Feeding the Flames
Part of the Five Alarm Alpha boxed set, coming November 7th

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© 2014 Leah Braemel

“You’re pretty bossy considering I’m your boss.” Not that she begrudged Shannon for calling her on her shit. Tabatha lined up the six to-go paper cups in a line and began filling them. “Sorry, I’m distracted today.”

Shannon snorted. “Yeah, I saw you talking with Mr. Hot Shot over there. Make my day and tell me you grew a set and finally asked him out.”

FiveAlarmAlpha_final_400x667It had taken less than two days    after her return to Barnett Springs for Shannon to call Tabatha on her Zac obsession. Tabatha sighed. “I don’t have to. He’s not interested in me.”

“Come on, girl. I’m tired of your excuses about needing to get the diner up and running, and or how you need to get settled first. The diner’s doin’ fine, and from what I saw of your apartment, there’s not a box left to be unpacked. So it’s time for you to get off your ass, march yourself over there, and take the stud by the horn.” She eyed Zac. “Or with that man, by the long horn.”

“Cut me some slack will you? Zac pretty much came right out and said he’s not interested in me.”

“Oh hon. Are you sure you didn’t just misinterpret what he said?”

“I don’t see any other interpretation for him arranging for me to go on a date with another guy, do you?”

Shannon stared at her, her mouth open. “Are you fuckin’ kidding me?”

“Unfortunately no.” She pulled the tickets from the apron’s pocket and shoved them in Shannon’s face. “Get this—he gave me these tickets and told me I should ask Quinn out because Quinn’s been sweet on me but too shy to ask me out himself. Can you believe it? Like Quinn has ever not said exactly what he thought. ”

“Oh, hon. Why didn’t you take ’em and shove them in his coffee?”

She’d wanted to, though his coffee mug wouldn’t have been her first choice of insertion site. “Believe me, I was tempted.”

“So instead you asked Quinn, just like a good little girl, didn’t you?”

“I like Quinn.” Even though he was only three years older than her, he’d been like a big brother. Sliding over to give her a seat on the bus when no one else would—sometimes being the last one picked up on a bus route sucked. Then there was the time a senior with an entitlement issue had flicked his lighter in an attempt to set her hair on fire because she had turned him down for a date; it had been Quinn leading the charge to teach that asshat a lesson. Except, like Zac, he hadn’t shown anything but a protective big brother side to her all these years. “Besides, I couldn’t have afforded the tickets myself and we’ll have a good time.”

Plus she would have eaten dirt to see the Dirt Road Graduates again. While she’d thrown that comment about Jake Grady in to tweak Zac’s tail, it wasn’t far from the truth. Pity he’d gone and married an accountant. Or manager. Or whatever she was.

“So go out with him. It’s just one date.” Shannon glanced over at the duo. “A girl could do worse. Or are you trying to tell me you’re not thinking of what it would be like to have him on top of you in bed at the end of the night?”

It hadn’t been Quinn she’d been picturing in her bed all these nights. “It’s not like I need a guy in my life right now. I mean, you’re right. Both about the diner being in shape and my apartment too.” Not that she’d brought much back home with her to unpack. “I’m happy. I don’t need a man in my life.”

Especially one who wasn’t interested in her. She’d spent the past five years in one of those relationships and she’d vowed never again. The next guy she hooked up with would have to rock her world. Preferably starting by leaving dents in the plaster behind her headboard.

“Of course you don’t, hon.” As Tabatha filled the last cup, Shannon added cream or sugar as needed, and snapped a lid on it. “But guys do have their good points. Of course, it’s usually between their legs, and those points are usually only good for about five minutes, until they change direction from north to south, but sometimes it’s nice to have the real thing instead of a B.O.B.” Shannon cast a quick glance over her shoulder at Quinn and Zac, who were digging through their wallets to pay the ticket. “And honey, as much as I love Dave, I’d take either of those men in a heartbeat if they asked me to join ’em. Hell, I’d take ’em both at the same time if they asked.” She chuckled. “I wouldn’t mind seeing their hoses in action.”

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Snippet Saturday – Feeding the Flames