Dean freaking King. If he hadn’t said something, I might not even have noticed. Not that he wasn’t worthy of noticing, in fact, he was quite the opposite. I could only imagine that he had plenty of drooling admirers and my name just got added to the list.
Dean was attractive in the most obvious sort of way. Thick, dark brown hair that waved just right across his forehead and an angular squared-off jaw with high cheekbones. He’s tall. And not just tall, but the kind of tall that makes you take notice of his height. His naturally lean and muscular body only make him that much more noticeable. But the unfair advantages Dean had over the rest of the male species didn’t end there.
Dean’s smile is bright white—like it glows with a thousand watts of blinding electricity. And as masculine as his face is, he has deep dimples on each cheek that only show when he grins.
For me though, it was always about his eyes. They’re a nearly unnatural blue. Such a bright cobalt in fact, if you didn’t know him, you’d think they were colored contacts. I daydreamed about those eyes way too many times when I was younger. The second I actually looked him in the eye, I knew who he was.
But that isn’t Dean’s most noticeable feature. Not anymore, I should say.
Intricate ink designs ran seamlessly from his fingers to his arms and all the way up his chest where they curved in a graceful line along his collarbone. I assumed there were more, but that was all I could see around the black tank top he wore.
It had taken me a second of adjusting to that to notice all the piercings that perforated his skin. His nose, eyebrow, ears and inner ear cartilage were all sporting shining silver decorations.
I had mostly made it a habit of not looking at the guys that came into Charlie’s. Not in any way that might signal to them I was interested, that is. I’d learned a long time ago, that most guys took me being friendly as an open invitation to flirt, and usually crudely.
Guys in groups were worse, which is why I hadn’t even so much as given Dean or his friend a second glance. It didn’t hurt my tips any, and it saved me from having to put a customer in their rightful place—which is not in my love life. Not that I had any semblance of a love life at the given moment—or even wanted one for that matter.
But Dean? The second I landed my eyes on his I felt a fluttery feeling in the pit of my stomach and a tingling pull even further down than that. I had the hardest time tearing my eyes away from his intoxicating stare before I thoroughly embarrassed myself.
He caught me off guard, and left me more than a little breathless and dazed when he cornered me in the server station where I’d been binning used glasses to wash.
Maybe I imagined it, but I would swear he was asking me out in an off the cuff way. It was almost laughable to think he was even interested in me. But then again—no, it wasn’t even worthy of pondering. He was my brother’s enemy and therefore mine. But still…
“So,” Siobhan sidled up to me. “Who was that?”
Siobhan and I have been friends since the eighth grade. We both shared the same misfortune of having braces, bad perms, and ears much too large for our heads back then. The delightful phrase ‘a face only a mother could love’ was not unfamiliar to either of us.
I’ll never forget the day I met her. She was new to Evansdale Highschool, and despite the lack of social status on both our parts, she walked around like she ruled the school. Everyone was teasing her about her name, and just like she does still to this day, she planted both hands on her hips and cocked her head to the side, and her hazel eyes lit up with exasperation.
“Shuh-von,” she rolled her eyes, correcting everyone all day as if it was that obvious.
It didn’t matter how many times she corrected them, they still called her what they wanted. ‘See-ya-bon,’ seemed to be the favorite amongst our classmates. She took a liking to me when I told her I thought it was pretty and asked her if she wanted to sit with me at lunch. We were stuck on each other like glue after that.
Luckily for both of us, Siobhan and I both outgrew the ears, got our braces off and never got perms again. As for Siobhan, she did end up ruling the school, and she took me along for the ride.
It seemed the only good thing to come out of that dark time was Siobhan and me. And all the stuff we learned pouring over beauty magazines, desperately trying to look as pretty as the popular girls.
Unlike me, however, when Von came out of her ugly duckling phase, she immediately spread her wings like a glorious butterfly. Von just had a way with guys. She just automatically knew exactly what to say all the time to have them eating out of her hands. Her skill level at flirting? Expert.
Mine? I still turn pink and stumble on my words—I’m stuck at beginner level flirting. And that’s being kind.
“Old family friend,” I cleared my throat hastily and got back to my careful placement of glasses and coffee cups in the giant plastic tub. “One of Forrest’s old friends.”
“He was seriously hot, and seriously checking you out,” Siobhan nudged me, jostling the glasses that were precariously perched in my hands with a loud clink….
Audiobook production is well underway, and I have to say, Logan (my ACX producer) is killing it! I am enjoying this process immensely and loving hearing my words and my characters take on a life. For some reason, especially Mama Rose – who was the secret star of this novel!
Our target for this baby is to be done by March 6! So stay tuned for details ♥