Free preview of Ignite You, Chapter One

Ignite You

CHAPTER 1
FUCK ME TWICE

Emilia
The rustic door of the Roadrunner Bar creaked opened, and a mix of motorcycle fumes and hot Arizona air bustled into the restaurant. From behind the bar, I fisted a dishcloth and wiped the counter with rough strokes while I kept my attention on the dark figure crowding the threshold.

Another step and the halogen lights touched his face. The face of yet another customer, not the guy who’d promised me answers. Fuck me. The lowlife had stood me up. And just like that, I was back to square one.

Maybe he got cold feet. Maybe he was smarter than I thought.

“Stop that.” Alex, my pretend boss, came around the bar and pressed her palm against my hand. “I think the counter is clean now. Come on, do a shot with me.”

Right. One of the perks of bartending? All the shots we could handle. “I’ve had enough for tonight.”

“Oh, come on. It’s your last night. We gotta get you properly wasted.” She placed a glass in front of me and poured another Silver Cuervo.

She was right. What would it hurt to let my hair down for a night? Okay, maybe not the whole night, but I did need to let go for a bit. Regroup and come up with a new plan because this half-cocked idea of taking a job at the Roadrunner to catch a killer and save my cousin Jess was a total bust.

The idea that she’d sent me on a wild goose chase tugged at the back of my mind, but I pushed it away. Jess was family, and she needed my help. As much as she feared her husband, I truly believed she was ready to do the right thing this time. I took the shot Alex oered and knocked it back.

“Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about.” She patted me on the back. “While you’re at it, go help the hottie that just strolled in. He looks lonely.”

I barked out a laugh. “No. Thanks. That’s a whole bag of trouble I’m not looking for right now. Or ever.”

“I’ve been doing this a while, girl. I never forget a face, especially not one that looks like that. He was here last week, same smile, same hot blue gaze. Holy shit. If he turned that panty-dropping stare this way, I’d be clawing your eyes out to get you out of the way.”

“No clawing necessary. He’s all yours.” I grabbed a couple of dirty glasses o the counter, rinsed them, and placed them in the dishwasher.

“You know him.” Damn, she was good. How did she pick up on that? I was going to miss having someone to talk to without having to actually talk.

I nodded. “Law school. It’s been a couple of years. He obviously doesn’t remember me.”

“Are you sure? The first time he was here, he was all Chatty Kathy with some of my regulars until you came in for your shift. He couldn’t get out of here fast enough. I’d say he recognized you.” She poured a couple of beers, stuck a ticket to one of the glasses, and set them on a tray for one of the servers to take. “Why do you think he’s back? Every time you look his way, he sits up a little straighter. Gets that cute wrinkle in his eye. Maybe he wants to be your friend.” She winked.

“That’s my point exactly. He hated me when we were in school. If he knew who I was, he wouldn’t even be here. Trust me, he does not want to be my friend.”

She let out a sigh. “I wouldn’t mind being his friend. Come on, it’s your last day. Live a little.” She gave me a nudge before she grabbed a new ticket and got to work on the next drink order.

Was she serious? Did Dom Moretti, the hotshot from law school, want me? That was impossible. We were in the same classes for three years, and he never once looked my way. Well, except for the one time when he almost kissed me. By accident but still. That one moment was my go-to fantasy most nights. I touched a finger to my lips where his mouth had ghosted mine three years ago. Had it really been that long?

I wiped the counter again, shooting a quick glance his way. I’d been bartending for several months now, so I was an expert at scanning the room for trouble, picking up details in a few blinks. Details that had to do with my cousin Jess and her deadbeat husband, not my nonexistent love life.

He met my gaze. I squeezed my legs together and waited for the spark of adrenaline to dissipate. What would he think if I told him I had a vibrator named after him? No, I couldn’t do this. Dom was a complication I didn’t need right now.

My cousin’s life was on the line. I had to stay focused.

I ambled over to him when he waved a hand to get my attention. The more he stared, the more I was convinced he didn’t know who I was. All he saw was a bartender with deep cleavage wearing tight leather pants. Alex dressed like this for the tips. I did it to get customers to talk to me, to get them to give up information I needed badly.

“Hey, hon. What can I get ya?” I leaned on the bar, and he adjusted his weight on the barstool. Yeah, okay, Alex was right about him. He wanted this version of me.

“Silver Cuervo, please.” His voice was low and sinful.

Jesus. Was that recognition in his eyes? I swallowed and poured him a shot. I held my breath, but it was too late. I had already inhaled a full dose of Dom’s intoxicating smell, a mix of sandalwood and spearmint. The same scent from that day when he almost kissed me.

“Would you have one with me?” He hadn’t changed at all. Same soulful, deep-blue eyes, thick eyebrows, and a full mouth that made all kinds of promises every time he smiled.

I needed to get home to my Dom. Safe and reliable, battery-operated Dom. I gave him a quick smirk like I could take it or leave it and as if incredibly sexy men oered me drinks all the time.

“Sure.” I grabbed another glass and filled it. “I’ve never seen you in here before. What brings you in? We’re not exactly on the beaten path.”

