Bound For MeBy: Natalie Anderson
“Beer. Cold as it comes.”
Savannah Nash suppressed a smile at the roughness in her new customer’s request. “It’s not cold enough out there for you?” she asked, bending to pull a bottle from the fridge behind the bar.
It was currently less than fifteen degrees Fahrenheit in Summerhill, Colorado. Cold enough to freeze a polar bear’s ass and ice-up the hottest drop of mercury. And for Louisiana born and bred Savannah, it was almost intolerable.
Her gravel-voiced newbie didn’t answer. Must’ve had a bad day. Clearly he’d had a long one, given it was only four minutes ’til she closed the bar. Almost all of her customers had left already. All but the worst.
She turned back, beer in hand and glanced up at him.
Oh sweet mother…
She almost lost her grip on the bottle as eyes bluer than the clearest sky on the coldest winter’s day pierced her. Correction, they stabbed.
Startled, she stared right back at him, confused as to what was the cause of that anger. That accusation. Sure he might’ve had a bad day, but there was no need to look at her like she was to blame for all the world’s evils.
Savannah swallowed and lifted her chin, refusing to break that fearsome eye contact. She wasn’t going to be cowed by a mere look. She flicked the lid off the bottle with a quick one-handed maneuver and set his beer on the impressive slab of polished wood between them with a definite snap.
Who was she kidding. It wasn’t the wood that was impressive. Mr Broad-shouldered Bad-mood was impressive in that bright mountain safety-jacket and wearing a close-knit black wool hat that emphasised the razor-sharp angles of his jaw.
All these details she absorbed by osmosis, because that look in his eyes?
He wanted it as cold as it came. Well no freezer could make any beer as cold as his unblinking blue eyes.
He didn’t pick up the beer. She didn’t ask for the money. For who knew how long, she met his chilly gaze. The emotion in his eyes didn’t lessen any, but gradually it did mutate. The anger eased, something else rose. Desperation? Exhaustion? Then… something else entirely?
Weirdly, the bar suddenly got warmer. Or at least Savannah did. A lot warmer. Images spilled into her mind—the kind of images she hadn’t seen or thought of in an age. Intimate. Erotic. Inappropriate ones. She flashed so freaking hot she felt like breaking her rules and drinking on the job. She could do with some cold.
And that look in his eyes wasn’t anywhere near frosty now. It was fiery and—startled?
She blinked and looked down at the bottle, surprised by the urges rippling low in her belly. She never indulged. No drinking on the job. No men. Not even the strong, silent, arrogant as hell type.
“Would you like a glass?” she asked with rigid politeness, refusing to meet his eyes a second time.
Refusing to be intimidated.
She was never intimidated. And she was never turned on by remote, overly-serious strangers.
In answer he placed a bill on the bar and picked up the bottle.
“Anything else?” she prompted, his stony silence spearing stupid amounts of irritation through her.
The customer was always right and Savannah read customers better than anyone. If the man wanted space to enjoy a beer alone, good for him. She wasn’t a small-talk kind of bartender anyway, but she had a perverse urge to get something out of this sullen ski-field liftie, especially since he’d started with that ‘it’s-all-your-fault’ glare.
Especially since he’d made her feel so prickly hot.
But all she got was a barely perceptible shake of his hat-covered head.
She took his money and went to the cash register. Now he was staring at her like she was some kind of uncooperative Rubik’s cube. She was used to being watched, but not with this kind of intensity. Maybe he was so deep in thought he wasn’t actually aware of what or who it was he was watching? No, he was too alert. She turned away from him but his gaze burned into her back. She stepped up and put his change on the bar, not looking into his face again.
Because in truth, that swirling emotion in his eyes—that anger and isolation?
She could relate to that. And that answering call of heat deep within herself scared the crap out of her.
“You ever see such a frigid bitch?” A jeering stage-whisper carried along the bar.
Oh, yeah. Savannah inwardly sighed. Her other remaining ‘customers’ of the evening were clearly pissed her attention had been snagged elsewhere.
She didn’t flinch at the words. Didn’t want to let them know she’d heard. But they knew she had. They’d intended her to.
She knew the all-alone guy had heard too.
The three guys stood at the end of the bar, leaning against the wood. Jerk, Double Jerk and Ultimate Jerk-off. They’d been there every night for days. Had eaten the same thing for dinner each night. Drunk the same drinks. Talked the same talk. The worst—Ultimate Jerk-off—stood center as always; loud and obnoxious. She’d booted him out of the exclusive bar on the weekend for lighting up his cigarette in the no-smoking restaurant area—it had been his final number in a litany of loud-ass actions.