From New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott comes the second sizzling stand-alone novel in the Dive Bar series!
When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot bearded bartender Joe Collins only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.
Alex Parks is funny, fascinating, and pretty much everything he’s been looking for in a woman—except that she lives across the country. Soon they’re emailing up a storm and telling each other their deepest, darkest secrets…except the one that really matters.
When Alex pays Joe a surprise visit, however, they both discover that when it comes to love, it’s always better with a twist.
I watched the streetlights cast shadows on the angle of his
cheekbone, the furrow of his brow. Strange how his manly beauty
had grown on me, redefining or rather stretching my usual boundaries.
Perhaps some people’s allure came from the inside out. A good thing. Their ways and their words did the wooing instead of their physical appeal. Not to diss Joe’s impressive physique. As
nice as a pretty face was, though, the personality, the person beneath
the skin, should matter more. Anything else was pretty
shallow and unlikely to last. Guess that was the difference between
my scratching an itch with a stranger and the way this
man had me tied up in knots. And not even neat, sea-worthy
knots. I’m talking, haven’t washed or brushed your hair in forever
and there’s a big old mess back there.
At the bar, he’d flirted with me. Full-on flirted with me, his
supposed platonic friend who was not his type. No way did I
know what to do. Normally Valerie would be first on my hit list of
people to call. But she’d just tell me to jump him, regardless of
what else was going on, or any possible consequences. Plus, with
him beside me it would be kind of uncool. But a couple of whisky
sours or no, I was pretty certain I hadn’t imagined his interest.
As Mom had always said, however, best to be sure.
“What are the renovating plans for tomorrow?” I asked.
“Rip out the old fittings and prepare the space for new.”
I nodded. “So we’ll be doing some pounding and screwing?”
“Ah, yeah.” The man cast me a look out of the corner of his
eye. “Sound okay?”
“Absolutely. Can’t wait to get my hands back on that big hard
“Great,” he said, throwing me another questioning look.
I gave a nice bland smile.
Yeah, pal. Two could play at the what-the-fuck-is-going-on
flirting game. I turned in my seat, all the better to face him. “Did
you want to bang, Joe?”
“What did you say?” Wide eyes flashed my way.
“Like I did on that wall today. That was fun,” I said with all
due sincerity. “Will we be doing more of that?”
A pause. “Sure.”
Another quizzical look.
“Something wrong?” I inquired politely.
“No.” His Adam’s apple dipped as he swallowed hard, shifting
in his seat, gaze decidedly unsure. The poor fool couldn’t begin to
understand the crazy he’d unleashed with his little taunt. Get
rough with the man? My starved libido was well beyond the
rough-and-tumble stage. No more hiding or denying, sticking
to the sidelines of life. It was my time to step forward and be
brave. When it came to Joe Collins, I was more than ready to
“I just . . .” he started. “Never mind.”
Neither of us spoke as he pulled into a parking space a short
walk down from the hotel. I leaned over, placing my hand on his
denim-covered thigh. The muscle tensed beneath my fingers.
Shame on me for straying a little close to his loins.
“Thanks so much for tonight, Joe. I’m so glad we decided to be
friends. Because you, sir, make a great friend.”
“Right. Good.” A frown. “How much did you have to drink
“Not nearly enough. Quick, let’s get to my hotel room so I can
have more!” I threw open my door.
“Okay.” Hands stuffed in his pockets, he followed me inside,
lingering a step or two behind. Guess he didn’t like it when
people’s moods got all mixed up and mercurial either. Funny, that.
I nodded to the dude at the front desk and pressed the button
on the elevator. It opened immediately. Mirrors and old-timeylooking
wooden framing decorated the small space. We both
leaned against the back wall as it slowly ascended.
“Yeah, sure can’t wait to do some banging, and pounding, and
screwing around with you, Joe.” I smiled. “Sound good?”
He just gave me a dry look from his superior height. All confusion
gone from his handsome face. Confined spaces only made
him seem bigger, even more imposing than usual. No way, no day,
however, was I crawling back into my shell or turning into a
shadow. We’d agreed to work on our issues, so fine, I was putting
it out there.
Still, my bravado was fading, I could barely meet his eyes. The
man affected me in all the ways.
“It’s hard, no pun intended this time, because sometimes it
feels like you want to be just friends,” I said. “But then other times
you flirt with me and I honestly don’t know what’s going on. No
huge surprise there, I know. Social awkwardness is my jam. But I
thought I mostly understood where you were coming from.”
A ding from the elevator and the doors opened at our stop. I
walked out, his bearded hotness following slowly behind, stalking
me almost. For certain his usual cool, easy-going-guy persona was
missing in action. The man radiated tension, intensity, even.
And if he didn’t, I definitely did.
Inside the hotel room I went for mood lighting, only turning
on the table and bedside lamps. I rubbed sweaty hands against the
sides of my pants. “What you said back at the bar about me getting
rough with you, however. Now, that almost sounded like a dare.”
Arms hanging loose at his sides, he just watched me, saying
“So tell me.” I stood at the foot of the bed, facing him. Every
part of me was wired, wide awake. “What’s going on, Joe?”
His shoulders rose and fell on a deep breath. “I realized something
“That I was falling into old habits. Doing what was easy instead
of doing what I wanted.”
“It was just before you spilled ice on that guy’s pants.”
“Sure. I can see how you’d be seduced by my smooth moves,”
I said, voice filled with much doubt. My insides were ready to
spontaneously combust. I swear I could feel sweat breaking out all
over me, the man was just that hot. Also, my nerves were on high
One corner of his lips tipped up. “You know how you said you
“Well, I was.”
Wow. I had nothing.
“This is the part where you’re supposed to admit you were
jealous too,” he supplied.
“I didn’t think it needed to be said. I’m not that good a liar.”
“True,” he said. “Anyway, I made the pass at you and then I
was leaving it up to you to figure out what you want. To be brave
and make the next move.”
Softly, I laughed and shook my head. Men were such idiots.
“Make the first move? This isn’t a game. As I said last time the subject
of sex came up, previous hurt feelings, etc. It’s going to get
“Yeah, probably,” he said, voice deeper than I’d ever heard it.
Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/
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