“New client wanted me to look into something.” His gaze dropped to the notification displaying on his phone screen before he swiped it away. “You celebrating something, doll?” He pointed in Alex’s direction, a reference to our shot from before.

“Last day on the job,” I said. Alex had been kind enough to let me bartend, poke around, and ask questions, but she only gave me three months. She didn’t want the cartel and Jess’s husband to get the wrong idea about her restaurant. My time was up.

“Moving on up, huh?”
“Something like that,” I said.
He stood, and I got a good look at him. The man could wear a suit. His biceps stretched the sleeves of his suit coat with every move. And with every move, his body heat lapped at my skin in places that had me blushing. I bet he was all smooth muscle under there. I slanted a glance at the clock. Was it quitting time yet? His gaze followed mine, and his Adam’s apple bobbed a little. Did I just give him the impression I wanted to leave here with him?

“Congratulations.” He cheered me and took the shot. “Thanks.” I raised my glass and drank.
“What time do you get off?”
The what? I swallowed and coughed at the same time, sending the tequila up into my nasal cavity. Nothing had changed. Dom Moretti was completely and utterly a bad idea. Playing the cool bartender wasn’t a game I could keep up with for long. I filled a glass with water and drank to ease the burn in my throat and sinuses. Great. Just fucking great.

“I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to throw you off.” He rubbed two fingers along his jaw. His beard made a scratchy noise with every pass. “Just thought if you’re free later, we could hang out.” He lowered his gaze to the lapel of my leather top and furrowed his eyebrows for a second. “What do you say?Anna?”

Anna? Right. My name tag with my fake name. He definitely didn’t remember me. It stung a bit though that gave me a surge of courage.

“I’m closing today. Midnight?” The Cuervo was definitely putting words in my mouth.

He braced his hands on the bar, his gaze intense like he had a million things going through his mind. Something in his slow smile told me one of those things was me naked on this counter. Okay, maybe that was the image going through my head. Pushing off, he took a couple of twenties out of his wallet and put them under his glass.

“I’ll see you in a couple of hours.” He spun and sauntered out the door.

Holy fuck, I have a booty call with Dom Moretti.

“I gotta get out of here.” I wiped the counter several times, threw the rag in the sink, and headed toward the back door.

“Oh no you don’t.” Alex blocked me, arms out, legs hip- width apart. Dammit. What did I do? “You finally did the right thing, something for you. You’re not backing down.”

“I can’t have sex with a total stranger.”

“Ah, but he’s not a stranger. You guys went to school together.”

“I’ve seen him before. In class. We never really talked. I can’t.” I stepped forward, and she stood taller. This wasn’t the time to tell her I’d had a huge crush on Dom when we were in school. Along with half the girls in our class. The bad boy from Jersey.

“Get to work.” She nodded toward the door at the new customers streaming in. “You have two hours.”

What could it hurt? After tonight, I’d have no reason to come back to this bar and no reason to see Dom ever again. “Ohmigod. I’m doing this.”

“Yes, you are.” Alex picked up the new drink ticket and shoved it my way. Maybe Dom would change his mind and stand me up. He wouldn’t be the first guy to do that today.

The clock struck midnight, and it was as if the cosmos had given their blessing because the last customer stumbled out of the bar the second Dom’s Harley rumbled into my line of sight in the parking lot. Alex held the door open, mostly so she could enjoy the eye candy.

Dom sat back on the seat for a second before he killed the engine and took off his helmet. His thick thighs hugged the bike as he raked a hand through his hair. I’d seen this display before. Dom all hot and delicious in a black leather jacket and tight jeans. He’d changed clothes for me.

A giggle swirled around in my chest. For a change, I played it cool and didn’t let it out. Alex, on the other hand, made no effort to hide the fact that she was ogling the guy. She didn’t even back down when Dom walked toward the door and met her gaze.

“Hey, hon.” She shot a glance in my direction before she leaned toward him. “Lock the door behind me.”

“Thanks for the tip.” Dom chuckled and stepped inside.

The deep sound of his laughter made my knees turn to warm Jell-O. To crush the last of my nerves, Dom let the door shut and flipped the latch.

What the hell was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I stop thinking of all the bad things I wanted to do to this guy? Dom was the exact same guy I’d met back in law school. His connection to the Italian mob back in Jersey made him the exact type of guy Mom warned me to stay away from. Was that the reason for this attraction?

“I was sure you’d chicken out.” His voice echoed in the empty bar.

“Not tonight.” I prowled around the counter. Desire pooled between my legs when his gaze dropped from my face to my cleavage and all the way down to my feet. Yeah, that was the panty-dropping stare.

Jesus. Do I get undressed or do I let him do it?

He shrugged out of his jacket and laid it on the barstool. One, two, three strides, and he stood inches from me. “Christ, Emilia, you’re more beautiful than I remember.” He gripped my waist.

My feet dangled in the air for a second before he plopped me onto the bar, and his mouth landed on my clavicle. Oh my God, he smelled so good. I kissed the smooth skin on his temple, letting his scent numb my senses. My fingers slipped under the sleeve of his T-shirt and kneaded his shoulder and bulging biceps.

