Brandi's recovering from a painful and expensive divorce, and definitely isn't looking for a relationship. But when her high-school crush Evan bangs into her--literally--his gorgeous body and sexy smile have as much a hold on her as ever. It's no wonder Brandi can't bring herself to say no to him when he reminds her that she still owes him a date he was promised more than ten years ago.
Evan figures he has one chance to wow Brandi, who's always been the one who got away. To his delight, he finds she's the same girl he used to know...but she now has a sexy, slightly kinky edge. When their date takes an unexpectedly erotic turn and ends with the best sex of his life, Evan knows she's still the only girl for him. Now he just has to convince Brandi.
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Drive-in by Kelli Scott
Brandi leaned forward, crossing one leg over the other, and raised the hot dog to her mouth. She'd been craving a Demon Dog smothered in sauerkraut and tangy mustard all week. Her diet regime and wallet only allowed for the treat once a month--the rest of the time she brown-bagged it--and today was her day. Brandi took a bite, moaning quietly as she chewed.
Grumbling noises came from the throng of Demon Dog worshipers. An impressive line had formed after she'd shown up, the lunch crowd growing restless now with the quick tick-tock of the clock between the hours of eleven and one. More specifically, time sped up during whichever hour one chose to take their lunch. The rest of the day dragged on unmercifully. Patrons only had an hour away from their desks to get their lunch on, and then they were back to business as usual.
Hell's Kitchen was a sinful, guilty pleasure for sure. Brandi knew to come early or not to come at all. She'd been lucky to scope out a seat with a table on hump day, the most popular lunch-on-the-run day, it seemed. Sure, she could take the hot dog back to her office, devouring it behind closed doors, but it would end up cold before she'd find a chance to enjoy it between phone calls, interruptions and urgent emails.
Just as Brandi dove in for a second bite, a heavyset man in line shoved another man into her table. She saw the catastrophe coming at her almost like it happened in slow motion. The eatery went pin-drop silent. The man's leather shoulder bag collided with her hands. Her hot dog slammed into her nose. She fumbled for her teetering soft drink but couldn't stop the cup from tumbling over. When the cold liquid splashed onto her lap, ice and all, she gasped.
"Hey, pal!" the man said, still wobbling near Brandi as if he might topple over on her. "Watch it."
Heavy guy, still in line, treated his victim to an unflattering hand gesture that required no interpretation. The noise resumed as if nothing at all had happened, everyone returning to their lunches. Regaining his balance a little too late to save her soda or her dry-clean-only ensemble, tall-dark-and-handsome said to Brandi, "I'm so sorry." If given a choice, she'd much prefer he, rather than the finger-flashing fat man, fall on her--for a variety of reasons. "Are you all right?" he asked.
No! "I'll live." Brandi scooped the ice from her skirt with her hands, dumping the mess in and around the cup.
The klutz, who looked like a GQ cover model, swooped in to shovel the next load from where it rested piled between her thighs, melting slowly from her angry body heat. She shot him one of those you've-invaded-my-comfort-zone looks that transitioned into more of a dropped-jaw come-to-mama stare once she got a better look at his flawless profile. Dark, wavy hair topped his head. His face sported a strong jaw and regal nose. Eyes, startlingly blue and familiar, met her stare.
He kept absently mopping at her lap with a pile of napkins, a serious breach of etiquette, as the other patrons went about their business. "Brandi Alexander?"
She cringed upon hearing the name her parents pinned on her. It was like a really cheesy stripper name or an eerie omen about her future sobriety. "Oh my God. Evan. Evan Bangs." Okay, his name wasn't a keeper either. Together they could be one of those before-and-after puzzles on Wheel of Fortune. Evan Bangs Brandi. I wish.
Spreading his arms, he said, "Long time."
Brandi sputtered, babbling a string of vowels before finally standing to give him a half-assed hug with the customary awkward back pat. The remaining ice cubes fell from her lap to the floor, tink tink tink, like the beginning of a hail storm.
