Read Chapter One and Chapter Two now!
One pair of sexy underwear guaranteed to make a man…ha…happy. ✓
One hunky cop with blue eyes that will make your panties you melt. ✓
One awesome seduction plan to make hunky cop beg me to be his (all night long). ✓
Everything going wrong because why wouldn’t it? ✓✓✓
Jefferson Evian has been my brother’s best friend since we were kids. We’ve flirted on and off throughout the years, but he’s always been out of my reach because of my bossy, overprotective brother, Nolan.
Jefferson has just been nominated to represent the local police station at the Canyon Beach Annual Kissing Auction, and I’m not happy that half the women in town want to bid on him. Not happy at all. So I’ve come up with an idea, helped by my best friend, Jules, and her wacky cousin, Stella. I was hoping that our plan would help me win Jeff’s heart once and for all, but I hadn’t counted on Jeff having a plan of his own that will turn all my plans upside down.
I cursed the day that the Canyon Beach Lingerie shop opened.
Not just because I spent money I didn’t have there. And not just because I’d bought a pair of red crotchless panties that were unlike anything I’d ever seen before; lacy, see-through, with a huge hole you-know-where, they had to be the sexiest piece of underwear that I’d ever owned. And not even because I thought it would be a good idea to leave said sexy panties on Police Officer Jefferson Evian’s desk when I went to the police station this morning to deliver cupcakes.
No, those weren’t all the reasons why I cursed the day that I’d ever stepped foot inside the lingerie shop. The biggest reason was that not only had I left the “anonymous package” on the wrong desk in the police station, but Deputy Sheriff, Max Fernandes had seen me leaving it and opened it before I’d been able to slip out of the station with my empty cupcake containers.
“Hey, Betsy!” he yelled across the busy room, drawing the attention of not one, not two, not three, but seven different police officers. “You left something here by mistake.” He then let out a loud whistle and held the panties up for everybody to see. “Betsy Montgomery, what have you left for me?” He walked towards me with a swagger I’d only seen in cowboy movies and then stopped with a twinkling light in his hazel eyes.
“It was a joke,” I mumbled as I looked down, my face aflame. “And it wasn’t even for you,” I said under my breath.
“What did you say?” He leaned forward. “I couldn’t hear that last part.”
“Nothing.” I shook my head quickly. “It was a joke. Julia Gilbert put me up to it.” I felt only slightly guilty about mentioning my best friend. She’d made me do so many incredibly immature things when we were teenagers that adding this to the pile didn’t seem so bad. It didn’t even faze me that we were long past the age of teenage dares.
“Oh, Jules …” I could see him thinking over the information, and then he nodded. “She always was immature.” He sighed. “Well, you should take these back. You really shouldn’t be leaving these sorts of things hanging around. You might give someone the wrong idea.”
“Someone like who?” I said, but I didn’t wait for an answer. I grabbed the panties and ran out of the station before Jeff showed up. That would make this embarrassing situation even worse. I already knew that he would find out because this was Canyon Beach and everyone knew everyone’s business. I would bet $20 that Max was most already texting his friends about my little dare, and I knew that my brother Nolan and his best friend, Jeff, would soon be in the know. I’d have to call Jules right away so that she could cover for me when I explained to them that the only reason I had left a pair of naughty panties at the police station was because of a dare and not because I had a little crush on my brother’s best friend.
“Julia Gilbert, you need to call me right now,” I whispered into my phone as I left a message on her voicemail. I wasn’t sure why I was being so quiet. It wasn’t as if there was anyone else in the parking lot in the back of the police station. And it wasn’t as if the most embarrassing situation in the world hadn’t already happened to me. “And do not tell Nolan I called you,” I hissed before I hung up.
