Twist:A Dive Bar Novel

By: Kylie Scott



To my readers, thank you





ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First, to all of the reviewers and bloggers who take the time to read my books, thank you. To Rose and the awesome team at St. Martin’s Press, to Cate and Pan Macmillan Australia, and Catherine and Pan Macmillan UK. To Amy Tannenbaum, agent extraordinaire and keeper of my sanity, and everyone at the Jane Rotrosen Agency. To the Australian Romance Readers Association for their unfailing support. To the Groupies, go, you good things. To my claimed sister, Mish, who does everything all the time <3. To my babe, Sali Pow, love you. To my beloved husband and babies, my friends, family, and everyone who’s had my back during this amazing, and at times tough, journey, thank you so much. To By Hang Le, you still haven’t responded to my offer to run away together, it’s beginning to get a bit awkward. Lastly, to Joanna Wylde, I have nothing to say to you.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s this … it takes a tight posse to keep things together and a community to make you whole. I got my posse, and I got the romance community. And for both, I am extremely grateful.





CHAPTER ONE

Screw playing it safe.

I stood outside the Dive Bar, hands shaking, heart crashing around inside my chest. Goddamn nerves. Let them do their worst. No way would I scurry back to Seattle and hide. Not now. Beware, beautiful hot man from the Internet. I had arrived. Yes, fate in the form of me, and a return-trip plane ticket, had come to Coeur d’Alene, northern Idaho.

Right. This was it.

I took a deep breath and fluffed up my hair (shoulder length and brown). My bestie, Val, had applied my makeup several hours earlier and the woman knew her shit. None of it would dare move. I smoothed out the creases in my dress (little and black). Shoulders back, boobs out, as per instructions. And okay, sure, my toes were turning into frozen stumps in the stupid sky-high black suede heels, and my bare legs and arms were covered in goose bumps. But never mind. Val and the girl in the shop had sworn I looked amazing in this outfit. Definitely doable and about a billion times better than normal, care of the push-up bra above and the Spanx below.

So what if I felt a little like a high-class hooker. Never mind. First impressions were important. And if Val and the salesgirl were right, this particular first impression was the way to go—as opposed to my usual boring date attire: boots, jeans, and a blouse. But then, I wasn’t usually gaga about the guy in the way I was about Eric Collins. Those dates were solely about scratching an itch.

Yes, I know. Shock horror. A single woman regularly indulging in casual sex. Absolutely not even a little attachment to the male in the equation. Burn me at the stake and drown me in a river. Valerie called me an emotional coward, but I liked my life uncomplicated and largely spent alone at home dressed in pajamas. And relationships? They were one hell of a complication. Yet, here I was in northern Idaho hoping to get all sorts of involved and complicated, against my better judgment. The outside world terrified me, but Eric Collins mattered too much to just be relegated to the role of some passing Internet fancy. I had to see him, to find out why a week ago he’d up and disappeared on me. Turning up at his birthday party just added a bit of serendipity to the event.

Maybe I’d played with Bridal Barbie once too often when I was young. I don’t know.

The closed sign hung in the restaurant window, the outside lights were dimmed. Inside, however, things were happening. Muted music and the sound of low chatter carried through the cold night air. Lightning crashed in the distance, the breeze picked up. Even the weather was telling me to stop procrastinating.

Despite the sign, the door was unlocked. Carry-on suitcase bumping along behind me, I ventured inside. No one noticed me at first. A good dozen or so people were hanging out at the long wooden bar, drinking and eating. My stomach turned inside out at the scent of delicious pizza. I’d been too nervous to eat anything on the flight or beforehand.

I gasped. There he was.

Holy shit, his profile photo hadn’t begun to do him justice. The man put supermodels to shame. He literally glowed, his long dark hair shining beneath the lights, and his pearlescent smile even more so. (Not that I didn’t admire and respect him for his mind, because I did. After all, our relationship had so far sat entirely at the platonic level of cyber-messaging. I was overdue for seeing a little flesh. So there.)

All of the tension inside me unwound, my shoulders sagging in relief. The smile on my face, however, just grew bigger and bigger. People said nobody told the actual truth about themselves on the Internet. Lying to strangers and sharing cat pictures were basically why the World Wide Web had been invented. And yes, it’d been a huge leap of faith to get on that plane. He could have been some five-hundred-pound pervert hoping to get pictures of my tits to whack off to. He could have been married with five wives and forty-three children, hoping I’d be willing to join the family and push out some more bambinos.

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