Games We Play, Book 2
Kristy loves Luke but if anything was clear to her back when they were kids it was that gawky, awkward, tomboys didn't stand a chance with the king of the schoolyard. She watched her older brothers set their caps for Luke's glamorous cousins and get shot down. So she did what she had to in order to salvage her friendship with Luke. She hid her true feelings and her need for him to take control.
Luke wants Kristy in the worst way -- actually, in all the worst ways: tied up, held down, beaten, bitten, whipped. But he knows he has no chance of ever having her. They'd been childhood friends and sweethearts, until she friend-zoned him in the fifth grade. He knows he can either keep her as a friend, or take her to bed and lose her forever. His biggest mistake--so far--was in hiring her to work alongside him in the bar of the haunted hotel he and his cousins inherited from their grandmother. He knows Kristy needs the money and the job, but Luke's self-control can't take the constant contact with the girl he wants to dominate -- both in and out of the bedroom. Something has to give -- and soon!
The Saturday before Mardi Gras…
“Hey, DiLuca,” Luke called to Kristy as he helped her close the bar—cleaning tables and stacking chairs. “D’you know what a drunk’s idea of a balanced diet is?”
“Wait, I do. I know this one.” Kristy looked thoughtful as she straightened up from the table she’d been wiping down. “Uh…a drink in each hand? Something like that?”
“Yeah.” Luke frowned. “A beer in each hand, actually. Did I tell you that one already?”
Kristy smirked. “Well, you must have, right? I don’t know anyone else with your encyclopedic knowledge of corny jokes.”
“Oh.” That was a relief. But why was that the case? It shouldn’t have mattered all that much if other people were telling her stupid jokes. It shouldn’t have mattered at all, come to think of it. It wasn’t right that he was so invested in keeping her to himself. But he was just the same.
“So, this memory problem you’re having, is it age-related or due to alcohol consumption?”
“Don’t be a brat,” Luke admonished as the urge to punish her—never far below the surface anyway—rose up to tempt him. He loved her all the more for being bratty, but the whole not being able to do anything about it? That royally sucked. “And cut the crap. You’re only a year younger than I am, and—”
“And I can drink you under the table. Yes, I know.”
Luke shook his head. “You’re really asking for it tonight,” he muttered, wishing she were. Oh, if only she were doing it on purpose. If only she really wanted what she was tempting him to give her. “Keep it up and I’ll go home and leave you to finish closing on your own.”
“Is that supposed to frighten me?”
“Ha-ha.” It was an empty threat, and they both knew it.
One of the main reasons he’d hired her to tend bar was so that they could split the shifts between them and give him a couple of nights off each week. But the sad truth was that, these days at least, he didn’t really have much of a life outside of the bar. So more often than not he’d stop in to check things out even on his days off. He’d tell himself he’d only stay a few minutes, that he’d leave after a drink, maybe two. He never did. Some nights he and Kristy would hit a diner when they were done, sometimes they wouldn’t, but at the very least, he’d always help her close.
It was part of their routine. He’d flirt with her and tell her stupid jokes. She’d laugh at him and call him an idiot. Afterward, he’d go home and fantasize about all the ways he’d like to punish her for being such a brat, all the ways he’d like to have her.
It was pathetic—he knew that. But the upside was that he got to spend time with her nearly every day, to indulge his hopeless passion for the girl, to watch her laugh. He got to take care of her, to make sure no one hit on her inappropriately…or at all, for that matter. Because that’s what friends did. Because that’s what kept them friends, kept her from cutting him out of her life or drifting away.
The downside was his sneaking suspicion that he was keeping them both from moving on with their lives.
“How about this one? Why can’t anyone ever find a place to sit at an Irish family reunion?”
Kristy slid him a sly smile. “I don’t know, Luke. Why?”
“Because the rooms’ll be filled with Dores, Walls, and Curtins.”
“Huh?” The smile disappeared, replaced by an expression of puzzlement. “I don’t get it.”
“Dore, Wall, and Curtin are all Irish family names,” Luke explained.
Kristy shook her head as she turned back to her work. “You people are weird.”