Three back pats seemed called for under the circumstances. In the social order of hugs, if such a thing existed, family was entitled to a few extra pats, depending on how close a relation they were and how you felt about them in general. Immediate family, mother, father and siblings warranted a squeeze. This guy, cute as he was, was still little more than a stranger from the past who'd stumbled in to ruin her lunch in the present.
"How have you been?" she asked, still clutched in his hearty embrace.
He looked like he'd been doing very well. Very well indeed. Suit. Tie. Leather satchel slung over his shoulder. He sported a healthy, golden tan. Smelled every bit as good as he looked--almost as good as a Demon Dog. Brandi knew firsthand that looks could be deceiving, though. Her ex-husband had been a handsome charmer.
Evan stole a squeeze before releasing her. He'd always been that guy--the easygoing guy who didn't stand on ceremony. A hugger. "Fine. Good. Great." He wiped at her face with a napkin and then explained with one word. "Mustard."
Great. Nothing like running into an old high-school crush--literally running into him--and ending up covered in soda pop and mustard. Could it be worse? Yes. Don't even go there, Brandi. She could have ketchup instead of a soft drink on the front of her cream-colored skirt. I said, don't go there.
With orders being shouted about, the noise level in the place had risen to obnoxious. Several people were eyeing her table, obviously coveting the location. Prehistoric man battled over the biggest cave. Modern man fought for a wobbly, soda-covered bistro table at a moderately priced luncheonette.
"Well, I should go...get back to work. It was nice seeing you again, Evan."
"I'll walk out with you." He said it like a point of fact rather than an offer she could refuse.
"What about your lunch order?" she asked, glancing at the dog-eat-dog procession slowly moving to the front of the line.
Evan waved his hand. "More trouble than it's worth." He'd lost his place in line anyhow. To get it back, he'd need to be an angry pit bull or have a concealed weapon under his suit jacket.
"You've obviously never had a Demon Dog." A regrettable flirty tone leaked out with her words. Where'd that come from?
He squinted at the menu behind the counter. "I've never had a Satanic Sandwich or a Sinful Salad with Devil Dressing, either." He chuckled. "I feel damned just being in the joint. I better go before I find myself at the nearest church confessing my sins."
She knew how he felt. Brandi was having an impure thought or two herself. Her sinful contemplations had nothing to do with food--unless dipping her old high-school crush in chocolate, rolling him in sprinkles and licking him clean was about food. Not likely.
Brandi gathered her purse and what remained of her lunch and headed for the exit with Evan by her side. Her face heated up at the stares from the customers filing in as she and Evan attempted to squeeze toward the door. She wiped at her nose, wondering if her face still sported a glob of mustard. She could still smell the spicy concoction and wondered if it was lodged way up in her nasal passage. The stares were more than likely because of the brown stain on her skirt, but she didn't want to stand in line for the restroom. Besides, stains on designer suits should be left to professional dry cleaners.
Evan held the door open for her. "After you."
"Thank you." She looked around the crowded eatery for the man who'd shoved Evan into her so she could call the guy a jerk and perhaps treat him to her finger. But there was no sign of him or his offending finger. Outside in the sunshine, Brandi wiped at the wet spot centered in the middle of her skirt. Great. "I look like I wet myself," she complained.
"Actually," he said, pursing his lips, "it looks much worse." Evan shrugged out of his suit jacket. "And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the mess leaked to the back side."
Brandi groaned. That must be a big part of why her panties felt wet between her legs. She had thought it might be his twinkling eyes, dimpled smile and broad shoulders affecting her pussy. Without a doubt, something wet, warm and wicked was going on down under. An inconvenient stirring she'd like to explore further, but not here. Not now.
He placed his jacket over her shoulders. "Again, so sorry."
"It's not your fault." She slipped her arms into the sleeves, which came down to her knuckles. After fastening the button in the front, the worst of the mess was covered by his charcoal wool blend. "I have my dry cleaning in the car." Thankfully. She didn't want to spend the last twenty minutes of her lunch break shopping for off-the-rack business attire, paying with a rubber check.
