<— BREAKING NEWS UPDATE!!! WRECKED IS LIVE!!!!
Jeannine Colette fans, I have something awesome to wet your palette!!! Her upcoming book “Wrecked” will be released in just a few days (SHE’S A BARTENDER & THE TOWN PARTY GIRL & HE’S THE COP THAT ARRESTS HER… and they HATE each other!), and we have a little taste-test to tease you with. 😉 But first, in case you missed it, here’s the blurb, and then, there’s much more below. :D!!
Take one sexy bartender. Add a badass cop. A splash of sweet, that’s me. One sour, that’s him… and serve over ice.
That’s how you’ll get to my current situation.
You know the girl – the one who commands the scene, bottle of liquor in hand, pouring liquid fire into the willing throats of patrons as they let loose at the local bar?
I may be known as the town party girl, but in reality I’m this close to my dream of opening my own bar – McConaugheys. Yes, it will be named after the acclaimed actor. What can I say? I’m a sucker for that sexy Texan.
Everything was going as planned until the night I had a few drinks and accepted a ride home from a friend. A misunderstanding leads to an arrest, and now I’m at the mercy of the one man I can’t stand, and trust me, the feeling is definitely mutual.
Adam Reingold is six-feet-tall and built like a stallion — the man is the epitome of male. He also happens to be the town narc and hates my guts. There’s a story to our past and it’s not a pretty one.
So, now, here I am, chained to him for the summer like a hardened criminal, doing whatever he tells me to do. Problem is, I can’t help but look at him when he’s not watching and wonder what our future could be like if things were different.
There are so many reasons why he’s all wrong for me. Even more reasons why I need to stay away from him.
It’s a cocktail of trouble. Best served shaken, not stirred.
And yesssssss…. it’s true that I had a whoooooopsie of over-excitement last weekend when I thought Wrecked had gone live early. I was in a panic, ’cause I had this awesome chapter to post, but when I thought the book was already available and so I shrugged. No tease, but even better, ’cause we could now jump right in.
I wasn’t entirely wrong about that, ’cause it was the PRINT version that went live (early and by accident). The author has since reigned in the “Wrecked” surprise-its-live-early!!! fairies, and now, we get to properly taste-test. No worries though. This one will be live VERY soon, so it’s not too torturous of a tease. Just fun. 😉
BY JEANNINE COLETTE
“Come on, Leah! Ten more seconds,” someone in the crowd cheers from behind the rope.
The record for the longest ride on the mechanical bull at The Bucking Bronco is one minute and thirty-five seconds, and I am on my way to breaking it.
Thighs clenched, I use my lower body to keep steady while my upper body sways with the motion. It’s a balancing act I’ve gotten quite good at after riding this massive piece of metal, bucking beneath my butt, every week since I started working here five years ago. I throw my arm up over my head, exposing some skin as my shirt rises up my midriff. Sure enough, the boys go crazy, imagining they’re the bull, getting the ride of their lives.
“Five, four, three, two, one! She’s beaten Dave’s record!” Paulie’s voice bellows over the loudspeaker.
The crowd’s chanting rises to a crescendo as I add seconds to the clock. My hand and forearm burn from the hold they have on the rope of the bull’s neck. I’m starting to get dizzy, but I don’t want to stop. It’s the competitive nature of the Paige family. While we might be sweet-natured, we like to win.
As if my body knows it no longer needs to hold on, it gives out without my brain’s permission. I fall to the mat below, flat on my back.
“You did it, kid. And you won the bet. Guess I owe you,” Paulie says, helping me up.
When I’m steady, he takes a hundred dollar bill from his wallet and hands it to me.
“Thank you,” I say, dramatically shoving the cash into my back pocket and giving my butt a pat. “I’ll be putting this into the McConaughey’s bar fund.”
“Still going with that damn name, huh?”
He is not a fan of renaming his bar McConaughey’s. The Bucking Bronco is Paulie’s baby. But, after thirty-five years, he’s ready to sell and retire down south. Apparently, Cedar Ridge, Ohio, isn’t as nice as Boca Raton, Florida.
“My bar, I get to name it.” I take my place behind the bar and drink from my water bottle. “Just remember our deal. No one will know the bar is mine. I’ll just tell them I’m looking over things while you’re playing golf—or whatever it is you retirees do,” I say with my free hand waving in the air.
Paulie leans back and looks down at me, the white hairs of his eyebrows sticking up in random directions. “Can’t say I understand, but I know you have your reasons.”
