Contact Me

Name

Email

Message

Created by Templates Zoo

Author Katie Mettner

Chapter One ~ Granted Redemption (Free 06/14-18)


Granted Redemption is free this week on Amazon from 06/14-06/18! If you love contemporary romance then you don't want to miss Granted Redemption or the rest of the Northern Lights Series! 





Chapter 1

“You still here, son?”

I looked up to see Frank Harrington, my new boss, standing at the doorway. “Hi, Frank. I’m just wrapping things up. My last patient ran late,” I explained, logging off the computer and shutting it down.

He patted the doorway. “I like your devotion, but it’s Friday night. Go out and have some fun. See you on Monday.”

I waved. “See you Monday, Frank.”

He disappeared from my line of sight and I leaned back in my chair. Friday night. Whoopee. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll find a good movie to watch. If not, then it will just be another long night in a line of long, lonely nights. I fiddled with my phone, rocking it back and forth on my leg. The blue eyes of the woman I had visited this morning, every morning for the last few months actually, came to mind, and I slid the bar open on my phone. The longer I sat there the less I wanted to go home. What I really wanted to do was go back to that little café on the shore and convince the beautiful barista to let me take her out to dinner. I had sweet-talked Carla out of her number a few weeks ago, but up until now, had never put it to use.

“Hey Red, you at the café?” I typed and quickly hit send before I could rethink it.

“Hi, Grant, I’m always at the café.”

That forced a laugh past the lump in my throat and I typed back. “Need some company?”

I waited, holding my breath until the text bubble popped up.

“Love some.”

***

I parked my new Acadia in front of the café and strode to the front door. The fireplace was glowing a soft red and yellow, but that was the only light I could see from inside. It was dark out already, the open sign was off, and the door was locked. I knocked softly and tamped down the unbelievable need I had to see her. I had only known Carla for a short time, but she occupied my thoughts far more than she should. Movement caught my eye and I sighed with satisfaction as she walked toward me. She didn’t walk as much as she swayed, almost floated actually. It was mesmerizing and tantalizing to the point I had to close my eyes and swallow before she got to the door.

“Hi, Grant,” she greeted me, holding the door open once it was unlocked.

I stepped through and let the door close behind me. Before I could stop myself, I put my arms around her, hugging her to me. She tentatively put her arms around me and rubbed my back. “Hi, Carla.”

“Did you have a bad day?” she asked concerned, and I pulled back.

“No, why?”

She stared pointedly at my arms, still around her waist. “Just wondering, because that’s the most unusual greeting I’ve gotten in a long time. Not that I’m complaining.” She smiled, and I released her from my arms slowly, sticking my hands in my pockets.

“What, you don’t bear-hug people as a greeting in America? I must work harder to remember that.” I rolled my eyes, touching my finger to my temple. I’m sure my face was as red as her hair, but she didn’t let me stay embarrassed. She took my hand and held it behind her back, leading me to the barstool by the counter.

“Must be an Australian thing. Here we just make people coffee,” she explained, ready to walk away, but I didn’t let go of her hand.

“Coffee is good, but I was hoping you would be willing to go get some dinner with me first.”

“Dinner, oh, um, yeah,” she stuttered.

“Yeah, dinner,” I said, dragging out the word, “you know that thing where you sit down and order food, and then eat it,” I joked, and she blushed.

“You’re new around here, aren’t you?” she asked, and I gave her the palms up and questioning eyes. “It’s a Friday night, and we don’t have reservations. If you don’t mind waiting an hour for a table, I would be happy to go to dinner.”

“That bad, huh?”

She winked at my ignorance. “This time of year, yes. There are a million tourists here for the fall color tours. It will get better in the winter, but by then it’s too cold to go out.”

“A million, huh?” She shrugged that it might be an exaggeration, but not by much. “Okay, so would you object to eating in? We could order pizza and drink coffee?” I shivered a little. “That doesn’t sound so good, maybe I should go get some wine. I need some wine,” I admitted.

She held up a finger and disappeared into the back room, coming back with an unopened bottle of wine, and a paper menu. She held them up, one in each hand. “Pizza Lucé and Merlot?”

“I think I love you,” I said reverently, and she blushed a deep shade of red. She slid the menu over the counter to me and popped the cork on the wine.

“They deliver, so go ahead and call it in.” She handed me a glass, and I tipped it toward her before taking a sip.

“Ahhh, yes, I needed that. Okay, my little Barbie, what do you like on your pizza? Pepperoni? Sausage?” I perused the menu and stopped short at the specialty pizzas. “Uh, garlic mashed potato pizza? Baked potato pizza? What is wrong with you people?”

