After a blind date stands her up, Catrina Striker stops in O’Leary’s Pub for a sandwich, nothing else. Then Tony Bates, North Salem’s resident playboy, sits down next to her and destiny takes over. Cat knows all about Tony’s reputation, but that doesn’t stop her from doing something she’s never done before: invite him back to her apartment.
Tony Bates has always looked at Catrina as nothing but his buddy’s little sister, until a chance encounter one summer night changes all that.
Since the sudden death of his college sweetheart, Tony has kept all his relationships casual and fun. Everyone knows that, which is why Cat and Tony agree to keep their involvement a secret rather than risk Tony’s friendship with her brother. However, what starts out as a secret fling soon becomes much more, and Tony must decide if he’s ready to risk his heart again or lose the woman who completes him.
Across the café, Cat stopped to speak with Sue Adams, and she looked in his direction. She gave him the tiniest of nods and then said something to Sue before joining the line at the counter.
Thanks to the location of his table, Tony could watch her as she waited in line without anyone the wiser. While she waited, she spoke with the other customers in line, and he couldn’t look away.
Cat radiated friendliness. She had this sunny personality that called people to her. A person couldn’t be around her and remain in a bad mood. Even people she didn’t know well appeared at ease and happy around her.
He told himself that was one of the reasons he couldn’t stay away from her. He simply liked the way he felt around her.
Brendan Michaels, another lifelong North Salem resident, joined the line behind her. Right away, he placed a hand on her shoulder and started up a conversation. As Tony watched her shake her head at whatever Brendan said, he forced himself to remain seated rather than bolt across the room and rip Brendan’s arm off. Although many people wouldn’t mind seeing Brendan put in his place, residents would wonder why Tony had intervened because, by the looks of it, Brendan and Cat were only talking.
Tony ground his teeth together as she said something in response to Brendan’s statement. What was taking so long anyway? How hard was it for Skye to make Cat a cup of coffee? From behind the counter, Skye handed Cat her order. Cat stopped two more times before reaching him.
“Hi, Tony. How did the game go?” She made no move to sit. Instead, she sipped her coffee.
“We won by three touchdowns. It was like Beverly sent their JV team to play today.”
His hands itched to reach out and pull her close. Since that was out of the question, he wrapped his hands around his coffee mug.
“Big plans for the afternoon?” he asked.
“I’m meeting Kelsey here. What about you?”
“Waiting for my mom. She asked me to meet her. Why don’t you sit and keep me company until Kelsey gets here.”
She took the seat next to him, her knee bumping into his leg.
“So what kind of trouble are you and Miss Bancroft planning to get into today?”
She scooted her chair a little closer to him. “Shopping. She needs something for Mrs. O’Brien’s wedding.”
No one would ever call him a saint. Tony released his coffee mug and reached under the table. “A Saturday night at the mall, where’s the fun in that?”
He caressed her thigh, wishing she had on a skirt instead of jeans.
“Shopping can be fun, especially when you plan to get a few new things for yourself. Ella told me about the two new stores that opened last week. I can’t wait to check them out.”
He’d gotten an earful from his mother after her last trip to the mall about one of the new stores. She’d gone on for a good thirty minutes about how inappropriate the outfits on the mannequins were and how the store shouldn’t be allowed to hang photos in the windows. He loved his mom, but sometimes she could be a bit of a prude.
“Besides, it won’t take all day. I told Kelsey I need to be home by seven because I have other things to do.”
Under the table, Cat ran her fingertips over his hand, and it reminded him of the way she’d caressed his chest earlier that week.
“How does that sound?” she whispered, her voice almost inaudible.
Visions of her in some new lacy outfits formed, and his heart rate accelerated.
“Four sounds better,” he answered, grateful for the noise in the café.
“Kelsey loves to shop. If I’m lucky, I’ll get her out of the mall by five.”
“I’ll be at your place by six then.” An hour should be enough time for her to get home. “Text me if you get home earlier,” he whispered.
Under the table, she squeezed his hand. “Your mom just walked in.”
Tony looked up as his mom walked toward them. Right away, Cat released his hand and reached for her coffee.
“Catrina, how are you?” His mom joined them at the table.
“Great, Mrs. Bates, and you?”
“Fabulous. I love being retired. Right after Maureen’s wedding, I’m off on a cruise with my sister for a week.”
He shifted in his seat as his mother and secret lover discussed Maureen O’Brien’s upcoming wedding, an event the entire town was talking about.
“Do you want a coffee or anything, Mom?” Anything to get him away from the table.
About The Author:
I started writing at the age of 10 on my grandmother's manual typewriter and never stopped. When I am not driving my 3 daughters (ages 8, 6, and 6) around to their various activities or chasing around our three dogs, I am working on a story or reading a romance novel. Currently, I have two series out, The Sherbrookes of Newport and Love on The North Shore. You can visit my website www.christinatetreault.com or follow me on Facebook to learn more about my characters and to track my progress on my current writing projects.