from the upcoming MIX & MATCH 3.1.2022
The Friday night social scene in Heaven N.H. wasn’t the eclectic, happening, busy one she’d grown used to while living in Manhattan. She and her ex had routinely made Friday a date night when his work schedule allowed and they’d attended many a packed jazz bar or bistro over the years. Mood lighting, expensive décor and a drink menu that boasted thousand dollar bottles of wine and champagne had been the norm, along with cocktails going for upwards of twenty-five dollars a glass.
The Love Shack, Heaven’s own answer to the bar scene, was a wooden, rustic, brightly lit establishment with butcher block tables covered in gingham tablecloths and where the most expensive bottle of wine topped out at sixteen dollars. The costliest cocktail served was a four dollar cranberry Cosmo that was heavy on the Ocean Spray and light on the vodka and Cointreau.
Jasmine scanned the bar where Olivia told her her date would be waiting. There were three men scattered down along the rail. Two she recognized from high school and one guy whose face she couldn’t see because his back was to her. When he turned she realized immediately this was not the man she was due to have drinks with.First there was no way this guy was 36 years old. Her mother would have called him Gramps.Clue number two was the wedding band on the hand holding his beer. It was so tight, the skin surrounding it swollen, his knuckle hair squeezed around it, indicating it had been there for decades.Nope. This wasn’t her guy. A cursory glance around the place showed most of the tables were taken with couples.Her date had yet to arrive.
“Hey, Jazz,” the bartender and owner, Kick Loomis said from his perch drying beer glasses behind the bar.
“You squattin’ or sittin’, sweetheart?”She’d been in the place enough times in her life to know he meant was she going to sit at the bar or take a table.
Jasmine was self-conscious enough she didn’t want to be seated on a bar stool, sitting alone while waiting for her date, especially when one of the guys she’d gone to school with tossed her an inquiring eye and a raised eyebrow. She didn’t want to get into a how-you-doing-what-you-been-up-to-since-high school chat. If her memory served, and it always did, the guy had been one of the football heroes of Heaven High back in the day. Those glory days were long gone and she had no desire to listen to him dredge them up.
She spotted an empty table in the corner and nodded toward it.
“I’ll send Raylynn over with a menu.”
She nodded and as she was about to head for it felt a tap on her arm.
“Excuse me. Jasmine?”
She turned at the sound of her name, spoken in a deep, soft voice blessed with a charming accent and found herself face to face with the gorgeous guy she’d spotted in her mom’s office. The one Sharmaine had been sucked on to like a tick
.Good Lord, he was even better looking up close and personal than he’d been, seated, and ten feet away from her. Stunning blue eyes, the color of freshly laid Robin’s eggs topped a face with high cut cheeks and a jaw forged from granite. Midnight hair curled around his ears and caressed the nape of his neck. Layered waves fell across his head in a chaos of perfection.
She’d been right about his height. Most men she could stare straight in the eyes due to her own long legs. But she had to tilt her head back a bit to look into this man’s striking ones.“You are Jasmine, aye?” Even his voice was gorgeous, the song of Ireland singing through it.
She nodded, her own voice deciding now would be a good time to leave on vacation. And when his smile took a slow stroll from one corner of his full, thick lips to the other, showing perfect, straight white teeth, the tips of her fingertips began to tingle like she’d fallen asleep on them and spent the night with them cuddled beneath the weight of her body.
He-of-the-handsome-face stuck out his hand and declared, “Good. Olivia said to meet you here. Donovan Boyd, but everyone calls me Van. Lovely to meet you.”
Jasmine knew she should shake his hand. It was the polite thing to do, wasn’t it? For some reason, her brain wasn’t sending any signals down her arm to lift it up to his outstretched one.
Donovan, or Van, kept his hand out, his smile in place, and ticked his head to the left a hair. A clap of booming laughter rang out from somewhere behind her and finally propelled the gears in her brain to start turning again.
After a head shake where she actually heard her brains rattle, she extended her hand and slipped it into his.