Any Time, Any Place

By: Jennifer Probst

Working her ass off.

Yeah. Things were good.

The past surged up and tried to sucker punch her, but she stepped neatly away and allowed herself to let it go. Hadn’t she learned her lesson? Steeping herself in a world that could only provide bitterness and regret wasn’t something she did anymore. As long as she moved forward, there was enough to make her happy.

She had a few more hours till opening and a lot to do. Besides a brief staff session and a meeting with Al to go over the menu, she’d been playing with a new cocktail idea that combined fresh raspberries and mint, which were in season.

Raven headed behind the bar and got to work.

chapter three

Dalton walked through the saloon doors and took in the scene.

My Place was becoming the place to hang out, which was surprising since it was located just outside of Harrington, away from the popularity of Main Street. Harrington was a well-known town that drew tourists by the busload to explore the marina and artsy shops and seafood restaurants. Nestled close to Greenwich, it was also a town that boasted pure money, and many celebrities resided behind its exclusive gates. It was an easy commute to Manhattan, and was featured in some highbrow magazines as the best hidden secret in the Northeast. Dalton had been sad when he’d seen how much the town had grown. He missed the purity of the place he’d grown up in. But the locals had claimed My Place for themselves, preferring to leave Main Street and all its pretty trappings for amazing pub food, cocktails, and a pool table.

The place was packed, and classic Michael Jackson blared from the jukebox in the corner. Four guys were playing a lively game of pool, and a baseball game flickered on the dual televisions. The Mets were on. He’d actually become a Dodgers fan during his time in California, but he wouldn’t admit it here. A group of young women took up the far right side of the bar, giggling and sipping some type of frothy pink cocktail that gave him a toothache just looking at it. The scents of sweet potato fries, grilled meat, and draft beer drifted in the air.

Finally he allowed his gaze to narrow in on the two things he was becoming obsessed with.


And her bar.

The latter lay before him in tired, battered glory. The brick wall behind set off the massive high-topped bar that desperately needed restoring. Dents and chips marred the wood, and cheap gold foot bars and handrails seemed stuck on without thought as to aesthetics. His fingers itched with the need to touch the magnificent mahogany and bring it back to its original condition. In his head, he saw pictures of how he’d piece it back together and replace the gold trims. Take off the awful glass top and install hand-carved shelves to properly show off the array of liquor bottles and glasses that could stun an onlooker. The stools were structured of cheap, old oak that actually detracted from the main focus of the bar.

Oh, how badly he wanted to get his hands on her. Show her some tenderness and stroke her back to beauty. It would change the entire look of the restaurant and restore the bar to the queen she should be. This was a project that excited him.

Almost as much as the owner did.

Unfortunately, he didn’t think Raven would let him get his hands on her body, or her bar.

She was talking with a bunch of guys, and by the looks of it, they were desperately trying to flirt with her. He already knew they’d strike out. He’d been trying for months to get her attention, and she still treated him with a chilling politeness that froze his balls right in place. Her attitude completely contradicted her appearance, which screamed SEX from the high heavens and left a trail of men panting in her wake.

Her hair was long, coal-black, and wild. She wore it back in a clip when she was serving food, and loose when just serving drinks. She didn’t seem to care about forcing the strands to behave, which only made her sexier. Her eyes slanted up at the sides like a cat’s; they were the color of soot with a tinge of smoke gray around the rims. Her face was long and lean, with a sharp chin and nose and heavy brows. Her lower lip plumped out; her upper one was defined. She was wicked tall, with small breasts, long arms and legs, and narrow hips. Her uniform consisted of a tank top, dark-washed jeans, and either high-top wedged Skechers or black heeled sandals with crisscross straps. She liked to wear multiple chains around her neck, and a diamond nose ring caught and glimmered under the light. What fascinated Dalton the most was the tattoo on her right shoulder. A sword with a wicked blade, tipped with blood. Not a rose or the scrawl of a phrase with meaning. Instinct told him she’d chosen that tat for a specific reason. He wanted to know what the sword meant. So far, she’d refused to tell him.

From the moment he’d seen her, he’d ached to touch her, but she’d slammed him with her prickly manner and cold gaze. For some strange reason, she didn’t like him. It wasn’t about his hopeful advances, either. She got hit on multiple times a night, and was well known to give scathing one-liners that guys actually hooted over instead of getting pissed. No, somehow her attitude seemed personal, but Dalton couldn’t figure out the mystery. Yet. So he kept showing up at the bar and hoped he’d eventually get her to soften.

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