Author: Sawyer Bennett
Series: Last Call #1
Publisher: Big Dog Books
Release Date: February 17, 2014
Genre: New Adult
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Amazon UK
He left to travel the world for fame and glory, but only after spurning Gabby Ward and crushing her young heart. Now Hunter Markham has come back home to the sand and salty breeze of the North Carolina Outer Banks so he can open up Last Call, a beach bar nestled among the dunes of the Atlantic.
Gabby Ward is not happy that Hunter has returned. Bitter over his rebuff years before, she’s content to stay far away from him and his dangerously charming ways.
Gabby’s well-schemed plans to ignore Hunter go up in flames when he presents an offer to her that she simply can’t refuse, throwing them together in a common quest to each reach their goals. Working together day in and day out proves to be problematic for Gabby, who soon realizes that the feelings she had for him are still very much alive. Hunter struggles to reach through to Gabby’s cold heart, all while starting a new career away from his life as a top ranked, professional surfer.
What starts out as a mutual business arrangement soon turns into a passion that neither of them can continue to deny.
Hard choices lay ahead for both of them when Hunter is offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to return to the pro surfing tour.
Choices that could destroy what they have built or take them further than they ever had dared to hope.
“What the fuck is wrong with her?” I grumbled.
“You’re clueless, dude,” Brody said while he placed the twenties, tens, fives, and ones in their respective drawers. He opened up the rolls of coins and emptied them in their slots. “Absolutely clueless.”
Walking up to the bar, I pulled a stool out and leaned one ass cheek on it, laying my forearms on the bar. “Want to enlighten me?”
Shutting the register drawer, Brody turned to look at me. “You two remind me of two kids who like each other but don’t understand it. So rather than confronting it, you pick at each other, letting your confused emotions come out as anger and stupid words.”
“I’m not the one picking at her,” I pointed out.
“True, but I expect Gabby’s feelings run in a different direction than yours. You’re running around with your tongue hanging out, panting after her, and she’s got her heart tied up. It’s the classic difference between men and women.”
I stood there with my jaw hanging open, staring in wonder at Brody. He just fucking ‘Dr. Phil-ed’ me, and I was in awe.
“How in the fuck do you know that?” I asked.
He shrugged his shoulders and walked out from behind the bar, heading toward the stockroom. “One thing in prison you have a lot of… is time. Three things came out of it. I devoured a lot of books, I had plenty of time to think, and I sharpened my observation skills. I see plenty of what goes on, even if you and Gabby don’t.”
I was struck dumb. My brother… the felon… the philosopher. I was beyond grateful that he was actually having a conversation with me. I was blown away at the nature of said conversation. My respect for my brother increased tenfold, because I realized that prison might have actually made him smarter… keener… even potentially more well-rounded.
“You amaze me,” is all I could think to say.
Brody just snorted at my comment and walked into the storeroom, while I stared after him. Maybe that was a turning point for Brody, actually doling out advice to his dumbass brother.
Now it’s Wednesday morning and, as I pull into the parking lot of Last Call, I see Gabby’s work truck. None of the other crew members have arrived, but it’s only 7:30 AM and they don’t usually clock in until around eight. I have no clue what time Gabby shows up each morning, but I’m guessing it’s way earlier than seven thirty.
Unlocking the door, I let myself in and relock it behind me. I’ll open it back up at eight.
I hear sounds coming from the back room, which leads out onto the existing deck. Gabby said they’d be starting the deck expansion today, so I expect to find her out there.
When I walk back there though, I find her still inside, bent over one of the pool tables, reviewing the design plans she has spread out before her. She’s wearing her classic work clothes… jeans, a t-shirt, and work boots. She has her tool belt riding low on her slim hips, and she’s chewing on the end of a pencil while she peruses the documents in front of her. With her hair pulled up in a ponytail, she looks young and fresh… and it makes me want to kiss the fuck out of her.
“Good morning,” I say, and her head snaps up.
For a brief moment, her face is placid and relaxed. But the moment she realizes it’s me walking in, her lips set in a grim line and she turns her attention back down to the plans before her.
And that just pisses me off. Fuck what Brody said about her liking me, and that’s why she’s so cranky. It doesn’t make any sense, and I’m getting tired of her bratty behavior. It makes me want to be a brat in return, so what do I do?
I walk up beside her, getting up close and invading her personal space, and lean over the plans. “Whatcha doin’?” I ask in a friendly voice.
I swear I can hear her teeth gritting from my nearness, and she takes a step to the side. “Just going over the specs on the back deck extension, so I can get the crew started when they get here.”
I slide a step closer to her, bending over the drawings. “Explain what you’ll be doing today.”
She curses under her breath, and I have to suppress a chuckle. I’m enjoying what my bratty side is doing to her.
