Frederick St. John, or Rick as his friends called him, pushed open the heavy carved door of his restaurant, On the Rocks. A cab had dropped him off at the front saving him some time. It was peak in the dining room, and he was late. As soon as he cleared the doors, his pounding headache made a grand entrance, reawakened by the rush of voices and music. “The singles mixer, shit!” He’d have to make an appearance. But later. He rubbed his temple. The party was in full swing, and the bar side of the restaurant was hopping. He kept on walking avoiding those who wanted a piece of time he didn’t have to share.
He glanced down at his phone when it pinged again. Urgent emails beckoned, one fire to put out after another. He pulled up the next one as he bumped into somebody, apologizing while wanting to swear, not about the collision but the emails. Expletives tumbled to the edge of his tongue, but luckily the patrons couldn’t hear what he was thinking. He squeezed his phone tighter. The special reserve vodka he’d ordered for a private party had burned up in an auto accident. The driver was unscathed, but the loss of the delivery was the least of his problems.
Scrolling back, he re-read another message through again for the hundredth time. He’d gotten another call from the assisted living director. His father who he’d placed there recently decided it would be fun to go skinny dipping. In January. The director had sent another email trying to schedule an appointment. His wayward and frisky father would be the death of him. The message had included a very visual recounting of what had happened. Rick tried not to laugh.
He loved his father and would do whatever he could to keep him comfortable. The man lived life as if it was his last day on earth, tending to listen to whatever fun was whispering his name. Rick shook his head, barely squeezing out a smile.
A breathy voice came from out of nowhere. “Hello, Mr. St. John.”
Rick looked up. A perky…very perky, blond he’d hired to replace the previous hostess he’d mistakenly slept with stepped in front of him. What was her name? He smiled and stepped to move around her. He promised himself this time he wouldn’t let his need for release–time outside of his mind–lead him around like a hound catching a scent. She didn’t get the hint as she wrapped her arm around his and pressed against him.
“How are you this evening, sir?” He gently took her fingers and peeled them back off his arm to force her to back up, but had to immediately drop them otherwise he would have had a handful of double D’s as she turned into him to get closer. “Jesus!” He took a step back, but she followed.
“Listen…awe…” Shit, what was her name?
“Crystal,” she said with a pout.
“Listen, Crystal, I don’t have time for,” he waved his hand between them, “so,” he flicked his finger back to the hostess stand and continued, “get back to your station and make sure our customers stay happy.” He winced when her eyes widened and they quickly lowered with the most wicked smile he’d ever seen. He licked his lips, really tempted to use sex as a numbing agent, but no. He couldn’t get involved in another meaningless relationship.
“Yes, Mr. St. John. Whatever you say.”
Would she really make his customers that happy? Jesus, what had he been thinking when he hired her? Oh, right. He hadn’t been thinking.
She curled her lip down in what looked like a very practiced move to show disappointment and walked back to where she’d been when he’d entered.
Rick continued to move to the other side of the building putting the new hostess out of his mind right after he decided he would hire a man next time. Fewer distractions that way.
The bar connected to the restaurant by a long arched hallway. Ricky loved the transition. By the time a patron arrived at the dining side, the sound was more sedate, more intimate. Mounted on each section of wall, iron sconces held large candles. Flames cast shadow and light as they danced and flickered across rough fired brick walls as a customer moved through the final archway. He had a thing for rustic-contemporary design and his architectural designer had taken his ideas and returned with a fantastic plan. On the Rocks, had opened with good hype and continued to give him great returns. The most important of them, his customers loved it too and often returned for the food and atmosphere. He hoped any who met at the mixer wandered over in pairs to dine in.
He made eye contact with Casey, his bartender, and hit him up with a chin lift toward his office and a sign to meet him in five. Rick needed to figure out where his vodka for the private party was going to come from before he even considered the discussion he would have with his dad. A naked dalliance in a private area was one thing, but in the retirement center’s pool, that was a different matter.
