Home > Twist (Dive Bar #2)

Twist (Dive Bar #2)
Author: Kylie Scott


Screw playing it safe.

I stood outside the Dive Bar, hands shaking, heart crashing around inside my chest. Goddamn nerves. Let them do their worst. No way would I scurry back to Seattle and hide. Not now. Beware, beautiful hot man from the Internet. I had arrived. Yes, fate in the form of me, and a return-trip plane ticket, had come to Coeur d’Alene, northern Idaho.

Right. This was it.

I took a deep breath and fluffed up my hair (shoulder length and brown). My bestie, Val, had applied my makeup several hours earlier and the woman knew her shit. None of it would dare move. I smoothed out the creases in my dress (little and black). Shoulders back, boobs out, as per instructions. And okay, sure, my toes were turning into frozen stumps in the stupid sky-high black suede heels, and my bare legs and arms were covered in goose bumps. But never mind. Val and the girl in the shop had sworn I looked amazing in this outfit. Definitely doable and about a billion times better than normal, care of the push-up bra above and the Spanx below.

So what if I felt a little like a high-class hooker. Never mind. First impressions were important. And if Val and the salesgirl were right, this particular first impression was the way to go—as opposed to my usual boring date attire: boots, jeans, and a blouse. But then, I wasn’t usually gaga about the guy in the way I was about Eric Collins. Those dates were solely about scratching an itch.

Yes, I know. Shock horror. A single woman regularly indulging in casual sex. Absolutely not even a little attachment to the male in the equation. Burn me at the stake and drown me in a river. Valerie called me an emotional coward, but I liked my life uncomplicated and largely spent alone at home dressed in pajamas. And relationships? They were one hell of a complication. Yet, here I was in northern Idaho hoping to get all sorts of involved and complicated, against my better judgment. The outside world terrified me, but Eric Collins mattered too much to just be relegated to the role of some passing Internet fancy. I had to see him, to find out why a week ago he’d up and disappeared on me. Turning up at his birthday party just added a bit of serendipity to the event.

Maybe I’d played with Bridal Barbie once too often when I was young. I don’t know.

The closed sign hung in the restaurant window, the outside lights were dimmed. Inside, however, things were happening. Muted music and the sound of low chatter carried through the cold night air. Lightning crashed in the distance, the breeze picked up. Even the weather was telling me to stop procrastinating.

Despite the sign, the door was unlocked. Carry-on suitcase bumping along behind me, I ventured inside. No one noticed me at first. A good dozen or so people were hanging out at the long wooden bar, drinking and eating. My stomach turned inside out at the scent of delicious pizza. I’d been too nervous to eat anything on the flight or beforehand.

I gasped. There he was.

Holy shit, his profile photo hadn’t begun to do him justice. The man put supermodels to shame. He literally glowed, his long dark hair shining beneath the lights, and his pearlescent smile even more so. (Not that I didn’t admire and respect him for his mind, because I did. After all, our relationship had so far sat entirely at the platonic level of cyber-messaging. I was overdue for seeing a little flesh. So there.)

All of the tension inside me unwound, my shoulders sagging in relief. The smile on my face, however, just grew bigger and bigger. People said nobody told the actual truth about themselves on the Internet. Lying to strangers and sharing cat pictures were basically why the World Wide Web had been invented. And yes, it’d been a huge leap of faith to get on that plane. He could have been some five-hundred-pound pervert hoping to get pictures of my tits to whack off to. He could have been married with five wives and forty-three children, hoping I’d be willing to join the family and push out some more bambinos.

But no. The man was everything he’d said he was. I just hoped I lived up to his expectations. The tension inside me wound right back up into a hard ball. I’d told no lies about my thunder thighs or my modest bra size. Either he’d like me in real life or not. There was nothing I could do about it now.

First one person turned, noticing me. Then more followed, until the whole party was hushed, waiting.

“Hi,” someone said. “I’m sorry but we’ve already closed for the night. This is a private party.”

“I know,” I answered, circumnavigating the tables, walking toward him. Not taking my eyes off the man for a second. Tears welled, the absolute thrill of the moment threatening to undo me. I’d never forget this night as long as I lived. He was so gorgeous, so wonderful. I’d crushed on him hard just through reading his emails, but it was this, us finally being in the same damn room together and feeling the connection between us, which sealed the deal.

Eric Collins was going down. The dude would be wooed so hard it hurt and I, Alexandra Parks, would be doing the wooing.

Once I got close, I couldn’t hold back any longer. I burst into action, flinging myself at him. And just as I’d known he would, he caught me.

“Happy birthday, Eric,” I said, my smile trembling from both nerves and joy.


I laughed. It sounded only slightly hysterical. “I can’t believe I’m really here.”

Exquisite jade-green eyes stared down at me in shock.

“So … surprise,” I exclaimed.

“Wow.” A pause. Then, gazing down at me, he licked his perfect lips and said, “Do I know you?”

Everything stopped.

“What?” I asked.

A low, masculine, yet distinctly uncomfortable chuckle. “We’ve met before, huh?”

“Eric,” I chided.

He said nothing. Just kept looking at me in confusion. As if I was a total stranger.

“Is this a joke?” I asked, my whole body stiffening in his hold. “Eric, it’s me. Alex.”


Absolutely positively not a fucking thing.

Everyone was watching, the same bewildered look on all of their faces. Eyebrows raised and hesitant smiles, etc. God. For months I’d played this moment over and over inside my mind. It most definitely never turned out like this. Whatever this was.

I stepped back from my supposed beloved’s arms, doubt trickling through me, first a little, then a lot. Soon it was a whole damn tsunami of disbelief crushing my heart and mind. I was drowning, panic slowly but surely closing over my head. This is what came from stepping outside of your comfort zone. Bad things. Deeply shitty soul-crushing things. Why the hell had I ever left home?

“I don’t understand,” I said, voice rising in pitch and volume. “Of course you know me. We’ve been talking for months. E-mailing.”

Still nothing.

“We met on Heartingdotcom. Remember?”

They were still watching me with blank stares. Eric included.

I glared back at him. “So you’ve just been stringing me along, haven’t told anyone about me, and now you’re just going to deny everything? That’s how you’re going to play this? Really?”

“Or maybe I haven’t told anyone about you because I have no idea who you are,” he countered, looking me up and down. Something close to doubt flitted across his face. “Hold up. Are you the chick I doggy-styled in the walk-in closet at that party in Spokane?” His smile somehow managed to be sympathetic, apologetic, and leering all at once. “Shit, you are, aren’t you? I’m sorry, I should have known you right away. Maybe if you’d shown me the back of your head.”

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