She chuckled and the sound was deep, rich, and shot right to my groin. “Both of those are downright amazing pizza.”

I raised a brow. “Okay, challenge accepted.” I pulled out my phone and placed an order for a small pizza of each, giving them the delivery address, and promising a big tip if they got it here before nine.

She laughed when I hung up. “I think that’s called bribery.”

“Call it whatever you would like. I’m hungry.”

She held up a finger again and disappeared behind the wall, coming back with a bag of potato chips.

“Do you have a grocery store back there?” I joked, pretending to look around the wall. Then I took the bag of chips and popped it open.

She laughed uncomfortably for a moment before she answered. “No, but April is always leaving her snacks here.”

“April?” I asked, completely lost.

“She’s a student at the Duluth Business University. She’s getting her degree in business management and works here part-time. She’s a good girl, always on time, very conscientious, and the customers love her.”

I popped a chip in my mouth and chewed, eyeing her. Her red hair curled around her face, as always, and gave the image of a styled mess. When she paired it with chewing on her lower lip, I found myself forgetting what we were talking about.

“I suppose as a business owner you need some help. You can’t do it all yourself. You’re always here when I come in, though.”

She pulled up a stool behind the counter and swung a jean-clad leg over it, resting one heel on the rung. I realized it was the first time I had seen her in jeans instead of a dress or skirt. I liked how they hugged her hips and stretched across her thighs. My lower half started to react to the image I had of her bottom supported by the denim, and I shifted in my seat. “That’s because you usually stop in pretty early in the morning, and she has classes until noon. I’m sure you would love her.”

I smiled and reached out, taking the hand she had rested on the counter. “I’m sure I would, but I come here for a reason.”

Her pupils dilated at my touch, and I could feel a slight resistance against my hand. “You come here for coffee. I know that.”

I shook my head and laughed low and heady. “No, Red. I don’t come here for the coffee. I have a professional coffee machine on my counter at home, if I just wanted coffee.”

She gave me a shy under the eyebrow look. “Maybe you do, but you can’t get it kinky at home.”

My gut reaction was to groan. “Oh, sweetheart, not if you aren’t there.”

She blushed again, probably right down to her toes, and pulled her hand away to tuck her hair behind her ears.

I sipped my wine, letting the alcohol give me the courage I didn’t feel. “So that leads me to my next question. Why the kinky in Carla’s Kinky Café. I mean, other than the names of your drinks?”

Every coffee at the café had a naughty moniker, and you could get it in X, XX, or XXX. My favorite was the Kinky Karamel Kuffs followed in second place by the Chained Ecstasy.

She leaned back on her stool and gave me a bit of a shy grin. “When I was developing my business plan one thing kept coming back to me from college, and that was always, always, always, have a hook. I have been big into erotica since erotica wasn’t big. It’s something I’m comfortable with and enjoy. If you look around the other coffee shops in town, no one has X rated coffee offerings.”

I nearly choked on the wine I was sipping. “No, I’m pretty sure you have that market cornered.”

She raised one sexy brow above her glass. “It’s worked because business is booming. It’s a fun way to get people in the door, and then the coffee and the atmosphere brings them back. The hospital keeps me alive, but I get everyone from college students to little old ladies coming in to see what all the fuss is about.”

“How did Jitters feel about you opening a coffee shop so close to them?”

She set her wine glass down and leaned an elbow on the counter. “They wished me well. You can have two coffee shops right next door to each other and both stay alive because you are catering to different clientele. Jitters gets the foot traffic, and people looking for a quick bite to eat with their coffee. I get those who are interested in a good cup of coffee and a comfortable modern place to work. The shop is easy in and out and, though the customers probably don’t want to admit it, they like the little bit of naughtiness that comes with my drinks. Add in the fantastic view, and I don’t have a problem with selling coffee.”

“Oh, you can’t beat the view here, that’s for damn sure,” I said, not taking my eyes off her.

She motioned toward the window. “Yeah, the lake is beautiful year-round.”

I kept my eyes pinned on her when I answered. “I wasn’t talking about the lake.”

She jumped up just as I heard a knock on the door. “Pizza’s here!” she exclaimed with feigned excitement.

I sensed that if she could, she’d run right past the pizza guy and out the door. Whatever we had going on between us was scaring her and I reminded myself to dial it back a bit. It was when I turned in my seat and went hard at the sight of her denim-clad backside walking away that I realized how much trouble I was in.

***

I laid my napkin on my plate and slid it onto the coffee table. “I’m stuffed. You were right, the mashed potato pizza is addictive.”

She nodded, though I noted her pizza was hardly touched. She sat forward and slid her plate onto the coffee table next to mine. “I told you. You don’t get pizza like Pizza Lucé just anywhere.”