I knew I needed Julia’s help, she was my best friend after all, but there were several downsides to confiding in her. One, I was pretty sure she didn’t really like Jeff and thus might not really want to help me figure out a way to get him into my bed. Two, she was now dating my older brother, Nolan, and I knew his overprotective ass wouldn’t want me dating his best friend. I was in a bit of a bind, but I was willing to pull the best friend card on Jules if she gave me any grief. I stared at the crotchless panties in my hand and was about to throw them on the ground in frustration when I changed my mind and stuffed them into my purse. I mean, it was unlikely that I’d be wearing them anytime soon, but they had cost me $60, and that was money that I couldn’t afford to just throw around.
I made my way down Main Street and headed towards the bakery that I co-owned with my Grandma Elsie. Though I wasn’t really sure I could call it a bakery as all I really whipped up were cupcakes, brownies, and the occasional cookie. Well, along with coffees, teas and the most amazing hot chocolate known to man.
As I walked through the open doors of my bright cheery store, I had to pinch myself. I couldn’t quite believe how lucky I was to be the owner of Betsy & Elsie’s Yummy Cupcake Store. It was like a dream come true. My Nanna had put up most of the capital for the store and helped out occasionally, but essentially, she left everything up to me. It was overwhelming, but it was my dream. Everything in my life was going according to plan—well, asides from Jefferson Evian having not yet fallen in love with me.
With his dark brown hair and eyes I could only call cerulean blue, he was absolutely the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen in my life. I knew his eyes were cerulean because when I’d been a teenager I’d had several staring contests with him. One night, after one particularly long contest, I’d looked up the various shades of blue in an art book my mother had. His eyes weren’t aquamarine, or navy, or teal, but cerulean. I’d never even heard of that shade of blue before, but as soon as I’d seen it, I knew it was the same color as Jeff’s eyes. Not that I would tell him that. I could just imagine how a conversation between Jeff and I would go:
“Hey, Jeff, you have the most beautiful pair of cerulean blue eyes I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“Go away, please, stalker,” he would reply, and then I would run away and cry because he was right. I was a bit of a stalker.
“Good morning, Betsy.” A deep voice welcomed me as I entered the store and I screamed out loud when I saw that it was Jeff. Oh God, I hadn’t been talking out loud, had I?
“You all right?” He had a puzzled and slightly concerned look on his face. Which of course made my heart race slightly. He was concerned about me?
I should tell you that I can be a bit of a nut case at times, though I hide it well.
“Morning, ceru— I mean, Jeff,” I said weakly. I held my handbag close to my chest. He didn’t already know about the crotchless panties, did he?
“You all right?” he asked again. He took a step towards me, his expression curious as he took me in.
He, of course, looked completely normal and handsome as he stood in front of me in his police officer’s uniform. The black material seemed to cling to his every muscle, and my heart skipped a beat as I noticed the gun in his holster, big, black and dangerous. In other circumstances, it would have scared me knowing that his job involved him carrying around a gun, but we lived in Canyon Beach where the violence rate was zero, so it didn’t make me too nervous. The biggest issue we had in town was teenagers drinking and getting high on the beach on a Friday night, and even then, they moved on quickly when the police arrived.
“I’m fine, I’m fine, would you like some—”
“Wine?” He cut me off with a grin. “Get it?”
“Yes, I get it, Jeff. It rhymes.” I made a face and laughed at him. “But you know I don’t have a liquor license, so would you like some coffee?”
“With Irish whiskey?”
“No, Jeff. I could add a shot of chocolate and make it a mocha, though.”
“Fine, fine. If you add a—”
It was my turn to cut him off now. “A red velvet cupcake.”
“You know me so well.” He grinned and leaned towards me and my heart skipped a beat. Not well enough, I thought. Not well enough.
“So, I was wondering,” he began. He paused, and I nodded for him to continue, but we were interrupted by a noise near the front of the store and turned to see what the commotion was all about. I groaned inside when I saw who it was.
“Did somebody call 911 because I’m here!” Julia sailed through the entrance of the shop and walked up to the counter. “Hey, Betsy.” She smiled at me and then turned towards Jeff with a frown. “Hey, It.”
“Good morning to you as well, Jules,” he replied. “Didn’t somebody tell you to take off your face mask before you left the house? You’ll scare little kids looking like that.”
