She planned to meet her coworkers for drinks and be home in a few hours. Getting drunk and staying out all night was not an option. Not for Kayla Dobbs. Going to a bar was already pushing her limits. Between her full-time job and night classes, there was no time to spare for a social life, and certainly no time for a relationship. But when she meets Gannon, the sexy bartender whose hypnotic eyes seem to follow her every move, she wishes things could be different.
Although Kayla doesn't recognize him, Gannon knows exactly who she is—she was the one girl in high school he'd always wanted but had been afraid to pursue. He's changed a lot since high school though, and maybe now he has a chance at making that dream come true.
As she breaks free from her self-induced lifestyle of studying and work, Kayla realizes that no matter how concrete her life plan is, sometimes it only takes one night, one person, to alter it forever.
Content Warning: contains descriptive sex and strong language
Music blared from the band, pounding in Kayla's ears and masking the nervous hammering in her chest. She tossed the apprehension from her head. The bartender was watching her again, and she was glad. After all, it had been a long time since anyone held her interest and he…well, he seemed to be matching her awareness. She was determined to talk to him, and with liquid courage having her back, she was in rare form. Feeling tenacious and certain, she licked her lips to make them shine and walked toward the faintly familiar man.
The closer she got to the bar, the more the courage escaped her. Never in her life had she approached a man she was attracted to. "Just go to the bar and order a drink," she said quietly to herself. "He won't bite."
Kayla grinned, took a deep breath, and settled on a bar stool. She didn't have to wait. The bartender met her as she sat. His gaze held hers for a second longer than she was comfortable with, and her breath hitched in her throat. She moved her stare to the shelves of bottles behind him. Without her asking, he placed a shot of tequila in front of her. She slowly traced the rim with her index finger, trying to think of something clever to say when he sat another shot on the worn mahogany bar top. "Thanks, but I can't handle two more. I'd like to be able to walk out of here."
He held the extra glass up to her eye level, leaning toward her, his eyes burning into hers. "This one is for me. I'd like you to be able to walk out of here too. Let's have a toast."
People around the bar repeatedly shouted out their orders, but the bartender didn't seem to hear them, or if he did, he didn't acknowledge them. Two other guys serving drinks took up the slack.
Kayla picked up the small glass of liquid meant for her and slowly batted her lashes. "A toast to what, exactly?"
She couldn't help but notice the black scribe tattoo on the inside of his upper arm and wondered what it said, but didn't allow her eyes to dwell as they followed his arm to his shoulder and to his neck. She imagined her tongue trailing across his skin and quickly flushed.
He smiled, and his eyes sparkled as he clinked his glass to hers. "To four-inch, platinum heels and jeans that make an ass like yours trigger heart attacks for all that may lay their eyes upon it."
Kayla laughed out loud. He had to be joking, how cheesy. "Well, I wouldn't say it has such an extreme effect on everyone. Does a line like that work on every female?" She licked her hand where he'd showed her earlier and grabbed the salt shaker.
He leaned in closer, inches from her, his gaze intense. "I couldn't be more serious. I've always—"
"Gannon!" one of the other bartenders interrupted. "We've got a fight!"
His eyes narrowed, and irritation spread across his face. He glanced at the anxious announcer behind him and back to Kayla. "Give me a few minutes?"
She watched him jump across the bar and disappear into the crowd. Shivers went across her skin as she noticed the muscles in his arms flex when he lifted himself over the counter. Forgetting about the salt, she tossed the shot back and helped herself to the one he'd left on the bar. As an afterthought, she bit into the lime. His name is Gannon.