I motioned to her plate. “Aren’t you hungry?”

She patted her tummy, “I’m stuffed. One piece is enough for me,” she said, jumping up off the love seat and stacking the plates, but I stopped her and pulled her back down next to me. “Do I make you nervous? You hardly picked at it.”

“I don’t want to burst your bubble, but no, you don’t make me nervous.” A look shuttered down over her eyes, and she was suddenly standoffish. The look told me I had better back off before she kicked me out.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. I’m the one who’s nervous and probably a little stupid. I hope you aren’t upset with me.”

“You aren’t stupid, but why are you nervous?” she asked, sitting on the edge of the love seat as if she was ready to bolt.

I reached out tentatively, rubbing my thumb down her cheek. “You do things to me no one has ever done to me before.”

She stilled against my hand, and she shook her head negligibly, laughing a little. “Don’t need to be nervous, I don’t bite. I’m just me, plain old Carla.”

“Can I be honest with you?” I asked, still rubbing her cheek, and she nodded again. “There is nothing plain or old about you. You give off this hum of energy and sexiness. It’s like there’s an electrical charge that pulls me here and I literally can’t stay away. You’re gorgeous and it doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, I can’t stop thinking about you.”

“That’s nice of you to say, but I see myself in the mirror every day.” She stopped speaking and glanced away toward the windows.

I tipped her chin back toward me with my finger. “I don’t know what mirror you’re looking in, sweetheart, but at the risk of getting slapped, I will tell you this. As I’m sure you can tell, I can hardly keep my hands to myself when you’re around. In fact, I’m touching you right now because I spent all day dreaming about the feel of your skin under my fingers. I just had to know if it was as soft and warm as I’d imagined.”

She tried to hide her smile, but I saw it anyway. “I would never slap you.”

“Not even if I did this?” I asked, leaning in and kissing her lips. I intended it to be a short peck, but I hesitated, tasting the wine on her lips. I could feel her tremble under my hands, and I pulled back, resting my forehead on hers.

“Certainly not if you do that,” she whispered.

“Oh, yes. I’ve wanted to do that since the first time I laid eyes on you. And that’s not a line,” I assured her.

“I will take it as a compliment then.”

I took her face in my hands again and she licked her lips, sending her pink tongue across them and leaving a hint of wetness just begging for me to kiss away. “It’s definitely a compliment. Red, you’re beautiful and I can’t get enough.” Her eyes fluttered closed, as though she was giving me permission to kiss her again, and I laid my lips on hers. I waited, and this time she took the initiative, turning her head and wrapping her arms around my neck. I held myself in check and kissed her gently, never parting her lips, just skimming across the top of them, allowing myself to inhale the scent of her. She gave a low whimper, and I pulled back, leaning my forehead against hers.

“I have to stop before I can’t,” I whispered.

She smiled softly and I stood up from the couch, giving her a hand up. I helped her carry the plates back to the sink and clean up the pizza. We worked in companionable silence, but I knew if I didn’t get out now, I would never leave.

“So, what are your plans this weekend?” she asked, starting a cup of my favorite coffee.

“Same as every weekend, go for a run, come home, work on paperwork, go for a run, watch TV, go to bed, repeat.” Even to my ears it sounded boring as hell. “You?”

She grabbed the caramel from the fridge below the counter. “Make coffee, do paperwork, make coffee, go to bed, repeat.” She smirked, and I laughed.

“Boy, we lead exciting lives. Isn’t it great to be young?”

She held the cup of coffee out to me and I noticed her hand was shaking. I took the cup and snagged the little caramel links floating on the top with a coffee stirrer then dropped them on my tongue. I moaned a little at the sweetness and I swear I heard her moan right before she coughed to cover it up.

She leaned her elbows on the countertop. “I was thinking about going over to Sugar’s tomorrow for her dance troupe event, but there aren’t any spare guys.”

Dancing at Sugar’s. Hmm, I might just be interested, if it meant I got to hold her in my arms. I could become easily addicted to her, and I knew I had better be careful, but dancing was innocent.

Right, Grant. It’s innocent until you make it complicated, the annoying and stupid devil on my shoulder reminded me.

I wasn’t about to listen to him and lose my chance at holding her. “I’m a guy, and I can actually kinda dance, sorta, as long as you don’t need all your toes. So, with that as an opening, would you like to go with me?”

She stopped stirring her coffee and gazed at me, maybe judging to see if I was serious, or crazy. “Really?”

I nodded twice. “Really. If you can get someone to cover the shop tomorrow, then I say we dance.”

Please say we can dance, the angel on the other shoulder said.

She stared at me for a solid minute before answering, “Challenge accepted.”

Want More Northern Lights?









No comments