Today’s Sunday Snippet comes from a story that readers demanded after the anthology Midnight Ink came out. Carrie listened to the readers and gave them Sassy’s story which just came out.
“Nothing to say, Sass?” Rafe Chavez asked, his words sounding much calmer than he felt right then.
He still couldn’t believe he was there standing next to the man who had left him and in front of the woman who had done the same. A decade had come and gone, but right then, in that shop, it felt like mere moments since he’d lain eyes on them.
They’d been different people back then, he was sure, but damn it, he was here now and ready to face whatever the hell he had to in order to make his plan work.
She blinked up at him with those big brown eyes he once lost himself with no hope of escape. His fingers ached to caress the chestnut tresses draped over her shoulders and curled under her breasts. It was so Sassy that she had a couple blue streaks within the mass of waves that seemed to shout she was special.
“You can’t be here,” she breathed and Rafe held back a curse.
She’d been smiling and laughing on the phone, but now looked pale and shaky. He and Ian had done that, yet Rafe knew he’d do it again if it meant moving forward with what the three of them needed. Even if two of the three of them didn’t realize they actually needed to do the same.
He didn’t break eye contact with Sassy even though he wanted to risk a glance at Ian. If he was doing what Rafe thought, then Ian was also staring at Sassy, at a loss for what to do. Rafe could just picture the man, only an inch or so taller than he, giving Sassy that unwavering look with his piercing blue eyes, chiseled features, and onyx black hair that he’d tied back with a leather strap.
Rafe would have liked to think more about the man by his side but knew this wasn’t the time or place. Now, it was all about Sassy. If they could get her to talk with them, maybe they had a chance for what Rafe wanted.
Since Sassy looked like she was about to bolt, he wasn’t putting much faith in round one of their plan.
“Sassy?” Ian said, his voice a low rumble filled with the elegant edge that Rafe had always secretly loved.
She shook her head once more then rolled her shoulders back. Well, hell, as much as he liked it when she got all sexy and angry at the same time, he’d much rather have had her not yell…and that was what she was about to do.
“What the hell are you two doing here?” she yelled.
Yep. Got it in one.
Rafe tore his eyes from her face and risked a glance at the people coming up behind Sassy. Most of the dudes were bigger than even he and Ian, and that was saying something. Plus, their looks of impending death and doom didn’t bode well.
“Cariña, can we talk privately?” Rafe asked.
She narrowed her eyes at his name for her and curled her lip. “Don’t call me that. You have no right to call me that.”
While he understood her anger, which he knew he deserved, it took everything in his power not to remind her that she left him. That would be a discussion for a later time.
“I’m sorry.” He wasn’t. “We’re just here to talk and get ink. We weren’t lying about that.”
She snorted. “Of all the shops, in all of New Orleans, you had to walk into mine?”
He grinned at the reference to their favorite movie then held back a frown at her reaction. The way she’d paled a bit after she’d said it, he knew she’d done it by accident. He’d take it however since that meant somewhere inside her she was still thinking of him, of them.
“Is there something wrong, Sass?” one of the dudes from the back said as he walked up behind Sassy. He put his hand on her shoulder and Rafe had to keep from yelling at the guy to keep his hands off his woman. He thought of Ian. Their woman.
Another man, this one even bigger than the first came up on her other side. He crossed his beefy arms over his barrel of a chest and glared.
Well shit, he didn’t want to get in a fucking fight right there in the shop. He’d had enough of fighting as a teen and didn’t want to do it again. Plus he didn’t think Sassy would appreciate it.
“Need us to take care of these two for you?” the bigger man asked, his voice full of dangerous promises.
Sassy turned on her heel and put her fists on her waist. “Excuse me? Since when do I need the two of you to fight my battles? I’m not some damsel in distress who needs her white knight to slay the dragon. I’ll slay my own fucking dragons.” She glared over her shoulder at Rafe and Ian. “Or whatever the hell these two are.”
The first man who’d spoken smiled warmly at her. “Sass, hon, we’re just looking out for you. We all know you can take care of yourself. That doesn’t mean you should.”
Sassy let out a breath and Rafe sucked in one of his own, afraid of what she’d say. He knew the woman never liked to be perceived as vulnerable. He and Ian coming in like this and surprising her had been a bold move, and in retrospect, a not-so-smart one.
He just hadn’t known what else to do.
“I’m fine, Shep.” She patted his cheek then moved to the bigger man. “Thank you for defending my honor, Caliph. Now since I’ve made a scene where usually I only like to make my own on my own terms, I’m going to talk to these two…gentleman… away from here.”
Rafe held back a triumphant fist pump but met Ian’s gaze. The other man gave a small twitch of his lips, but otherwise didn’t react to Sassy’s words.
Well, it was better than nothing.
“If you’re sure, Sass,” Shep grumbled.
“I’m sure. They’re not going to hurt me.”
Rafe heard the odd note in her tone and knew what she was thinking. They’d hurt each other all those years ago but right then it was about overcoming all of that. It had to be.
“We really did come here for ink,” Rafe put in, trying to ease some of the tension.
Sassy turned toward them and raised a brow. “Oh, I have no doubt that was one of your intentions. Now we get to see what your other ones are.”
Sassy Bordeaux is the Midnight Ink receptionist, honorary godmother, best friend to many, and matchmaker expert. In the past two months, she’s watched eight couples fall in love, make mistakes, and find their happy endings. Though she might have had hand in each of those, she’s yet to find the peace she’s desired. When the men from her past come into Midnight Ink, she’s forced to face what she left behind and what could happen if she lets go of her pain and finds a future she deserves.
Rafe Chavez and Ian Steele remember their time with Sassy like it was yesterday, yet have worked hard to move on. Or at least try to. Now they’re both back in New Orleans for the woman they loved and for the connection they shared with each other. It will take more than the usual groveling, pleading and begging for these three to overcome their history, but once they take that step, the streets of New Orleans will never be the same.
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