Only seven sleeps until Finding His Princess is here!! In the meantime, here’s a special sneak peek of Chapter 1… enjoy!! 😘
I close the back door to the diner as softly as I can, glancing at the clock on the wall as I do.
Holding my breath, I tiptoe along the back hall to the tiny break room. My white sneakers just barely squeak on the tile floor, but even that noise makes me nervous.
Three minutes wouldn’t be a big deal at any other job, but my boss Kyle is a total jerk. And worse, he’s a total jerk who lives to brown-nose my stepmother — and catching me doing something wrong is a great way to score points with her.
The lights are on in the break room, but there’s no one there, and I exhale, pushing my blond hair out of my face as I hang my purse on a hook, grabbing my apron. It’s kind of gross right now, since yesterday morning I had a table with two kids who got into a mustard fight, and I really need to take it home to wash it but just forgot yesterday, I was so tired.
I grab that, tie it around my waist, and pin my name tag on my Silver Spoon Diner t-shirt.
Then I take a deep breath, wind my hair into a bun, and head out to see whether we’ve got customers yet.
“You’re late, girl,” Flynn calls the moment he sees me.
“Barely!” I protest.
He puts one hand on his hip and tilts his head back so he can look down his nose at me.
“Three minutes late is still late,” he says, making his voice high-pitched and nasal. “That’s another demerit, Miss Horne.”
“Kyle’s going to catch you doing your impression of him one of these days,” I say, typing my apron strings around my back.
Flynn grins and turns his attention back to flipping pancakes.
“Not today,” he says, and winks at me. “But you owe me. I covered for your pretty little butt a few minutes ago already.”
“Thanks,” I say. “I’m sorry, Peyton couldn’t find her mascara this morning, and then Slade had a zit and broke a coffee mug, so I had to clean all that up before I came.”
Flynn purses his lips and looks at the grill disapprovingly without saying anything, and I sigh.
“I know, I know, it’s ridiculous,” I say.
“They’re ridiculous,” he says. “Grown-ass women who pitch hissy fits when they can’t find their shitty drugstore mascara and it’s somehow your fault? Girl, you have got to get yourself out of there.”
“You can say that again,” I mutter.
“I’d take you up on the easy joke but you’ve already got a table waiting,” he says. “The four-man hangover party at table seven.”
I lean back, away from the window, and catch a glimpse of a few guys who look like they’re still wearing what they wore to last night’s black tie event. I raise one eyebrow. People who attend black tie events aren’t exactly our usual clientele.
“They must be hungover to eat here,” I tease Flynn.
“Hey now,” Flynn says. “I am a damn expert in hangover cures, especially for hot men who know how to dress.”
Flynn winks at me.
“I thought you and Thomas were a thing now,” I say, prying.
“Can’t I have a little fun?” Flynn asks, monitoring some eggs. “Go get their order, I’ve got work to do.”
“They have menus already?”
I walk over to table five — the darkest table in the place, which they probably requested — pulling my notepad out of my pocket as I do.
“Hi there,” I begin. “My name’s Ella, and I’ll be your server this morning. Can I start you off with—“
“Coffee,” the first guy on the right side of the table growls. “Make it fast and just leave the damn pot.”
I glance down at the rude bastard, making sure I don’t let annoyance register on my face. He’s slouching in his chair, one hand on the table and the other slung over the back, wearing a tuxedo that he’s clearly had on since last night.
It’s untucked and wrinkled, his bowtie undone around his neck. The shirt is unbuttoned just far enough that I can see the curves and contours of his thick, muscled chest.
I stare for just a moment too long, because even though he’s obviously kind of a hungover jerk, he’s also kind of hot in a jerk way.
Then he finally looks up at me, one eyebrow raised.
“Well?” he asks.
Oh my gosh, he’s good-looking. Even though he clearly had a pretty rough night, he’s got deep slate-gray eyes, mussed hair, and exactly the right amount of stubble on his square jaw.
Not to mention, he looks kind of familiar. I could almost swear that I know him from somewhere, except I’d remember anyone this incredibly handsome. Right?
My mouth comes slightly open, and it’s a moment before I remember that I’m supposed to answer.
“Of course,” I say.
He’s a total jerk, I think. A complete and total jerk. Don’t give him the satisfaction of thinking he’s hot.
“Could I get a Bloody Mary?” his friend says, finally snapping me out of my hot-jerk induced reverie.
“Sorry,” I say, finally remembering to smile. “We don’t serve alcohol.”
“No alcohol? None at all?”
I shake my head.
“The cook doesn’t even have a bottle of vodka stashed somewhere for the really tough mornings?”
I’m sure Flynn does, but I’m not offering it to these guys.
“I don’t think so,” I say as sweetly as I can, tilting my head to one side. “Orange juice?”
I turn to the third guy.
“I’ll just take the coffee and hope for the sweet release of death,” he says.
“Same,” the last guy says, not even looking up at me.
“I’ll be right back with those,” I say, and turn.
“Make sure it’s strong,” says the first guy — the hot jerk — and I glance back at him. “None of this usual diner coffee bullshit.”
We lock eyes for a split second, and then his gaze travels down my body, from my head to my feet and back up as he smirks.
A jolt of electricity slams through my core, my nerves crackling with sudden heat while this jerk looks me over, up and down, like I’m something he can have.
I stand my ground, notepad in hand, even though I can feel my face getting red.
“I’ll see what I can do,” I say, and walk back to the kitchen.
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