Playing For Keeps

By: J.C. Grant

CHAPTER ONE



I knew as soon as I pulled into the parking lot that this was going to be a nightmare. I dreaded it. No, that's not true. I hated it. The weekly grocery trip. Especially today. This wasn't my usual store—that store, my store—was walking distance from my place. A little two bed one bath bungalow in Silverlake—that was still an hour and a half away with traffic. Today my temp job sent me to the valley, which is how I ended up at a Ralph's grocery store in Studio City. I wouldn't have stopped if I had more than mustard and ice at home. I just needed a few essentials to get me through the week. And maybe something to help me unwind after my day.

The ice cream should be fine for the ride home. Maybe…

Even at my usual store, I normally tried to make it during the afternoon. When it wasn’t crowded. That obviously hadn’t worked out today. Now, I was stuck at the end of one of the never ending lines in this ridiculously crowded store. The apparent cause being too few cashiers…

“Checkers! We need checkers!” An older man, with far too much botox and facial filler, the next line over yelled.

The guy standing behind him joined in. “Can we get some more checkers?”

Wow. There's more than one person that believes yelling for cashiers or “checkers” will fix the problem.

I felt the tension building in my shoulders and back. As if sitting at a desk job all day, working as a receptionist for a huge lawyer firm wasn't stressful enough. All my temp jobs were trying on my patience, but today was a new level. I had to deal with slimy lawyers, young and old, that didn't seem to pick up on my desire to keep a polite distance.

There was nothing wrong with my job, per se. It was probably just me. I loved being curvy most of the time, but sometimes being built in a way that seemed to give the impression to a certain type of man, that I was a certain type of girl, pissed me off. Actually, it always pissed me off. I liked my shape, but apparently I looked overly sexual. I couldn't be farther from it. I didn't like men hitting on me or approaching me in an overly sexual way. Or even in a flirty way. And certainly not touching me.

Another shout for cashiers broke me from my linoleum inspection. I looked up, taking in the other customers, they were all still there, like me. More than one of the guys in line would be considered attractive, but I wasn't attracted to them. I hardly ever met anyone I was attracted to. I didn't know why and I was pretty sure that wasn't normal. For a while I thought I was a lesbian. Sometimes, I wish I were.

If I could get a different “survival” job I would. But in this town I couldn't even get hired as a waitress with out previous experience—which I didn't have. Truthfully, I wasn't even qualified to be a temp. I didn't have typing skills or people skills. The people skills I could fake easily—for a couple hours at a time—the typing skills not so much. And the pay. . . If it wasn't for my generous mother I'd be homeless.

“Cashiers!” Another customer corrected. Which seemed to encourage the others. Their yelling for checkers and cashiers continued.

Great. Don't they have security here? Is this considered normal behavior here?

No one seemed to bat an eye at the—in my opinion—bizarre behavior. I moved to LA three years ago, and I didn't know if I would ever get used to the rude/brazen behavior. Most of the time it seemed like a desperate bid for attention. And the last thing I felt like doing was listening to these men attempting to out yell each other. Trying to find a distraction, one that could drown out the voice's of these men, I started digging through my purse searching for my ear buds. For a moment, I actually considered leaving the shopping cart and eating mustard for dinner. While contemplating my escape I glanced at the store entrance as a hulking man walked in.

Holy shit...

My brain-short circuited. My vagina was instantly awake and at full attention.

He was huge. Tall, broad shoulder's, and cut. Like a professional athlete. His movements were a graceful stalk; like a predator in the wild, a rolling glide of muscles.

Whoa...

Before my brain could process anything else, I felt myself responding to him on a primitive level, turned on in a way I had never experienced before. My heartbeat sped up, my breathing turned shallow as images of fucking him.. No. Getting fucked by him, raced through my mind. Graphic images. Of this mountain of cut muscle defiling me with a rutting, raw fucking.

What the fuck...

There was a crazy surge of hormones and chemicals telling me to fuck him senseless. I was shocked by my body's near violent response and by the man I was seeing before me. Too shocked to do anything but watch him.

His well defined traps, pectorals, and biceps, rolling and shifting under a thin white v-neck t-shirt, giving hints at what else lie beneath. An outline of thick muscled thighs inside those worn jeans hanging low on his hips. And scuffed black boots he hadn't bothered to lace. Casual had never looked so sexy. My core clenched as my eyes slowly traveled back up that body, imaging everything it could do. Up to those muscle rounded shoulders, up his defined neck...

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