Sybil Bartel: Contemporary Romance Author

No Apologies: Chapter 1

Beginnings
 
Spring

Sweating my ass off, arms sore, I swung the heavy mallet, pounding the scaffolding into place. Dance platforms were a stupid fucking idea, but what did I know? Cursing my friend Myles, I wiped my face with my shirt. “I better make my money back.”

Myles glanced up from wiring one of the hanging speakers and grinned like Christmas morning. “Dude. You’re gonna double your investment in the first month.”

“Bullshit.” I’d kiss his ass if I made forty grand in a month.

“I’m telling you straight. I got killer bands lined up for the next six months, the opening’s gone viral, we’ve advertised all over—this place is gonna kill it. And if I’m wrong?” Myles shrugged. “We’ll at least have a live crowd to gig at every week.”

“Whatever.” I wasn’t holding my breath, but I also wasn’t stupid. Myles was crazy enough to pull this off. He had the golden touch with everything else, why not a club?

Myles laughed. “You know you’re stoked. You won’t have to go far looking for hook-ups.”

Myles’s uncle Neil walked by with a case of liquor. “If you fuck one of the bartenders, you’re out. No fraternization. Period.”

“Relax.” Prick.

Neil dropped the case on the bar. “Stick to security and I will.”

Neil had reservations about going into business with me, but Myles didn’t, and this whole thing was his doing so Neil could fuck off for all I cared. “Don’t embezzle and I won’t have to kick your ass.” I’d never take Neil—the fucker was huge—but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t go down trying.

“Cold-blooded, man, cold-blooded.” Myles came down the ladder.

Blood being the operative word.” Neil stared at me.

“C’mon girls, we’re done for the night.” Myles half smiled and shook his head. “Let’s go get a drink.”

“Who’s gonna serve you?” Myles was twenty for another month but truth was, he never had a problem. He just flashed his smile and girls fell for his six-foot-four blond-surfer looks. He was the perfect front for our band.

“Let’s hit that bar by your house.”

I went completely still. “Why?”

Myles looked up from the cables he was holding and eyed me suspiciously. “What’s wrong with the Brickhouse?”

Everything. “Nothing.”

“Great, you’re driving.”

I stewed the whole way over, hoping she wasn’t working. When we walked in and I saw white-blond hair and a tight little ass, I knew I was in trouble.

Carly turned and a heart-stopping smile lit her face. “Evening, gentlemen, what’ll it be?”

Myles blatantly checked Carly out, then smiled his chick-magnet smile. “I don’t know if I’d call Graham a gentleman.”

If he wasn’t my best friend, I would’ve slammed his face into the bar.

Shockingly, Neil came to my defense. “And we’re still trying to figure out what to call you.” He barely glanced at Carly as he sat. “Vodka, rocks.”

Patient smile on her face, Carly nodded at Neil, then raised her eyebrows at Myles.

“Heineken, please.

When Carly looked at me, her smile softened and her eyes turned to liquid. “Graham?”

I stared at her for five seconds before I remembered to order. “Beer.” She knew what kind.

Heat coloring her cheeks, her voice went quiet and shy but she held my eyes. “Nice to see you again.” Her throaty rasp, all sex and innocence, made my dick twitch.

Myles waited till she walked off, then turned completely in his seat and stared at me with a shit-eating grin. “Nice to see you again? Well that’s a first.”

“Fuck off.”

Myles chuckled. “What is up, Casanova? If they know you, they’re usually cursing you.”

“I never promise any of them shit,” I grumbled, hoping like mad Carly couldn’t hear us.

Myles glanced appreciatively at Carly then back at me. I was seething and he was smiling. “Hundred bucks says you’re about to.”

Fuck.

Copyright © 2014 by Sybil Bartel
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

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