Heat spread fast from his hot lips on my chest to every inch of my body. Something he’d said wasn’t right, but what was it? His mouth moved down, soft and demanding, while his hands pushed my legs farther apart so he could position himself where he wanted.

Wait, what?

I pushed at him. “What did you just say?” I asked out of breath.

He looked up at me, lips slightly parted. “You’re more beautiful than I remembered.”

My eyes went wide. “Before that.” “Emilia?”

Fuck me twice. “You know who I am?”

“We shared classes for three whole years, yeah I know who you are.” He chuckled, sliding back into place.

I shoved him away and jumped off the counter. “You need to leave.”

“Why? I thought you wanted this.”

“That was when I thought you didn’t remember me. Oh my God. I’m so embarrassed.” I pressed a cold palm to my forehead.

“No need to be embarrassed, doll.” The amusement in his tone cured whatever insanity had taken over me. I blinked, and the room came back into focus. This was a huge mistake.

“I have an appointment I forgot about. Sorry to make you come back all the way out here.” Words spilled out of my mouth like kittens in a box, fast and all over the place.

Dom raised both eyebrows, arms crossed. His gaze followed me around the room while I collected my things in a hurry. “So, let me get this right. You were ready to jump into bed with me when you thought I didn’t recognize you. Why is that?”

“It’s not that. I just have somewhere to be. That’s all.” I couldn’t look at him.

“You haven’t changed at all, have you? You know, when I saw you here, I thought you’d finally decided to let loose a little. But no, you’re the same. Little Miss Proper can’t be seen with the likes of me. Is that right?” He blew out air and wrapped his fingers around my wrist. The warmth prickled up my arm and stopped me in my tracks. When he spoke again, his tone was low and tender. “Hey, for the record, I didn’t come here for a hookup. I wanted to see you. This other thing came out of nowhere. You never looked at me like that before. I—”

“What?” I turned around and came face to face with him. His smell sent the flutters in my stomach in every direction.

“You hear that?” He scanned the room, placing a finger over his lips.

Before I could process what was going on, he placed a hand over my mouth and slammed me against the wall. His body covered me like a shield. Dom played the bad boy in school. All the girls, me included, loved every bit of his act. Except, I knew his act wasn’t an act. Dom was the real deal, running around with the Italian mob in Jersey. He was one of them, though I never pegged him for someone to use force to get what he wanted from a woman.

I shoved and struggled against him but froze when I met his gaze—intense and menacing. Oh shit. Something was wrong. I’d let down my guard, pining over a hot guy, and forgot about why I was here in the first place.

The window shattered and broken glass splattered everywhere as a bullet zoomed by us. The first shot felt like it came in slow motion, but if that had been a warning, the rest of the shots were not. They bombarded us like rain pelting a tin roof.

In a single motion, Dom had me on the floor with my head nestled in the crook of his neck and shoulder. He looked up, taking in the room, calculating an exit. When he glanced down at me, he shook his head.

“I had plans for you tonight.” A half-smirk pulled on his lips. “Minus the bullets, of course. Friends of yours?”

He had plans for me? “No. You?”

“Maybe. Fuck my life.” He pulled his legs in and sat on his haunches. I stayed flat on the wooden planks, trying to catch my breath, while he peeked over the counter. More shots rang out. “Is there another way out?”

“The stockroom has a door that leads to the back alley.” He nodded. “Okay, go. Now.”
“What? No. I’m not leaving you here.”
Brows furrowed, he grabbed my elbow and pulled me toward him. “How ’bout that? You care.” Tightening his hold on me, he made a break for the door next to the bathrooms in the back. More bullets broke through, shattering what little glass was left in the windows.

I let him drag me with him. One, he seemed to know what he was doing. And two, I had no idea how to get us out of this.

Now I understood why my informant didn’t show to our appointment earlier. No doubt he got cold feet and decided to warn his boss instead. Or maybe, he was found out. Oh my God. The element of surprise was the only thing we had going for us. Jess’s drug lord husband didn’t know I was helping her. If the men out there grabbed me tonight, Jess’s chance to get her life back would be over. If her husband found her, she’d be done.

And so would I.

If he found out I was still alive, he’d do whatever was necessary to finish the job he started ten years ago when he killed Dad and left Mom and me for dead.

Want more Emilia and Dom. You can download their love story here ==>

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AU – https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07ZXMB1JX

FR – https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B07ZXMB1JX

Published by Diana A. Hicks

Diana A. Hicks is an award-winning author of steamy romantic suspense and science-fiction romance. Book two in her Desert Monsoon series LOVE OVER LOGIC was the 2019 Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner in the suspense genre. When Diana is not writing, she enjoys hot yoga, kickboxing, traveling, and indulging in the simple joys of life like wine and chocolate. She lives in Atlanta and loves spending time with her two children and husband. Connect with Diana on social media to stay up to date on her latest releases. Follow her on BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/diana-a-hicks Follow her blog: https://dianahicksbooks.com/ Like her Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/DianaHicksAuthor/ Join her reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DianaSexyReaders/ Follow her on Twitter: @diana_hicks

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