*Hunter's Point of View*
The buzzing of my phone alarm slowly pulls me out of a dreamless sleep. I groan and run my fingers along my sheets until they finally clasp around my cell phone. I draw it up to my face, squinting against the afternoon's sunlight to find a way to make it stop vibrating.
I flip it open and am surprised to see it's not my alarm at all. It's a text.
Jessie: hey. Sorry about walking in on u 2 last nite.
I check the time of the text and see that she sent it at noon. My eyes flicker over to the nightstand and I grunt with irritation when I see it's already going on four o'clock. I slept the whole damn day away. I force myself out of bed and slip out of my boxers. I head into the bathroom, not bothering to close the door behind me.
Less than an hour later I'm showered, dressed and jogging down to the kitchen to get myself some food. Kelly's petite body is perched on one of the stools at our kitchenette, her elbows leaning on the counter as she reads one of her girly magazines.
I don't bother to say anything as I pour myself a glass of milk. I open the kitchen closet and pull down my protein powder.
"I don't know how you drink that crap every day," Kelly says, her voice layered with disgust.
I glance behind me and see she hasn't even bothered to take her eyes off her magazine. Her black wispy hair falls across her slender shoulders. My eyes fall on the neon pink ring she has in her nose and I have to force myself not to laugh. It looks ridiculous.
Instead I shrug and grab a spoon to mix the powdery protein in with the milk. I usually plug my nose when I drink this. Because in all honesty? Kelly's right.
It tastes like shit.
But I can't look like a pansy in front of her, so instead I just bring the glass to my lips, tipping my head back and chugging it down in seconds flat. Kelly watches me out of the corner of her eye, and a look of horror fixates on all her tiny features. I toss my glass in the dishwasher and wipe my mouth with the dishtowel. Kelly huffs under her breath.
"That dishtowel is for drying dishes, ya know," she says sourly. "Not your personal napkin."
I sigh and lean forward on the countertop, coming closer to her and glancing down at her magazine.
"What you got there Kel?" I ask with an amused grin. "Looking to add a few more hideous nose rings to your collection?"
Kelly's eyes widen and I have to stifle a laugh. I know a lot of people are scared of Kelly. But in my eyes, she's like the little sister I never had growing up. She's got spunk and says what's on her mind. I like that.
"Yea well. Whatever," she sputters in defense. "At least I don't spend my free time sleeping with all my roommates' friends."
My smile vanishes as her green eyes clash with mine. So that's why she's so moody - because of Taylor. I wonder if I should tell her that Taylor and I didn't even end up having sex. Not like it's any of her business. And yet for some reason, I feel like I'm on the defense. So I spin her comment in a different direction.
"Hey, don't be jealous that I can mess around with anyone I want, while you're stuck at home playing wifey to Rex all the time."
Kelly smacks her magazine closed, leaning into me and giving me a sound thump across the side of the head. Even though her face is puckered with anger, I can see the playful excitement burning in her eyes. I give her a wink and start making my way towards the front door. I slip on my shades as the summer's sun hits my eyes.
"Hey, where are you going?" Kelly calls with a pout.
"Gotta head to work," I shout back. "I'll be home later. Don't miss me too much Kel!"
I hear her shouting some obscenity back in my direction and laugh as I walk to my car. My love life might not be where I want it…..
But at least I'm getting a few new friends, I think with a smile.
The bar my father left me is on the outskirts of town. It's right on the beach but far enough away from all the 'hustle and bustle' of the ever-common tourists. Since I started working at the bar, I've changed the name, ordered new chairs and tables, and updated the menu. And I'm pleased to say that after long hours of hard work, business is finally picking up.
I read over the new menu of my bar, Claws. My employee, Ebony, anxiously waits for my input. When I set it down I give her a smile of approval.
"Looks great, Eb," I say and hand it back to her. "Why don't you order - say one hundred of 'em?"
The crinkles around Ebony's dark eyes tighten as she smiles. "Yes, sir."
Just about the only thing I didn't change about this bar was its staff. Most of them are over forty but I don't care. They show up on time, do the work, and don't mind that they have a boss that's only half their age.
Plus, most of my customers are older. And that's exactly what I want. You might think I'd prefer a young crowd. But kids my age act stupid as hell when they drink. I don't need a bunch of noisy twenty-one year olds causing havoc in my bar and driving away all my loyal customers.
I glance at the dozen or so people in my bar. All of them are older, quietly sitting while they nurse their preferred drink. A few of them gaze up at the large televisions screens, deeply engrossed in whichever game ESPN is covering.
Just as I'm walking to the back room, a young blonde catches my eye as she enters my bar. My stomach tightens when she turns her head, her beautiful green eyes meeting mine from across the bar.
I try to act casual as I walk towards her. I force my face to remain impassive and stretch out my hands to show off the bar around me.
"Welcome to Claws," I say with a smile.
Jessie's eyes study the entirety of my bar, meeting my gaze when she's finished.
"I like it," she says softly.
Hearing her voice causes a dull ache to throb in my chest. I try not to stare at her long tan legs as she moves past me and takes a seat at one of the bar stools. She's wearing a tight red tank top, her slender shoulders bare and just begging to be touched. I gulp down the remembrance of how soft her skin is and offer her a drink on the house.
"But I'm only nineteen," she whispers back to me.