The front door of the bar opens, and my best friend, Suzanne, strolls in with her friend Victoria. Suzanne’s brown curls bounce as she walks in and strolls up to a seat at the bar.
“One minute, thirty-nine seconds!” I shout over the music.
Her eyes widen behind her thick-framed glasses. “I missed it? Damn it.” She turns to Victoria with a scowl. “Leah already rode the bull. I told you that you were taking too long.”
Victoria rolls her eyes and brushes her long black hair over her shoulder. “Whatever. You’ll see her do it again. It’s just a bull.”
Suzanne’s mouth is agape. “Just a bull? You try riding that thing for more than four seconds.”
Victoria ignores Suzanne and turns to me. “I’ll have a mojito.”
I smash my lips together to keep myself from saying anything rude. I don’t care for Victoria. I don’t understand why Suzanne hangs out with her, but I tolerate her for Suzanne. The two of us have been best friends since kindergarten. That’s how Cedar Ridge works. Small town, tight friendships. And Suzanne’s and mine is the tightest. Even if it means I have to deal with Victoria, who moved here last year and latched on to Suzanne like a tick.
Instead of showing my distaste, I smile and make the mojito. I don’t believe in being a bitch or acting mean. I don’t live in a bubble, but life is way too short to waste it being angry. I’m all about having fun. Showing people a good time makes me feel good about myself.
That’s why I’m buying The Bucking Bronco and turning it into McConaughey’s.
Yes, it will be named after the acclaimed actor. I’ve been borderline obsessed with that sexy Texan since I saw him in A Time to Kill. I’ve watched every movie of his countless times, and I can quote him lyrically.
I love Matthew McConaughey, and I’m not ashamed to say it.
I slide two drinks on the bar, giving Suzanne her draft and Victoria her mojito, and look out into the crowd. I take my cowboy hat off the hook from under the counter and grab my special bottle of vodka.
“All right, all right, all right! Let’s get this party started!” I shout, climbing up onto the bar with my cowboy boots. “Who’s ready to have some fun on this ranch tonight?”
Paulie hits the jukebox and plays the classic “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard. Then, everyone in the room knows it’s time to come up for the free pour. It’s something we’ve been doing every Saturday night, and it gets people excited. The backup bartenders step up to take the incoming orders.
I hold the bottle up and beckon the patrons to open their mouths. Wearing my Daisy Dukes that are frayed on the ends and a retro AC/DC T-shirt that’s nice and tight, I strut up and down the bar, pouring the liquid on the willing tongues. I only serve enough to give them a taste. I don’t need anyone getting sick. That’s why my special bottle is half-vodka, half-water.
A new club, Velocity, opened up down the road, and a lot of people come here to pregame. My goal is to keep them from leaving. Pretty soon, this place will be mine, and if it doesn’t succeed, I’ll be out the two hundred grand my parents cosigned for me.
To everyone below me, I’m the town joke. The blonde who didn’t go to college and still works in the bar she worked at in high school. While I might be the punch line, I’m here to help them unwind after a long day of work, and I’m why they’re opening their mouths like teenagers on spring break.
Noreen, one of the bartenders, comes up behind me and starts grinding against my back. Not only is she a hard worker, but with her short blonde hair, big doe eyes, and taut figure, she’s also a knockout. Her hand caresses my thigh and then travels up my stomach. The eyes of the guys below us pop out of their sockets.
I give her a hip check, and she walks down the bar, looking for a patron who wants to come up and dance with us. I find a pretty brunette and give her a hand up. Juice, one of the bouncers, comes over to assist. When the girl is safely up, I hand her the bottle. She thinks she’s the life of the party as she drizzles the watered-down vodka into very eager throats.
The next song on the jukebox is “Cherry Pie” by Warrant. I can guarantee, ninety percent of the people in here have no idea who Warrant is. I only do because Paulie has been ingraining his love of rock in me since I started working here at eighteen years old. I couldn’t bartend back then, but I made one hell of a bar-back.
When the song is over, Noreen and I help the girls get down from the bar top without breaking any limbs. The music volume diminishes at the same time, allowing the hum of overlapping conversations to break through.
Some might think being a bar owner is a crazy life goal for a twenty-three-year-old, but this is what I’m good at. It’s what I was meant to do. My family believes in me, too, or else they wouldn’t have mortgaged the house in order to help me fulfill my dream.
Stepping down from the bar, I wipe my hands on a rag. Victoria takes off to flirt with some guy by the mechanical bull, and I lean in to talk to my friend.