“What face mask?” Jules touched her cheek and then glared at him as he laughed. “You’re so immature, you know that, right?”
“Pot, meet kettle.” He rolled his eyes and turned back towards me. “How do you have such an immature friend?”
I walked towards the coffee machine to make his hot mocha coffee to avoid answering his question. If he thought Jules was immature, what was he going to think about my crotchless panties idea? My face reddened at the thought. I was twenty-six, for heaven’s sake, not sixteen—what had I been thinking? I could hear Jules and Jeff still sparring with each other as I grabbed his cupcake from the case, and I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. Those two had been arguing with each other ever since we were in high school. It had made me nervous at first because I’d wondered if Jules had a thing for him and vice versa, but she’d very quickly let it be known that she’d had a crush on Nolan, who also happened to be Jeff’s best friend, and I hadn’t worried about it anymore. Anyway, Jeff never seemed to be interested in long-term relationships. I’d never known of him to date anyone for more than a couple of months, and he’d never introduced any of his women as his girlfriend. That had made me happy, but also nervous. Did he just never want to have a girlfriend?
“What would you like to drink, Jules? A cappuccino?” Jules went back and forth between cappuccinos and lattes, depending on her mood.
“A caramel latte, please.”
“Sure, coming from Nolan’s?” I could tell that she’d just woken up and hadn’t bothered to brush her long dark hair as it was quite messy around her face.
“Yes.” She gave me an impish grin. “I spent the night there, but I’m going to go home and shower first before going to work.”
“Why didn’t you just shower at his place?”
“I didn’t have any clean clothes to put on.” She shrugged and yawned. “Plus, I need a little cat nap.”
“But it’s morning.”
“We didn’t get much sleep last night, if you know what I mean.” She winked, and I burst out laughing at the expression on Jeff’s face.
“How Nolan could be dating you, I have no idea.” He mock-shuddered. “He must have lost his mind.”
“Don’t be jealous.” Jules smiled sweetly at him and then turned back to me. “Oh, Betsy, I forgot to tell you that I have an amazing guy that I want you to go on a date with.”
“What amazing guy?” I said lightly, avoiding Jeff’s gaze. “And why do you want me to go on a date with him?”
“Actually, he wants to go on a date with you. He was asking me about you.”
“He was? Who?” I tried not to sound too excited in front of Jeff. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted Jeff, but 1. he had never asked me out, 2. I wasn’t sure if he was interested in me at all, 3. I wasn’t sure if he was interested in ever getting married, and 4. I couldn’t afford to spend my whole life hoping for him to make a move. If someone else was interested, maybe it was time to see what was out there.
My jaw dropped, and I could hear Jeff chuckling. “Are you joking?”
“No, I’m not. He was asking about your situation.”
“Well, there you go, Betsy.” Jeff was grinning as he interrupted the conversation. “You and good ol’ Johnson Campbell will make a cute couple, though I’d have thought he’d have been more into your grandma.”
“Ha-ha,” I said, looking incredulously over at Jules. “You are joking, right? Do you really think I’d go on a date with Johnson Campbell? He has no hair, and he wears dentures. I know this because he takes them out sometimes when he’s in here so that they can rest in a glass of water. He has to be at least 70.”
“He’s a young 70.” Jules grinned. “He still covers the high school football games.”
“Julia Gilbert, I am not going on a date with a 70-year-old man. Like, really?”
“Give me some credit, Betsy.” She gave Jeff a wide smile as she continued talking. “I’m not talking about you dating Johnson Campbell.”
“You just said he was asking about my situation.”
“He was, but not for himself. He was asking for his grandson, Nick. Remember Nick Campbell, Jeff?” she continued. “He went to our high school, then went to college, and came back and visited a couple of times back in the day. Well, turns out he might be moving to Canyon Beach.”
“No way. He was the surfer right?”
“Yup, he’s a hot pro surfer.” Jules grinned. “I think Kelly Slater was his mentor or spirit guide or whatever.”
