Cassandra (Scruples Series Book 2)

By: Ditter Kellen

Chapter One

Cassandra Blanchard grinned at Adele, Sadie, and Madge as she wiped down the bar situated on the bottom floor of Scruples.

The three elderly women were regulars of the establishment and rarely missed a day without darkening the doors. However, it didn’t stop them from grumbling when Carly had sold the old building and moved Scruples to a new location. Even though it meant a shorter walk for the lot of them.

Carly’s decision to relocate the restaurant had caused an uproar in town, but the new two-story building she’d purchased and refurbished a couple of streets over had quickly quieted the wagging tongues.

Scruples now boasted of a bar and dining room downstairs as well as a sports bar and banquet room on the top floor.

The balcony overlooking the lake was a crowd favorite and usually stayed packed on the weekends.

Winking at Adele, Cassie shifted her gaze to Sadie. “Are you going to fill me in on your midnight rendezvous with Mr. Griffin?”

“Weren’t no rendezvous to it. At his age it was a quickie at best.”

Madge’s mouth fell open as she twisted on her stool to gape at her sister, Sadie. “Don’t you lie to that girl. You were flat on your back at nine o’clock with your teeth on the nightstand, snoring like a bear in hibernation. I know because I got up to get a drink and looked in on you on my way to the kitchen.”

“You’re just jealous because he’s been after me since the ninth grade,” Sadie snapped, taking a sip of her Bloody Mary.

“And no doubt he had to wait in line for you to come up for air. We all know what a reputation you had in high school.”

Adele snickered. “Madge is right, Sadie. That’s why Daddy’s hair turned white at an early age. He couldn’t marry you off fast enough.”

Cassie laughed, interrupting their sisterly squabble. “I’ve never been more relieved to be an only child.”

Sadie nodded. “Best thank your lucky stars for that. You could have been stuck with two old hags, constantly harping and sticking their noses where they don’t belong.”

“Oh, you wouldn’t know what to do without us,” Madge muttered, picking at a piece of thread hanging from her blouse before turning to peer out the window. “The sun seems to be setting earlier every day. It’s getting dark. We best get going.”

Cassandra watched with no small amount of humor as the Murphy sisters attempted to slide off their stools, arguing and complaining the entire time.

As one, the three elderly women stilled, their backs stiffened, and their eyes became instantly alert.

The hair stood up on Cassie’s arms as she glanced from one to the other. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Madge replied in a low voice. “Have a good night, dear. Make sure someone walks you to your car after closing.”

Cassie couldn’t shake the feeling that the Murphy sisters were hiding something. Not that she could begin to fathom what it might be. They had to be close to ninety years old. What could they possibly have to hide?

The door suddenly opened, pulling Cassie out of her contemplation of the strange vibes coming from the sisters. She swung her gaze toward the tall, intimidating stranger darkening the entrance.

His face was hidden in shadow, but his physique nearly dropped her to her knees. He exuded power, from his wide shoulders to his obviously expensive black pants.

He stepped farther into the room, and her heart skipped a beat. He had to be the most beautiful man Cassandra had ever seen.

“Remember what I said, child.”

It took her a second to realize that the sisters were still there and that Madge had spoken to her. “Oh yes,” Cassie replied almost as an afterthought. “Sam is here; he’ll see me safely to my car.”

Adele patted Cassandra’s hand. “I like that Sam. He’s a good sort. See you in the morning, pretty girl.”

Cassie smiled. “Be safe going home.”

The sisters slowly filed toward the exit, never removing their gaze from the remarkable stranger now taking a seat at the bar. Cassie could empathize. She was finding it difficult not to stare also.

“What can I get you?” She had already pushed the sisters from her mind and moved to stand in front of Mr. Tall, Dark, and Sexy.

“I hear you make the best Bloody Mary in the county,” he rasped, pinning her with a heart-stopping look.

The husky sound of his voice turned her insides to mush. “Sam, the bartender is the Bloody Mary guru, but I make a close second.”

Something flickered in his pale blue eyes. “Boyfriend?”

Cassie nearly laughed. “Not hardly. I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say that he avoids my person at all costs.”

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