Midnight Encounters

By: Elle Kennedy

Chapter One

“Wipe that look off your face, Mags. You’ll scare the customers.” Maggie Reilly shoved a wayward strand of wavy red hair off her forehead and glanced at her friend with narrowed eyes. “What look?”

“The I’m-having-sex-in-an-hour-so-don’t-hold-me-up look.” With a cheerful smile, Trisha opened the icebox under the counter and dumped a scoopful of ice cubes into the glass pitcher she was holding.

“Damn and I thought my poker face was solid,” Maggie replied with a grin.

Trisha poured ice water into three tall glasses and set them on her black plastic tray. “You’ll see your Tony soon enough.”

“Who’s Tony?” Matthew, the blond bartender, came up behind the two waitresses, curiosity written all over his handsome face.

Maggie shot Trisha a look that said one word and I’ll kill you. Aloud, she replied, “No one. Trisha’s just screwing around.”

Matthew shrugged and headed for the other end of the bar.

“What part of don’t tell anyone didn’t you understand, Trish?” she asked irritably.

The brunette merely gave a shrug of her own. “I don’t see what the big deal is. I mean, who doesn’t have a Tony in their life? Casual, twice-a-year sex is practically a trend these days.” She ignored her co-worker’s remark. Trisha loved teasing her about the arrangement she had with Tony, but Maggie suspected her friend didn’t fully understand just how difficult it was for her to maintain a normal love life.

How could she? She spent her afternoons volunteering at the community center, her nights serving drinks here at the Olive Martini. And her nights off? Well, those were reserved for her college classes. So it was really no surprise she’d never found a man willing to accept her hectic schedule. Her boyfriends usually got sick of seeing her only once a month and she’d gotten dumped more times than Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands combined.

Not that she was devastated.

Was it her fault men couldn’t handle her dedication and work ethic? Growing up dirt poor had made her determined to be successful. She’d struggled to make ends meet all her life, scrimped and saved until she’d been able to pay for her college tuition. In a few short months she’d finally earn her degree in social work, leave the Olive, and hopefully get a permanent— paying—position at the community center.

So, really, she didn’t need a boyfriend. Of course, that didn’t mean she wanted to live like a nun, either, which was precisely why she needed someone like Tony Burke in her life.

Tony was a travel writer who spent eleven and a half months out of the year roaming exotic places and writing about them. He came back to New York usually no more than two or three times a year, and, during one of his visits, Maggie had instantly hit it off with the sexy nomad. They’d wound up in bed the same night they’d met, and their trysts had become somewhat of a routine.

Tony arrived in town, he called her, they had sex. Then they both returned to their bustling lives, sated and content and with no plans to see each other again—until the next time Tony popped up in the city.

She’d last seen him over Christmas, and since it was already May, she’d been expecting him to call any day now. Like clockwork, he had. Just three hours ago, with his hotel room number and the promise of some hot, stress-busting sex.

“Make fun of me all you want, Trish, but we both know you’re jealous,” she said good-naturedly.

“It’s true. I’d give my right arm for a Tony.” Trisha made a face. “Instead I have a Lou.”

“Aw, be nice. Lou kisses the ground you walk on.”

“Yeah, when he’s not watching football. Do yourself a favor, Mags. Never date a man who’d rather watch big sweaty goons chase a ball around a field than talk to his girlfriend.” She laughed. Personally, she thought the leggy brunette could do a lot better than Lou Gertz, the high school football coach slash couch potato. But whether Trisha just had bad taste in men, or Lou was a reflection of the kind of guys swimming around in the singles pool, her friend’s love life only reaffirmed Maggie’s notion that relationships were too much of a hassle. That’s why she’d decided to secure her career before she tossed her line into the dating pond and hoped to land a keeper.

“Looks like Tony has some competition,” Trisha quipped.

She shifted her gaze and noticed her pot-bellied customer waving at her from across the room. “My biggest fan awaits,” she said dryly. “And by the way, he heard you snickering when he commented on my waitressing skills.”

Trisha snorted. “He called you a ballerina of the bar. He was asking for a snicker.”

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