“Spirit guide or whatever?” Jeff raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t you a writer, Jules?”
“Aren’t you a cop, Jeff? Shouldn’t you be out there protecting the citizens of Canyon Beach not trying to score free cupcakes because the doughnut shop told you to stop coming around?”
“Jules!” I chided her and then glared at Jeff, who looked like he was about to make a retort. “You guys really are like kids. Anyone would think you were siblings or mortal enemies or something.”
“Mortal enemies sounds about right,” Jules huffed, then gave me an apologetic look. “But I guess we all have our crosses to bear.” I gave her a disapproving look and she sighed. “Anywho, guess what I’ve been assigned to work on next?”
“What?” Her last assignment had been an article about online dating, and that had been quite an amusing experience.
“The Canyon Beach Bachelor Auction.” She grinned at me. “I’m to feature three bachelors each week before the auction so that everyone in town can get to know them first before they bid. It’s to get them to bid higher.”
“Who in town doesn’t already know everyone else?” I laughed. That was the beauty and the downside of living in a small town. Everyone knew everyone’s business. Even if you had just moved to town, it didn’t take long for other people to figure out your entire life story.
“It’s Malcolm’s idea.” She shrugged. Malcolm was her boss and the editor-in-chief of the newspaper. “The mayor wants to use the money from the auction this year so that the city if Canyon Beach can open a homeless shelter for all the people that come here during the winter so that don’t all sleep at the beach.”
“All what people?” I asked curiously. “I’ve never seen any homeless people on the beach.”
“Actually, last year, we ticketed twelve transient people,” Jeff cut into the conversation.
“You gave homeless people tickets?” Jules sounded appalled.
“Well, we didn’t fine them, if that’s what you’re thinking. But we did have to issue them warnings. It goes against city ordinances to sleep at the beach.”
“So, where did they go?” I asked.
“Pastor Desmond at the Episcopalian church took them in,” he explained. “And most of them stayed in his house, so that’s not a real solution to the problem. He spoke to the chief, who spoke to the mayor, and they decided the best thing to do would be to open a shelter that provided housing to any and all homeless people.”
“Oh, wow,” I said.
“I think that’s a good idea,” Jules added. “Anyone can fall on hard times, and a town as rich as ours should really be willing to help.”
“Spoken like a true socialist.” Jeff winked at me, and I shook my head at him. I knew he was trying to rile her up.
“Better a socialist than a tight-fisted Republican.”
“All Republicans are not tight-fisted.”
“All loving, kind people aren’t socialists.”
“Guys, please.” I held up my hands and rolled my eyes. “You’re going to do my head in.”
“Sorry, Betsy,” they replied in unison, guilty looks on their faces. I knew that for as much arguing as they did, they both secretly enjoyed it. It was something that Nolan and I had never understood, and it had exasperated us growing up, but Jules and Jeff were like the brother and sister that each one had never had.
“So how many bachelors are going to be in the contest?” I asked Jules as I handed them their cupcakes. They took their plates eagerly, and Jeff placed a $20 bill in the tip jar. “Thanks.” I smiled at him. They were both my best customers, but I didn’t make any money off of them because I didn’t charge them for any of the cupcakes or drinks they wanted. I mean, who could charge their friends?
“I’m not sure yet,” Jules said. “But there’s already a lot of buzz around town because Nancy Lee suggested that there be some sort of kissing contest at the auction, and the Canyon Beach police station has issued the name of the cop who will be representing them.”
“Oh?” I asked, my heart starting to race in anticipation. “And what do you mean, a kissing contest? What’s a kissing contest?”
“I don’t know, but maybe Jeff here can answer our questions as he’s the one who will be kissing half of Canyon Beach and spreading his saliva to the world.”
Jules grinned wickedly but my heart fell at her words. Jealousy spread through like wildfire, and all I could think about was, How the hell am I going to make that the only person Jeff is kissing on the night of the Bachelor Auction is me?
