Mary Maureen McKinloch, better known as Morrie, slumped onto a bar stool at the far end of the bar where she wouldn’t get squished by the New Year’s Eve revelers. It was a relief to get off her feet. The pub had been open since ten thirty that morning, and they’d been packed all day.
Morrie’s friend Luce nudged her shoulder. “How many hours have you worked today?”
“I lost count somewhere around three p.m. After that it was just depressing.” Morrie leaned over the bar and helped herself to a pint glass. She used the wand to fill it to the brim with club soda. Squeezing lime juice into her beverage of choice, she tried to see the positive. “I shouldn’t be bitching. I’ve made enough in tips tonight to pay next month’s rent.”
Luce’s expression turned skeptical. “Your landlord is your sister-in-law, and I know for a fact that Ashton is pretty low-key on the rent. So unless you’re a really crappy waitress, I’m thinking you’ll have enough left over to take a trip to that new outlet mall and buy some shoes.”
Morrie took a deep drink of club soda and sighed. “Hmmm, shoes!”
Morrie and Luce had immediately hit it off when Ashton had introduced them. Both women possessed a deep love of shoes, handbags, and bargains. It was a little odd that Morrie’s two best friends wound up marrying her brothers. At least she had awesome sisters-in-law.
The eldest McKinloch sibling appeared from the direction of the kitchen with a massive box of liquor perched on one bulging shoulder. “How are my two favorite sisters?”
“Wow, Oz, I’ll make sure to tell Ashton she’s in the doghouse the next time I talk to her,” Luce commented drily.
Ossian McKinloch grinned. “Maybe that’ll teach her to run halfway around the world just because my brother’s air force command stationed him in Germany.”
Morrie snorted. “Trust me, neither of you wants her here if Trip is still in Germany and they have to be separated.”
Luce pushed a lock of long dark hair over her shoulder. “I’ll second that. I can’t believe it’s been over a year since she and Trip made it official. I miss her.”
Oz swung the box off his shoulder and began the process of unloading bottles onto the shelves behind the bar. “Although it worked out pretty nice for you since Gavin was stuck on Ashton before Trip took her out of the picture.”
Luce frowned, her full lips puckering into a pout. “Okay, I resent that remark.”
“Not as much as I do.” Gavin slid his arms around Luce’s body and drew her back into his embrace. “Ashton marrying Trip was the best thing that ever happened as far as I’m concerned. But I’d rather be drawn and quartered than admit it to that egotistical bastard brother of mine.”
Luce murmured something and turned in his arms. It took only seconds for the two lovebirds to sink into a passionate kiss that made Morrie want to throw up. First of all, Gavin was her brother. Major ick factor there. Second? She was sick and tired of everyone else being lucky in love. Hell, Gavin and Luce had even gotten engaged on St. Patrick’s Day.
Zoey Statham leaned against the bar on Morrie’s other side. “Good God, are they at it again?”
Morrie swallowed a big gulp of club soda and nodded her head, feeling like a complete frump beside Zoey. The other woman’s vintage black-and-white dress had cap sleeves that showed off her slender arms and a straight skirt trimmed in ruffles that rested at her knees. Her nut-brown hair fell in gently tousled waves around a face that could’ve sold cosmetics. Zoey was so damn put together, Morrie was a clumsy oaf in comparison.
Morrie and Zoey were casual acquaintances. Morrie was never sure if Zoey really liked hanging out with her or just didn’t have any other options since now, Luce spent all her time with Gavin. Luce had brought Zoey into the McKinloch circle because they’d worked together as event planners. These days Luce worked with Gavin at their bakery, and she and Zoey didn’t seem as close as they’d once been.
Zoey offered Morrie a sympathetic smile. “I just can’t believe how rude some people are when it comes to shameless public displays of affection.”
Ossian gave Zoey an assessing look as if he saw something Morrie was totally missing. “If it really bothers you, you could always find some random partner in the room and create your own shameless display.”
From the corner of her eye, Morrie saw Luce grin and brush her nose against Gavin’s. She felt a pang as she wondered if there would ever be someone in her life to snuggle with. Her last relationship had ended in unmitigated disaster when she’d discovered her guy was sleeping with another other woman on the side while trying to coax Morrie into bed with him. When she’d confronted him, he’d made some vague comment about a trying to set up a ménage so he could enjoy watching some girl-on-girl action. Morrie had dumped his ass, although she’d been more than a little horrified that she’d felt actual excitement when he’d said “girl-on-girl.”
What would that be like?
Beside Morrie, Zoey and Oz were still bantering. Zoey waved her hand at Gavin and Luce before addressing Oz. “Are you saying you think I’m too chicken to make a spectacle of myself?”
“You mean do I think you’re all talk and no action?” Oz laid his palms flat on the bar and leaned across. “Yeah, I do.”
“Oh you are going down!” Zoey crowed.
