Read Stirred: a love story Online

Authors: Ewens, Tracy

Stirred: a love story

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TRACY EWENS

Stirred: A Love Story

Copyright © 2016 by Tracy Ewens

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever including Internet usage, without written permission of the author.

This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, or events used in this book are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, alive or deceased, events or locales is completely coincidental.

ISBN: 978-0-9908571-9-8 (print)

ISBN: 978-0-9908571-8-1 (e-book)

Book design by Maureen Cutajar

www.gopublished.com

For my Jack.

He knows why.

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Chapter One

Sage Jeffries never backed down from a challenge. “There’s nothing you can’t do if you set your mind to it” was practically a family motto growing up. She and her three sisters spent their childhood outsmarting, outrunning, and out-achieving one another. Hollis graduated high school in three and a half years; Sage did it in three. Annabelle rode in her first competitive horse show when she was seven, so their youngest sister Meg made sure to win her first blue ribbon by the same age. To say the Jeffries girls were competitive was an understatement. So, it took the family by surprise when Sage bowed out of corporate life to become a bartender in Los Angeles. “Not simply a bartender, a mixologist,” she had said, but her sisters mocked what they called her foolishness while her parents offered up some extra cash. She’d been in LA almost three years now, and mixing drinks wasn’t all that different from building robots. She’d always loved pieces and parts—figuring out what worked together and fixing things that were broken. Shortly before turning thirty, she’d announced during a family dinner her desire to experience more than what she’d learned in a classroom or the boardroom. She wanted stories and adventure. Since renting her little 1960s-style, one-bedroom bungalow, Sage had become an experience junkie. She went to festivals, had jumped out of a plane, traveled, hiked, and competed in cocktail competitions. She loved her job and after reading a book on giving back, she’d become involved in her local community center. In a few months, she would be teaching bridge, which would have made her grandmother so proud. Sage was up for anything that brought her closer to life—real life.

Of course, even with her recent “renaissance” as her father liked to call it, there was still one area of “experience” that had eluded her. In school, Sage was shy, and now that she’d grown up a bit, she was sort of clumsy or awkward, she wasn’t sure. All she knew was the opposite sex was a weakness, an area in which she’d never managed to excel. That was exactly why her sister Hollis had downloaded the book onto Sage’s Kindle in the first place and stuck a note on the screen while she was packing. After settling into her seat on the plane, she read the note.

 

Good seeing you.You’ve been in LA long enough now. Stop being sodamnnice. It’s time. You’re a bartender, little sis. Happy Reading!XO Hol

 

She’d finished with one of those stupid winky faces. Damn her and her winky face, Sage thought, peeling the note off and stuffing it into the seat pocket in front of her. The moment she touched the little book icon, she was happy she had a Kindle. Not that she was embarrassed to be reading a book titledNice to Naughty in Ten Easy Steps, but it wasn’t something she wanted to advertise either. The plane began to taxi and Sage held the blue quartz stone hanging from her necklace as if it could somehow aid in delivering her safely back to Los Angeles. She knew better; she knew how planes were made but still brought something with her every time she flew—a piece of good energy, in case there was more to life than moving parts.

Sage read the “How To Use This Book” section and began questioning her sister’s suggestion the minute the author compared women to fruit salad. As the plane lifted off, she took hold of the armrest and prepared for that moment in flight when everything drops a little from the turbulence. Once she made it past that point, Sage had learned through countless trips out of San Francisco, she could relax.

Settling back into the virtually nonexistent cushion of 14C, she noticed the man sitting by the window. Seat 14B, between them, was empty, so Sage had a little room to observe. Casually glancing up from his dark leather loafers, Cole Haan if she had to guess, she saw he was readingMaximmagazine. Once he flipped the page, the cover folded out of sight, but not before she caught a glimpse of a gorgeous woman in next to nothing, her hands over her impressive breasts. Sage looked around the cabin as if some alarm was about to go off and found herself shocked that he was reading what should be a guilty pleasure right out in the open. And what was he so intent on reading? Was there anything to actually read inMaxim? She’d seen the magazine on the stand but never opened it, so she supposed she shouldn’t judge, but she did anyway. Crossing her legs to the other side and attempting to focus back on her own book, Sage learned that apparently naughty women were the grapes of the fruit salad.