Brandi made for the parking garage. Evan could do whatever he pleased. If he wanted his jacket back, he would follow. He did follow, quickly falling in beside Brandi. Her nose twitched, breathing in the scent of aftershave on his jacket that mingled with the lingering mustard smell. The two scents belonged together like caramel and chocolate or cinnamon and raisins. And someone needs a sweet treat--stat. Her warm, wet panties became warmer and wetter from carnal--as well as caramel--cravings.
Brandi and Evan chatted about the good old days while they walked. Reminiscing with him encouraged her to relax in spite of the awkwardness she'd felt earlier. Evan caught her up on his family as well as friends from the neighborhood he'd remained in contact with. He didn't remind Brandi of her questionable high-school fashion choices like her family did every chance they got. Evan talked about the good times, not Brandi's bad hair days, tragic cheerleading tryout and unfortunate yearbook photo.
Her thighs began to chafe. Wet and sticky--plus rubbing--apparently equaled discomfort in this particular situation.
The cool shade of the parking garage was a welcome relief from the effects of the bright sun, coupled with his suit jacket and the sticky soda drying between her thighs.
"This is my car." Brandi pointed.
"Nice," he said, admiring her sedan with his expressive eyes.
He'd be less impressed if he knew how much the payment was. Don't get me started on the cost of insurance. Sadly, she couldn't sell it for what she owed on it. Tried. Failed. Brandi had mixed feelings about being stuck with the status symbol she could no longer afford.
"Here. Eat." She handed him what remained of her Demon Dog. "Prepare to be ruined for all other dogs."
She unlocked the doors to her car. He took a generous bite from the uneaten end of her hot dog and moaned, similar to the way she had earlier before the entire mess got shoved into her face. When she bent over to reach into the backseat, she glanced over her shoulder and noticed him lean in, watching her butt intently. Probably because it was a wet, hot, sticky mess. She wondered if her ass had expanded much since high school. At least he didn't snap a photo from his cell phone to post on the internet with a less-than-flattering caption. Don't let this happen to you.
"What do you think?" she asked. "Of the dog, I mean." Brandi was afraid of what he might think of her caboose.
"Nice. Very nice. Tasty. I'm officially ruined for all other," he cleared his throat, "dogs."
Brandi positioned herself between the open passenger side doors like they were a makeshift dressing stall. With a reputation as a stern taskmaster to uphold, she couldn't go to her office like this. Her co-workers were like vultures, waiting for her to show any sign of weakness. "You're my lookout, so keep your eyes peeled."
His head pivoted right to left. Pointing to himself, he said, "Me?"
"Yes, you. Don't act so innocent, Evan." She flashed him a teasing grin. "You were an A-number-one lookout back in the day when it came to ditching class for smoking, drinking or necking behind the bleachers."
"Nasty habit, that smoking," he said.
Brandi scoffed. "Not the necking?"
He treated her to his teasing grin. "No. I'm one hundred percent in favor of necking."
She changed her clothes by slipping the clean skirt under the soiled one, showing less skin than one of those fan dancers at a burlesque show of yesteryear. Just in case he had x-ray vision and could see through her car door, which she doubted, despite his Superman good looks.
Starting back in high school, she'd grown quite adept at changing clothes in tight quarters. To please her dad, Brandi had joined the swim team and, for her mother, the drill team. For herself, she was the editor on the school newspaper, among other extracurricular activities. To this day, Brandi often found herself dressing in airport bathrooms and the occasional taxicab. Modesty was a luxury she couldn't always afford.
Evan scanned the garage for unwanted intruders. Once her clean skirt was in place, she skimmed the dirty one off.
He whistled like a bird.
"What's that about?" she asked, snorting a laugh. She hoped like hell mustard hadn't sprayed out of her nose as a result.
"That's the signal," he replied. "Someone's coming."
Shoving one of the car doors closed, she said, "I'm done anyhow. Here's your jacket, kind sir." She curtsied. Their would-be interloper got in his minivan and left, none the wiser.
"Wow." He slipped into his jacket, inhaling deeply. Hopefully she hadn't gotten mustard on his jacket. "That was fast," he said.
She heard something odd in his voice. Awe? Disappointment? If anyone had happened upon them, the scene would have appeared more than a little naughty, like a lunchtime rendezvous. If only. Her pussy had been on a forced hiatus and for very good reason.
