Another chance to make a night gone bad very, very right.
Payton Ricci is the last person Wes Hoffman ever expected or wanted to see again. After the disastrous sexual experience between them twelve years ago, he was only too happy to put the whole episode behind him. After all, he's come a long way since that awkward encounter between two gawky teenagers, and his ego needs no reminder.
The night he sees Payton--a very sexy grown up Payton--in Zack's Bar and Grill, he's mortified by this blast from the past. Payton harbors no such reservations about seeing Wes again, and it's clear she wouldn't mind catching up on old times. However, Wes can't get over his mental block where she's concerned.
But that's nothing a blindfold and a little mad seduction scheme can't fix, and Payton is a very determined woman.
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May 07, 2007
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Excerpt from Undenied by Maya Banks
Wes Hoffman pulled into the parking lot of Zack's Bar and Grill and killed the engine. He looked around in surprise as he got out. It was awfully crowded for a Thursday night.
As he walked closer to the door, he could hear the raucous laughter from inside. When he actually stepped into the bar, he winced as a set of girly shrieks from hell pierced his eardrums.
He glanced around the room to see a hoard of females clustered in the corner. Ah hell, he'd stumbled into a girls' night out? And not just any girls' night out. These looked to be hellions.
His eyebrows lifted when one of them plunked down her drink and climbed on top of the table amidst hoots and shouts of encouragement from her friends. She proceeded to do a loud rendition of a twangy country song before being coaxed back down by one of the other girls.
Wes headed for the bar in full retreat mode. Zack slid a cold bottle down the bar as Wes plopped onto a barstool.
"Thanks," he said as he raised the bottle to his lips. Then he nodded in the direction of the chaos. "What the fuck is going on tonight?"
Zack chuckled and flipped his towel over his shoulder. "Bachelorette party."
Wes groaned. "Say no more."
"What brings you out tonight anyway?" Zack asked as he resumed pouring a round of drinks. "You're usually over at Jeremy's your nights off."
"They've all turned into a bunch of damn pussies," Wes grumbled.
Zack burst out laughing. "I assume you're talking about the female influence on the male members of your circle?"
Wes took a long chug of the beer. "Got it in one. Babies, wives..." He shook his head. "And then I come here expecting a nice quiet drink and find a bunch of screaming women."
Zach laughed again. "You sound down on the fairer sex, my friend."
Wes grinned. "Oh no, I wouldn't badmouth them. I love them far too much for that. I'm just pissed because everyone I know is at home getting laid, and I'm sitting here bitching to you like a goddamn old man."
Zack inclined his head in the direction of the ruckus. "Plenty of women over there."
Wes snorted. "I don't do about-to-become-attached women."
"Well, hell, they aren't all getting married. Just one."
"Which one?" Wes asked as he swiveled on his barstool.
"The blonde sitting by the redhead over in the corner. Ah hell, is that lingerie they're breaking out?"
"Looks like it," Wes said as his gaze swept over the group. He stopped on one and stared for a long moment, studying her profile. There was something about her.
"Who's the brunette on the end?" he asked Zack. "The one wearing the cowboy hat. I swear I've seen her somewhere before."
"Dunno. The bride-to-be said she had a lot of out-of-towners coming in for the wedding."
Wes continued to stare, the niggling growing stronger. Where had he seen her? As he sat watching her, she turned and looked in his direction. Their eyes locked and a burst of recognition hit him directly in the chest.
Her eyes widened in surprise and then she smiled. She stood and began making her way toward him.
Heat rushed up his neck as humiliation set in. Fuck me. Oh Lord, anyone but Payton Ricci. He stood, nearly knocking his beer over in his haste to be as far away from there as possible.
Her voice, husky and sweet, only added to his guilt.
And then she launched herself at him. One minute she was standing just a few feet away and the next she was in his arms, legs wrapped around his waist.
"It is you!" she exclaimed.
One hand clapped on top of the straw cowboy hat she wore and the other hand curled around his neck, holding on for dear life.
Then she yanked off the hat and tossed it onto the bar before she wrapped both hands around his neck and planted her lips on his.
He registered a hot, needy mouth, but his shock and embarrassment was too great for him to do anything but stand there wishing the floor could open up and swallow him.
Finally she pulled away and slid down his body until her feet hit the floor. She cocked her head to the side, her blue eyes sparkling with mischief. "Do you not remember me?"
He cleared his throat. On one hand he wanted to plead ignorance but then she'd no doubt explain just how they knew each other, and he really didn't need the details all over again. On the other hand, he had no desire to hurt her feelings. He'd already done enough damage to her.
"Of course I remember you, Payton." He even managed what he hoped was a sincere smile.
"I can't believe you're still here, I mean living here. I figured you'd have left right after high school. Didn't you have a scholarship to A&M to play ball?"
Her smile and enthusiasm discomfited him. Why was she being so damn nice to him? He eased awkwardly back onto the barstool and motioned for Zack.
Zack walked over, a smirk on his face that Wes really wanted to wipe off with a well-placed fist.
"Can I get you a drink?" Wes asked, not really knowing what else to say to a woman he'd never expected to see again.
She bounced onto the stool next to him and turned her dynamite smile on Zack, who promptly melted into a pile of slush. Damn fool.
"I'll take a water," she said.
She turned back to Wes, a million questions burning in her eyes. "Well? Tell me about you. What are you doing these days?"
His tongue felt thick in his mouth. Like he'd just swallowed a cup of sawdust or eaten a dozen crackers without a drink.
She looked beautiful, but then she'd always been gorgeous. The years had been good to her, how long had it been? Eleven? Twelve years? Good God, it had been twelve years. She'd been sixteen then. Sweet, innocent and so very beautiful.
She hadn't changed much. Not now when he soaked in her appearance up close and personal. She still had a sparkle about her, something that inexplicably drew him to her, just like it had twelve years ago.
"Wes? Are you all right?"
He blinked and opened his mouth to try and say something to smooth over the awkwardness of the situation, but damned if he knew what to say. Sorry? Apologize for hurting her? Apologize for being a clumsy, inexperienced dumbass?
"I'm fine," he mumbled. He looked around...for what, help? He met Zack's gaze, sure panic was etched in his features.
Zack looked curiously back at him, nodded once in silent understanding then reached for the phone under the counter. A few seconds later, Wes's cell phone rang.
Wes yanked up his phone, knowing when he answered there wouldn't be anyone on the other end, but he gripped the receiver like a lifeline.
"Yeah," he said shortly. He waited an appropriate amount of time before saying, "Okay, I'll be right in."
He closed the phone and donned an expression of regret. "That was the station. I'm a local cop. They need me to come in. I'll, uh, catch you another time."
"Oh," she said. "Well, it was nice to see you again." She flashed a smile that didn't quite reach to her eyes, eyes that reflected suspicion.
"Uh, yeah, you too," Wes hedged. He nodded in Zack's direction. "Thanks, man. I'll see you later."
He turned tail and all but ran the hell out of the bar. When he reached the outside, he sucked in several breaths, trying to rid himself of the embarrassment blazing a torch over his face.
Bless Zack for resorting to the oldest trick in their repertoire. It wasn't something they'd done in a long time, the last when a very drunk, very married woman had come on to Wes. He definitely owed Zack for this one, and he'd be more than happy to pay up.