Gahhhh!!! Aly Martinez and M. Mabie’s When the Walls Come Down is LIVEEEEEEE!! This is a standalone office romance. A romantic comedy that I CANNOT wait to dive into and read! It sounds so so so good, and it’s in Kindle Unlimited, you guys! Also, today we have an exclusive excerpt. Make sure you check it out below!
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He had a weird way about him, but that twitchy grin and lifty eyebrow thing he had going on was definitely flirty.
“Listen,” he said. “This is probably obvious already, but I don’t do this—ever. But I like talking to you. I like your accent. And again, forgive my poor small talk skills, but I have to say you’re stunning. It’s hard to take my eyes off you. So maybe you’ll have dinner with me,” he rumbled, more of an order than a request.
Poor small talk my ass.
I was not a woman who swooned easily, but either he’d been bluffing or it really had been too long since I’d flirted with a man. “I’m not hungry, and after that steak you had, there’s no way you are, either.”
His jaw flexed, rocked to one side, and then the most brilliant white smile split his mouth. “What? That steak I had down there?” He pointed down the bar where he’d been sitting with—according to her uniform— a chef or cook or whoever she was when I’d come in. “Peach, you checked me out while I was eating. I’m flattered.”
“Stop calling me Peach. And no. I was checking out your steak. New restaurant. I was curious about the…fare.” The fare? What the hell? Who said the fare unless they were a medieval food wench? Nevertheless, I didn’t allow the word-choice regret to reach my face.
“Right,” he breathed, so damn proud of himself. Propping his hand under his chin like Rodin’s sculpture of The Thinker, he flexed. “And how did you find the fare?”
His warm eyes now held more confidence, as if he’d somehow relaxed in just the few minutes we’d spent together. And, Lord help me, the more relaxed he got, the more nervous I became.
This was moving fast, but I’d done what I’d come to do.
Yep. Time for me to head home. I’d gone out like Melanie had insisted. I’d even made admittedly strange small talk with a stranger. Mission accomplished. I could officially go home, put my pajamas back on, and plot out how much tinsel I’d need to make a giant wreath for my brick wall view.
Rising to my feet, I drained my drink and set it back on the bar. “Two stars. Would not recommend. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get home.”
He laughed, loud and rich. The kind that would cause anyone who heard it to smile too. “Hey, hey, wait.” His large hand gently wrapped around my forearm. “I didn’t mean dinner tonight. What about tomorrow?”
“Damn, I already ate tomorrow.”
He pouted, and sweet Lord, it was almost as ridiculous as it was sexy. “Come on, Not Peach. One dinner. That’s all I’m asking for. If nothing else, I’ll give you the nickel tour of the city.” Releasing my arm slowly, he stood up, towering over me, and damn if too close didn’t feel too close anymore.
He raked his teeth over his bottom lip as he peered down at me.
I did not, under any circumstances, imagine how they’d feel grazing across my skin. “Calling me Not Peach is still calling me Peach.”
He nodded. “This is true, but also another practical reason why you should give me your name.” His eyes never left mine as he slapped around on the bar until he found his phone. “And while you’re at it, I’ll take your number too.” His hopeful grin was nearly contagious.
“Slow down there, speed racer. We barely know each other. What if you’re some kind of maniac?”
His arm shot out to the side and he snapped his fingers continuously.
Chris wandered over. “What now, Casanova?”
“I need a character witness. Tell her I’m not crazy.”
“Certifiable,” Chris replied without so much as a blink.
A laugh escaped my throat. “Wow. That’s some endorsement.”
Shane’s mouth fell open. “What the hell, man? I thought I meant something to you.”
Chuckling, Chris lifted a shoulder in a half shrug. “Nah. I’m kidding. I’ve known him a long time. If you don’t bore easily, he’s an okay guy. Definitely not a wildcard.”
Shane’s proud gaze came back to mine, and he pointed his finger over the screen of his phone. “Now, would that number start with a Georgia area code, or did you switch it to a four-one-five when you moved?”
I bit the inside of my cheek and cut my eyes across the bar, but out of excuses, I did it while saying, “Maggie.”
“Maggie Peach,” he whispered as he pecked the screen.
“Quit calling me Peach.”
“What?” He feigned innocence. “Since you’re not exactly forthcoming, I’ll just have to use Peach to fill in any facts I don’t know about you yet. Last name? Peach. Favorite color? Peach. Favorite food? Peach. Favorite flavor Tic Tac—”
I opened my mouth to shut him up, but he lifted a finger to silence me.
He quipped, “Trick question. Mint. They don’t make a peach Tic Tac.”
It couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes since this guy had barged into my space and settled on the stool beside me, but it was hands down the most entertaining fifteen minutes I’d had in months—including those before I’d moved to California.
Yes, I was attracted to him, and taking Melanie’s advice about getting laid sounded incredibly appealing at the moment. But dinner, and drinks, and conversation, and laughing, and finally feeling alive again sounded better.
After taking his phone from his hand, I tapped my number into it, correcting him as I worked. “Maggie Light. Gray. Italian. And I hate mint Tic Tacs.” I handed it back to him. “Everyone knows orange is where it’s at.”
In the small space between us, he extended a hand my way. “Shane Warren. My new favorite color is blue. For the record, that’s just been amended. Favorite food is steak, medium rare.” His voice rose as he added, “Which we all seem to know.”
Chris rolled his eyes.
And then Shane’s dark gaze dropped to my mouth. “And, maybe, I need to give orange Tic Tacs another shot.”
“Maybe you do,” I whispered, putting my palm in his, heat pinking my cheeks.
We stood there for several beats. Gazes locked. Him shaking my hand. Me holding his. It was about to cross into awkward territory when, in classic Shane Warren fashion—yes, I could say that even after only knowing him for a mere fifteen minutes—he defused the situation.
“Come on, Maggie Peach Light Gray Italian. Let me buy you another drink.”