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Better With You – Excerpt

The Meet Cute

I sigh, resigned, and reach for the pure vanilla, just as another hand snatches it from the shelf. I whip around keeping my eyes on the precious bottle—the only one this stupid convenience store has—and huff. 

I’m about to pop off and put this snatchy thief in their place, but my attention is stolen by the hand that’s holding the bottle. A big hand. A strong hand. A sexy hand. Hmm. 

I scan my eyes upward. A few woven bracelets are tied loosely around the thick wrist, and a dusting of hair covers the muscular, rigid, golden forearm. That’s a nice forearm, right there. I move my gaze farther up, over a defined bicep and a broad chest covered in a blue and white baseball-style t-shirt with a silver necklace of some sort hiding just beneath the collar. The defined jaw is sporting a bit of dark brown scruff, and soft, chestnut hair feathers just above the shoulders. 

I expand my focus, enough to study the whole hairstyle, to find it loose, kinda messy, with a bit of a wave to it. Prince-haired Harry hair. When the mouth moves, I flick my eyes down to it to find plump lips quirked in a bit of a smile, and they move again. The hulking man is speaking. 

“Huh?” All I can hear is Patrick Stump in my ears. 

His mouth moves a third time, the tiny smile turning into a full-blown grin, showing off straight, white teeth. Then I watch in slow motion as the other hand, the one not holding my bottle of pure vanilla hostage, rises up and tugs one of my earbuds out of my ear. 

“You said Prince Harry,” he says with a laugh. 

“No, I said prince-haired Harry,” I correct. “And I didn’t realize I’d said it out loud.” 

“Oh,” he says, voice low and playful, and raises an eyebrow in question. I raise mine in response but don’t speak, and he laughs. “Are you okay?” 

I bristle. “I’m fine.” 

“I wasn’t sure. You’re kinda just standing there staring.” 

“I was sizing up my new enemy.” I tug out my other earbud. 


He laughs again. It’s a good laugh. Deep and vibratey. Yes, I just made up that word. The laugh is unique. It deserves its own word. 

“You just stole that vanilla from me. I don’t make it a habit to befriend thieves.” 

“I didn’t steal it. I just got it before you.” 

He’s still smiling. It’s an attractive smile, damn it. 

“I was clearly here first. I was clearly reaching for that bottle when you jumped out of nowhere and snatched it.” 

I put my hand on my hip and pop it out. My roommate Ivy calls it my power pose. She says it’s how she knows when I’m in a ‘take-no-prisoners’ mode. 

“You were here first, yeah. But you were standing there surveying the shelf for a pretty long time,” he says with a smirk. “Some of us have places to be. It’s not thieving to just sneak past ya and grab what I need.” 

“It’s line jumping, which everyone knows is poor social etiquette, and it is thieving, because that bottle is mine.” 

“Poor social etiquette?” 


“Is it poor social etiquette to blatantly check out a stranger at the grocery store, too?” He raises his eyebrows, grin still affixed to his mouth. 

I huff out a laugh. 

Please. I was not checking you out. I was surveying you for weaknesses in case I have to resort to violence.” 

His answering bark of laughter makes me lose my grip on my poker face, and I smirk. Okay, maybe this particular social interaction isn’t the worst.

“Resort to violence?” He laughs. “I’m like twice your size.” 

“The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” I croon. “Don’t underestimate me just because I’m small. It could be your undoing.” 

He watches me for a minute, eyes sliding over my face, my body. I can actually feel his gaze on me, and I try to imagine what he sees. Tan skin, amber eyes, freckles, nose ring, ChapSticked lips, turquoise dipped black hair. The old Green Day shirt and plain black distressed skinny jeans I’m wearing are snug and show off what little curves I have. And, of course, I’m rocking my Docs (Thrift store find. Twenty bucks. Fucking treasure.). 

For a brief moment, I wish I would have taken the time to change and at least peek in the mirror before I left work. I’m sure I have helmet head from the bike, and there’s a damp spot on my jeans from a beer spill. Not to mention how I smell… 

I feel just a teensy bit self-conscious, but then it passes. 

If he doesn’t like what he sees, screw him. The big, beautiful jerk. When his eyes land on my lips again, I clear my throat loudly and force a frown. 

“So, Butch, you gonna hand over my property or do I have to overpower you and take it myself?” 

“Butch?” He jerks his head back, amused and confused. 

“Butch Cassidy? Train and bank robberies? A famous burglar. Don’t tell me you’re a thief and uncultured.” 