Casey had just turned to talk to his bartender when his eyes widened, and he smiled, quickly turning away. Rick tried to catch his reflection in the bar’s back mirror when he suddenly looked down to see a very nice, very well rounded ass, sticking out from under a table. “What the hell!” He was so taken aback by what he was seeing, and the instant reaction his body was having, he didn’t respond as quickly to the woman attempting to stand up. She let out a squeak as the table rattled from the impact of her head, which gave him an armful of soft and very pliable female as she stumbled into him. His fingers took hold of her hips and then his arms wrapped around her as her momentum carried her backward. His meeting with Casey forgotten, Rick was consumed by all the luscious curves and warm body he held in his arms. But that changed in an instant when she pulled out of his grip and stepped on his foot causing her to turn awkwardly. He had to shift quickly to get a better hold on her, but he rammed his knee into a chair, which caused the now wiggling female to turn his way. And as sure as he was that his dad would again cause mischief, he knew that he was going to wind up with his ass on the plank floor.
With his arms, full of woman, he tried to stop the ringing in his head and nausea that settled in his gut after he hit his head on the floor. Rick groaned. His headache was no longer an annoying ache, but a throbbing avalanche of astronomic proportions.
As the woman started to twist again attempting to get off him, his body reacted in a very inappropriate, but exciting way. So, he did the only thing he could and held on tight, whispering in her ear, “Don’t move, little sprite,” It did nothing to help his sexual response to her, as he hardened and she shivered in his arms as his words seemed to tickle her ear. Well, that was interesting, he thought. He squeezed a little bit tighter, and she shivered again. Well, well, that was interesting too, but all too soon he remembered where he was and decided to end his agony, the good kind, which he could use right about now to help rid him of his headache.
Rick rocked forward, and groaned, bringing them both up into a sitting position where he was overwhelmed by the scent of her. She was musk and flowers, and he wanted nothing more than to inhale her as he spread her out on a bed of satin, devoured her, pleasured her until she couldn’t take any more until she screamed out his name.
“What the hell!”
Rick looked past the woman’s hair that caressed his cheek to see an infuriated man looking down on them.
“Sorry man. We were just trying to untangle ourselves.”
“Duncan, would you please help me up?” the woman asked. There was something vaguely familiar about that voice, Rick thought.
Duncan, now confirmed an asshole because he crossed his arms staring down at them both. Rick helped the woman up off him. He quickly got up and straightened his dress shirt, dusting off his slacks when he heard a gasp. When he looked up, he fell into a tumultuous ocean of dark blue eyes. Rick blinked and glanced over every curve and dip of the petite woman in front of him. As his eyes moved their way down her petite body, he couldn’t help but lick his lips wanting more than anything to have the restaurant empty so he could make this encounter more private. Rick would push her back and lay her out on the table and slowly untie the siren’s red dress she wore. Uncover every inch of her pale skin so he could fill his hands with her ample breasts, touch and taste her as he gave them as much pleasure as they both could handle and then he’d do it all over again. When he made his way back up from his long perusal, he noticed her breaths coming fast and hard.
She took a step forward, and he finally looked up to see her face was now a lovely shade of red.
“Ricky?” she said. She took another step toward him.
There was a moment when he still couldn’t recognize the face that went with the voice, but then she smiled and his eyes narrowed, and then widened as he recognized a distinct dimple in her cheek. “Olivia?” He said her name again, “Olivia. Oh, my God!” This time he took a step forward. When he went to reach out and touch a face he barely recognized now, he found himself on the floor again, this time, with an aching jaw.
“Duncan!” Olivia screamed. When she would have come down to him, the asshole grabbed her and pulled her close to him.
“What the hell, man!” Rick said. He got up from the floor, again, and pressed forward getting into the assholes face.
That’s when Casey stepped up, “Everything okay here?”
“Yeah,” Duncan said. His mouth twisted and pinched. “We’ve lost our appetite. Come on Vivvy. We’re leaving.”
“Vivvy?” Rick mouthed to Casey.
“Duncan, we just got our food, and I need to find my mother’s necklace, the clasp broke again.”
