The Come Again (Bar)

Welcome to the favorite (and only) late night spot in Sapphire Falls!  Yes, a love for country music and strong liquor helps, but everyone is a friend as soon as you walk in the door! Come on in and let us show you hospitality, Sapphire Falls style!

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The minute Mason walked through the doors to the Come Again, the only bar in Sapphire Falls, he knew he’d made a mistake.

He could have bought a plane ticket from Chicago to anywhere and been, well, anywhere else by now. Instead, he stood inside the social mecca for a town he had hoped to never visit again. Not only was he back in Sapphire Falls, but he’d seemingly found the bulk of the town’s population all at once.

He was hungry. The Come Again was the only place that made food at this time of night. Unfortunately, it was also the only place that had a dance floor, and that was apparently a big draw tonight.

It only took him thirty seconds to notice Hailey Conner.

She was being escorted around the surprisingly large dance floor by Kevin Marshall in a traditional two-step. She looked gorgeous. Her hair hung to the middle of her back and was held away from her face by a gold clip, the lights above the dance floor making the blond highlights glow. She was smiling, but her eyes were unfocused and directed over Kevin’s shoulder as if she was only pretending to pay attention.

“Mason? Is that you?”

And so it began.

Mason turned to find Drew Thurman standing toward the back of the crowd gathered around the dancing. Drew had been their class president and Mason knew, from the alumni newsletter that surprisingly found him no matter where he moved, that Drew had taken over his father’s plumbing business. As far as Mason knew, Drew had never been more than one hundred miles from Sapphire Falls.

“Hey, Drew.”

“Holy shit! It is you.” Drew came forward, took Mason’s hand and pumped it up and down enthusiastically. “I wouldn’t have even guessed it was you if I didn’t know you were invited. They said they hadn’t heard from you though so I didn’t think you were coming.”

“I didn’t know I was coming until the last minute,” Mason admitted, pulling his hand from the other man’s firm grasp.

“Well, damn, man, it’s good to see you.”

Sure it was. The only conversation Drew and Mason had ever had was the daily ritual when they passed each other in the hallway on the way to their fourth period classes. Drew would ask, “What’s up?” to which Mason would answer, “Same stuff.”

They’d done that routine for two years.

Mason assumed Drew knew his name only because he had apparently been a topic of conversation over the past few days because of the investment opportunity.

“I thought I should come and see about this big plan,” Mason said. He could admit, to himself only, that he was curious. Not curious enough to truly entertain the idea of giving money, and definitely not curious enough to make the trip without Lauren’s pushing, but curious.

“Oh, it’s big all right,” Drew replied with a large grin. “Gonna be great for the whole town. They’re promising to buy local. That means I get to do the plumbing and stuff.”

Sure, that sounded cost effective. Exactly what a potential investor was looking for.

“Come on, I’ll buy you a drink. Hailey and Adrianne are officially the people in charge, but they’re busy.” He gestured toward the dance floor. “So I’ll be the one to first welcome you back to town.”

The song ended as Mason followed Drew, weaving through the crowd on the way to the bar. The dance floor was surrounded on all sides with spectators and they all turned to the podium set up on the far side of the room.

“Okay, boys,” Jack Morgan, the local banker and city council member for nearly thirty years, said. “Get ready to cough up some more cash.”

Everyone cheered and Mason found himself interested in spite of himself.

“Come here, girls,” Jack said.

Hailey and nine other women of varying ages, sizes and attire lined up in front of the podium, posing, smiling and blowing kisses, winking and waving at the audience. All except one. A curvy blond stood next to Hailey, barely smiling and not flirting or strutting at all. She was the only one Mason didn’t know.

Mason found himself studying her as Drew handed him a beer. He didn’t like beer outside of one microbrew he’d found in Chicago. He preferred martinis and scotch. He gave his attention to the woman in hopes of avoiding further conversation with Drew. Since he and the man had absolutely nothing in common, avoidance seemed the best way to prevent an awkward situation.

The woman was very pretty. When Hailey was around, Mason had always had trouble noticing anyone else. Or anything else. Like open locker doors or chairs in his path, for instance. He assumed by the way they acted around her that other men had the same problem. Perhaps they were more graceful than Mason about it, but men still acted stupidly around her.

But Mason found it quite easy to keep his eyes on the woman to Hailey’s right. She turned and said something to Hailey. Hailey shook her head and the blond rolled her eyes and visibly sighed.

“Charlene is first, boys.” A short redhead grinned and waved. “Who’s in?”

“Ten bucks,” somebody yelled from the right side.

“Twenty,” someone else called.

“What’s going on?” Mason asked Drew, unable to keep from addressing the other man after all.

Drew took a long draw of beer and then said, “It’s an auction. Kind of like those bachelor auctions. But the guys are bidding on dances with those girls. Later, the women will bid on ten guys. The money goes to the building fund.”

Mason was sure the men were not bidding because of the building fund, but he refrained from saying so.

“You one of the guys they’ll be bidding on?” Mason asked, already knowing the answer.

