Cassandra Dempsey is not looking for love. She doesn’t deserve a happily ever after so she sticks to meaningless hook-ups. Until Cedar walks into her life. Friends with benefits is the perfect solution. She doesn’t want forever and he’s not sticking around anyway. Until she dares him to stay in Winter Falls for six months. Game on.
Meet Dare is out now! Read the first chapter below.
Cassandra – a woman who can rescue herself thank you very much
“But nothing. No.”
Come ons are seriously my least favorite thing about bartending at the White Stag. Except the name, of course. How cliché can you get?
Don’t get me wrong. I love a good flirtation as much as the next woman. But there’s a difference between flirting and leering. And this guy passed the line to leering when he lunged over the bar and grabbed for my ass. He’s lucky his hand is still attached to his arm.
Plus, I’m working here. My sisters may not take my job as a bartender seriously, but I do. I ignore creepy dude to walk to the other side of the bar.
“What can I get you?” I ask the patron patiently waiting his turn.
Before he can answer, Mr. I Get Whatever I Want Whenever I Want pushes him out of the way.
“I was talking to you.”
“And I told you. We’re done talking.”
“We’re done talking when I say we are.”
I roll my eyes to the ceiling. Why do men think whatever they say goes? A woman who’s this demanding is labeled a bitch and promptly ignored. But a man demanding whatever he wants? No problem. Totally fine.
“Excuse me. Is this guy bothering you?”
I open my mouth to tell the man to mind his own damn business, but the words get caught in my throat when I catch sight of him. Yowzah! Mr. Hottie has entered the building.
Lush brown hair, square jaw hidden by a sexy beard my hands want to dig into, smoldering hazel eyes. Yes, yes, yes! If he asks me what I’m doing after I get off work, I’ll answer. Especially since he’s tall with broad shoulders. I do love a pair of broad shoulders I can hang onto. And tall is a basic requirement since I’m five-eight.
“Ahem.” He clears his throat. “Do you want me to handle this guy for you?”
Oops. I might have gotten lost in those hazel eyes for a minute.
“I got this,” I tell him before focusing my attention on Mr. Handsy. “You need to step away from the bar before I have you removed from the premises.”
“You can’t have me—”
The rest of his words are cut off when one of his colleagues clutches his shoulder and steers him toward their table. I eye the group. With their suits and ties, they’re obviously businessmen enjoying a drink after a day of work. Except for Handsy, they’re drinking beer and watching the basketball game on the television. They’ve got him.
I wipe my hands on my jeans. Time to get back to work.
“What can I get you?” I ask Mr. Hottie.
“You sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine,” I grit out. I don’t like anyone questioning my ability to perform my job even if the questioner is a fine specimen of manhood.
He studies me for a long moment before nodding. “I’ll have a beer. Whatever IPA you have on tap.”
After I hand him his drink, a group of women arrive and push their way to the front of the line demanding daiquiris and margaritas. While I make their drinks, I keep an eye on Mr. Hottie. He’s sitting at a high table in the corner by himself nursing his beer.
I wonder what his story is. I haven’t seen him in here before. With a face and body like his, I wouldn’t forget.
Once the group of women have their drinks, I decide it’s time for my break. I pick up a case of empty bottles and carry them to the storage room. After I set the case down in its proper place, I lean against the wall for a breather.
I’m feeling restless and jumpy. I don’t know what my problem is. I love my life here in Colorado. I may have fought moving here from St. Louis last year – what thirty-three-year-old wants to relocate across the country with her brother and two of her sisters? – but I was wrong.
Colorado rocks. I’ve made a ton of friends. I’ve got a good job as the night manager here at the White Stag. The nature is beautiful. And there are no ex-lovers to bump into. What’s not to love? Except I’m feeling edgy.
I check my watch. I need to get back to work. The mystery of why Cassandra is feeling edgy will remain unanswered for today.
I fix my ponytail and straighten my t-shirt before opening the door to the hallway.
Seriously? Someone can’t get a clue if they were giving them away.
I cross my arms over my chest and his gaze drops to my cleavage. Creeper. I don’t drop my arms, though. Nope. I refuse to change who I am for a man. Especially this one.
“What do you want?”
Mr. Handsy steps closer and draws a finger up my arm. “Like I said, I want to know what you’re doing tonight after you get off work.”
I grab his finger to stop him before he reaches my shoulder.
“What the hell is going on here?”
I glance behind me to discover Mr. Hottie standing there.
“I got this,” I tell him.
He motions his hand forward. “Get on with it.”
“I don’t need your permission to handle Mr. Handsy.”
“Didn’t say you did,” he grumbles before crossing his arms over his chest causing his biceps to bulge and I nearly forget why we’re standing here talking.
Mr. Handsy tries to yank his finger from my grasp. Ah, yes. Now I remember what I was doing.
“It is not okay to touch a woman without her permission,” I tell him as I bend his finger backwards until he squeaks and wrenches his hand away.
“You bitch! You broke my finger.”
I chuckle. “Don’t be a crybaby. It’s not broken. Although, I could have broken it if I wanted to.”
“Who do you think you are? I’m going to sue you!”
“Okay.” I shrug. “I guess I’ll be phoning the police to file a report on you then.”
“You, you, you,” he sputters. “How dare you?”
“Did you or did you not touch me without permission?”
“The permission was implicit.”
“Implicit?” I snort. “There was nothing about my behavior to suggest I gave you permission to touch me. In fact, I have about fifty witnesses who heard me tell you no twice.”
I reach for the phone in my back pocket.
“No.” He slaps at my arm, but I retreat a step before he can touch me.
“No? All of a sudden you understand what the word no means? Huh. Interesting.”
“Come on, Freddy,” his colleague calls from the end of the hallway. “We’re going.”
Freddy glares at me for a few seconds before marching off.
“Have fun at the strip joint,” I holler after him.
“Am I allowed to ask if you’re alright or are you going to bite my head off if I do?” Mr. Hottie asks.
“I don’t bite.” I waggle my eyebrows. “Unless I’m asked to.”
He smirks. “Good to know.”
“What’s your name?” Because I can’t continue to refer to him as Mr. Hottie forever.
He pauses for a second. “Archer.”
I extend my hand. “Cassandra.”
As we shake hands, I can’t help but notice how large his are. They’re also calloused as if he works with them. I do love a man who knows how to use his hands.
“You handled Freddy well,” he says as his thumb rubs circles into my hand.
My skin tingles from his ministrations, and I want to climb him like a pole. Ding. Ding. Ding. I believe we’ve uncovered the reason why I’m feeling restless and jumpy.
“Thank you.” I clear my throat. “I should probably get back to work.”
“Do you work until closing?”
“Why?” I sass. “Are you going to escort me to my car if I do?”
“And what if I do?”
I’ll probably shove him into my vehicle and kidnap him to my apartment to have my wicked way with him all night long.
“It might be dangerous. You never know what’ll happen in the middle of the night.”
“For you, I’m willing to risk it.” He winks.
“I’m working until close.”
“I’ll see you then.” He lifts my hand and kisses it.
His lips feel soft and warm against my skin. I want to feel those lips touching other parts of my body. My naked body. I tremble and Archer’s eyes flare. Good to know we’re on the same page.
Dammit. “Duty calls.” I hurry away before I change my mind and say to hell with work and leave this minute with Archer. Later, I promise myself.