Heat Of The Moment (Brooklyn Heat)

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HEAT OF THE MOMENT

(A Brooklyn Heat Romance)

by Locklyn Marx

Copyright 2011 Locklyn Marx, all rights reserved
No part of this text may be copied or reproduced without written permission of the
author. This book is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to any persons, living
or dead, is entirely coincidental

Chapter One

Kenley Mitchell sat at the bar drinking a pina colada and thinking about how horrible her life was. Well. That was being a little dramatic. Her life wasn’t
totally
horrible. She knew there were people with far bigger problems in the world, people who were homeless or had incurable diseases or had just lost a family member. Kenley’s problems were a lot more run-of-the-mill.

“Would you like another drink, ma’am?” the bartender asked. He was a young guy, probably about twenty-two, with a tattoo of a snake on his wrist and a tight gray Tshirt that showed off his bulging muscles. Kenley had taken an instant dislike to him, and she was still trying to figure out if it was because of his perfect body or the fact that he kept calling her ma’am.

“How old are you?” Kenley asked and then took another sip of her drink.

“Twenty-one,” the guy answered. He sounded wary, like maybe he was afraid she was going to proposition him for sex.

“Yeah, well, I’m twenty-nine.” She was going to be thirty in two months, but whatever. For right now, she was twenty-nine and she intended to hold on to every last second of it. “Which means I’m only eight years older than you.”

The bartender frowned, like he thought eight years was actually a lot. “Okaaaay,”

he said, and shrugged. “Would you like another drink?” He was probably used to crazy people getting drunk and spouting off at him. Not that Kenley was drunk. She was riding the line between warm and buzzed, and had been for the three hours that she’d been sitting there.

“Whatever,” Kenley said, frustrated that he wasn’t getting her point. The point being that he shouldn’t be calling her ma’am. “Yes, I’d like another drink.”

She sat back in her seat and looked around the bar. It was poolside at her hotel, the St. Pierre Siesta Key. Palm trees swayed gently in the evening breeze and the warm night air brushed against her skin. How could she be depressed when she was out here in the beautiful Florida weather, away from Connecticut and the cold, gray winter?

She really needed to snap out of her funk. She picked up one of the cocktail napkins that was sitting on the bar and rummaged around in her straw beach bag for a pen. What she needed was some kind of plan. She would write down everything that was wrong in her life, and then come up with a solution for each item. How hard could it be? People changed their lives every day like it was nothing. All you had to do was turn on the OWN network and you could see millions of examples.

Number one,
she wrote,
lost my job.
She tapped her pen against the bar. The solution to this one was obvious. Find another job. But with the economy the way it was, it was easier said than done. Especially since Kenley’s field, real estate, was one of the hardest hit by the recession. She’d been a mortgage broker at a local bank for the past five years, until last week, when her boss called her into his office and fired her. “Let go” is how they put it.

Kenley had cried all the way home out of shock and shame, and then drown her sorrows in two Whoppers with cheese, a vanilla milkshake, and two large fries. Her reaction was completely ridiculous, since she hadn’t even
liked
her job that much. The customers were annoying, her boss was a prick, and the commute was horrible. But it was a job. A
paying
job. And no one was hiring mortgage brokers right now, because no one was getting mortgages anymore. People weren’t out buying expensive houses, they were doing their best just to survive. It was all horribly sad when you thought about it.

No wonder she was depressed.

Number two,
she wrote,
broke up with Jeremy.
She wasn’t sure what to do about this one. What was the solution when your boyfriend of two years dumped you out of the blue? Were you supposed to go out and have lots of one-night stands? Sign up for internet dating? Find a new relationship? She sighed. Shit. Her list was only two items long, and she was already more upset than when she started.

“Here you go,” the bartender said, setting a fresh pina colada down in front of her.

Kenley paid for the drink and added a five dollar tip, even though she couldn’t afford it. She was using all her severance and her savings on this trip to Florida.

(Florida! It wasn’t even somewhere cool, like Europe or the Bahamas. Fucking Florida was all she could afford!) But she didn’t want the bartender to think that he’d gotten to her, that she was a bitter old lady who wasn’t going to tip him well because he was young and she wasn’t.

“You’re welcome.” He looked down at the napkin in front of her. “What are you writing?”

“None of your business.” She moved the napkin toward her protectively and put her hand down on top of it, covering the writing. But she wasn’t fast enough.

“You lost your job?” the bartender asked, obviously having some uncanny ability to speed-read upside down.

“No,” she lied.

He looked at her skeptically. “Then why did you just write down that you lost your job?”

“You know, you’re pretty nosy,” Kenley said. She took another big sip of her pina colada. The kid might be young, but he made a damn good drink.

“So are you,” the bartender pointed out. “You asked me how old I was.”

Kenley sighed. “Whatever.” She twirled the little paper umbrella around in her drink. “Fine, I lost my job. And I got dumped. I’m a loser.”

“Aww,” the bartender said, “don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re not a loser.”

He reached down under the bar and pulled out a navy blue folder. “Here,” he said and slid it toward her, looking proud of himself.

“What’s this?”

“Some guys left it here earlier.” He shrugged. “They had suits on. They seemed rich, you know, like bigwigs. Maybe their company is hiring. They’re here for some important meeting.”

“Thanks,” Kenley said. She couldn’t even muster up the energy to be mad at him for being so young and deluded that he thought it was that easy to get a job, that you could just find some discarded folder somewhere and decide you wanted to work for whomever had left it lying around.

“You’re welcome.” He gave her a satisfied smile, like he thought he was single-handedly responsible for preventing her from falling into some kind of depressive spiral.

