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Hopeless: Chapter 32

Bailey

Beau: Jasper and I are coming to hang out for a drink.

Bailey: Oh, a sign of life. Thanks for the heads up.


I should be Beau Eaton’s biggest fan today. He made me see stars last night and then held me against him like I was his favorite stuffed toy all night long. Then, when I thought he was getting up to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water, he disappeared on me. If it were for work, he’d have gone earlier. But instead, he slept in and then left without a word when he thought I was still asleep.

He told me he was hung up on me. Then fucked off. And I was too chickenshit to go after him.

I grab another fork, spoon, knife combo and angle them across the paper napkin, rolling the cutlery up like it’s done something to offend me. I toss it into the bucket beside me, glance up and down my mostly empty bar to see if anyone needs topping up, and start all over again.

I’ve spent all day trying to make heads or tails of it, and it’s become clear to me I have no clue what I’m doing where Beau Eaton is concerned. I’m officially a basic bitch with a massive crush on the same person as every other girl in town.

And I know I’m leaving. Which is a hilarious combination.

Do people masturbate together all the time and then just carry on like nothing happened? I don’t even know! Worse, I have no one to ask.

Except for Beau. Which just comes off kind of pathetic in this case. So I’ve stewed all day. Lying in the sun, pretending to read when I’m fairly sure I just read the same page over and over again while waiting for him to show up.

Then I got ready early for work, taking extra time to look really fucking good. Glowing from an afternoon spent in the sun made it easy to go light on my makeup. I scrubbed and moisturized my skin until it freaking shines when the light hits it. Wanting to showcase the goods, I picked a floral tank top that ties at both shoulders and tucked it into skin-tight black jeans. Jeans I know make my ass look great.

And then I spent a painstaking amount of time blowing out my thick head of hair, section by section, with a round brush. It tumbles down my back like a mane, heavy and voluminous.

I’m counting on Beau actually showing up. For all his mixed signals behind closed doors, he’s been nothing but steadfast and dependable where safeguarding me at my bar is concerned.

And sure enough, the door swings open at 8 p.m., and in he walks, all bronzed skin, tight T-shirt, and sun-bleached hair. His brown locks are now highlighted with streaks of blond and warm chestnut because he refuses to wear a hat at work. He insists he’s not a cowboy while simultaneously burning his ears working the ranch all day long.

My stomach flips over on itself, butterflies erupting as he approaches.

He doesn’t belong here.

The thought pops up and I swipe it away. Write it off as wishful thinking. Of course he belongs here. He’s the prince of Chestnut Springs.

“Boys.” I smile stiffly and toss two coasters on the bar as Beau and Jasper saunter up, pulling stools out for themselves and greeting Gary. Beau reaches across the bar, avoiding my gaze, and grabs my hand. He presses a kiss to the top of it, his usual bar greeting for me since we got engaged. His lips brush my skin and electricity sizzles their wake as I tug my hand away.

Gary slurs some sort of greeting and I shake my head at him. He tosses his keys up on the bar without argument and gives me a watery smile.

Attention back on Beau and Jasper, I finish with, “What can I grab ya?” My eyes meet Beau’s briefly and his gaze scorches me. It licks over my body, hot and intense. Tongue darting out over his lips when he gets to my breasts. The ones propped up in my very best bra, because fuck him for leaving me this morning.

“Hi, Bailey,” Jasper says kindly, eyes bouncing between Beau and me. “I’ll have a Rose Hill Red, please.”

Beau’s brows furrow as he turns to his friend. “Not a Buddyz Best? I thought that was yours and Sloane’s favorite.”

Jasper laughs, caramel locks shaking around his ears, skin beside his eyes crinkling. “Truth is, I don’t really like it. But Sloane does, so I drink it with her.”

Beau seems confused. “You drink beer you don’t like because your wife does?”

Jasper shrugs, offering me a knowing wink. “Yeah. Makes her happy. It’s our thing. I’ll sit around and drink watery Buddyz Best with Sloane for the rest of my damn life if it makes her happy.”

I swallow and blink away. Fuck. That’s really cute.

Meanwhile, I’ve got the emotional equivalent of a rock sitting across from me after hightailing it out of my bed this morning like he couldn’t get away fast enough.

And I wasn’t even asking him to drink watery beer with me.