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love,” Jules sang as she danced around my living room later that evening. It took everything I had to not roll my eyes at her giddiness. Of course, I was happy that she’d found love, but it just seemed so awkward that it was with my brother. I wanted to ask her about the sex and if they’d done anything crazy, but I also didn’t really want to know. I mean, who wants to know how big their brother is? Certainly not me. I’d always guessed that they had a bit of a thing for each other, but I’d never expected them to end up together, and I certainly didn’t expect to be pretending I couldn’t see the huge hickey on her neck. Normally, I would tease her about it, but I didn’t want to know what else my brother’s teeth had been up to.
“All right, Jules,” I said as she grabbed my hands to waltz and started singing a song from The Sound of Music. “Can we stop dancing for a second? I need your help.”
“My help? Oooh!” She stopped dancing and peered at me, her brown eyes curious. “What help do you need?”
“I think we should sit down.” I carefully pried my hands away from hers. “Do you want a cupcake?”
“What flavors do you have…” And then her voice trailed off and she raised a hand. “Wait a minute, what’s going on here, you need to talk to me about something apparently serious and you have cupcakes? Is Nolan cheating on me?” Her eyes narrowed as she gazed at me. “Is that it? Is that why you’re acting so serious?”
“Julia Gilbert, everything doesn’t revolve around you and Nolan.” I was slightly annoyed. “The whole world isn’t the Jules and Nolan show.”
“I was thinking we could be called NoJo,” Jules said with a grin. “As a couple name.”
“What?” My jaw dropped. “Are you serious? That doesn’t even make sense. How does Julia and Nolan become NoJo?”
“It’s meant to be like, ‘Jules and Nolan, they’re no joke.’” Jules wrinkled her nose as she spoke. “Okay, I agree, now I’m saying it out loud, it sounds a bit whack.”
“Whack?” I raised an eyebrow at her. “Since when did you join the mafia?”
“Isn’t that what the mafia do when they put a hit on someone?” I grinned.
“They whack them.” I started laughing and Jules just stood there shaking her head. “It’s a mafia term.”
“Hmmm.” Jules made a face. “If you say so.”
“And you’re a writer. You should be using more elegant language.” I teased her because normally I need to carry a dictionary around with me when we were together.
“Really, Betsy? You always complain that my vocabulary’s pretentious, and now I’m not elegant enough?” Jules looked offended, and I grabbed her hand again.
“Come on, Jules, I have bigger issues than you and your vocabulary, and no it has nothing to do with you and Nolan.”
“What’s going on?” she asked as we finally settled on the couch in my living room.
All of a sudden, I didn’t know where to start. I was so embarrassed. “I bought a pair of crotchless panties,” I admitted. “Bright red.”
“And I dropped them off on Officer Fernandes’s desk.” I continued. “And he let everyone at the station know.”
“Oh my God, I had no idea you were interested in Max Fernandes!” Jules looked gobsmacked. “Are you guys going to go on a date?”
“I’m not interested in Max.” I made a face. “He’s annoying and a pig.”
“So why did you give him sexy underwear?”
“It wasn’t for him,” I said..
“Then who was it for?” Jules stared back and me and then she groaned loudly. “Oh God, please do not tell me that you bought them for Jeff.”
“I won’t tell you that.”
“Betsy, no-o-o.” Understanding dawned on her face. “Is that why you called me this morning? And then didn’t tell me about it in the coffee shop because Jeff was there? Ugh, you can’t date Jeff. Absolutely not. He’s such a pig.”
“We’re not dating. And he’s not a pig.” I glared at her. “In fact, I think he’s more like a stallion. A tall, strong, muscular, fit—”
“He’s not black, though.” Jules cut me off. “So he can’t be a stallion. I mean, you can’t even call him an Italian stallion because he doesn’t even have black hair.” She paused for a second and then continued. “And I wouldn’t exactly call him fit, either.”