“I thought you were taking the night off?” Suzanne asks.
I laugh, looking at my place behind the bar when I should be on a stool next to Suzanne. “Yeah, I was, but the place is packed. What was I thinking, taking off on a weekend?”
“Come on, Paulie told you to actually have some fun tonight. Pretty soon, you won’t be able to let loose in here, so live it up while you still can.”
With a grin, I say, “‘The older you get, the more rules they’re gonna want you to follow.’”
“Did you just McConaughey me?”
I roll my head back and laugh. My good mood instantly dies when the front door opens, and in walks the one person who affects me like no one else.
Six feet tall and built like a stallion, the man is the epitome of male. He also happens to be the town narc, and he hates my guts.
He strolls in with his officer’s uniform on—that tacky polyester ensemble that is a symbol of honor, protection, and ruiner of fun. I swear, every time he walks in here, everyone freezes. With his copper hair and onyx eyes, he scans the room with a grimace.
Ever since a drug overdose killed his best friend and my boyfriend, Brad, he’s been on a mission to make sure no one is messing around with narcotics. While I admire his dedication to keeping our town clean, I do find an issue with him sauntering into my bar all the time, treating my customers like they’re criminals.
“Uh, Leah…you’re staring.” Suzanne reaches across the bar and pinches my nose.
I swat her hand away.
She giggles and sits back, lifting her glass to her mouth. “I get it; he’s gorgeous.”
I place my hand on my hip and scrunch my face. “Ew, gross. He is not gorgeous. He’s rude, condescending, and the most boring person I’ve ever met.”
Suzanne puts her hands up in defense. “I agree with you. He’s drab, and damn if he doesn’t give me the heebie-jeebies sometimes.” She gives a little shiver. “But he sure is nice to look at.”
I squint my eyes at her and take an order from a patron. If I’m going to stand back here, I might as well keep making drinks. My hand is filling a cup with ice when I see Adam walking over to Kimberly, a local who went to high school with us. She’s at the opposite end of the bar in a short little skirt and a shirt that is more revealing than what she usually wears.
Adam leans his side into the bar, his muscular forearm resting on the wood. The fabric of his shirt, having zero stretch, hugs his bicep with the curl. He’s talking to Kimberly. At first, she seems flattered by the attention, and then she quickly stiffens and starts to look uncomfortable. She’s staring at the drink in front of her.
Kimberly mouths something to him, and he nods, seeming satisfied but unhappy with her answer. With a point of his finger, he appears to be reprimanding her, and then stalks off.
When he is gone, I let out a large breath and realize my hand is still sitting in the ice machine. It’s so numb, I can barely feel it.
“Damn it!” I pull it out and then tuck it in my back pocket for warmth.
My nerves are shot, and my hand is frozen.
I ask one of the bartenders to finish making the drink and then turn back to Suzanne. “Let’s get drunk tonight.”
Two hours, two shots, four beers, and a table dance later, I’m swimming in a sea of lanky limbs and good times.
“Leah, stop touching my boobs!” Jessica hits my hand as I try to push her double Ds out of her tank top.
She has big breasts, and I just want to play with them.
Jessica is another friend of mine from childhood. She is petite and pretty with long, wavy brown hair. With these knockers, she’s every guy’s wet dream.
I place my head on her chest and smile. “They’re like giant pillows.”
She pushes my head away. “You’re drunk.”
“I am.” I fall forward and use her shoulder for support.
“I think it’s time you went home.”
I salute her and then walk away, looking for Suzanne.
Of course, Victoria is in my way.
“Where’s Suzanne?” I shout to Victoria.
She has been talking to some guys from a local motorcycle organization all night. They’re not Bucking Bronco regulars, and I’m surprised to see them in here. They’re the type Adam Reingold would be interrogating.
“She’s sucking face with Rory O’Toole.” Victoria makes a gagging face. “He’s such a geek.”
She looks over to the make-out session that is indeed happening in the back of the bar. She might think Rory’s lame, but I happen to know he is the sweetest guy in Cedar Ridge and would make an excellent boyfriend, unlike some of the questionable characters I’ve seen Victoria roll with.
I twist my mouth and think of how I’ll get home. I wasn’t planning on drinking tonight, so I drove. “I’m leaving my car here and calling a cab.”
“I’ll drive. Give me your keys.” She holds out her hand, and I questioningly look at her. She feigns annoyance. “I only had that one drink earlier. I’ll drive you home and then walk from there. Your parents’ house isn’t far from my apartment.”