“I’ll have a Rose Hill Red, too.” Beau’s long fingers rap against the bar top, and I slice him an are you sure kind of look.

He nods.

“You’ll like it, man,” Jasper carries on, unperturbed. “There’s a little brewery in Rose Hill where we just had training camp. The best craft beers, patio right on the lake. Can’t beat it.” Then he launches into a conversation about hockey, and I instantly zone them out.

While I pour the pints, I mull over all the alcoholics I’ve known in my life. I peek over at Gary—all the alcoholics I’ve served here. I know Beau isn’t one of them. I saw Beau at a down-and-out moment in his life, and he quit without a backward glance.

Peeking up over the reddish-brown beer accumulating in the pint glass, I watch him. And he catches me. Our eyes lock for a beat, and another. My heart rate quickens.

And just like last night, dancing with his hands all over me, everything around us melts away. Until the only things that exist are him and me and the air between us that feels thick enough to trip on.

Cold liquid hits my hand as the beer overflows. “Shit! What the hell. This tap always pours slow and then today it magically works.” I shake my hand off, but all that does is flip a sizeable spot of beer foam right onto my cleavage. I watch it there, white and dripping, then my gaze flits up to Beau’s, which is plastered on the same spot.

Only me.

After last night? This would only happen to me.

With one finger, I wipe the foam off the rounded top of my breasts and shake my hand off again. The splatter falls to the rubber mat beneath my feet, wetness dotting my sandals.

“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, can you two not? We’re in public right now.” Jasper groans and scrubs a hand over his face.

I decide now isn’t the moment where I’ll start cowering around these guys. I’m a bartender. I’m paid to banter with creepy old men. My fake fiancé and his best friend should be a breeze.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Jasper.” I force my eyes to go comically wide, staring at the man like I’m genuinely confused. “It’s just beer.”

Poor, sweet Jasper Gervais. His neck turns pink first, right at the edge of his stubble. I watch it creep up his throat and spread across his cheeks. “It’s just that you two were all”—he makes googly eyes and sort of shakes his hands beside his face—“and then it looks like … well, you know.”

I blink a few times, channeling my inner Bambi and leaning into the fact that I look younger than my age. “What does it look like? I don’t follow.”

Jasper blinks back at me and tugs at the neckline of his hoodie like it’s choking him. But I know better. It’s the awkwardness that’s choking him.

“It … ”

“It looks like beer foam?” I tilt my head innocently.

Beau laughs. “Jesus, Bailey. Give the guy a break. He’s as wholesome as they come. He can’t even say it out loud.”

Jasper straight up chokes, a fist hitting his chest as I hand him his beer. “Here. Wash it down. Breathe through your nose.” I wink at him, and he shakes his head, doing his best tomato impression. I turn back to Beau. “Say what out loud?”

“You two have the same fucked-up sense of humor, that’s for sure,” Jasper murmurs against the rim of his pint glass.

Beau’s eyes stay pinned on me, a knowing smirk tugging at his lips. When he stares at me like this, I forget why he annoyed me in the first place.

“That it looks like you have jizz on your tits.”

Jasper sprays beer into his hand, a sad attempt to cover his mouth foiled by his inability to keep it together right now. But Beau and I just smirk at each other.

When I push, he pushes back. When he pushes, I push back. We keep ending up right in the middle.

Together.

It’s with a light shake of my head that I get back to work. I silently hand Beau his beer and proceed to mostly ignore the two of them. They speak in muted tones, and I hear the odd name I recognize. Beau’s eyes watch me all night long, while Jasper peeks between the two of us curiously.

He scrutinizes with a curious intensity. It makes me wonder what he knows.

It makes me feel like they’re talking about me.

Beau nurses his single pint and switches to tea. Sloane comes in, hair in a bun. She wraps her arms around Jasper’s neck, and he turns on his stool to kiss her soundly. When he pulls back, the look he gives her makes me think he’s a lot less wholesome than Beau might realize.

Shortly after she arrives, they leave together.

But not before Jasper whispers some parting words in his friend’s ear, squeezes his shoulder, and gives him a stern nod. “You need to tell her.”

I don’t know if I hear it or if I read his lips. All I know is that one sentence lands in my gut like a boulder at the bottom of a lake.

Tell me what?


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