Their trial relationship was meant to last six months, but things didn’t quite work out the way they planned...
Justin Middleton, who has left a string of broken hearts across the state of South Carolina, has only one thing on his mind, and that’s winning Terri Mitchell’s heart in six months. That’s all the time she’s given him...six short months. If he can’t do it by then, they’ll go their separate ways.
Terri Mitchell knows she’s lost her mind when she even suggested this harebrained scheme. She finally thinks her heart is on the mend from her past encounter with Justin. However, when he shows up at her house late one night looking deliciously sexy and irresistible, her iron will to fight him vanishes and the words tumble from her lips before she’s barely aware of what she’s done.
Within weeks, both of them find themselves passionately involved, but when Terri’s brother, Preston, shows up, mysterious things begin to happen, turning their blissful world into something dark and dangerous.
Monday’s weren’t usually our busiest night, but when I arrived at work, I was surprised to hear we were solidly booked.
“We have a huge party in the private room,” our hostess, Katie, said. “It’s some group with the Medical University.”
“Humph. I was hoping to get out of here early tonight.”
“You still might. You know how those stodgy doctors can be sometimes.”
“Yeah. But it’s the middle of summer so it might mean a graduation party or an incoming group of fellows.”
I headed back to the kitchen to check out the specials for the night. Chef always made us taste everything so we could describe it to our patrons. It was going to be the crispy flounder and wahoo for seafood. He also had a pork tenderloin and a seafood over creamy grits special. I had a difficult time deciding which one I liked best.
I put on my apron and figured I would be the one assigned to that big group. Sure enough, I heard the floor manager say, “Alexia, you, Joe and Sam will handle the private room. Think the three of you can handle it?”
“No problem,” I replied. I was quite sure two of us could do it fine. There would be twenty people. They would bus the food out to us as well as the drinks so the difficult part was handled.
“Are they all here already?”
“Yeah, they had reservations for six o’clock.”
I laughed. “They must’ve thought we have an early bird or something.”
The three of us headed over to the private room. The guys always like to let me take the lead because I had a knack for describing food...or so they said. I think they just like to weasel out of doing it. I really didn’t mind though because they always gave me a hand when I needed it in delivering my entrees.
I went over each of the appetizer and dinner specials and then we took their drink orders. I’d been right about the group. They were first year fellows coming in to do their training in trauma surgery. I smiled tightly at the first few I hit. I made my way around the group until I got to the fifth person.
“I’ll have a Grey Goose extra dirty martini with extra olives.”
Okay, first off that was my favorite drink. Second, his voice sounded like rich waves tumbling over smooth rocks. I lifted my eyes and they landed on sizzling smoky gray, bedroom orbs that were heavily fringed in onyx lashes. My gaze drifted south to a mouth defined by full sensuous lips. I stared as his tongue peeked out and ran across his lower lip, slowly, teasingly. I swallowed and lifted my eyes north again to safer ground. Chiseled face emphasized by high cheekbones wasn’t exactly what I’d call safe either. Then I noticed his dark hair was thick and curled softly around the nape of his neck. This odd urge overcame me and I had to grip down hard on my pad and pen, for I wanted to brush aside an unruly curl that fell across his forehead.
F****ing gorgeous. What the hell Lex? Get your mind on the game here!
I heard someone clear his throat so I nodded and moved along to the next customer. By the time I finished, I was sweating profusely.
JC, he put the spell on me! Dayam, he sure had some kind of mojo working there.
I practically threw my order at the bartender and dashed to the restroom. Grabbing a handful of paper towels, I jammed them into my armpits and dabbed up the unhealthy level of moisture that had formed there. Who the hell was I kidding? That wasn’t moisture. That was pure T flood waters gushing out of my pores.
S***helldamn! How the hell am I gonna wait on him now?
I tossed the towels into the trash, washed my hands, dried them and ran back to the bar to collect the tray of drinks. It was ginormous. Joe, Sam or any of my runners were nowhere to be found, so I hefted up the tray and headed to my table.
I watched Smoky Eyes as I approached and I could feel his eyes as he was downright staring at me. I set the tray down carefully and then started handing everyone their drinks. When I got to him, he took the drink from my hand, briefly touching me with his pinky. I shivered.
What the hell Lex? It was his damn pinky! Get a grip for Christ’s sake.
My hand was shaking as I reached for the next glass and I knew he saw it. I could feel the heat of his eyes as they bore into me as I moved along the table. When I finished, Joe and Sam made an appearance with their drinks and then it was time to take their appetizer orders.
