Today I am so pleased to welcome JS Harker to Joyfully Jay. JS has come to talk to us about her latest release, Keep Me Safe. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Bryce wore a dark green shirt and dark slacks, fitting in with the crowd a little better than Jesse did in a sweater. He had more gel in his hair, or his work had frustrated him so much that he raked his hand through it enough to make it stand up more than it had that morning. Either way, he was sexier, a little out of control, and as handsome at their second meeting as he had been the first time.
“Sorry I’m late,” Bryce said.
It wasn’t even two minutes past the hour. Jesse raised his voice to be heard over the crowd. “You’re on time. We’re not going to get a table for a while.”
Bryce nodded at the bar, and Jesse followed him through the mess of people. After flagging down a bartender, Bryce ordered a whiskey, neat. “Nothing but paperwork today. It’s a hard liquor kind of night.”
“What kind of work?” Jesse asked.
“Research,” Bryce replied. “What about you?”
A man pushed his way between Jesse and Bryce just as Bryce was getting his drink. With a frustrated sigh, Jesse stepped around the rude man. “I guess southern hospitality is a myth.”
“Doesn’t extend to chic restaurants on crowded nights.” Bryce took his drink from the bar and cupped Jesse’s elbow with his other hand. With a nod and a gentle nudge, he guided Jesse a few steps away.
The busy bar space necessitated they stand close together, or someone might force their way between them. Having Bryce close changed Jesse’s overworked nerves from anxious to excited. Bryce had beautiful brown eyes. Not a hint of amber, just deep, deep brown. The bar’s dim lighting only made his black hair darker. Jesse was caught up in the shape of his mouth, too, and the slope of his nose. When Bryce smiled, he favored his right side.
“I take it you’re not from around here?” Bryce asked.
Jesse hoped that was the first attempt at conversation because he’d been too caught up in memorizing details. “What gave me away?”
“Other than that crack about southern hospitality? That beer.” Bryce glanced at the beer in Jesse’s hand like he suspected it of foul play. “You’re in St. Louis, home of Anheuser-Bush and at least two dozen breweries, plenty of microbreweries, and you’re drinking a Killian’s?”
“That would explain the look the bartender gave me when I ordered it,” Jesse said. “I just moved here.”
“Manhattan, though I was in Washington D.C. before that, and grew up about an hour from Boston.”
Bryce smiled and shook his head. “I suppose I can forgive you for the choice then. We’ll have to get you a real education on beer some time.”
Which implied Bryce wanted to meet up again. Good. Jesse was really hoping this wouldn’t be a one-and-done date. “You a local?”
“Feels like it. Been here close to a decade. Grew up in Murfreesboro,” Bryce replied.
“Tennessee.” A mischievous gleam brightened Bryce’s eyes. “Do you need me to point it out on a map for you, East Coast?”
Oh, so Bryce wanted to tease him. Jesse could handle that. He hooked his finger into Bryce’s waistband and pulled just enough to put some tension on the fabric. “I think I know my southern geography fine.”
“Do you now?”
“Haven’t had a complaint so far.” Jesse smirked. “Though I’m always willing to learn something new.”
Bryce smiled more as he took a sip of his whiskey. A stall tactic, Jesse was sure of it. Jesse had thrown him, and the prospect he was turning Bryce on in the middle of a crowd turned him on.
As Bryce finished his sip, one of the other patrons knocked into his back. He pitched forward, and Jesse grabbed onto him to steady his balance. His glass of whiskey tipped. The world went into slow motion as Jesse noticed the glass, and then realized where the whiskey was heading. For the second time in a day, liquid splashed down his front. His sweater wicked the liquor up.
“Damn it,” Bryce said.
“Not your fault.” Jesse tried to brush the whiskey off with his hand, but that was only getting his hand wet. “I need something to wipe it off.”
Bryce glanced around, then ducked back to the bar and took a napkin-wrapped set of silverware off the counter. He dumped the silverware and brought Jesse the cloth napkin.
Even as Jesse tried to clean his sweater, he knew he wouldn’t get the smell out. He didn’t have a shirt on under his sweater, so he couldn’t strip down. At least, not in the restaurant.
A couple shuffled past him as their name was called. They had been a group or two ahead of Jesse, but the tables were still being called slowly. At the current rate, there was a chance the whiskey would dry before they were seated.
“Do you want to head out?” Bryce asked.
The answer was yes. Between the crowd and the alcohol soaking into him, Jesse needed fresh air and a comfortable space to unwind. He didn’t want to break off the date, not when Bryce was the one good part of his evening.
“My place isn’t far,” Jesse said. “We could head there. Order takeout or something.”
Someone knocked into Jesse’s back and he rocked forward, automatically sliding his arm around Bryce. They were chest to chest, and an electric line ran through Jesse straight toward his groin. Pressing against Bryce felt so good, Jesse almost forgot they were in a crowded room of strangers.
Bryce’s eyes darkened with lust and his gaze was latched onto Jesse’s lips. “Or something.”
Yeah, home was sounding like a much better place to be.
A new city. A stolen statue. And a conspiracy.
He’s been searching for something more.
FBI Special Agent Jesse Dawes grew up on his great-uncle’s stories about hunting paranormal creatures with the Department of the Weird and Occult. Hoping to follow in his footsteps, Jesse moves to St. Louis. But secret government agencies don’t have open recruitment. Instead, he seeks out mysteries on his own, and he thinks he’s uncovered one in his new neighborhood…
Protecting the naïve is his number one priority.
Agent Bryce Reynolds knows the average civilian would run in terror if they encountered half of what he does. He can’t share his life with just anyone, so dating’s out of the question. Usually. A chance encounter with Jesse makes him wonder if taking a chance on someone new is worth the risk.
Before Jesse and Bryce can contemplate a relationship together, a wealthy heiress’s strange statue is stolen. Jesse is determined to pursue every lead, even the bizarre, while Bryce tries to protect him from the truth. But how can Bryce keep Jesse safe when Jesse insists on running into danger?
JS HARKER loves stories. She was one of those kids who always had a book in her hands and spent many hours adventuring with her siblings. These days she wanders into her imaginary worlds and conjures up tales of magic, passion, and happily-ever-afters. She currently lives in the part of the Midwest that makes Tatooine look interesting by comparison (not that she’s ever obsessively thought about becoming a Jedi or anything).
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