“I don’t have time for this, Hunter. You either trust my work, or you don’t.”
I turn to look at her, and she’s glaring at me. “You’re cute when you’re angry. I particularly like the way you pout. It’s sexy.”
Flames leap out of her eyes, I kid you not, and she takes a step in closer, while jabbing me in the chest with her finger. “Just cut it out, Hunter. I know you think this banter is funny but it’s not. It’s really pissing me off. I’m trying to do a job here, and you’re not making it—”
I’ve had enough—enough of her rancor and PMSing or whatever the fuck her problem is. Brody said she likes me, and I’m going to see if he’s as smart as I think he might be.
Grabbing her shoulders, I pull her in hard to me so her breasts mash into my chest. She lets out a tiny gasp, her hazel eyes going wide, and her lips full and slightly open. It’s the only invitation I need before I bring mouth down on hers… fast and hard.
I unleash all the pent-up frustration I have toward her cranky behavior into her mouth, slamming my tongue up against hers, scraping my own bottom lip against her teeth. The pleasure-pain is exquisite, and I groan at the first contact.
She’s stiff… just for a second, her hands hanging loosely at her side. I let it cross my mind briefly that I could be making a very big mistake, that this could be bordering on assault, but then her arms come up and she clutches my hips with her fingertips.
That spurs me on, and I tilt my head, angling for a deeper contact. She responds tenfold, sliding a sexy whimper into my mouth, and I feel myself starting to grow painfully hard.
All from a fucking kiss.
A kiss that is just like five years ago, yet so very different. Then she was forbidden, young, innocent. It was shocking and altering, two things that fueled my lust.
Now, it’s a desire that’s fueled by years of wondering, fantasizing, and maybe even a bit of regret. It’s also a flame that has recently been fanned by anger, and let’s face it… there’s nothing hotter than being in the middle of an argument and releasing that emotion through the sexual channels.
My heart is slamming inside my chest, and my dick is aching. I want to do nothing more than take Gabby, lay her across the pool table, and fuck the meanness out of her. I want to sink myself in her warmth, make her body mine, and when it’s done, have her look at me with something other than disdain.
But now is not the time, and it’s certainly not the place. When I take her—and I will—it’s going to be somewhere private so I can do things that might border on depraved… but will certainly wipe that smug look off her face. Just the thought has me smiling against her lips.
I bring one hand up and cup the back of her head, pushing her mouth harder against mine for just a second, taking a last swipe at her with my tongue. Then I pull back, gripping onto her hair to hold her in place.
I stare at her intently, watching her eyes, which are clouded with lust and longing. Without the power of the kiss driving us, her gaze starts to clear, and I enjoy the myriad of emotion that filters through. Desire is replaced by confusion, which is then replaced by anger.
She pushes back against my body, her hands still at my hips, but I hold tight to her hair and I don’t budge an inch.
“What the hell was that for?” she seethes.
I give her a calculated smirk, running my eyes over her face and leaning down to nip at her lower lip with my teeth. She shivers in my arms and I internally gloat, because while she acts like she’s mad, she wants me. There’s no denying it.
Pulling back slightly, I rub my nose against hers, and then say, “It was the only way to get you to shut up.”
She looks at me blankly for a moment, and then it sinks in what I just said to her. She practically screeches as she rips away from my embrace, and I quickly release my hold on her hair so she doesn’t tear a chunk of it out. Stepping back a foot, her eyes do a slow burn and her hand comes up to wipe it across her lips. It’s a calculated move… to show me that the kiss disgusted her, but she’s not fooling me. I invented that move, used it on her five years ago in fact. I know all about masking my true feelings.
Leaning against the pool table with one hip, I cross my arms across my chest and give her a lazy smile. “Don’t act affronted, Gabs. You enjoyed that just as much as I did.”
“Oooohhh,” she screeches again, and I wince at the sound. “You’re an asshole. If you touch me again, I swear I’ll… I’ll…”
“What?” I taunt her. “Kiss the fuck out of me again? You wanted it… you enjoyed it. Accept it.”
“I did not,” she insists, stomping her foot. “You caught me off guard.”
Laughing at her silliness, I take a step forward, even as she takes a step back to keep distance between us. “You may not know what’s going on here, but I do. Brody enlightened me the other day.”
That gets her attention because she can’t help but ask, “What do you mean?”
I decide I’m done playing for the day. I can see she’s going to need time to process this, and I’m fully expecting to deal with a she-devil tomorrow. So I just turn around and head back out to the front of the bar, telling her over my shoulder. “Ask Brody. He’ll fill you in.”
I hear her curse behind me, dropping a few F-bombs in the process. I just laugh, and I know she can hear me because a few more choice words follow me out the door.