I inadvertently put Contessa on sale yesterday–for free. I didn’t know it until I checked my stats, and it showed I had over a hundred free downloads. I thought about putting it back at its regular price, but then I decided I’d just let it be. Contessa‘s one of my favorites, and I want more people to read it. (Sadly, I know that most people don’t read the free books they download, which is why I’m not going to do free books anymore after this, but that’s another post for another day.) Anyway! How about a snippet from Contessa to go with this sweet little graphic? It’s one of my favorite Jon/Livvy kisses in the book. Enjoy!
“Hey, Ray!” Jon’s uncle comes out from behind the bar to give him a hug.
“Happy birthday and congratulations! Ivy League, man! I can’t believe it. Your dad would have been so proud of you.”
“Yeah,” Jon says. “I think so.”
“I know so. He’s smiling down on you right now, and he’d be buying you this drink if he were here. Derrick, I need three tequila shots down here,” Ray says to a younger bartender. “The best we’ve got.”
“Okay, boss,” he answers.
“Uncle Ray, this is my girlfriend, Olivia.”
“It’s a little dark for sunglasses, honey,” he says with a warm smile.
“She lives in those, Ray. I just don’t argue anymore,” Jon speaks up for me.
“It’s nice to meet you,” I tell him.
“I need to check your IDs,” he says quietly. “Just for show, but in case someone’s watching.”
“Sure,” Jon says after taking a deep breath.
“I don’t want anything to drink,” I say quickly.
“Honey, I gotta ID anyone who comes in here.”
“Uncle Ray, just… it’s fine, Liv. He’s not going to say anything.”
I glare at Jon, but he can’t see my eyes through the sunglasses. I think about walking out of the bar, but he truly is happier than I’ve seen him, and I don’t want to be the one to spoil it. I pull my wallet out of my bag and give the bartender my ID card. He flashes a light on it to see it clearly. He studies mine for a few seconds, and then looks up at Jon. “Well, look at you. Ivy League and high-society.”
“Whatever,” Jon says, taking my ID back from his uncle quickly.
“Livvy Holland,” he says to me. “Your daddy know you’re here?”
“Absolutely not,” Jon answers again. “Mum’s the word. I just want her here to celebrate with me.”
“Got it,” Ray says. “Is this your first time in a bar, Livvy?”
“Yes,” I say with a small smile.
He picks up the three shots at the bar and hands one to Jon and one to me.
“Well, welcome. And congrats, Jonny. Good job, all around.”
“Thanks,” Jon says. “This is for you, Dad,” he adds, looking up toward the ceiling, caught up in the moment. The guys set their glasses down on the bar first before shooting them. I take a taste, cringing at the flavor.
“Olivia,” Jon says as I sip it down.
“Ow, that burns,” I croak.
“That was a lot for you, baby. I’m not sure that was a good idea.”
“Well, why’d you give it to me?” I ask with a shrug. “Plus, you’re not going to get accepted into Columbia every day. So you’re right, we should celebrate. Another?”
“Not for you, Missy,” Ray says. “Two more down here, Derrick.” He and Jon do one more shot each. The younger bartender has set down a large glass of water with a lemon in it, too–next to another shot of tequila. He winks at me as he walks away. I take it quickly, while Jon isn’t looking. The liquid sloshes onto my shirt sleeve as I drink it. This one burns even more.
“Liv!” Jon says, surprised. “Where’d you get that?”
“That other guy–Derrick. He gave it to me!” I laugh. “What, was I supposed to decline it? That would have been rude!”
He groans loudly, picking up the glass of water. Jon takes a sip of it before handing it to me.
“Please, drink this now,” he says, clearly worried. “This was so not my intention. Your dad will murder me. Forget Columbia. I’ll be in jail by morning.”
“Jon,” I giggle.
“Drink,” he repeats the order, serious. “Thanks, Ray.”
“You’re welcome, kid. I’m so proud of you.” His uncle hugs him once more.
“I think we’re gonna go get a quick bite to eat,” Jon says as he watches me suck down the water. “Have you eaten?”
“No. We’re supposed to have dinner together tonight, remember?”
“I was just wondering how drunk you’re going to be before we make it to the restaurant.”
“I’m not drunk.”
“You will be.”
“It was two drinks!”
“Drink,” he instructs once more. “They were two potent drinks on an empty stomach of a tiny girl.” He pokes me in the stomach as I gulp the water down, then takes the half-empty glass from me and sets it on the bar.
“I’m not a little girl.”
“I didn’t say that, first of all. And I certainly didn’t mean it that way, Olivia.” He stares at my lips. “Don’t get all pouty. There just aren’t a lot of places that alcohol can go in there except straight into your bloodstream.”
“I. Am. Fine.” In truth, I feel a little uneven, but I like it.
“There’s a taco shop two doors down,” Jon’s uncle suggests. “Tell them you’re my nephew. They owe me.”
“Thanks.” He guides me out of the bar, and I take his hand and start walking back the way we came. “This way,” he says with a soft tug. I trip into him, feeling a little unsteady. He wraps his arms around me tightly. “I wish you hadn’t done that,” he says softly.
I look at him curiously. “You watched him hand it to me,” I argue with him.
“The first one, yeah, but you said you didn’t want anything. I thought that meant you wouldn’t drink anything.”
“I thought you wanted me to.”
“Liv, what have I told you? I don’t want you to do anything you’re not comfortable with–”
I stop him from saying anything more by kissing him with no restraint. He takes a few steps backward to get out of the middle of the sidewalk, never letting up on the grasp around my body. He picks me up and sets me down on a step so we’re standing at nearly exactly the same height. He quickly takes off my cap and sunglasses, throwing them haphazardly onto the ground behind me. His arms return to hold me, his hands move down my back, finally settling deep into the pockets of my jeans, and he pulls me into him. I whimper quietly as I hold his head next to mine, one hand playing with his ear, the other toying with the short hair at the nape of his neck. I press my fingers into his scalp.
A slight moan forms in the back of his throat as he kisses my neck, then ducks his head next to my shoulder, taking quick breaths.
“Are you okay?” I ask as I softly run my fingers through his hair.
“No,” he whispers.
“New rule, Liv. No more tequila for you until you tell me we can go back to my apartment. Or better yet, Donna’s apartment.”
I laugh quietly to myself. “I don’t think it’s the tequila.”
“And I don’t think you know what you’re talking about.”
Contessa ©2012 Lori L. Otto