Sabrina O’Malley can’t stand the sight of Keith Sutton.
At least, that’s what she keeps telling herself. In all honesty, she loves sneaking peeks at the gorgeous, golden-haired construction foreman. It’s easy to forget how arrogant and irritating Keith is when she admires him from afar and can’t hear him talking.
The problem is, he’s always talking. Keith won’t let Sabrina forget her drunken and failed attempt to kiss him. He’s determined to get a do-over and she’s determined to avoid him at all costs. If he has to rile her up to get her attention, and that kiss, Keith is all for it.
Sparks fly when trouble comes to Madison Falls and they are thrown together in an effort to stop it. When Sabrina is targeted and comes under fire, Keith is resolved to keep her safe. To do that, he needs to get past Sabrina’s defenses.
Will Sabrina put her pride aside and give Keith a chance before it’s too late?
“Damn him anyway for a handsome devil.”
Sabrina O’Malley was doing her best not to stare at Keith Sutton, but the man looked like a Greek god in his tux. With his blond hair and great height and all of that gorgeous muscle straining against his black tuxedo jacket, he was definitely god-like. On second thought, he looked more like the Norse god, Thor. She had actually called him that before, but it was more out of irritation than adulation.
From behind the steaming trays of food at the buffet table, it was easy to get away with staring. The guests normally didn’t look past the trays of pasta and chicken parmesan to chance a glance at the caterer. That was fine with Sabrina. If they weren’t looking at her, then she could get away with looking at them.
She couldn’t hear what Keith was saying to his dance partner from across the reception hall, so that was the reason Sabrina gave herself for getting caught up in the sight of him. When he wasn’t speaking, she could forget that Keith Sutton was an overgrown jerk.
Sabrina knew this would happen when she agreed to cater Tracy King and Ben Carrington’s wedding. Lord, she wanted to smack her head against a wall for that lapse in judgment. It was an excellent boon to her business but the reality of being here with the romantic music and all of the happy couples was trying on her nerves. Love was in the air and she was doing her best not to breathe it in.
Keith had glanced over a time or two but she didn’t know if he was, in fact, looking at her or checking out the array of food. It was a toss-up where he was concerned. The man loved to eat. At six foot four and at least 200 pounds, he was a giant of a man. Add in the shaggy blond hair and beautiful blue eyes and he truly reminded her of some warrior god or Viking.
Not that she needed a reminder of gods, Vikings, or Keith. He turned up wherever she went. Tonight couldn’t be helped though. He was a member of Tracy and Ben’s wedding party. Keith had been partnered with Sarah Brandon since she was a bridesmaid and he was a groomsman. Sabrina reminded herself that they were practically family since Sarah’s sister, Sophie, was married to his brother, Reed. Keith was supposed to dance with Sarah at the reception. That didn’t mean Sabrina had to like the way she was staring up at Keith and laughing at whatever charming tripe was coming out of his mouth.
It was small of her, but Sabrina wanted to shove Sarah out of the way and dance with Keith herself. She felt mean for thinking it since Sarah looked so lovely in her strapless violet gown. Her golden blonde hair was swept up in some sort of twist, and with her height, she made a perfect partner for Keith. Damn it. To top it off, Sarah was an incredibly nice person too.
Sabrina thought she would look ridiculous dancing with Keith anyway. At just an inch over five feet tall, she was a munchkin compared to him. Her head didn’t even come up to his shoulder. The last time she tried to get eye to eye with Keith Sutton, Sabrina had to stand on a chair. Not one of her better decisions.
That was months ago, but she’d learned that jumping up on furniture was a terrible way to get a man’s attention. Her incredible state of intoxication at the time added insult to injury. She hadn’t been hurt physically, but boy, had her pride been stung.
Sabrina had been out with her sister celebrating the successful changes they’d made since taking over management of the Pizza Palace. After finally seeing some positive results from the new sauce and the revised menu, they’d decided that after months of nonstop work, a drink or two at Sarah’s Suds and Spuds was just what they needed. Only, she’d had one too many. Okay, three too many, but with her size, one was really all it took.
They hadn’t been in town a week before Sabrina had heard about the Sutton brothers. Anyone and everyone dished the dirt on Reed and Sophie’s courtship. When they weren’t talking about them, they were speculating over Keith and his prospects. Since moving to Madison Falls, she’d never met the Suttons personally, but with all the details bandied about, they weren’t hard to pick out of a crowd.