“I would definitely call him fit.” I thought about all the times I’d seen him in his baseball uniform in high school and sometimes at the pool during the summers. Jeff had a body to die for. I was positive he spent every waking hour that he wasn’t at work at the gym. He had abs that Chris Hemsworth would be jealous of and arm muscles that Arnold Schwarzenegger would give a pretty penny for.
“He’s okay, but if you’re really looking for a black stallion, there’s this guy I’m meant to go on a date with next week. I think his name is Boris, and whoa, he’s gorgeous. His dad is African and his mom is German, and he’s tall and dark and handsome and he has these green eyes and … what?”
“If you think he’s so handsome, why don’t you go on a real date him?”
“I’m dating your brother, remember?” Jules made a face. “Nolan’s already not happy that I’m still going on these dates for work.”
“Well, I’m not happy that you’re trying to hook me up to go on dates with men you don’t even know when you know I want to go out with Jeff.”
“But why Jeff?” Jules whined. “He’s absolutely horrible.”
“He’s not horrible.” I protested. “Why do you hate him so much?”
“I don’t hate him. I just don’t like him. He thinks he’s God’s gift to women, and he’s so controlling and annoying,” she ranted. “Come on, Betsy. You remember what he was like in high school. He walked through the corridors like he was some sort of king, and he teased us mercilessly.”
“Yes, but so did Nolan, and that didn’t stop you from falling for him.” I gave her a look. “And I can remember many times when Nolan said things that were completely douchey.” I put my hands on my hips and gave Jules a pointed look. She was being hypocritical judging Jeff when she was now dating his best friend.
“Ugh.” Jules made a face. “You’re right, of course, but let it be said that Jeff needs to really step up his game if he wants you.”
“I don’t know that he wants me at all …” I sighed. “That’s why I need your help.”
“What help do you need?” Jules looked at me with wide eyes. “And do you have alcohol? I need alcohol to get through this.”
“Jules!” I looked away from her. “You know what, it’s fine. If you don’t want to help, just forget it.”
“Oh, Betsy,” she sighed. “Get me a glass of merlot and let me sit down. I’m your best friend, of course I’ll help you. I just think that I need to be inebriated to discuss you getting with Jeff.”
“Jules,” I rolled my eyes at her. “Did I say that when you wanted to get together with Nolan?”
“No.” She made a face. “You were very supportive and sweet.”
“Even though he’s my brother, and he gets on my last nerve.”
“Well…” she mumbled then grinned. “I want to hear more about these red panties. Let me see them. Maybe I should get some for sexy time with Nolan.”
“Jules,” I groaned. “I don’t want to think about my brother doing things to you through crotchless panties.” I mock shuddered. “I don’t want to think of my brother doing things to you, period.” I headed towards the kitchen. “Let me go and get the wine.”
“And the panties.” She laughed. “Oh yeah, bring a third glass, Stella said she was going to be able to come over after all.”
“Oh, good.” I smiled. “She’ll be able to give me some advice.”
Stella was Jules’s younger cousin, and she was a man magnet. She looked like a model with her long dark hair and green eyes, but she actually owned a bookstore in town. Her personality was vivacious, flirty, and no-nonsense, and she always knew how to act with men. Even though, at twenty-four, she was two years younger than us, both Jules and I often went to her for advice.
Jules laughed. “Hey, I can give you some good advice as well.”
“Uh huh.” I paused by the door. “Also, if anyone asks, it was your idea to drop the panties off at the police station.”
“Ugh,” she groaned. “I don’t even want to know, but I definitely need to see them now.”
“There’s really not much to see.” I laughed. “Okay, let me get the wine.” I headed towards the kitchen when the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it!” Jules called out as I grabbed three wine glass stems in one hand and an unopened bottle of pinot noir that Nanna had gifted me for Christmas from a winery she’d visited in Sonoma with some friends. She’d told me to save it for a special occasion, and I figured this was the moment to bust out the good bottle. I needed to convince Jules to help me win over Jeff without her putting up too much of a fight. As I headed back to the living room, I knew that I not only needed wine, I needed food as well.
