By: Victoria Ashley

I sit here for a second, smiling like an idiot as he walks over to one of the empty pool tables and starts setting it up.

Looks like I’ll be playing pool. It’s been a little while, but I have faith that I’m still pretty decent. My dad took me to bars a lot on the weekends while he watched football with his buddies. It was a fun childhood. Oh the memories!

I take out some cash and call Dane over so I can pay for my drink. Dane takes one look at me and shakes his head before nodding over in Kyan’s direction. “Keep it. Kyan will be pissed if he knows you paid.”

I glance over my shoulder to see Kyan looking over at us. He’s watching to see if Dane is going to take my money. “Alright. Well let me at least give you a tip. I won’t take no for an answer.” Dropping a ten dollar bill on the bar, I quickly turn and walk away before Dane can try to give it back. Kyan may not let me pay for drinks, but tipping is something that I always do.

Setting my glass down on the nearby table, I pull my small leather jacket off and drape it over a chair. “Does this mean I get to outdrink you and outplay you in pool tonight? It’s a good thing I don’t work tomorrow.”

That earns a small snicker from Kyan as he rubs the blue chalk on the end of a cue stick before holding it out for me. “Are you trying to challenge me, Ms. . . . ?” He raises an eyebrow in question.

“Reynolds,” I say with confidence. “And yes. I’ve just spent my whole day moving into this amazing building with my lazy best friend that barely lifted a finger the entire time. I’m feeling pretty damn powerful right now.”

Taking a drink of his beer, he grabs for his own cue stick now and rubs some chalk on the tip. Getting prepared, he sets his stick down and runs his hands through the thickness of his brown hair, before picking up his stick again. “Good thing neither one of us will have far to go after this.” He pulls the triangle off the balls before motioning for me to break. “I’ve had a long night at the gym so I’ll be drinking quite a few of these.”

I let out an amused laugh while walking around the table. “You don’t scare me, big guy.” I pat his chest as I walk by. “Oh wow.”

“Wow what?”

I look up from leaning over the table. “I’ve just never felt such a firm chest before. That’s all. You must work really hard in the gym. I’m wanting to look into a gym myself.”

“I do.” He flashes a confident smile. “And that’s perfect, because there’s a gym down the road. Wilder Fitness. They have the best personal trainers.” His voice and body language oozes straight up sexiness and confidence whenever he speaks. I really don’t blame him. He has the right to be.

“Alright. I’ll look into that in the morning. As long as I don’t decide to sleep all day.” I take my shot and smile as two solids sink into a pocket. “Sweet. I’m solids.” I smile up at him, proudly.

One hour later and we’re both onto our seventh beer. He actually thought I was kidding when I said I was going to keep up with him, but I definitely wasn’t. He’s already asked me about five times to take a break and have some water, afraid that I’ll get sick.

I was raised by a man. A single man. I was raised tough and I don’t back down. That’s why I can be so damn stubborn.

“Nope.” I lean over the table, but can’t get close enough to the cue ball. “I’m good,” I laugh, feeling a bit silly from my buzz. “I got this.” I struggle on my tippy toes.

Out of nowhere, I feel his hands grip my hips and push me up onto the pool table. “Here,” he says in my ear, causing my breath to quicken from his closeness. “Let me help you beat me.” His arm wraps around my waist to keep me steady as I aim my stick and shoot. Too bad his closeness was more of a distraction than help.

“Now that’s not even right.” I end up hitting the side of the ball and screwing up my shot completely. “How is that even possible? I’m so good at pool. I swear.” I sit up straight on my knees and end up grabbing onto his arm as my head spins.

“Whoa.” He grips me tightly, moves the balls, and helps me lay down on the top of the pool table. “I think you’ve proved your point, Calla.”

Placing both of his arms on either sides of my waist, he leans close and smiles down at me as I begin to laugh.

“Alright . . . so I admit it, I’m not much of a drinker.” I hiccup, causing Kyan to smile and brush my hair out of my face. “I live the boring life of a wedding photographer. I don’t get out much. Don’t mind me.” I laugh again, unable to stop myself.

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