Immediately the delectable Willow Gregory appeared in his mind’s eye. There was something about the former Miss Firecracker that made him want to blow his Mr. Nice Guy persona straight to hell.
After mopping the floor behind the bar, Blake restocked the liquor shelves. He called the supplier and tripled the beer order. He lined up limes, lemons and oranges for slicing.
He’d just poured himself a Coke on ice when the cowbell on the front door clanked and Willow slunk in. Damn, she looked good. “Feeling better?”
“No. It’ll take more than a shower and four aspirin to purge my misdeeds, sad to say.” Her gaze zeroed in on his glass. “Are you drinking on the job?”
Rather than ask why Willow had such a low opinion of him right off the bat, he answered, “Nope,” very curtly. He pointed his finger at her. “And just so we’re straight, no drinking on the job for you either.”
“That’s not gonna be a problem. Today anyway.” She marched around the bar and planted herself in front of him.
Blake looked down at her. The top of her head didn’t reach his shoulder. If Mandy hadn’t checked her ID he never would’ve believed she was almost twenty-six. Willow projected sweetness and innocence with her cherubic face, big brown eyes, and wavy chestnut hair. Mercy, he’d like to drag her upstairs and prove that innocence was just a veneer.
“Where am I supposed to put my stuff?”
His gaze reconnected with hers as he tried to forget how perfect she looked naked. In his bed. “There’s a locker in the breakroom, which is next to the bathrooms.”
His eyes narrowed when Willow was back in a flash.
“You’re scowling at me like I’ve already done something wrong.”
“It’s hard to grasp your sudden change of attitude.”
She shrugged. “You know the saying, ‘When life gives you lemons’. Speaking of…” She pointed to the fruit piled on the bar. “You making juice? Or a fruit basket?”
“Neither.” Blake pushed away from the barback. “You’ll be slicing them after we go over a few things.”
“Learning to take orders, to start.” He handed her an old-fashioned waitress order pad and a small round tray. “It might be easiest for you to write down the orders to begin with.”
“Write them down for you?”
“No, for yourself. The only time I’ll need a paper copy is when you have a big table, ten or more people, and they’re all ordering at the same time.”
“Got it.” She supported the tray on her hip. “Okay, hit me.”
She gestured impatiently with the pen. “Name some drinks. See if I can keep up.”
“Tangueray and tonic. Bud Light. Jack and Coke. Fat Tire. Seven and Seven. Fuzzy Navel. Diet and Captain. Chardonnay.”
Willow rattled them back.
“Good. Except for beer. Verify if they’re asking for a draft or a bottle.” He sipped his Coke. “How are your math skills?”
She offered him a droll stare. “Is this part of my punishment? You’re going to make me do story problems?”
Blake laughed. “I hated them in school too. No, I’m talking simple addition and subtraction. But fast addition and subtraction.”
“Can I use a calculator?”
“Nope. You can use your pad if you need to. Ready?”
“To tell me how much the drink order I just gave you costs.” He flipped the pad around on the tray. “Here’s the price list. Top shelf. Premium. Domestic bottled beer. Imported bottled beer. Tap beer. Wine. Soft drinks aren’t listed, but usually those are free for the designated—”
His mouth dropped open. “You figured that out already?” When her stare turned into a challenge, he backtracked. “Wow. You’ve got a head for numbers.” In addition to being a hot little number that makes my damn head spin.
Willow reached up and patted his cheek. “And don’t you forget it. So what’s next?”
“Wiping down the tables. The rags and cleaner are below the sink. I’ve gotta grab the cash drawer from the office and then I’ll help.”
He’d only made it a few steps when she said, “Blake. Wait.”
“I’m sorry for all the problems I caused last night. For being so touchy this morning.”
I wish we’d been a lot touchier this morning.
Blake bit back his retort and listened.
“You probably don’t believe me, but I’ve never done anything like this before. I mean, when I’m mad I yell and get in people’s face, but drinking until I pass out? Waking up naked in a strange man’s bed? And finding out I performed a strip tease for you—”
He whirled around. “You didn’t strip for me.”
“No. After the sheriff left, you were upset so I took you up to the apartment. I’d planned to drive you home after I locked up the bar. But when I came back a couple hours later, you were naked and snoring on my bed. I slept on the couch. Nothin’ happened.”
The relief on her face was comical. “I hate that I don’t remember. Sounds like I was lucky to end up with you and not someone…less honest.”
Blake looked at her thoughtfully.
“As long as we’re bein’ honest? My gentlemanly streak only goes so far and it’d been long gone last night if you had stripped for me. No way could I’ve kept my hands off you. No way. It was damn hard.” His gaze swept over her. “It’s still damn hard.” Boy-howdy was that statement true in more ways than one.
She blinked. “So my behavior didn’t repulse you?”
“Far from it. But fair warning. Next time I find you naked in my bed? There’s gonna be a whole lot happening. And I guarantee you’ll remember every single second of it.