She’s being oddly nice, and it’s making me wonder what she has up her sleeve, but, damn, it would be nice not to have to come back for my car in the morning. She appears to be sober, and I haven’t seen her drink anything other than that one mojito.
I nod and accept her offer as I hiccup. “I’m gonna get Sue.”
When I make it to Suzanne and Rory, I awkwardly tap them both twice to get their attention. They pull away from their embrace. Suzanne uses the back of her hand to wipe her mouth, which is glistening with Rory’s slobber while his mouth is covered in pink lipstick.
“Victoria and I are leaving. You ready?” I have to use the wall to brace myself.
Suzanne looks up at Rory, who raises his brows at her. She nods and then turns back to me. “Actually, I was planning on staying with Rory. Maybe going back to his place.”
I look over at Rory, who is looking at my best friend like she’s the greatest prize of the night. I’m pretty sure he’s had a crush on her since tenth grade.
Suzanne’s a big girl. She doesn’t make bad choices, and Rory’s a stand-up guy.
So, I give her a kiss and ask, “Do you have protection?”
“Leah!” She hits me on the arm. Then, she leans in, and with the tiniest of whispers, she says, “Of course I do.”
With a slight stumble, I walk out of The Bucking Bronco and hand my keys to Victoria.
“Which one is yours?” she asks as we make our way to the parking lot.
I motion toward my car. “The blue one.”
“Oh,” she says, unimpressed by my adorable little four-door sedan that was in my budget.
When you save every penny to fulfill your dream of buying a bar, driving a fancy car is not in the cards.
We climb into the Blue Whore, as I like to call it, and Victoria has the car in reverse before my seat belt is even buckled. The car pops into gear with a jolt, forcing my back to mold into the seat.
I brace myself against the passenger door. “Whoa, you’ve got a heavy foot there.”
Victoria ignores me and floors it out of the parking lot. I look out the rear window to make sure no cars are coming down the road.
“We’re on Main Street. Are you crazy?” My voice breaks.
She opens the window, letting her hand out to feel the wind. Her hair is blowing in her face and doesn’t seem to be bothering her in the slightest. I must be sobering up because Victoria is no longer looking as innocent as she did ten minutes ago. Something about her is…off.
I still at the thought and then cautiously ask her, “Victoria, are you on something?”
She smiles a wide-mouthed smile that is atypical for her sourpuss face and slightly shakes her head. “No, Leah. I told you, I’m sober.”
My racing heart slows down a beat. She’s still driving like a maniac, but maybe this is just the way she drives.
She swerves and almost hits a parked car. “I just took a little hit off this guy at the bar.”
My stomach drops. A hit? “A hit of what?”
“Just a little afghan brown.”
“What the hell is afghan brown?” My voice is a screech.
She shakes her head like I’m an idiot and turns down another street, too hard because the tires on the right side of the car just lifted up in the air.
“Slow down!” I scream.
But she isn’t listening. I brace one hand on the door handle and place the other on the dashboard, praying we make it to my house in one piece.
Victoria is in a trance. She starts to sing a song that’s not on the radio. It’s like she’s in a euphoric daze and unaware of reality. Whatever she smoked has really started to kick in.
My heart is now pounding in my throat. My palms are sweaty, and my breathing is erratic. I’m prepared to take the wheel in case she passes out. The streets are empty, and we’re flying down Sycamore Avenue—the wrong way from our homes and toward the park.
“Stop the car!” I shout.
She hears me, but she’s not listening.
“Victoria, stop the f*cking car!”
With a sudden reflex, she slams her foot on the brake. The car’s still moving, despite her attempt to stop, racing toward a tree at the edge of the park.
Throwing myself over Victoria’s body, I grab the wheel and crank it hard in a last-ditch effort to avoid the looming oak. With wide eyes, I stare out the passenger window at the guardrail that is our new target.
The car crashes into the aluminum. My body hurls into Victoria and is brought back by the restraint of my seat belt. When we finally stop, there is a hissing sound from the car, and everything else goes quiet.
Staring out the window, I see the guardrail just inches from my nose. I can practically taste the metal.
That was close, too close for comfort.
The glaring red and blue lights swirling from afar are fast approaching with the loud sound of a siren.
I close my eyes and will myself not to cry.
My life is wrecked.
*claps ecstatically!!!!* :D!!!! Right?? The uniform!!! *squeeeeee* Oh this is SO MINE.