Shay and Jess

Shay and Jess' love story is revealed in Hitting That Sweet Spot - out Tuesday, March 7 (pre-order now!).

Here's a little snippet from their first meeting: 

Shay had stood outside the restaurant that night, leaning against the stucco wall as the summer heat abated. It was after midnight now and the staff had been departing in a slow trickle without sign of the one he waited for. He didn’t mind staying put. Patience was something he had always possessed.

Fishing in the pocket of his black flight jacket, he pulled out a pack of Lucky Strikes and a lighter. He should quit. That’s what he told himself every single time he lit another cigarette. People quit all the time. It can be done. Isn’t that what he had told Danny Boy? This argument was as effective with himself as it was with his brother.

Laughing softly at himself, he pressed the cigarette between his lips and tilted his head toward the flame of the lighter cupped between his hands.

“A smoker? Strike one.”

He looked up quickly to find Jessica—the waitress he’d been waiting for—standing before him. Damn it. He didn’t like being caught unaware. But he saw that though her large dark eyes were trained on him, they shone with amusement.

“Make that strike two,” she said and adjusted the canvas carryall on her shoulder. She was slight of frame, though not frail. There was strength in the way she held herself. With both Asian and African American features, she was a captivating beauty.

Careful to blow a stream of smoke away from her, he then lowered the cigarette to his side. “What’s the other strike?”

She gestured to him, then the restaurant. “Stalker.”

He laughed but her face was impassive. Shite. Did she really fear for herself with him being there? He had her number from earlier, when he and Conor had dinner there. She’d been their waitress and Conor had taken it upon himself to play matchmaker. It only occurred to him now that waiting for her this way might have seemed too forward. If you had a phone number, that meant it was okay to call. Not okay to skulk around outside the woman’s workplace.

“I’m kidding!” she said.

Her smile was something to behold. It brought out dimples in her cheeks and made you want to smile right back. And so he did.

“You remember me from before, yeah?” he asked and she nodded. “Would it be all right if I saw you home?” he asked.

She watched him for a moment, assessing him. He waited her out.

“My roommates are expecting me,” she said cautiously.

“Listen, I’m sorry if this seems odd. I know you gave me your number and that I should’ve waited a few days and then called you or texted. But, I just, I—”

“You what? Thought you’d cut to the chase and try to get lucky?”

The amused smile wasn’t quite gone, but had definitely faded as her guard came up.

“Jesus, no. I was going to say that I don’t play games. I don’t even know how. I liked your smile when you waited on us. I liked that you looked at me, not just—” He cut himself off rather than finish the thought.

“Not just Conor Quinn, the gorgeous guitar player for Rogue?” she asked.

He met her eyes, silently affirming this information. As the epitome of a sexy guitar god, Conor was recognized nearly everywhere they went. More often than not, Shay would happily slide by undetected. He hadn’t thought she recognized either of them earlier, though.

Flicking the cigarette ash he knew without looking was growing, he prepared to apologize and move on. What a stupid move it had been to just show up and wait like this. Casanova, he was not.

But she spoke before he could. “Well, if you don’t mind me smelling like tempura . . . .”

“What now?” he asked.

“I always come away from the restaurant smelling like fried tempura. Hazard of the job,” she said with a shrug.

“Ah, no, I don’t mind. It’s grand, Jessica.”

“This way, then.”

She started walking and he was struck dumb for a moment, admiring the view of her long, lean legs through the slits in her dress. Her movements were fluid, easy. She stood straight, her head elegant and poised as she looked forward.

“Come on, Shay,” she said.

He dropped the cigarette, crushing it with the toe of his shoe and followed after her.

* * *

And here's a good photo to keep in mind after you read *that* elevator scene: