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Risk

By:Cora Brent

CHAPTER ONE

Truly



I told Saylor I wasn’t looking for action, not tonight or any other night, but she only laughed.

“What’s with the outfit then?” Her big green eyes were playful as she reached over and tugged on the full skirt of my dress.

“Laundry day,” I grumbled, lining up the salt shakers on an empty table. “My choices were narrow; either shrug into yesterday’s chicken-greased t-shirt or wrap myself in the only clean thing in sight.”

“Which just so happens to be a busty remnant of Lucille Ball’s closet?”

I smiled. “That’s about right.”

Saylor started unscrewing the salt shakers. “Seriously, Truly. You look hot in that retro getup. You need to come out. If for no other reason than to offer the world some pleasant scenery.”

“If folks want scenery they can hike the goddamn Grand Canyon.”

As I was talking I noticed Griffin, the bartender, remove his chicken hat and give me the eye. I turned my head in the other direction in the hopes he would get the picture. He didn’t have a chance, not even if I opted to lie on the bar with my skirt pulled over my hips. Maybe if he hadn’t tried to crawl all over me like a vibrating puppy the one time I suffered through an outing with his eager ass then I might feel differently.

I knew I was only lying to myself. I just didn’t have the space in my heart for it anymore; no room for one bad piece of business after another, all of them attached to men.

Saylor didn’t know about any of that. If she had she likely wouldn’t be pushing me out into the night to find something wild. I looked at her, humming softly with a small smile on her face. Actually, Say might have tried to convince me to go out no matter what. Saylor was optimistic. She was a believer in confronting the worst of your past in order to meet the future.

Speaking of Saylor’s past and future, it was standing outside the locked door of Cluck This and tapping on the glass. I snapped my fingers to get Say’s attention and she lit up like the sun before running over to let him in.

The restaurant was empty except for the cleanup crew and a pair of peaked stoners who still lingered at a front table even though we’d closed twenty minutes earlier. I threw them my most severe ‘Get out!’ glare but they didn’t seem to notice. Maybe it was too difficult to focus through the purple haze.

Saylor was already enjoying a moment of radiant love in the arms of her boy. Luckily our asshole manager wasn’t lurking around or he would have barked at her. Ed had little patience and even less hair. Overseeing a greasy diner in a boisterous college town was likely not his dream job. I might have felt sorry for the pallid little jerk if he didn’t always give me the creeps and squawk about my appearance as a short boner pushed through his khakis.

Finally the stoners tossed a crumpled pile of cash on their table and started to wander off. They got as far as the door and then became confused about how it functioned. I let out a hiss of irritation and stalked over there, flinging the door open and then shoving them through it.

Griffin had given up trying to catch my eye and began polishing the shot glasses. Behind the scenes, the kitchen staff was being noisy in their haste to leave Cluck This behind. A slew of loud curses followed the crash of falling dishes.

Saylor and Cord weren’t noticing anything. I watched them wind their arms around each other as they kissed on and on. She finally pulled back a little and smiled up at him, rocking slightly in his embrace.

“You didn’t have to come get me.”

“I did,” he insisted, pulling her closer. “I always need to come get you.”

Saylor heard the naughty meaning behind his words and giggled. I’d had some doubts about Cord Gentry when she first told me all about him, reluctantly filling in the details of their history in that little shit town they came from.

Oh, Cord was a fantastic specimen with his muscles, his tattoos, and his strapping good ole’ boy looks. But back when they were kids he’d wronged her once in a bad way. To my knowledge men didn’t really adjust their manners any more than animals adjusted their instincts.

However, I could admit now I had been wrong. The last two months of observing his steady devotion to that girl made me change my mind about him. Cord stood there combing his hands through her long brown hair and she melted against him. She put her finger against his lips and he stared at her with so much reverence a person would have had to be heartless not to feel a little tender about it.

There was something else too. Even though I was honestly thrilled for my friend, I just might have been a little jealous. I’d never been such an object of worship, not in the way that lasted.

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