"I'm all about adapting and overcoming," she said. Her job as an onsite computer hardware and software trainer required thinking on her feet and expecting the unexpected. Nothing could prepare her for cream-colored stockings with her black silk skirt. As inconspicuously as possible, she reached her hands under her skirt and peeled away her thigh-highs, dropping them on the floorboard of her car. With her coloring, she could get away without them. "I've got to get back to work, but it was great seeing you again, Evan."
His eyes were wide from the mini peep show. It was only a little thigh, for heaven's sake. You'd think he'd never seen legs before. Maybe he'd been living in a monastery for the last decade. Brandi wanted to ask what he'd been doing for the past twelve-plus years since she'd seen him, but being late would not set a good example at the office. Especially with her zero tolerance for tardiness.
"We should do this again sometime," he said. That's what people say when they encounter a blast from the past. What they mean, especially in this case, is We should do this again sometime, like when there's peace in the Middle East or when unicorns walk the earth.
"Absolutely." She could be polite too. How about our twenty-year high school reunion? She'd purposely skipped the five- and ten-year reunions, her life not up to public scrutiny at the time. Her fifteen-year wasn't looking good either. And really, why did the reunion committee insist on getting together every five years? Be reasonable.
"Well, maybe not this, per se, but something like this." He whipped out his cell phone. "Can I get your number?"
"Come on, Brandi." He smiled a crooked little dimpled grin in her direction. His eyes darted to her naked ring finger, where her wedding band used to be. Not even an indent remained to dissuade would-be suitors. "You're acting like I didn't ask you out in high school. And like you didn't stand me up." Touching his heart with his free hand, he said, "Over a dozen years hasn't dulled the sting of adolescent rejection."
Brandi squeaked indignantly. "I had mono." She had been thinking--and hoping--that he didn't remember he'd asked her out way back when. She couldn't forget, even after all these years. It seemed he hadn't either. But he could have pretended.
He squinted his skepticism. "You got mono from Ted Mankowitz." On Evan the squint appeared endearing and yet she found his critical look annoying, like an accusation of wrongdoing.
"I was tutoring him," she protested.
Ted was a big, dumb oaf whose only skill was playing football. Evan had been a long-distance runner, the sport of thinkers. Or she guessed he did a lot of thinking. What else was there to do while you're running for miles upon miles?
"Is that what you call it?" he teased her. "Tutoring?"
Brandi gasped, swatting at him. "The only thing Ted and I shared was common air and a soda pop." As a result, she'd become so sick she had not only missed her highly anticipated date with Evan Bangs all those years ago, but also missed the graduation ceremony with her class.
"I want a do over," he said, quite matter of fact. As if she owed him. She half expected him to whip out a court order for her to comply.
Thrusting her hand, the one that used to sport a wedding band, at him, she said, "My divorce just became final a few months ago. I'm really not ready to date." And that wasn't just a handy excuse. It was an understatement he should take as a warning.
Brandi was still harboring some resentment against the male species as a whole. Not without valid grounds, either. She hadn't had the best luck with men, starting back when Ted Mankowitz gave her mono before her big date with Evan. Ending it with her ex-husband and his many transgressions that left Brandi raw inside. In between high school and her divorce was a string, albeit a short string, of failed romances that ran the gamut from cheaters to losers. Sprinkle in a backstabbing male co-worker she'd trained and then watched slither up the corporate ladder ahead of her. Her college professor--a man--who gave her a C+ in Economics when she had clearly earned a B-. Brandi guessed the grade was because she hadn't responded to his creepy charm. More recently, there was her neighbor's cat, who kept depositing dead mice, birds and snakes on her doorstep. Both the neighbor and the cat were male.
The point was, the next man in her life was in for a rough ride. He'd get blamed for things he didn't do. He'd be her transition guy. Transition guy would be her emotional punching bag. And she'd forever be referred to as the crazy bitch he'd hooked up with for a short time, but whose name he couldn't recall. Yes, there would be steamy, angry sex. But it would all end with a restraining order. She didn't want that man to be poor Evan.
"Yeah, well, my advice is that you get ready," he said.