An all-new standalone novel is out now from Brittainy C. Cherry, and I have an excerpt for you from this angst-filled, friends-to-lovers small town romance.
The café had a very ‘Luke’s Diner’ feel to it with the random tables scattered around and red leather booths against the walls. The stools that sat at the front counter were taken with individuals chatting along, using their actual voices instead of staring down at their cell phones. There was a sign against the wall in front of the coffee station that read, “No cell phones. Connect and unplug or get the eff out.”
Now, if that wasn’t a Luke’s Diner comment, I didn’t know what was. I guessed there was no need to ask if they had a Wi-Fi password that I could’ve tapped into. I slid my phone away into my purse and sat down in a booth. It didn’t take long for my steak and eggs to be delivered to me, and I turned my attention to the window for my dining entertainment where an adorable puppy was leashed across the street.
Don’t do it, pup.
The owner of the dog was on her cell phone, yelling at someone on the other line, flailing her arms around like a madwoman. The dog’s leash was tied up to a bike rack. Every few seconds, the dog would tug on the leather strap, loosening the knot a hair. He was trying to reach the stray cat that was sitting on the opposite side of the busy street, licking his paws clean.
The owner didn’t notice her dog’s level of distress. She was too busy screaming into her phone to concern herself with the fact that her dog was about to take off running into traffic.
The pacing of my heartbeats became erratic. The dog’s leash was almost loose. He was almost freed from the restraint that was placed on him for his own protection. “No,” I muttered to myself, my hands shaking, hoping the dog would sit and stay in place.
The cat stretched himself out, making the dog even more frantic. The alertness in the dog’s eyes and its loud barks should’ve made the owner take note, but she hadn’t.
Imagine being that disconnected from one’s surroundings.
“No!” I screamed, my voice cracking as the sound shot from my lips.
I leaped up from my booth as chills raced through my body, but two seconds later, the leash was free, the dog was in the street, and my heart was in my throat.
Before the dog could leap in front of a car, before a gruesome sight was unleashed right before me, Mr. Personality stepped into the road in front of the moving vehicle and snatched the dog up into his arms.
Are you kidding me?!
Grown, buff men holding tiny, defenseless puppies against their chests?
Instant lady boner.
The driver of the vehicle slammed his hand against the car horn before gesturing his arms in the air with a look of disgust toward Mr. Personality and sped off.
The owner of the pup turned to see the man with her dog in his arms, and she looked horrified—not by her dog almost losing its life, but by the man who was holding onto the animal.
She snatched her pet away from him and started waving her hands in the air like a madwoman, seemingly cussing him out for saving her pet’s life.
What in the world is wrong with her?
Sure, based on statistics, he was the town’s asshole, but in that moment, he was a dang superhero! She should’ve been thanking the jerk for his heroic act, yet instead, she was cussing him out as if he was the cause of the incident. Mr. Personality stood tall and didn’t yell back at her. In fact, he didn’t say a word. His full lips stayed pressed together, and he didn’t seem bothered by said woman in the least. Not a raised eyebrow, not a single smile or frown to his lips.
He just seemed…blank.
Completely disconnected from the amount of aggression that was being shot his way.
He was better than me in that moment, that was for certain. If it were me, I would’ve invented curse words using every letter in the alphabet for the rude woman.
As she kept hollering, Mr. Personality turned and walked away from her, leaving the woman with her word vomit and bad pet owner skills.
The bell over the door entrance dinged as he walked into the café. He took a seat at a corner booth, opened a menu, straightened his ballcap, and lowered his head down, curving his massive shoulders forward as he studied the menu with too many options.
Why did he do that?
Why did he freaking have to save a pup from oncoming traffic?
Why did he have to make it so hard for me to dislike him?
Mr. Personality was built like a superhero. From his chiseled jawline to his biceps-on-biceps arms, that man probably could’ve stopped a high-speed train using his man-of-steel chest. It was a shame that when I crossed his path, his people skills didn’t match his apparent gym skills. Then again, that would’ve made him too good to be true.
“If you wanted a plate of salt with steak and eggs on the side, you could’ve just asked,” a friendly voice offered, snapping my stare from Mr. Personality to my food I’d been mindlessly shaking salt onto for the past five minutes.
Every now and again, I’d glance up to the table where Mr. Personality sat, and a butterfly of nerves would hit me at an overwhelming speed. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, no matter how much I tried to take my stare away. I felt as if I were a straight-up creeper, staring his direction, yet there was something about him that drew me in and made it almost impossible to look away.
He must’ve felt my intense glances his way, because when he looked up from his menu, his eyes landed directly on me, and like the psychopath I was, I didn’t do the normal thing that most people did when they were caught staring at complete strangers.
I didn’t turn my head away.
I didn’t pretend to look past him.
I didn’t scramble to make a run for it.
Nope, nope, nope.
I simply smiled and parted my lips.
“Hi,” I breathed out, loud and clear, as he narrowed his eyes.
He blinked three times.
He looked back to his menu, refitted his baseball cap, and rounded his shoulders forward once more, making me feel completely psychotic for even speaking out toward him. But still, I kept freaking staring.
What was wrong with me?
I recently binged the Netflix series, You, and I was showing some strong Joe tendencies by watching this complete stranger. If I were Joe, this would have been my current stalker thought process:
You stare at the menu completely uncertain about what you’re going to order. Will it be the green smoothie for you? The pancakes? The oatmeal? No. You look more like an omelet guy. You wear a hat to hide your face, but I don’t know why, seeing how you have a very nice, defined jawline. Even though they are still cold and uninviting, your eyes are worthy of being seen and—holy crap, look the heck away, Kennedy.
What had gotten into me?
I watched as he removed his hat and set it down against the table as he raked his hands through his hair.