She shook her head as her eyes drifted again, this time to the man’s hands and quickly to his face. No wedding ring, nice suit, and he was good-looking. At least from what her side-glance could gather. She noticed the soft leather briefcase at his feet and deduced that he was traveling for business. Did businessmen read smutty magazines on the plane? Out in the open?

As if she’d said it out loud, he looked up, brushed past her eyes, and asked the flight attendant for a ginger ale. His voice was deep, nice. Sage turned, realizing she’d been caught staring at a complete stranger, and told the short woman with blond hair and a huge turquoise ring on her middle finger that she was fine with her bottle of water. Smiling, the attendant moved away for a second and returned with a fizzing plastic cup, square napkin, and a bag of peanuts. She reached past Sage to hand them to the man and, with effort, pushed the cart on to the next row. Wondering for a minute how heavy those carts actually were, Sage again returned to her book and vowed to try to act normal.

“Business or pleasure?” the man next to her asked, folding his magazine and putting it between the seat cushions.

Sage reacted with a bit of a jump, as if she’d suddenly noticed another human being was sitting next to her. So much for normal. His eyes were brown and he had a cute little birthmark right below his ear, on his neck. Now that he’d spoken to her, she turned and noticed he was definitely good-looking—good-looking and smiling. Big, super-white teeth.

Answer him, you creeper, her mind yelled.

“Yes, sorry. I’m. . . pleasure. I was home for Christmas.” She smiled back. “You?”

He let out a breath and opened his peanuts. “Business, unfortunately.”

“Hopefully you had a little time for the holiday? Or maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas. Oh wow, I’m sorry. You’re Jewish.”

Here we go, crazy lady.

The cute guy laughed. “No, I’m not Jewish. I’m the only one of three associates who is still single, and our Japanese client couldn’t care less if it was Christmas, so they sent me.”

Giving him a look she hoped conveyed commiseration and made up for her odd outburst, she returned to the safety of her book.

“I’d much rather be spending time in San Francisco with a beautiful woman,” he said as easily as he took a sip of his ginger ale.

Sage felt her heart jump, like it did any time she wasn’t behind her bar and had to make conversation with a charismatic man.

Don’t assume he’s referring to you, she told herself as she was suspended in uncomfortable silence.

“I’m sure you get that all the time, huh?”

Okay, so he is talking about you. Be gracious.

“Oh, not exactly. Thank you.”

Finishing his handful of peanuts and twisting the bag into a tiny bowtie, he moved on, asking her what she did for a living and commenting that he liked her necklace. Sage closed the black cover of her Kindle, took a sip of water, and talked with Chris, who introduced himself with a great handshake. He explained he was a lawyer traveling home from San Francisco after several long days of depositions.

“Do you live in LA?” he asked with the confidence Sage recognized in men she served drinks to at The Yard. Success brought with it an ease Sage usually found interesting when she had three feet of mahogany in front of her. Without it, packed into an airplane, she found it unnerving.

“Yes,” she managed, bracing herself for the next inevitable question.

“Me too. Let me get your number and maybe we can get a coffee or I can take you to dinner.”

Sage looked down at the cover of her Kindle, her head now swirling with the fruit salad analogy. She had no idea how to be a grape in the female fruit salad yet, but she’d observed enough grapes to know it often involved exchanging numbers. So, even though she barely knew this man, even though she wasn’t sure she was attracted to him, and even though he had a subscription toMaxim—she’d seen the mailing label—she let out a shallow breath and gave him her number. As Chris typed her name into his phone, she noticed his hands again. They were tan and well-groomed. Peeking out from his starched cuff was a woven bracelet. As they were departing, he explained he’d brought it back when he hiked Machu Picchu last year.

They exchanged pleasant smiles, and he looked back again as he wheeled his bag out to the curb after they said good-bye. Sage realized her hand was sweating as she clutched her own bag, but she also felt flushed with something else—pride. She’d actually sat on a plane with a handsome guy, been social, flirted a little, and with the exception of a brief blip into Judaism, she hadn’t once made an ass of herself. It wasn’t quite naughty, she thought as she scanned the curb for a shuttle that would take her to long-term parking, but Hollis had a point. She had been in LA for a while now and other than her infatuation with her best friend’s older brother, which was going nowhere, Sage hadn’t made much of an effort in the male department. A new year was right around the corner and she had tried so many things since moving to LA, so perhaps it was time to give “naughty” the old Jeffries try. She was only on chapter one of the book and would probably never make it to a grape, but she’d settle for a banana, maybe even a strawberry.

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