Thank God for my favorite “f” word—Friday. That was all Dia could think as she walked into the first restaurant she could find after leaving her new job for the day.
She walked into the Battletown Diner and asked the hostess for a table for one. The pretty brunette standing at the counter gave her a fake smile and guided her toward one of the tables in the back. Not that it bothered Dia. No, she wanted peace and quiet after a hard day at work.
What had she been thinking, moving hours away from her family in Nashville to buy out a hair salon from her former mentor? Sure, she loved Betty Anne to pieces, and the woman had taught her everything she knew, but after begging her for a job five years ago, Betty Anne had been the one begging somebody to take over her own little salon so she could retire, and that person had been Dia. Now she lived out in the middle of nowhere!
There was farmland everywhere she looked. And she had seen more cows in the past week than she had thought was possible. Seriously, how many cows did it take to make a gallon of milk, anyway? Because with the number of cows she had seen in and around Battletown, the rivers should be made of milk. This was probably what lactose intolerant people considered hell.
The small town was bustling with locals, but it wasn’t a major city with tons of potential clients. She was worried that perhaps she should have turned down Betty Anne’s amazing offer and stayed in the city near her parents. Except, if she had done that, what would her future look like? Always working for someone else in their salon instead of owning her own? Real estate in the city was expensive. There was no way she would have ever been able to afford her own shop in Nashville. It would have taken a lot of big spenders as clients to ever work up that kind of cash, and Dolly Parton wasn’t exactly knocking down her door to get her hair done. So, Dia’s best chance of owning her own shop was here with Betty Anne’s already established clients.
As Dia sat at her table looking at the laminated dinner menu, her mind swirled with doubts and worries. So much so, that she wasn’t reading the menu at all, just lost in her thoughts. All of that changed when the chair across from her scraped across the floor as it was dragged backward and someone sat down.
Suddenly, every nerve ending and instinct in Dia’s body flared to life. Although she hadn’t looked up yet, she somehow knew two things. One, it was a man. The spicy scent of him wafted across the table and filled her senses until her head spun. And two, for some odd reason, her entire being knew that her life was about to change forever.
How weird was that?
Not only weird, but scary. Dia’s life had already changed so much in the last few days with her move to town and taking over the business. There was no way she was ready for it to change any more.
She tried to ignore the unknown man, hoping he might go away if she paid him no attention. Just minutes later, though, she found out that wasn’t going to work, as he leaned forward and braced his arms on the table.
“You going to ignore me all night, princess?”
The unknown man’s voice was so deliciously deep that it tingled certain parts of her body. She loved a deep bass like that. His voice wasn’t what made her head snap up, though. No, it was her irritation.
“I’m not a fucking princess,” she snapped back.
She hated when people made assumptions about her just because of the way she looked. Just because she liked to have her make-up and hair done at all times didn’t mean that she was a high-maintenance woman. Dia could swing a hammer just as good as any guy in here, and if the stranger didn’t watch it, she would swing that hammer at his head.
It didn’t take much to set off Dia’s fiery temper.
Of course, the urge to hit him abruptly died away when she got her first good look at the man she had studiously tried to avoid only seconds before. The word beautiful didn’t seem to do the man justice. No, he was absolutely and utterly beard-bodacious beautiful.
He had dark, shaggy hair she immediately wanted to run her fingers through, and gorgeous steel-grey eyes. His facial features were strong, like his jaw, and undoubtedly handsome. Rugged was how one might describe them. Not Dia, though. No, the word predatory was the word that came to mind as she looked at his intent eyes and the smirk on his lips. The man was staring at her like he was a starving wolf and she was the plump, little lamb he had set his sights on.
Would it be terribly wrong if she gave in to temptation and asked him to eat her? Because looking at the stranger made her hotter than any other man had before. He was just that damn devastating. The realization made Dia feel confused because she had never had this sort of reaction to a man before.
The stranger’s smirk spread into a huge grin as he watched her after she snapped the heated words at him.
She waited for his rebuttal; some condescension that she hadn’t needed to be so snippety. Instead, he leaned forward and whispered, “All right, sweetheart, I get it; you’re not a princess. I just couldn’t help myself because, here you sit, in this little restaurant, surrounded by farmers and working men, prettier than anything I’ve ever seen in my whole life. You haven’t noticed that every single man’s eyes are glued to you, and you haven’t seen their pitiful attempts to get your attention. So, I had to come over here and make sure you had no choice but to notice me.”
“Why is that?” she asked him curiously.
“Because you’re mine.”
Dia’s eyebrows shot up to her hairline. “Ugh, you might not want to come on so strongly, buddy.”
“As you wish.”
Oh boy, Dia suddenly had the overwhelming feeling that she was in serious trouble with this guy. She just hoped it was the good time sort of trouble.