Ever After (Dirtshine Series)
Model: John De Wall
Once upon a time, a girl saved my life.
I was piss-drunk, high as a kite, and about to jump from a bridge.
She stopped me. I told her to fuck off.
Exactly how all great love stories start.
A year later, I met her again. Sober this time, after yet another stint in rehab.
She’s still pretty, still a spitfire, still lights up a room when she walks in.
And she doesn’t realize I’m the guy from the bridge.
Frankie doesn’t know anything about me or my past. She doesn’t know I’m a former rock star or an ex-junkie.
She doesn’t know that two years ago, someone died because of me.
She doesn’t need to know. She’s got problems of her own, and they’re what keep her coming back to see me time and again, even when we both know she shouldn’t.
I should be staying far, far away from this girl, but it’s like telling water to flow uphill. Can’t be done.
Frankie and I may be going down in flames, but we’ll be going down together.
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“Is this where I order?”
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
The moment she opens her mouth I know exactly who she fucking is. Frankly, I was hoping to never see her again.
“It’s the bar, isn’t it?” I ask.
She smiles. It’s just like an American girl to pretend I’m being polite when I’m not.
“I’m just never quite sure,” she says with a little laugh. “Everywhere seems to have slightly different rules, you know? I’ve just starting asking so I don’t offend anyone.”
It’s the girl from the bridge.
The one who stopped her car a year ago, the one who fucking talked me off a ledge and watched while I walked away.
Someone who saw me at my lowest point — well, all right, one of the lowest points, there’s been a fair fucking few — and who I really hoped I’d never see again, because the only thing worse than being seen like that is being seen like that by a pretty girl.
She blinks, and she’s got big hazel eyes framed with long lashes, some kind of eye makeup on but fuck me if I know what, but I know one thing: she’s trying to charm me by being friendly.
And it’s working. She’s even prettier now, in the pub, than on the verge of tears last year and since I’m stone-cold sober at the moment, I’m in far better shape to appreciate such.
Still doesn’t mean I want her here. I don’t think she recognizes me and I’d prefer she move on before she does.
“Right, it’s the bar, you order here,” I say. I don’t move from where I’m leaning, and I don’t uncross my arms. “But I’m fresh out of cosmopolitans, appletinis, lemondrops, or anything a girl could drink enough of to start making a scene, so that’s what you’re looking for I recommend you look elsewhere.”
Just leave. Please just leave.
Of course she doesn’t. She laughs. As if I was joking.
“This crowd drink you out of appletinis?” she asks, glancing around at the scattered old men each individually nursing a pint in silence.
I look back at the football highlights on the telly.
“What do you have?”
“Beer, cider, whiskey, gin. It’s a pub, love.”
“Then give me a pub beer.”
“We’ve got bitter and stout, and none of that shite with an orange slice. American girls usually don’t like it.”
She hops up onto a bar stool, flops her purse onto the stool next to her, and wriggles out of her jacket, pushing her hand through her curly hair.
It’s one hell of a wriggle. It’s a wriggle to make a man forget he wants this nosy, pushy American to leave his pub.
“I’ll take a pint of bitter,” she says.
She pauses, gives me a quick, annoyed glance up and down.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” she says. “Are you going to let me exchange money for beer or what?”
I could refuse, of course. I can refuse to serve anyone for any reason, but as much as I really want her to leave I also don’t, because she’s fucking pretty, she’s giving it right back to me, and maybe she’ll wriggle back into her jacket.
I pour her the beer, put it down in front of her.
“Three pounds twenty,” I say. She hands me a five pound note, and as I’m handing her change back, something on her left hand catches the light.
It’s a diamond ring.
No: it’s a diamond ring the size of a small lorry. Fucking wonder that she can lift her hand with that thing on it. Clearly someone else has been enticed by her wiggle, someone with quite a lot of money and a need to show it off.
That’s all it is, obviously. A ring that can be seen from orbit fucking smacks of insecurity and the desire to impress one’s friends more than it does of love, right?
She takes a sip, watching me, and I realize I haven’t moved. That I’m still standing in front of her, like I’m expecting to converse or something.
“It’s no appletini, but it’s not bad,” she says.
I love writing sexy, alpha men and the headstrong women they fall for.
My weaknesses include: beards, whiskey, nice abs with treasure trails, sarcasm, cats, prowess in the kitchen, prowess in the bedroom, forearm tattoos, and gummi bears.
I live in California with my very own sexy, bearded, whiskey-loving husband and two hell-raising cats.
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