I shrug and make her a 'house special' for the ladies - a vodka strawberry lemonade. I slide the drink towards her and a sly grin spreads across my lips.
"I won't tell if you won't," I say huskily and a faint blush creeps onto her pretty cheeks.
God she's so beautiful.
My eyes tear away from Jessie when I notice a flamboyant man dressed in tight black pants and a pink shirt walk into my bar. I raise my brow as he approaches Jessie, his eyes unabashedly moving down my body. He takes a seat next to her, crossing his left leg over his right and batting his eyelashes in my direction.
"I'll take whatever she's having, doll," he says with a wink.
I frown and Jessie laughs at our interaction. "Hunter, this is my friend Brad. And Brad, this is Hunter."
I give a nod in Brad's direction, sizing him up and wondering what he already knows about me. I make Brad his drink and slide it over to him. He takes a drink and closes his eyes.
"Mmmm doll face? That tastes SO good!"
"Thanks. That'll be $3.50," I say.
Brad scoffs and points an accusatory finger at Jessie. "What? But - why do I have to pay if she didn't?"
"She's my roommate. You're not," I respond with a shrug.
At my comment Brad just rolls his eyes, taking his drink and moving away from the bar. He leans close to Jessie and whispers something into her ear that makes her head tilt back with laughter. The sound of her feminine laugh makes my heart beat quicken.
When Brad's out of ear shot, Jessie stirs her drink and takes another sip.
"You'll get used to him," she says under her breath. "I know he's intense at first, but really, he's the greatest guy I've ever known."
My eyes follow Brad's feminine walk as he approaches one of the older gentleman sitting near the exit. He starts flirting instantly, taking a seat and scooting closer to the man. I watch with interest, betting beyond a doubt that the older man gets up and punches Brad in the face.
…So you can imagine my surprise when the older gentleman puts a hand on Brad's thigh and leans in even closer. Well, I'll be damned. Jessie cranes her neck to see what has captivated my attention but turns back to me a second later.
"You'll get used to that too," she says with a soft chuckle. "Brad has this like - insane gift of being able to detect a gay man from a straight one. It's like a sixth sense or something."
I grunt and bring my attention back to Jessie. I watch as her perfect pink lips clamp over the straw and she slurps up the contents from the bottom of the drink. My cock jerks in response and my jaw clenches with irritation.
She's not yours. She's Elliot's girl. Not yours.
"So, what brings you down here?" I ask, forcing my mind away from my dirty thoughts.
Jessie shrugs and folds her arms across her chest. The action pushes her perky breasts together and my eyes devour the sight.
Are you fuckin' kidding me? This is torture.
I let out a frustrated sigh. Maybe I should have slept with Taylor last night. God knows she wanted it. And truth be told, I'm the type of guy whocaves into a girl's wishes - sexually speaking. What guy doesn't want a hot girl in his bed begging for sex? Never before have I turned down that opportunity, that's for sure….until last night.
"Well, since you hooked up with Taylor last night, and since I'm dating your brother, I figured I too should make an effort with this 'friends' idea."
I give her a clipped nod. She doesn't seem fazed at all by Taylor, and I don't know why that bothers me so much. One of my 'regulars' approaches the bar, his drunken eyes eating up Jessie's seductive curves. He takes a step closer to her and my fists tighten at my sides.
Touch her and I'll rip your arms off.
But Jessie notices the guy before I have time to step in and dismisses his advances immediately. She pushes her empty drink towards me and points a thumb towards the pool table at the other side of the bar.
"You up for a game of pool?" she asks.
I nod. "I'll be over there in five. You can start racking them up."
She smiles and I watch as her seductive body moves further and further away from me. Jesus, she's trying to kill me. I'm not usually the type of guy that goes after a girl. Normally they come after me. But it shouldn't matter either way. I'm not allowed to go after her even if I wanted to.
A few more people come into my bar and I fill their drink orders before calling Ebony up from the back. Just as I'm walking out from behind the bar, a masculine arm slings across my shoulder. Brad's feminine face looks back at me. I move away from his touch and raise my brow in question.
"I'm just letting you know I was heading out," Brad says and shakes his head with a giggle. "It was nice meeting you, Hunter. And thanks for the free drink!"
Brad glances at Jessie and then grabs my arm, tugging me towards him and shoving his face closer to mine. His eyes narrow and his voice drops to whisper.
"Jessie's naïve but she's not stupid," Brad says under his breath. "You keep looking at her like you wanna' take a bite outta' her, and she's bound to unravel."
Brad just rolls his eyes and looks at me like I'm the stupidest guy in the world.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about, doll face. And if you plan on making her happier than her newest beau, than by all means, work your magic. But if all you're looking for is some one-night stand, then leave her the hell alone. She deserves better than that."
The older man Brad was talking to approaches us, and I watch as their masculine hands meet and their fingers intertwine. Brad's hard gaze lightens and he tugs the older gentleman out of my bar, his hips swaying in a flamboyant manner.
"Catch ya later, dollface!" he calls out to me. "And don't forget about what I said!"
What the hell just happened? And an even better question: were my feelings for Jessie really that transparent?
A/N: Ok my cuties!!!! What did ya' think!? First chapter in Hunter's POV! Should that be the only chapter in his POV? Or should I do another one of his down the line? Let me know what you all think! And for those of you who have stuck with this novel so far and have left me such amazing comments, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! You are AMAZING! XD