He’s hell-bent on following the rules, but she’s determined to break them. She’s in her prime at twenty-two, but he’s old enough to be her father… Hell, he looks like he could be her grandfather. He’s no good for her, a failure, a recovering alcoholic, and she’s as pure and straight-laced as they come. Or is she?
Skids and Coco are complete opposites in every way that should matter. On the surface, the only thing they have in common is their hidden attraction to each other. When Skids is forced to play the hero after Coco is placed in a dangerous situation, everything changes. Coco makes a move that threatens the boundaries they both thought they had set.
Will Coco manage to break through his walls and give them both a chance at love in an unexpected place, or will Skids remain steadfast and resist temptation?
I caught Skids’ eye as he worked behind the bar. He didn’t miss a thing and I was grateful for it. It was one of the reasons I loved working here. No matter what time, what the occasion, or who was all up in the Cormorant, Skids was a constant and ever-watchful eye and he always backed us servers up.
It was no surprise when I went to the server’s station at the end of the bar to load up a tray of drinks that he drifted over to check in with me. He was like that with all the girls.
“Coco.” He called to me by the childhood nickname that’d somehow just become my name. “Everything alright over at seventeen?”
“Just peachy!” I called back over the loud cheering as one of the fighters on the television screens went down.
“That guy gets handsy with you again, you shout it out. I’ll have him out on his ass in a heartbeat. Not in my bar!”
“That’s what I love about you, Boss-man! You always got a sistah’s back!” I blew him a kiss and his bright blue eyes lit up, his smile warmed me down to my toes and I whisked the loaded tray off the bar top, raised it high, and threaded my way through the thick crowd.
It was always crowded on fight nights. A healthy mix of city civilians, off-duty cops, firefighters, and yuppies from the nearby business sector who were working the weekend packed the bar and restaurant to capacity. Tonight was no exception. Laine, the hostess, was actually to the point she was having to turn people away. Wouldn’t do to go above the mandated capacity and violate fire code with the city’s fire code inspector sitting at table five with his wife.
I’d been working here for almost a year and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
It picked up for a minute and I almost missed it when Lys said to Golden, “Baby, something’s not right, we ran into Coco like an hour ago in the bathroom and she said Skids wasn’t mixing any alcohol into her drinks. How did she get that drunk that fast?”
I looked up, freezing in what I was doing, and sure enough, Coco was staggered up against the young guy who’d handed over his daddy’s black AmEx to pay the tab.
“Claire, go get Reflash up front for me. Angel, Golden, with me.”
I went around the bar and marched up to them. The guy was already half-dragging Coco out the front door.
“Hey, yo, don’t you want to wait for your card and close out your tab?” I called, sarcasm edging my voice.
“Oh, no, I think I’d better get her home. I can come back for it later.” He looked nervous and I got in their way. Coco’s hand reached out and touched my chest and she looked up at me, her eyes glassy, face flushed.
“I don’t feel well,” she slurred. “What’s happening to me?”
“Angel,” I barked, and he was there. Golden already had the guy by the arm and was on his cell with dispatch as Coco fell against me. I put my arms around her and helped her out onto the sidewalk, leaning back against the building, I leaned her back against me to protect her from the rough brick and to hold her up. Angel was in front of her, asking questions gently, checking her eyes with a penlight as she groaned and tried to cover her face.
“Call a bus,” he called out to his twin. “We get her to Trinity Gen, we can get blood and urine samples – we got this guy dead to rights. No way will it metabolize fast enough out of her system before we get it.
“No, no hospitals, can’t afford it…” Coco mumbled.
“Don’t worry about that now, sweetheart. I’ll get it if I have to. You’re okay, I’ve got you.”
“What’s happening to me?” she repeated.
“Baby, we think you’ve been drugged,” Angel tried to explain, and she whimpered and pressed back tighter against me.
“Easy,” I murmured in her ear. “I’ve gotcha, ain’t nothing gonna happen now.”
Text Copyright © 2019 A.J. Downey
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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