The Sweetest Thing Read online

Page 17

  Author: Jill Shalvis

  “Yeah, I’m listening. ” Ford rubbed his belly. “And ouch. ”

  “Sharp, I tell you!”

  Like he didn’t know that. Like that hadn’t always been the problem, that he wasn’t exactly up to Tara’s standards. Something that had been slammed home to him anew now that he’d actually met Logan and seen the slick, polished ex up close. Not only that, he’d sensed a still-obvious chemistry between Logan and Tara.

  Sawyer was taking all this in with his usual quiet calm. “What makes everyone think our boy here is interested in the girl?” he asked Lucille.

  She cackled and slapped down her empty shot glass, indicating she wanted another. “Oh, he’s interested. ”

  Sawyer looked at Ford, studying him thoughtfully. After a beat, a slight smile curved his lips. “Yeah, I think you’re right. ”

  “Thanks, man,” Ford said.

  Lucille smacked Ford upside the head.

  “Okay,” he said. “Stop that!”

  “You need to stop. Stop messing around. It’s time to get serious now, Ford. For once in your life. ”

  What made this all worse was that in a way she was right. Ford knew what people saw when they looked at him—a guy who’d never had a serious commitment in his life, except maybe to sailing. And other than Tara and that long-ago summer, he’d never really been with a woman with whom he’d truly been friends as well as lovers. In his mind, the two were separate things. His life went day to day. His sailing. The bar. Friends. Sure he was good to his grandma but she didn’t require anything much from him. Money was easy to give once you had it.

  The truth was for the past six months now, he’d been… restless. Unsettled. Unhappy.

  Six months. Since the day Tara had come back to Lucky Harbor. Which was especially stupid because neither of them wanted to go down that road again.

  And yet there was something undeniable between them, something far more than what had happened in her bed. Something that made him itchy to both run like hell and go after her at the same time.

  The door of the bar opened and in strolled… shit.

  Logan Perrish.

  He was dressed more for a hot nightclub than a smalltown bar, and looking pretty damn expensive while he was at it. Ford wanted to hate him on principle but the guy stopped to sign an autograph for anyone who wanted one. Hard to hate a guy like that. When Logan got to the bar, he was clearly surprised at the sight of Ford. “Hey. You’re a bartender?”

  “Yep. A drink?”

  “Sure. ” Logan scanned the list of beers available on the blackboard behind Ford. “I’ve heard about something called a… Ginger Goddess?”

  From the next barstool, Sawyer grimaced. “You’ve gotta be within fifty feet of a swimming pool in order to drink a fruity, girlie-ass drink like that. Otherwise, they revoke your guy card. ”

  Logan smiled, unconcerned. He looked at Ford. “So you make them or what?”

  “Yeah. ” Ford made them. For women. Sawyer was right; it was a complete pussy drink.

  Logan laughed at his expression. “I know, I know. But if it has the name of a soda pop or any sort of female connotation, I’m hooked. ”

  Ford went back to hating as he picked out a kiwi, a pear, and a cocktail shaker, and got to work. On a damn Ginger Goddess.

  “Well, if it isn’t the famous Logan Perrish,” Lucille said in her craggy voice.

  “Hello,” Logan said with an easy smile. “You a racing fan, darlin’?”

  She simpered. “Oh, yes. ” She pushed her napkin toward him. “Autograph?”

  Ford shot her a level are-you-kidding-me look over his shoulder, but she just grinned at him before turning back to Logan. “And isn’t it something to have you here in Lucky Harbor? Nice finish in Talladega. Sorry about the subsequent crash. ” She touched his brace. “I hope it’s not too painful. ”

  “I’m healing up just fine,” Logan assured her, turning to include the two women who came up on his other side. They held out their napkins for him to sign as well, which he did with a flourish.

  Ford added ginger, vodka, and ice to the shaker, catching Sawyer’s eye.

  Sawyer was back to smirking.

  With a scowl, Ford strained Logan’s drink into a flute, then topped it with sparkling wine.

  By now Logan had half the bar circling him like he was the best thing since sliced bread, and he’d turned away from the bar, completely surrounded by fans.

  “A real live celebrity,” Sawyer noted to Ford. “People can’t resist that. ”

  Ford could. “I don’t see what’s so great about him,” he muttered. “In his last eighteen starts, he’s never so much as led a lap. And he dresses like he believes his own press. ”

  “I think you missed your dose of Midol today. ”

  “And what the fuck,” Ford went on. “Driving isn’t even a damn sport. ”

  Sawyer was cracking up now. “Really?”

  “Really what?”

  “You’re going to finally make a move for the woman you’ve been mooning over for what, six months now, because her ex-husband is in town? Lame, man. ”

  “Who said I was making a move?”

  “You’re gearing up, I can tell,” Sawyer said.

  “You can not. ”

  “I’ve been watching you make your moves since middle school. You haven’t changed your technique much. ”

  “Whatever. ” Ford slammed around a few shot glasses to look busy. “And technically, I made my move before Logan got here. ” He felt someone pat his hand and looked down at Lucille.

  “Don’t you worry, honey,” she said in a stage whisper the people in Seattle could have heard. “We’re going to help you get the girl. ”


  She gestured to four women that looked even older than she, all in an assortment of bright lipstick and blue hair. “We’re going to tip the scales in your favor,” she said. “But it’d really help if you’d ever been on TV for winning a race. ”

  “I have!” Ford pinched the bridge of his nose. “Listen to me, Lucille. No meddling. Do you hear me?”

  But Lucille had already turned to her posse. “It won’t be easy, girls,” she was saying to them. “But we can do it. For Ford, right?”

  “For Ford,” they all repeated.

  Sawyer was grinning, the asshole.

  “Okay, that’s it,” Ford said to Lucille, pointing at her. “I’m cutting you off. ”

  “Hush, dear,” she said with a dismissive wave. “We’re working here. And while you’re standing there looking pretty, we’re going to need a pitcher of margaritas. ”


  Ford was halfway through that task when Logan sauntered back up to the bar for another drink.

  “Don’t tell me,” Ford said. “Another Ginger Goddess. ”

  “Nah. ” Logan grinned. “I just wanted to see if you knew how to make a sissy drink. It was good though. Thanks. ”

  Sawyer, still sprawled back in his chair, laughed.

  Okay, that was it. Ford was cutting everyone off, the fuckers.

  Lucille asked Logan for his autograph again.

  “Didn’t I already give you one, darlin’?” Logan asked.

  “Yes, but that was for eBay. ” Lucille patted his arm and pointed to Ford. “Have you met our own local celebrity?”

  Logan looked at Ford. “Yes, but I didn’t know he was a celebrity. ”

  Ford waited for someone to announce his two American Cup wins or maybe the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year award. Or hey, how about either of his gold medals?

  “Yes, sirree,” Lucille said proudly. “Ford here makes the best margaritas on the West Coast. ”

  Sawyer choked and indicated he needed water. Ford ignored him.

  “And oh!” Lucille added. “He’s real good on a boat, too. ”

  Ford was sure that he could feel a blood vess