The following is excerpted from the romantic comedy NOBODY’S FOOL by Barbara Meyers, release date 1/6/15 from Samhain Publishing —
He wouldn’t fall for her again, wouldn’t tell her how he’d felt all those years ago or what she’d done to him when she’d left. He’d get the hell out of Dodge before he made a fool of himself by letting on that he still had a thing for her. That was the plan, anyway.
Jolie looked puzzled as he turned into the parking lot of Smokey’s Grill & Chill and parked. “You’re kidding, right?”
Court grinned. “Why not? We’re old enough now.”
“But—but,” she sputtered as Court got out and came around to open the door for her. Smokey’s was the closest thing Oak Ridge had to a biker bar. Situated on the outskirts of town, the ramshackle building was surrounded by a dilapidated wooden deck, which held an assortment of scarred tables and chairs. A few were occupied, the tabletops crowded with beer bottles, baskets of wings and fries and overflowing ashtrays.
The clientele ranged from the barely legal to clearly geriatric. The dress code consisted of scuffed jeans or overalls paired with T-shirts, along with baseball caps and work boots.
“I think I’m overdressed,” Jolie said.
“It’ll be fine.” He reached for her hand. “The food’s good, believe it or not. I’ll even let you beat me in a game of pool.”
“In that case, how can I refuse?” She took his hand, and a wave of longing went through her, along with a touch of melancholy. Court had made it clear that all he wanted from her was friendship, hadn’t he? She recalled the flare of interest she’d glimpsed in his eyes when she’d first opened the door. Was friendship really all he wanted?
A low whistle rose from the group on the deck as Jolie and Court ascended the steps. “Hey, baby.” From the corner of her eye, Jolie saw Court gesture in their direction, a sort of chopping motion. Quiet descended.
They went inside. Their arrival was acknowledged by turned heads and a brief drop in the hum of conversation. “I wish you’d told me where we were going,” Jolie murmured. “I wouldn’t have worn this.”
“Are you kidding? You look fantastic. Besides, this place could do with a little class. What do you want to drink?”
Ordering a glass of white wine might be a mistake. Beer, which she rarely drank, seemed like her best bet. “Light beer,” she replied. “Imported, if they have it.”
She stayed close to Court while the bartender got their orders. She wasn’t immune to the admiring glances—or in some cases, outright leers—directed her way. She felt like a fish out of water and wondered if Court had planned it that way.
He turned with two bottles of beer in one hand, held by the necks between his fingers. He nodded in the direction of the pool tables. “There’s one open. Want to play?”
Jolie lifted her chin. She had the feeling Court was playing some sort of game, but it had nothing to do with pool. Although she’d given up playing such games herself, she still remembered how. “Sure, why not?”
They made their way to the table. She set her purse down and Court handed her one of the bottles as he racked the balls. He came around and handed her a pool stick.
“What?” he asked.
“Did you bring me here to make me feel uncomfortable?”
“No, of course not.” His face fell as he looked around. “Is it that bad? I thought it would be fun. Didn’t you always want to come in here when you were a kid? I did. A bunch of us tried to get in with fake IDs.” He smiled at the memory. “Smokey kicked us out on our asses.” The smile faded. “I’m sorry. This was probably a bad idea. We can go to the Cedar View.” He moved to take the cue stick away from her.
“I’m being a snob, aren’t I?” She didn’t know if she’d meant to say that aloud or not.
“No, no, that’s not what I said.”
“You don’t have to.” Jolie looked into Court’s eyes. “That’s how I behaved in high school, like I was too good for just about everybody. I tell myself I’ve changed, but then I still act this way. Until someone points it out to me.”
She wrested the pool stick back from him and walked around the table. She picked up the chalk then lined up the cue ball. “Let’s stay.” She broke, dropping one ball in a side pocket. “You said the food’s good. And you’re right, I was always curious about this place.”
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