Her celebration landed on karaoke night, so Keith had been there with Reed and their friends. He was the only six foot four, blond haired man in the room so she’d identified him right away. His brother sang a few times and had quite a lovely voice, really. Keith didn’t sing, but he looked to be getting a whole lot of enjoyment out of ribbing those who did.
That was the night that her awful attraction to Keith Sutton had begun.
His wicked grin had drawn her in like a moth to a flame. One drink in and she’d been brave enough to smile at him when they’d made eye contact. Two drinks in and she’d had no problem telling her sister, Fiona, how easy on the eyes he was. In her blissful haze, she’d mentioned this loudly……and often. Three drinks in and Sabrina had decided that a kiss from Keith would be a perfect way to top off her night.
She’d made this foolish decision when Keith was about to pass by their table on the way to who knew where. In retrospect, she should have listened to her sister. Fiona had told her to stay the hell off of that chair. In her liquor-laced reasoning, Sabrina had explained it was the best way to reach him if she wanted to get her kiss. It sounded reasonable at the time.
As soon as he was close enough, Sabrina had hopped up on the chair and thrown her arms around his neck. To give the man credit, he took a strange woman latching on to him like a barnacle with remarkable aplomb.
“Whoa. Hey there, Red. Something I can do for you?”
Sabrina’s next words would haunt her for months.
“Yes. Kiss me.”
Keith had glanced down at her, then tilted his head like he hadn’t quite gotten the joke. “Excuse me?”
Sabrina remembered how good he’d smelled. Like peppermints and expensive aftershave. “Kiss me. I want to celebrate.” She’d threaded her fingers behind his neck and leaned in for a right proper smooching. That was when he must have smelled her third whiskey sour.
He’d reared back and stared into her eyes. His eyes were a beautiful, deep sea blue. She was going to tell him how gorgeous his eyes were after the kiss. Sabrina had tried to lean in again but Keith kept her at arm’s length.
“I think you’ve already done enough celebrating. Thanks, sweetheart, but no thanks. I don’t take advantage of drunk girls.” As he said that, he unlatched her hands, picked her up by the waist, and set her on the floor as if she weighed no more than a doll.
Even drunk, Sabrina was aware enough to be mortified.
Keith had eyed her from head to toe. Taking in her ginger red hair and matching crimson cowboy boots, he’d grinned as if her little stunt amused him.
“What’s your name, Red?”
She’d stared up at him, tongue-tied and wishing the floor would open up and swallow her. Adding her name to the mix would have been a horrible idea. At least her sense of reasoning kicked in before she’d told him who she was.
“You’re cute.” Cute? Yes, and so were puppies. “Maybe I’ll see you around.” Not if she could help it.
With that, he’d ambled away and left Sabrina wanting to crawl under the table and hide. Thank God the spotlight had been on the latest singer, which in contrast, left the rest of the room blessedly dark. The unfortunate guy singing Piano Man sounded like a strangled cat. All eyes were on him: some in disbelief, some in pity, and some in need of another drink. Thanks to the Piano Man massacre, Sabrina thought she’d gotten away without that many people seeing her throw herself at a man like a horseshoe. That’s what she’d hoped for anyway.
Fiona pulled her down in her seat before she could do anything else embarrassing. Her sister hissed, “I told you to stop after the second drink, but you never listen!” Seeing Sabrina’s obvious mortification, she’d softened her tone. “Don’t worry, hon, with a man that good-looking, I bet things like that happen to him all the time.”
Sabrina had sobered up enough to want to get the hell out of the bar. She’d made an ass out of herself so her celebrating was through. Thank God she hadn’t told him her name. Madison Falls was small, but she’d thought that surely she could avoid him.
A few weeks after that disastrous night, Sabrina learned that luck was not on her side. Both of her delivery drivers at the Pizza Palace had called off sick. There had been an enormous order due out to a construction crew and no one to deliver it but her. Just her luck that the order had been called in by none other than Keith Sutton.
When she’d pulled up to the site, she’d prayed he wouldn’t remember her. But as soon as Sabrina had gotten out of her car, Keith had done a double take and walked over. Damn her red hair. It was like a beacon.
“Hey there, Pizza Lady. Remember me?”
Of course she remembered him. She’d been taking turns fantasizing about and trying to forget the dazzling behemoth. “No, sorry. I have a delivery here for Sutton Construction.”
“That’s me. I mean, I’m not Sutton Construction. That would be a stupid name. But I am Keith Sutton. I called in the order.” After a sweeping once-over, he grinned, “Today must be my lucky day.”
Sabrina couldn’t say the same.
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