I reviewed the specials again, my voice shaking with nervous tension.
“Does anyone have any questions?” I asked.
“I do,” Smoky Eyes said. He grinned at me, and of course, a perfect set of teeth, minus a slight chip on his left front tooth, accompanied the rest of his perfect self.
“Yes?” I countered, as I swallowed around the thickness that had formed in my throat.
“Can you tell me about the oysters?” he purred.
“Um,” I swallowed again, “since it’s July, our oysters are pretty much nonexistent. We do offer some fried ones, but honestly, I don’t recommend them because they’ve been frozen.”
“I see. Then what exactly do you recommend?”
His voice was like butter being spread over warm bread. Smooth, rich and creamy.
“Er, well, our grits cake with tasso gravy is our trademark appetizer. It’s excellent. Our uptown eggrolls are also very tasty.”
“Hmm. They both sound delicious. I think I’ll try the grits cake please.”
“Excellent choice.” I moved around the table and completed the order on my end. I found myself on a mad dash to the kitchen, tossing my order at the chef and heading for the restroom again. At this rate, all the paper towels would be gone in an hour.
Thank heavens my runner was around to deliver the appetizers. I followed him to make sure each dish was delivered to the correct person and checked to see if everyone was pleased with their order. Smoky Eyes was purring with delight so I’d made a good call on the grits cake for him.
I took everyone’s dinner order and it went fine...except for you know who. He had a ton of questions, of course. The corners of his mouth would lift a bit so I knew he recognized the effect he had on me. I was getting annoyed already...not so much with him, but with myself. How could my own body betray me so badly? Ugh!
“Of course. Forgive me. Tell me Alexia. Is the wahoo moist and tender?”
“Yes. It’s fresh off the boat today. It’s pan seared and finished off in the oven. It’s quite delicious.”
“Is it juicy? It’s not too fishy is it?”
“No, it’s a very mild white fish. Not too dense and yes, it’s juicy. Not dry at all.” I grinned.
Someone at the table said, “Just order the damn fish already Pearce. It’s only a meal for Christ’s sake.”
“True, but it’s an important meal, isn’t is Alexia?”
I raised a brow and said, “I wouldn’t know. But, I don’t think the fish will disappoint you.”
He said under his breath, but loud enough for me to hear, “It’s not the fish I’m concerned about. Yes, then I’ll try the wahoo.”
Thank all the gods in all heavens everywhere. Smoky Eyes has made a decision. Hallelujah!
The entire table clapped for him and I snorted.
He gave me a look that sent shivers up my spine. I moved along and finished taking the rest of the orders.
The rest of their meal went along very nicely. I remained off the radar except for the few drink orders I had to take and dessert time. Smoky Eyes ordered a very expensive port and followed every move of mine with his eyes. Damn, he was sexy.
By the time they all stood up to leave, it was nine thirty. I was ready for them to get the show on the road. The restaurant was nearly empty. I was thinking about heading down the street for a few drinks afterward.
They all headed towards the door when Smoky Eyes brushed up against me. He grabbed my hand and thanked me for my excellent service and patience with him. Then he pushed a wad of bills in my hand and walked out. This was a tip beyond what had already been left with the payment.
I headed back to the restroom and unfolded the wad and saw it was two one hundred dollar bills and his business card. Smoky Eyes had a name. I looked closely at the card. He was a trauma surgeon at the Medical University and his name was H. Pearce Middleton. On the back of the card he’d written a note:
Please call me. I’d love to take you to dinner sometime. PM
Hmm. Middleton was an old Charleston name. I wondered if he was one of those Middleton’s. If so, he’d been toying with me big time. A Charleston Middleton would know what wahoo was and would also know oysters were out of season in July. In any case, it didn’t matter, because I would never call him. He didn’t need to get involved with me. I was a mess and he was a totally cool, put together guy that was hotter than sin and probably smarter than hell. What in the world would he do with a strung out slut that partied too hard and ended up in bed with two guys at once that she didn’t even know? Besides, I wasn’t ready to date anyone. Probably wouldn’t ever be ready to date anyone.
And do you want to meet MY JUSTIN. And yes, I did claim him. lol :-)
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Terri…he's purrrrfect! Thanks for posting the cover reveal and excerpt. Of course, Terri, the character approves too ;-) Annie xxReplyDelete
No problems. Justin, yum.Delete