He chuckles and gives me a shrug. 

“Just a pretty face, then.” I shake my head and sigh. “Such a shame.” 

“You think I’m pretty.” 

“I have eyes.” I fold my arms over my chest and look away, feigning boredom. “Doesn’t change the fact that you’re a criminal.” 

“I’ll tell you what.” He mimics my stance and hits me with an all-business stare. “I’ll trade you for the vanilla.” 

I purse my lips before asking, “What do I have to give?” 

“I’ll trade you this vanilla for your number.” 

Oh. Well, okay then. This is a no-brainer. 

“I told you before that I don’t associate with criminals.” 

“But if I give you the bottle, then I wouldn’t be a criminal. I’m not stealing; it’s all just one big misunderstanding.” 

“And what if this isn’t your first offense? How do I know you’re not trying to trick me? Get my number, then make off with the vanilla?” I squint my eyes at him. “You could be trying to set me up for a bunch of cold calling campaigns. Or planning to put my number on a billboard or a bathroom stall. How do I know you can be trusted?” 

Pretty sure I’ve got this boy eating out of the palm of my hand. He’s trying so hard not to let his smile take over his face, trying and failing, and his brown eyes are dancing with humor. He’s amused. He’s having fun, and I’m suddenly not tired anymore. 

“You bring up good points.” He pauses. “I don’t suppose you’ll take my word for it.” 
I huff a laugh and roll my eyes. “Of course not.” 

He chuckles. “I’ll let you buy it first. You can buy it and put it in your car, and then give me your number.” 

I pretend to think it over.

“If we do it that way, you’ll stay on the sidewalk until I’ve secured the vanilla, and then I’ll shout my number to you.” 

He laughs, giving an amused shake of the head before nodding his agreement.

“Deal. Shake on it?” 

He sticks out his hand, and I narrow my eyes at it. Then I meet his gaze, pop a brow, and slowly reach out to take it. It’s warm and calloused. His grip is firm, but not crushing, and I have a feeling his hands could do some serious damage if he wanted them to. The thought sends a spark of lust through me. The way his eyes flash with heat tells me he noticed, so I drop his hand and head to the checkout. 

He follows me out the door, the bottle of vanilla and the store receipt clutched in my hand. When we’re on the sidewalk, I turn around. 

“You stay here,” I remind him, pointing to the sidewalk where his feet are planted. “No moving.” 

“Cross my heart.” 

He uses his index finger to draw an X on his chest, and I have to hold back my smile at how serious he looks. I take my first few steps backward, keeping my eyes on him, until I’m a safe distance away. Then I pivot on the ball of my foot and sashay to my bike. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I might not have much by way of hips, but what I do have, I know how to work. 

When I reach Baby, I put the vanilla and my purse in the saddle bag, unlock my helmet, then turn back around to face the attractive almost-thief. I lean on my bike lightly and smirk at his shocked expression. People never expect me to be riding a motorcycle. It’s one of the reasons I love it. 

We stare at each other for a moment, me with my smirk and him with his wide, surprised eyes. The connection creates sparks, even with a parking lot between us, and I have to breathe slowly to steady my heartbeat. 

“Is the package secure?” he shouts from the curb, and I reach down and pat the saddlebag. 

“Snug as a bug in a rug.” 

“Okay. I held up my end of the bargain. It’s your turn to hold up yours.”

“Hmmm, what was my end, again?”
I cock my head to the side and watch as he grabs the back of his neck and smiles at the ground. It’s so boyishly adorable, so magnetic, that I kind of hate him a little. This guy is dangerous. 

“Your number,” he reminds me. 

“Oh yeah,” I say with a grin. “Thirty-one.” 

“Thirty-one?” His handsome face scrunches up in confusion. 

“Thirty-one.” I stifle a giggle. 

“Thirty-one is not your phone number.” 

“It’s not,” I respond slowly. “But you didn’t specify what number you wanted.” I shrug. “Thirty-one is the number you get.” 

As I swing my leg over my bike, I hear his rumbling laugh again. 

I’m just about to push my helmet on my head when he calls out.

“Sundance! Hey, Sundance,” he shouts, and I can’t help the huge smile that stretches over my face. That scoundrel said he didn’t know Butch Cassidy, and here he is calling me Sundance. “I didn’t get your name.” 

I look at him, smile wide, and roll my eyes.

“Bummer for you.” 

Then I shove my helmet on my head, rev Baby to life, and cruise out of the parking lot without a backward glance. 

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