Getting Rowdy Page 1

Author: Lori Foster

Series: Love Undercover #3

Genres: Romance


AVERY MULLINS HESITATED outside the entrance of the newly renovated bar. This early in the day, only a dim interior showed beyond the locked, glass-and-oak double entry doors—new doors that had just been installed two weeks ago.

Doors she’d helped to pick out.

Freshly painted signs crowded the big front window, advertising food, two pool tables, dancing and drinks. Overhead neon lights showcased the name of the bar: Getting Rowdy. It made her smile, remembering how she’d suggested the name, and how he’d followed through.

In such a short time, so much had changed. The business had gone from a failing, run-down dump of a place known mostly for its cheap drinks and availability of illicit drugs to a promising, fresh new bar with a fast-growing crowd. Even more notable was her switch of positions, from struggling waitress to head bartender.

Satisfaction had her smiling through most of her days. Thanks to the tips she made along with the raise she’d gotten, she no longer had the grind of two jobs just to make ends meet.

She’d kept the same apartment that could only be called modest if someone felt generous. And for the sake of anonymity, she still took the bus to and from work, rather than drive. But...

She had changed.

Before meeting Rowdy Yates—bar owner, boss and scalding-hot temptation—before being swept up in his enthusiasm for turning around a broke-dick bar, she’d...survived. No more, no less. She hadn’t been unhappy, really. Or rather, there’d been no time to dwell on ideas like happiness.

But she hadn’t enjoyed her life, either. Not like she did now.

She loved how Rowdy so often included her in decisions concerning the bar, almost as an equal partner instead of simply an employee. He had final say in all things, but he welcomed her input. He was proud, but not too stubborn to listen. Strong, but never a bully. He made her feel important again.

And of course, every woman who laid eyes on him noticed his appeal—her included.

They got along great, working to make the bar as successful as it could be. Associates, and she liked to think friends, as well.

Rowdy wanted more. God knew he hadn’t been shy in sharing his interest.

And though he didn’t know it, she returned those sentiments. But...did she dare to get intimately involved with a heartbreaker like Rowdy? He was honest with her; she didn’t worry about what he wanted because he spelled it out. His honesty could sometimes be so brutal that it took her breath away.

He wanted sex.

Preferably with her, but every time she refused—and she’d refused every time—he easily found “company” elsewhere. With the way the female patrons came on to him, she doubted he ever had to spend a night alone.

Yet he always asked her first before moving on to second choice—his words, not hers.

Who did that?

Why did he do that?

If she really mattered to him, wouldn’t he wait until he got her agreement?

But, being honest with herself, Avery had to admit that went both ways. If he mattered to her, why make him wait? After the year she’d had, she deserved some fun.

Bad boy Rowdy Yates, with his scrumptious bod, brazen attitude and overactive libido, would be so much fun.

A brisk October wind cut through Avery’s jacket and sent shivers up her spine, bringing her back to the here and now. Daydreaming about Rowdy had become her prime preoccupation. Seldom did a minute pass that he didn’t plague her mind.

Maybe tonight, before he hooked up with someone else, she’d clue him in to how she felt.

With that decision made, Avery unlocked the door. Only she and Rowdy had keys. It still amazed and pleased her that he trusted her so much. She would never do anything to make him regret that.

Without turning on lights, she made her way through the dim interior of the bar. The early-morning sunshine barely penetrated the shadows. Usually she arrived around two o’clock, an hour or so before her shift so she could get set up. But she had errands to run today, as well as an important phone call to make, and she’d forgotten her phone near the register. She figured she may as well combine the trips.

After locating her cell phone behind the bar—right where she’d left it—she started to leave. She’d taken only a few steps when she heard the first noise.

Heart going heavy, alarm prickling, Avery stopped to listen.

There! She heard it again. A slight rustling, a low...groan?

She swallowed hard. Had someone gotten in through the back door? A drunk? A vagrant?

A robber?

Or worse?

No. She shook her head, denying that possibility. No one from her past would ever think to look for her here. There were times when she still couldn’t believe the differences in her life. Differences that, since meeting Rowdy, she no longer regretted.

Besides, Rowdy’s ongoing renovations to the bar had started with updating all the security, installing sturdy new locks to both the front and back door and all the windows that opened. No one could easily break in.

Before her transformation, she’d been an utter coward. Oh, sure, some might have called it circumspect, but she knew the truth. For far too long she’d relied on others...for everything.

A year ago, when faced with an unknown noise, she would have slunk back out the front door and called the police to investigate. If it turned out to be nothing, well, she didn’t mind the possible inconvenience to others.

But a year in hiding had taught her to be more self-reliant, to handle her own problems. Independence had freed her, so she wouldn’t backslide now.