Chance of a Lifetime (Anderson Brothers)

By: Marissa Clarke

Sometimes the biggest risk is playing it safe.

Gen Richards is tired of living down to her family’s expectation of the helpless blind girl. Resurrecting her high-school bucket list that begins with “kiss a total stranger” seems just the thing until she finds herself in a panty-melting lip lock with her big brother’s best friend.

Chance Anderson thrives on adrenaline, but Genny’s the one risk he’s not willing to take. His recklessness a decade ago landed her in the hospital and ejected him from her life. He’s bad for her and everyone knows it—especially her big brother.

Chance reluctantly helps Gen complete her bucket list in order to keep her out of trouble. Running through a freezing fountain, playing spin the bottle while fending off a mad horde of stinging insects, and skinny dipping with homicidal attack swans don’t hold a candle to the real danger: falling for the one person he can never have.

For Laine

Who gave me a real-life happily ever after.

Chapter One

Gen took a long pull on her beer, perversely enjoying her wallow in self-pity. It was a luxury she never allowed herself. Today, though, was different. All her buttressing against any show of weakness or self-doubt over the years seemed wasted, as did the protective cocoon she’d erected to appease her family. Today had brought home just how misdirected her entire life had been to date.

Sally, the receptionist for the recording studio, had been twenty-six—only one year older than her. Boom. Done. Just like that. Dead with no warning in a freak accident.

She downed the rest of her beer in harsh gulps and set the glass on the tiled bar. At least Sally had lived before she’d died. More than Gen could say for herself.

“Hot guy at two o’clock,” Sherry, her best friend and coworker at Decibels Sound Studio, whispered from the barstool next to her. “Oooh. He’s hella fine. Same guy as before. All tall and lean and badass broody.”

“Why don’t you go say hi?” Gen suggested, not ready to give up her self-indulgent pity party.

“Another beer?” Andy asked from behind the bar as he swept her glass away with a staccato scrape across the rough surface.

She liked the bartender. His voice had a musical quality and he smelled of Old Spice deodorant—she knew because it was what her brother used—and whiskey. Today, the whiskey scent wasn’t as pronounced, but it was early yet. By the end of his shift, he would sport at least an ounce of various liquors. The smell of alcohol reminded her of someone else—someone she didn’t allow herself to think about anymore.

She ran her fingers across the small, jagged tiles of the bar and pulled a pretzel from the paper-lined plastic basket situated between her and Sherry. “Sure. Another beer would be great.”

The crunching of the pretzel drowned out the click and fizzle of Andy pulling the tap on her beer, but not the appreciative yummy noises Sherry made with regard to the guy she’d mentioned earlier.

“Don’t look now, but he’s watching you.”

Gen snorted at her friend’s joke. Sherry was the only one who felt comfortable enough to kid with her about a topic everyone else considered taboo. “Don’t worry, I’m not looking.”

“Here you go.” Andy set her glass down in front of her, gently pushing it against her hand.

“Who’s the guy at the corner table?” Sherry asked.

“Oh, that’s the doctor. He’s been hanging out here on Tuesday nights for a while.” Glasses clinked as he moved them behind the bar.

Sherry shifted on her stool with a rustle of fabric. “Tuesdays. That’s our night here. A doctor. Did you hear that, Gen?”

He laughed. “No. That’s our nickname for him because he always orders a Dr Pepper. No booze. Ever.”

Rubbing her finger around the rim of the glass, Gen sighed. No alcohol would probably have been a good choice for her tonight, considering her mood.

Andy leaned close enough for the air to move across her face and arms. “You okay?”

Funny. That was probably the number one question people asked her. And she always answered the same way. Hundreds—no, thousands—of times, she’d answered yes. But she was lying. She wasn’t okay. She’d never been okay. She never would be…not unless something changed. Unless she made it change before it was too late and she ended up like that poor girl at the receptionist desk who choked on a mint.

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