Before Morrie even registered what was happening, Zoey spun her around, cupped her face, and kissed her full on the lips. It was like the whole universe ground to a halt.
Pleasurable tingles shot through Morrie’s system. She registered the clean, fresh taste of Zoey’s mouth and the softness of her lips. Zoey’s hands were gentle against her face, light as a butterfly. Then Zoey slid her tongue along the seam of her mouth, asking for entrance. Morrie didn’t even hesitate. She welcomed the intrusion, savoring the foreign sensation of Zoey’s skilled mouth.
Oh. My. God.
ZOEY STATHAM WAS in heaven. She’d dreamed of this moment for months, though she’d never imagined Ossian McKinloch would be the one to make it possible. She half suspected the arrogant know-it-all had nudged her into kissing his sister on purpose.
Morrie made a soft sound in the back of her throat that set Zoey on fire. Her core began to melt, leaving a warm slippery feeling between her legs and an ache that only knew one form of relief.
Zoey slid her fingers over Morrie’s jaw and into the loose hair at the nape of her neck. The dark tendrils were thick and soft just as Zoey had imagined they’d be. She explored Morrie’s mouth with her tongue, teasing and coaxing, hoping Morrie wouldn’t retreat. When Morrie’s tongue made a tentative push into Zoey’s mouth, she couldn’t hold back her moan of excitement.
“Um, wow.” Gavin McKinloch’s baritone blew the moment more effectively than an explosion.
Morrie jerked away from Zoey. She swiped the back of her hand across her mouth as if she intended to get rid of the kiss. Zoey tried to be circumspect; gazing at the woman she wanted so badly. Morrie’s face was flushed, and her dark eyes were bright with awareness and a touch of curiosity. That gave Zoey hope.
Knowing she had to take control of the situation, Zoey shot Gavin a bored look. “As if you didn’t dream of seeing something like that every single night between the age of thirteen and thirty.”
Oz chuckled. “Probably true, although I’m hoping his fantasies didn’t involve our sister.”
Morrie seemed to rally. She gave her brothers a look that oozed disdain. “Maybe next time Gavin wants to make out with my friend in public he’ll remember this incident and it’ll help cool him off.”
“You know, I think the girl has a point.” Luce tugged Gavin’s arm. “Maybe it’s time we head on home.”
Gavin looked at the clock hanging above the bar. “But it’s a twenty minutes till midnight!”
“Exactly.” Luce began dragging him toward the back door.
Zoey could see the moment her meaning sunk in, because Gavin took the lead, not even bothering to say good night. It hurt to see that happen. Luce had been one of Zoey’s closest friends. Sometimes she felt left behind now that Luce was married to a man she never wanted to be without. Zoey was happy her friend had found love, but a little jealous that she couldn’t seem to do the same.
“And…it’s back to the Morrie is single with no prospects show.” Morrie slumped against the bar as Oz hustled off to help a customer not being handled by the other three bartenders on duty.
Zoey wet her lips with the tip of her tongue, wondering if this would make it or break it for good. “Oh I wouldn’t say you have no prospects.”
Morrie’s gaze traveled around the room. “Yeah, I’m just not feeling into any of the guys I see up for grabs on this fine New Year’s Eve.”
“What about the women?”
Morrie turned startled eyes back to Zoey. “I guess I never considered it.”
“Why not?” Zoey forced herself to sound nonchalant as if she were just casually tossing the idea around herself. As if she hadn’t imagined making love to Morrie fifty different ways.
“Because I’ve always been with guys?”
Zoey climbed up onto the bar stool and took a moment to settle her skirt around her legs. She thought carefully about what she wanted to say. “Being with a woman means you’re experiencing pleasure with someone who understands your body almost as well as you do. She knows just how to stroke your breasts so your nipples get sensitive without overdoing it. How to tease her way down your belly to your pussy, and how to use every part of her body to make yours sing.”
Morrie’s breathing grew ragged. Zoey could see her pupils dilate in the dim light of the bar. She was definitely curious. Now Zoey had to convince her to try something new and exciting. If Morrie would just let herself experience the passion that simmered between them, Zoey was sure she’d realize they were meant to be together.
Morrie inhaled a shallow breath. “I guess I always thought that a woman wouldn’t have what I need.”
Zoey scoffed. “You know the only thing a woman doesn’t have that a man does?”
Morrie shook her head.
“A dick telling her what to do.”
Morrie’s laugh seemed to catch her by surprise. She covered her mouth with both hands, her eyes sparkling with humor. “Do you”—she seemed to lose her words—“I mean have you ever done something like that?”
Zoey forced herself to play it cool even though her inner sexpot was jumping up and down screaming yes! “Why? Are you curious enough to come back to my place and try it?”
Zoey had to choke back a groan when Morrie nibbled her full lower lip. She took one last look around the room, ending with a long stare at her brother, Oz. Then she turned to Zoey and gave her a sharp nod. “Yeah, I’m game.”
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