Pretend It's Love(7)

By: Stefanie London



But getting drunk seemed like an excellent idea right about now.

“How come you decided to be a bartender?” She took another swig of her drink.

“All the jobs for rocket scientists were taken,” he joked. “I don’t know. It chose me as a career… I’m good with alcohol.”

“Drinking or mixing?”

“Both.” He chuckled, raking his hand through his hair and offering her a devilish smile. “Although I’d say slightly better at drinking.”

“Cheers to that,” she said, picking up her glass and draining the rest of the cocktail. “How about another?”

“That problem is still going to be there tomorrow.” He accepted the empty glass from her and commenced making another cocktail.

“Can’t a girl have one evening of denial?” She dropped her chin into her hands and sighed.

Flattening his palms against the bar, he leaned forward. “Why did all the restaurants decide to pull out?”

Swallowing—and trying not to stare at how perfectly defined the muscles in his arms were—she considered her options. There was no harm in telling him the real reason, as horrible as it would be to repeat.

“Do you know who Kandy K is?”

He shook his head.

“She was on that reality dating show where they stick everyone on a remote property and they have to fend for themselves and they all end up sleeping with one another by the third episode?”

He looked at her as though she’d sprouted antennae and had started speaking an alien language. “Uh, no.”

“Anyway, it’s D-grade TV. She was on that show and then someone leaked a sex tape of her and some football player—”

“Ah, yeah.” He snapped his fingers. “And now she hosts some late night radio talk show.”

“Yes, that’s her.”

“What the hell does she have to do with your business?”

“Well.” She sucked in a deep breath. “Kandy K is bringing out a line of infused vodkas, and all the restaurants I had lined up to launch my product are now backing out for a chance to get her stuff instead.”

“Right.” He frowned and raked a hand through his hair.

“Since she’s partnering with one of the big vodka companies the exposure is going to be huge.” Libby stared at her empty glass, willing it to refill itself. “There’s no way they’d take a chance on some one-woman band when they could have that instead. It’s so frustrating working your butt off for something and then have it completely crumble right in front of you.”



He wouldn’t know… When had Paul ever really worked for anything? He breezed through life on charm and charisma, at least that’s what his ex had said.

The girl in front of him looked up with her huge eyes. They weren’t brown, but they weren’t green, either. At this close distance he could see the flecks of gold and gray that speckled her irises, the half-moon of green that sliced through the honey-colored rings.

They were like her—intriguing, unusual, and sexy as hell.

She was a whirlwind of energy. It had certainly felt like a tornado struck him when she’d smacked into him at full speed, knocking the glasses straight off his tray and stealing the breath right out of his lungs. Not to mention he’d had to keep control over his body’s natural reactions when he’d picked her up and felt the brush of her sweet curves against him.

She wasn’t even his usual type. He was a die-hard blonde man and this girl’s hair was like the color of a copper coin. Most of the time, he found himself attracted to the life-of-the-party type, the girls who were the ones dancing even when there was no dance floor. She looked like she knew how to have fun, but there was a serious streak to her. She was sharp, intelligent.

Different.

“You have to at least tell me your name,” he said, running another curl of orange peel around the edge of her glass and dropping it into the drink. “In case this evening of denial ends up with me needing to call someone to pick you up.”

“Guess,” she said with a smirk, reaching out and taking the drink from him.

“You want me to guess your name?”

“Yeah.” Her rosy lips wrapped around the edge of the glass as she sipped. “What kind of girl do I look like?”

“One who knows how to lead a guy straight into trouble.”

He folded his arms across his chest, resisting her bait. Lips quirked into a smile, she waited for him to answer her question, her eyes locked onto his in silent challenge. For a moment the rest of the restaurant faded away; the ambient sounds dissolved into nothingness as his whole world focused in on her. For some reason the little staring contest made his blood pump harder, his competitive side stirred by the tilt in her chin.

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