Then he walked to the other side of the bar, where he immediately began flirting with two college girls wearing grass skirts and coconut bikini tops.

Expera Footwear,
the folder said. Kenley traced her fingers over the embossed silver letters on the front, took another sip of her drink, and decided she’d give herself ten more minutes of feeling sorry for herself. And then she really was going to make a plan.

***

Chad Parnell walked into the bar at the St.Pierre Siesta Key wearing three days of stubble, a pair of ratty jeans, and a navy blue sweatshirt. He was trying to fly under the radar, but as first basemen for the Brooklyn Heat, one of the best major league baseball teams in America, there was a good chance that despite his best efforts, he’d be recognized.

Of course, if some of the girls in here wanted to go all crazy and ask him for autographs and pictures, he wasn’t going to complain. He might be here for a work trip, but who said you couldn’t mix business with pleasure? He scanned the bar for any intriguing possibilities.

A couple of college girls in grass skirts and coconut bikini tops were sitting at the bar, drinking pink-colored cocktails and flirting with the bartender. He wrote them off immediately. College girls were the worst. They never knew what they were doing in bed, and they’d be the first to sell you out in the tabloids for some ridiculous amount of money that wasn’t even enough to make it worth it.

At the other end of the bar, a surly-looking girl sat on a stool, writing something down on a napkin. Chad sighed. Apparently he’d be going home alone tonight. It was just as well. He needed to be fresh for his meeting tomorrow with Expera Footwear.

Chad was hoping to get an endorsement deal out of them, and he needed to be well rested so that he could turn on the charm.

He headed toward the bar and pulled his baseball hat down over his eyes, hoping that the bartender wouldn’t recognize him. He chose a seat halfway between the giggling college girls and the cranky-looking woman. And that’s when he noticed the folder. It said Expera across the front, and it was sitting in front of the crazy scribbler. She must work for them.

Chad grinned. Talk about a perfect situation! He could slide down to the other end of the bar, charm this woman a little, and make sure to get a leg up for tomorrow’s meeting. He studied her, trying to figure out his approach. Long blonde hair fell into her face, and she bit her lip as she wrote.

He motioned to the bartender.

“What’s she drinking?” Chad asked.

“Who?” The bartender glanced at the college girls and then his eyes flicked back to Chad nervously, like he was afraid Chad might want to steal one of them away. Chad resisted the urge to make a smart remark. He wasn’t interested in college girls – at least, not tonight – and if he was, all he’d have to do was snap his fingers and those girls would be all over him.

“Her,” Chad said, motioning to the woman at the end of the bar. She pushed her hair back from her face, and Chad got his first good look at her. She was pretty, in an average kind of way – nice complexion, high cheekbones. Nothing fancy about her, including her clothes -- an oversized long-sleeved cream t-shirt and a pair of black yoga pants.

“Her?” The bartender seemed surprised, like he couldn’t fathom that anyone would be interested in the scribbler.

“Yes, her,” Chad said. He was getting a little annoyed now. No one had the right to critique his choice in women, especially when the bartender was getting all excited over girls wearing fruit shells over their breasts.

“She’s having pina coladas,” the bartender said. He leaned forward and lowered his voice to a whisper. “And just fyi? She’s kind of pissy.”

“Just send her a drink from me, okay?” Chad said. His plan was to make it seem like he didn’t know she worked at Expera. Then, when she admitted it, he’d dazzle her with the facts he’d gleaned about the company from the five minutes he’d spent googling.

And then?
Then
he’d go in for the kill. The kill, of course, being that he’d take her back to his hotel room. And then tomorrow, during the meeting, she’d be sure to go to bat for him.

But when the bartender brought over the drink Chad had sent her, the woman reached out, grabbed it, and took a sip without even looking up. The bartender started walking back down toward the college girls. What the hell? Wasn’t he going to at least
tell
the girl that Chad was the one who’d sent the drink? What was wrong with youth these days?

It was the internet, Chad decided. Kids weren’t used to having to go out and pick up women, to put in some effort, to strike up a conversation or buy a woman a drink. No, they just logged onto some website and set up a profile using some ridiculous photoshopped picture that didn’t even look anything like them, and then waited to have cybersex all night long. Or start sexting. Or whatever it was that teenagers were doing these days.

He thought about calling the bartender over and demanding he let the girl know that drink was from him. But what was the point? Chad could do much better on his own. He got up and walked over to the other end of the bar. She was still scribbling away on that damn napkin. He tried to sneak a glance at it, wondering if maybe it was notes for the meeting tomorrow morning. But all he caught was the word
“change.”

“Excuse me,” he said, giving her a sheepish grin. “Is this seat taken?”

“Yes,” she said immediately, not looking up from her napkin “It is.”

“Oh,” he said. “Okay. I’m sorry.” He waited a beat, hoping she’d look up.

When she did, she’d realize he was Chad Parnell, famous baseball player and that he had a very cute, very wounded look on his face. He knew it was very cute and very wounded because he’d practiced it in front of the mirror. A lot.

But when the woman looked up, her eyes flicked over him and then back down to the napkin she was writing on. There was no spark of recognition on her face, no surprise in her expression. He frowned. Was it possible she didn’t know who he was? It had happened before, especially if he wasn’t in New York. Not everyone followed baseball. But you’d think someone who was about to have a meeting with him would have at least taken the time to google him. His Wikipedia page had a very nice picture of him on it. It was taken last year, at some charity golf event he’d done. Chad was smiling broadly for the camera, his arm wrapped around a disadvantaged youth.

“Um, I think maybe you dropped this,” Chad said, and picked up a random straw wrapper that had fallen on the floor.

The woman looked up again. And this time, Chad knew he had her.

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