“You bet.” Drew grinned. “It’s great for the ego.”

Charlene ended up partnered for the next dance for thirty dollars.

Linda, a forty-ish blond in tight black jeans, promised the next two dances for thirty-five dollars and Betty, a cute little white-haired lady with enough jewelry to fund the entire building campaign times three, went to stand next to a tall bald gentleman who was grinning widely in spite of having spent fifty-three dollars on two dances.

Then Hailey stepped forward.

“And who’s next on Miss Hailey’s card?” Jack asked the crowd.

Several hands went up and Mason noticed that the guy she’d been dancing with was one of them. Mason leaned an elbow on the bar and took a sip of his beer while keeping track of the bid while it climbed.

Finally, her previous dance partner agreed to pay eighty-one dollars for three dances and all the other hands fell.

She looked less than thrilled but still gave the guy a huge smile as she went to stand next to him.

“’Kay all, Adrianne’s next.”

A hand shot up in front before Jack even asked for a bid.

Jack chuckled and started the action at thirty dollars. It quickly climbed to two dances and fifty dollars.

Adrianne. Mason had no idea who she was, but it was obvious she was damned popular. She was no Hailey Conner, and in Sapphire Falls she never would be, but at least the guys around here hadn’t missed the silkiness of the blond waves that fell to her shoulder blades, or the sweetness of her smile, or the perfect curve of her ass—

Mason straightened. What the hell was that? His type was about four years younger than Adrianne, twenty pounds lighter and not from Sapphire Falls.

“What’s her story?” he asked Drew.

“Adrianne Scott,” Drew said with an appreciative sigh. “She’s new.”

“Yeah. I noticed.”

“Been here a couple of years. She’s friends with Hailey. Everyone wants her.”

He’d noticed that too. And it bugged him.

“She’s not dating anyone?”

Drew chuckled and shook his head. “Nope. Not for lack of trying. She never dates. The first guy to kiss her gets a hundred bucks.”

Mason raised an eyebrow. He didn’t necessarily approve of guys kissing a woman to win money, but then again, he was quite sure that no man would want to kiss Adrianne just for money.

“Everyone wants her.”

The guys in Sapphire Falls might have more taste than he’d given them credit for.

He drained the beer he didn’t want and disliked immensely and decided to place a food order to go. This was all of no interest to him.

“Okay, sixty-five dollars and three dances with Miss Adrianne Scott. Going once—”

Then she laughed at something the woman next to her said.

And Mason was in trouble.

Well, hell.

“Three hundred dollars,” he called out.

Every single pair of eyes in the room turned to look at Mason at the same time.

He’d never been the center of attention without a microphone in front of him and a conference logo behind him before. Certainly never in Sapphire Falls.

He stepped forward. He’d opened his big mouth, couldn’t really go back now. He should probably be more surprised that he’d bid like that, but he wasn’t. He was a genius after all, and while his brain and mouth almost never disconnected, paying a few measly bucks for a chance to dance all night with Adrianne Scott and hear that laugh again was a genius move.

“Did you say three hundred?” Jack demanded, pointing a wooden gavel at him as if challenging him to take it back.

“Yes, sir,” Mason replied, looking at Adrianne when he added, “For the rest of the dances tonight.”

Adrianne’s cheeks were pink and her eyes wide. She wore no makeup to enhance the features that were completely captivating him. Her hair was loose and she wore a simple white cotton tank under a denim shirt with blue jeans. Simple, unadorned, and yet he had never been more drawn to a woman.

Jack looked around the room. Obviously, it was unprecedented for a man to monopolize a woman for the entire evening.

“But it’s only—” Jack started.

“Four hundred,” Mason answered, still watching Adrianne.

“I don’t—”

“Maybe we should let the lady decide,” Mason interrupted, walking toward Adrianne.

“I can’t,” she said, shaking her head as he advanced. She was breathing a little fast and she darted her tongue out and wet her bottom lip.

He took another step toward her. “Then what are you worth?”

She swallowed and glanced around. “There’s only three dances left,” she said. “I can’t let you pay three hundred dollars for that.”

“I offered four,” he reminded her, moving in closer still.

She smiled and he couldn’t stop staring at her mouth.

“I meant that even three was too much.”

He was directly in front of her now, and only those within about ten feet of them could hear the conversation. “I didn’t tell you what I expected those dances to be like for four hundred dollars.”

 From Getting Out of Hand, book one


Read an excerpt | Request a Come Again coaster | German Chocolate Truffles | Buy a Scott’s Sweets Mug

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Read an excerpt | Request a Come Again coaster | Recipe for a Sapphire Shooter | BUY a Come Again shot glass

Recipe for a Sapphire Shooter:

Garnish edge of shot glasses with blue sugar

In a shaker combine:

Shake with ice

Strain into shot glass

Read an excerpt | Request a Come Again coaster | Recipe for a Sapphire Shooter | BUY a Come Again shot glass

BUY a Come Again shot glass!

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