Rick laughed not looking away from Duncan, still unsure of what the guy would do next. “You still haven’t gotten that fixed.”
Olivia looked over and gave him one of her smiles, the ones that had only been for him, but it suddenly turned sad. He wanted to know what had happened so he could fix it and make her smile again.
“Screw the necklace, I said we’re leaving.”
That was all she got out before the guy grabbed her arm and started pulling her toward the front door of the restaurant. Rick went to go after her, but Casey held him back.
“Let go, Case.”
“I’m going to kick that guy’s ass, man.”
Casey pulled him around. “Find the necklace,” he pointed under the table, “and I’ll make sure she’s okay.”
“I should go after her.” He began to step around his closest friend, his fists curling into balls. Why would Olivia put up with that guy? And what was with him calling her Vivvy? She hated that. Or does she? But her grandmother called her that. She still must feel the same way. Rick wouldn’t know, though. He hadn’t seen her in at least eighteen years.
“I’ll do it,” Casey said. “Find the necklace. I’ll make sure she’s alright. The boyfriend’s bad news.”
“No shit.” He looked toward where they disappeared through the exit. He turned back to his friend. “How long has she been in town? Where’s she been? Did you talk to her?” Her parents had moved away, no notice, nothing, he remembered. He’d lost the first major crush he’d ever had, his body just awakening, and he had wanted to take that ride with Olivia. God, how he had wanted her to be his first. But he’d lost her, and part of himself, when he found out they had gone.
“Alright,” he heard himself saying.
As soon as his friend rushed to find out if Olivia was okay, he searched for the necklace under the table. He pulled out his phone to light up the floor and forgot about all his worries, his father, the restaurant, everything. All he was focused on was finding Olivia’s necklace.
“Got, it!” He backed out to find Casey standing over him laughing.
“Shut it, asshole,” he said as he rubbed his head. Casey informed him that Olivia had ridden off with that Duncan asshole in a cab.
“Was she okay?” Rick asked.
“Nope,” Case replied. “She’ll kick Duncan to the curb, now that she’s seen you. Or we can hope. She’s been in the restaurant a couple of times since she’s moved back into her grandmother’s house. I’m surprised you haven’t run across her actually.” He ran his fingers through his hair and pulled. Rick knew that was a sign that Case was worried. “That guy is a prick. Not once have I seen him treat her right.”
“She’s moved back home?” Was his first words, but then he understood what Case was saying. “Is that guy hurting her?”
“I don’t know. But I’m keeping my ear to the ground, so to speak. So far I haven’t seen any evidence that the Duncan’s hitting Olivia.”
Rick nodded and took a few even breaths to put a lid on his temper. Casey would never let her leave the bar if he knew that she might be in trouble. However, since Casey had put his two sense in where it didn’t belong, protecting his girlfriend at the time, the dumbass he’d beaten the shit out of had pressed charges, he now minded his own business.
“Anyway, yeah, she’s moved back home.” The man crossed his arms and surveyed the dining room. “I’m surprised you hadn’t heard. Her grandmother finally bit it. I can’t believe it hadn’t been sooner. That woman was the true meaning of an evil bitch.”
Rick nodded. “I’ve been busy if you hadn’t noticed.”
“Too busy if you ask me. You need to delegate more. Let someone else deal with the club side of things. I know you enjoy the dining side more.”
Rick let Casey’s words fade as he thought of Olivia as a teenager. She was beautiful then, her innocence always at the forefront. It was one of the reasons he’d taken to her so quickly, his teenage hormones letting him know that she was worth every embarrassing hard-on he’d gotten in gym class when he thought of her. But he also remembered the way Olivia’s grandmother was the few times Olivia had invited him over. If the old woman scared the crap out of Rick, he couldn’t imagine how Olivia felt at the age of sixteen. It must have been why they moved away. Something awful must have happened. What could it have been, he didn’t know, but he was willing to find out. He wanted to know Olivia again. He needed to know her again. Gripping her necklace tighter he headed for his office to dig up as much as he could about Olivia James because seeing her again made something deep in his chest ache for something more meaningful than a one night stand.