down my attraction. It feels wrong to find someone I’ve known since they were a kid so damn hot. But here we are. Lisa is tilting her entire body toward us to see what chaos is undoubtedly about to go down. Soon, I’ll have to check on the diners, but they can wait a bit.
“Aren’t you going to ask me what it is I want?” He lays his forearms across the bar top and leans toward me. I don’t miss the way his arms flex at the movement. He’s definitely not the scrawny kid I used to babysit anymore.
“That depends.” I pause in my cleaning. It’s only lunchtime, but I know once the sun sets, more people will show up. It’s inevitable. They keep this bar growing, though. We’ll be able to double the capacity if Stella can talk me out of my fear of expanding this place. I really hope everything we’ve done has made Uncle Max proud.
“Depends on what?” I catch his smirk before I turn away, making sure the rest of the bar area is ready for this afternoon and evening.
“If it makes you leave faster.” My back is to him so I can’t see his reaction, but the laughter is mocking.
“Probably not. At least, if I get my way.” Now I turn around. He’s been in town less than a day, and he’s acting like he can come in here making demands. I don’t think so.
“Which is what, exactly?” My hands are on my hips and I feel like an adult waiting for their petulant child to tell them what they did wrong.
“Is that problem you had with those guys last night a common occurrence?” He pauses for a few seconds, but doesn’t give me a chance to respond. “Because your bartender, Carlos, told me it’s been getting worse.”
That traitor. If he were here, I’d give him a piece of my mind. “I can handle idiots like those. I’ve spent my entire life in this bar. There’s nothing that will knock me down.”
Dylan leans back, crossing his arms over his chest. The t-shirt tightens and holy hell, he needs to stop doing that. “Really? Because you did get knocked down last night. This place has gotten a lot more traffic since I left. With that kind of growth, you need someone that can handle situations like those.”
I shrug. He has a point, but I don’t want to concede. “We’ve handled it just fine until this point. Is there a reason you’re bringing this up?”
“Yep,” he nods. “I want a job.”
“Seriously?” He has to be kidding. Who knows how long he’ll even be in town? I haven’t seen him in years.
“Please, Angie.” He slides off the barstool and walks around the bar until he’s right in front of me. “I’ll need something to do while I’m here helping my mom.”
Great. “That means you’ll end up leaving at some point in time. What am I supposed to do when that happens? As you can tell, we are short on staff as it is.”
“I can help train someone to replace me when I know the date I’m leaving.” He leans forward until we’re mere inches apart. His light brown eyes hold so much of that boyish uncertainty from when he was young. “If it helps the decision-making process, I’m not keeping the money for myself.”
What? If not for himself, then who? Maybe he has a girlfriend back home wherever that is. I’m already shaking my head no, when one of my lunch regulars calls my name. “I don’t have time for this right now, Dylan. And I’m not sure what I’d have you do, unless you have experience working in a bar.”
Katrina Marie lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two children, and fur baby. She is a lover of all things geeky and Gryffindor for life. Welcome to Your Life is her debut novel and she hopes you enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.