“Are you guys hungry? I was thinking of ordering out,” I said as I walked back into the living room. “Hey, Stella, so great to see you.”
“Hey, Betsy,” She offered me a small wave and smile. “I’m starving, so I’m definitely up for some take-out. I was going to suggest we order from that new Indian place in town. Abby told me she ate their lunch buffet yesterday, and that it was amazing.”
“Sure, I’d be down to try it. Does that work for you, Jules?”
“Sure.” She nodded and grabbed the wine bottle from me. “I’m easy to please.”
“Is that what Nolan says?” Stella teased her cousin, and Jules went slightly red.
“Is that what Nolan says about what?” I asked, walking into the trap.
“When they’re in bed.” Stella winked at me and I groaned.
“I refuse to hear about my brother’s preferences in bed.” I put the glasses down on the coffee table. “I don’t want to hear anything about his sexual preferences, ever.”
“So, I guess you don’t want to know what he did last night then?” Jules said with a wicked look. “I was wearing a—”
“Jules, no,” I interrupted her with a glare. “Please don’t make me sick before I eat.” Jules rolled her eyes as she opened the wine bottle with the opener that we always left on the coffee table and reached out for a glass. “Okay guys, how about we order some chicken tikka masala, garlic naan, basmati rice, and maybe some channa masala?”
“Can we get some samosas as well, please?” Stella took the wine glass Jules handed her. “I prefer the lamb ones if they have them, but potato is also fine.”
“And I would love some chaat daal or whatever.” Jules handed me a glass of the wine and then took a long sniff of her own. “This smells fantastic.” She swirled the wine around the glass before taking a sip. “Oh my, this is delicious.” She grinned at me and then looked back at the wine bottle. “This doesn’t taste like it cost $10 at Trader Joe’s.”
“That’s because it didn’t.” I took a sip myself. There were light flavors of blackberries, chocolate, and vanilla, and the wine slid smoothly down my throat. “Wow, this is really good.” I held my glass up to the two ladies. “Cheers,” I said and we all clinked glasses. “Did you know why we clink glasses and say cheers?” I asked them as we all sat down on the couch.
“No idea.” Jules said. “Why?”
“It’s from the olden days, when soldiers used to drink together, well, maybe not soldiers, but when men used to drink together. They would cheers and clink their glasses together so that the beverage from each glass would spill into the other glass. That way they made sure that the other hadn’t poisoned their drink because if they had the poison would now be in both glasses.”
“Oh, wow,” Stella sat back and sipped some more. “That’s cool. I never knew that. I’ll have to tell that story at the bookstore if I decide to host my books and wine night.”
“Books and wine night?” Jules looked excited. “That sounds fantastic. You never told me about that.”
“Well, that’s because it’s still up in the air. I need a license to sell alcohol in the store.” She sighed. “I’m still trying to figure out if it will be worth all the hassle.”
“Yes, it will be.” Jules and I spoke in unison and then glanced at each other and laughed.
“Great minds think alike, eh, Betsy?” Jules smiled sweetly and then rubbed her stomach. “Did you order the food yet?”
“No, let me do it now.” I pulled out my phone and opened the food delivery app. I was typing in the order when a text message from Nolan showed up on the screen. “Check your phone, Jules. Nolan just messaged me asking me if you’re going to be over for dinner. He said that you didn’t respond to his last three texts.” I rolled my eyes. “Oh my gosh, since when did my brother become so annoying?”
“Aww, I think it’s sweet.” Jules pulled her phone out of her bag and giggled. “He misses me.”
“He just saw you this morning.”
“Don’t be jealous, Betsy.” Jules laughed.
I looked over at Stella and rolled my eyes. “As if.”
“So, I heard that you left some edible underwear at the police station today for Max Fernandes.” Stella gave me an impish grin. “Tell me all, right now. I had no idea you had a thing for Max.”
“Ugh,” I groaned. “Firstly, I do not have a thing for Max Fernandes, and secondly, they weren’t edible underwear, they were crotchless, and thirdly, how the hell did you know?”
