Twist:A Dive Bar Novel(2)

By: Kylie Scott



But no. The man was everything he’d said he was. I just hoped I lived up to his expectations. The tension inside me wound right back up into a hard ball. I’d told no lies about my thunder thighs or my modest bra size. Either he’d like me in real life or not. There was nothing I could do about it now.

First one person turned, noticing me. Then more followed, until the whole party was hushed, waiting.

“Hi,” someone said. “I’m sorry but we’ve already closed for the night. This is a private party.”

“I know,” I answered, circumnavigating the tables, walking toward him. Not taking my eyes off the man for a second. Tears welled, the absolute thrill of the moment threatening to undo me. I’d never forget this night as long as I lived. He was so gorgeous, so wonderful. I’d crushed on him hard just through reading his emails, but it was this, us finally being in the same damn room together and feeling the connection between us, which sealed the deal.

Eric Collins was going down. The dude would be wooed so hard it hurt and I, Alexandra Parks, would be doing the wooing.

Once I got close, I couldn’t hold back any longer. I burst into action, flinging myself at him. And just as I’d known he would, he caught me.

“Happy birthday, Eric,” I said, my smile trembling from both nerves and joy.

“Thanks.”

I laughed. It sounded only slightly hysterical. “I can’t believe I’m really here.”

Exquisite jade-green eyes stared down at me in shock.

“So … surprise,” I exclaimed.

“Wow.” A pause. Then, gazing down at me, he licked his perfect lips and said, “Do I know you?”

Everything stopped.

“What?” I asked.

A low, masculine, yet distinctly uncomfortable chuckle. “We’ve met before, huh?”

“Eric,” I chided.

He said nothing. Just kept looking at me in confusion. As if I was a total stranger.

“Is this a joke?” I asked, my whole body stiffening in his hold. “Eric, it’s me. Alex.”

Nothing.

Absolutely positively not a fucking thing.

Everyone was watching, the same bewildered look on all of their faces. Eyebrows raised and hesitant smiles, etc. God. For months I’d played this moment over and over inside my mind. It most definitely never turned out like this. Whatever this was.

I stepped back from my supposed beloved’s arms, doubt trickling through me, first a little, then a lot. Soon it was a whole damn tsunami of disbelief crushing my heart and mind. I was drowning, panic slowly but surely closing over my head. This is what came from stepping outside of your comfort zone. Bad things. Deeply shitty soul-crushing things. Why the hell had I ever left home?

“I don’t understand,” I said, voice rising in pitch and volume. “Of course you know me. We’ve been talking for months. E-mailing.”

Still nothing.

“We met on Heartingdotcom. Remember?”

They were still watching me with blank stares. Eric included.

I glared back at him. “So you’ve just been stringing me along, haven’t told anyone about me, and now you’re just going to deny everything? That’s how you’re going to play this? Really?”

“Or maybe I haven’t told anyone about you because I have no idea who you are,” he countered, looking me up and down. Something close to doubt flitted across his face. “Hold up. Are you the chick I doggy-styled in the walk-in closet at that party in Spokane?” His smile somehow managed to be sympathetic, apologetic, and leering all at once. “Shit, you are, aren’t you? I’m sorry, I should have known you right away. Maybe if you’d shown me the back of your head.”

I had nothing.

“It’s just sometimes it’s hard to remember faces after a big night, you know? And I’d been mixing Flaming Blue Jesuses for them. You know, with the rum, peppermint schnapps, and peach liqueur, with the thinnest layer of tequila on top.” He licked his lips. “I really do like those.”

Slowly, I shook my head. “You didn’t dog-style me in a closet.”

“No? Are you sure?” he asked. “Can I just see the back of your head for one minute?”

“We didn’t meet at a party, Eric,” I said through gritted teeth. “Emailing. You and me. Constantly, for months.”

“Not me.”

“Yes. You.”

“Come on, that’s not even realistic.” Eric put his hands on his slim hips. “Everyone in this room knows that’s not me. My attention span just isn’t that long.”

“True,” said someone. Lots of nods from other people. And he might be persuading them, but he wasn’t fooling me.

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