“Ha ha. Oh, Betsy. We live in Canyon Beach. A couple of the officers went by the animal shelter today with some puppies they found behind the pizzeria, and they told Abby, and she told me a couple of hours ago.”
“Why, of course.” I sighed. “I’m going to die of embarrassment now. Frigging everyone in Canyon Beach most probably knows the story.”
“They might know, but I’m sure they don’t believe it. Abby and I no way believed that you had a thing for Max Fernandes. He’s such a douche.”
“I’m surprised Abby isn’t here as well.”
Much like Jules and I, Stella and Abby kept no secrets from each other and spent their days and nights hanging out when they could. However, Abby and Stella differed from Jules and I in a few ways. They both looked like catwalk models (Jules and I, while pretty, were both more like the girls next door), and they both were very confident when it came to men. In fact, I had a feeling that most men in Canyon Beach wanted to date them, though they rarely got a chance. Both women were single and focused on their careers. Stella was trying to grow her bookstore, and Abby wanted to be an actress, though she spent her days working at the Canyon Beach Animal Shelter.
“Actually, she’s on her way,” Stella laughed. “I hope you don’t mind. She and I had plans to watch a movie tonight, and when Jules told me you had a dating 911, we decided it was best to come over and help you. She’s a little late because she had to close down the animal shelter tonight.”
“Oh, cool,” I said. “I definitely need as much help as I can get right now.”
“Who’s the lucky man?” Stella asked as I went back to ordering the food.
“Do you really need to ask?” Jules grabbed the wine bottle and refilled her glass.
“Officer Jefferson Evian reporting for duty?” Stella glanced at me with a grin.
“Police officers don’t report for duty, silly. That’s military men.”
“So it is Jeff?”
“Yes, it’s Jeff.”
“I knew it.” Stella nodded. “Finally, we can get to work.”
“What does that mean?”
“Abby and I have known you have had a thing for Jeff for ages.” She shrugged. “It’s about time you made your move.”
“But he’s not really a relationship guy.” I sighed. “I feel like I’m setting myself up for heartbreak. Plus, I’ve known him for years and he has never made a move on me, not once. I didn’t think he’s interested in me. He just sees me as his little sister.”
“Yeah, but you’re not his little sister.” Stella gave me a pointed look. “So, it doesn’t matter what he sees you as. You share no blood—well, at least not yet.”
“What do you mean not yet?” Jules interrupted the conversation. “Do you already have them pregnant with a kid?”
“No,” Stella laughed. “I was thinking if they got really kinky, you know…” Her voice trailed off and both Jules and I looked at her, equally curious and creeped out.
“Uhm, please go on,” I said finally as I realized that Stella wasn’t going to continue.
“Didn’t you hear that story about Angelina and Billy Bob and how they swapped blood vials?” Stella said. “And who knows what else they did. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they sucked each other’s blood out or something.”
“What?” I blinked at her. “That’s disgusting. And I would never suck Jeff’s blood out.”
“Well, wouldn’t you let him suck your blood out, a la Edward and Bella?”
“From Twilight?” I stared at her. “He sucked her blood because he was a vampire, and did he even suck her blood?”
“Oh shit, I knew it, Jeff is a vampire.” Jules cut in. “I knew he wasn’t human.”
“Jules.” I made a face. “Be nice. And Stella, what the hell? I’m not going to be sucking anyone’s blood.”
“You’ll just be sucking other things.” Stella giggled, and both Jules and I groaned. “What? Sucking can be fun,” she said, her green eyes laughing at us. The doorbell rang then and she jumped up. “I’ll get it, that must be Abby.”
“Saved by the bell.” I laughed. “I’ll wait until you and Abby come back to order, in case she wants something.”
“You didn’t order yet?” Jules groaned, and I just rolled my eyes at her dramatic expression. “I’m starving.” She grabbed the wine glass and drank some more.
Ready to read The Kissing Bet. Get your copy here!