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Hooked on You

Annapolis Harbor Series Prequel

Hooked on You is the emotionally charged prequel to the Annapolis Harbor Series.

The new Assistant U.S. Attorney was the last person I needed in my business... or my bar. The way she walked in wearing a tight suit and red power heels, flashing that badge should be illegal.

Asking her for help was a mistake. Wanting her was a complication, one that I couldn't afford. We were from two different worlds.

Taylor was spoiled, privileged and in way over her head. I was just the bad boy that girls like her were attracted to, a passing phase. An itch to scratch.

I was no good for her and never would be.

New Orleans was a fresh start, a chance to reinvent myself and do some good. Too bad the first person I met was a grumpy bartender with a chip on his shoulder.

He said I knew nothing about his city, the people or what they needed. But one look at the bad boy bartender and I knew exactly what I needed. Even if I refused to admit it.

Gabe was a connection to the community. Offering to waitress at his bar in exchange for his help had nothing to do with his flexing biceps or tattoos.

He thought he knew me, that I couldn't handle him or the city... but he was wrong.

Hooked on You was previously titled Easy Moves, and includes a brand new extended epilogue.

+ Excerpt +

His T-shirt stretched tight over his broad shoulders and tapered to a narrow waist, and the ripped jeans, which looked like they were worn from hard work, hung over black scuffed boots. Everything he wore was for function, not fashion. I shook my head to clear it.

“Mr.—” Ugh. I completely blanked on Isaac’s last name and I wasn’t sure this man was Isaac. “I’m Taylor Leeds, an Assistant U.S. Attorney.” I winced at the way my voice went up an octave with nerves.

When the words Assistant U.S. Attorney left my mouth, his eyes hardened.

“What did you say?” He turned to face me, his arms crossed over his chest, his feet wide, his body tense.

“I said my name is Taylor—"

“Did you say you’re a U.S. Attorney?”

Clearly, he was not happy about my job title, but hadn’t he come to Dean with his concerns? My job shouldn’t be a surprise unless he wasn’t the owner. “An Assistant U.S. Attorney—a federal prosecutor.” I pulled my badge out of my briefcase, and he took one look before opening the door to the bar. I shook off the embarrassment and rushed to keep up with him, slipping behind him into the bar before the door shut.

He ducked behind the long bar and washed his hands in the sink before turning to find me.  “I told you I don’t know anything about a meeting.”

This was my first assignment and I wasn’t going to allow this man’s bad attitude deter me. “Isaac reached out to my boss, Dean Bernthal, about your concerns about crime in your community—”

“My community? My concerns?” He braced his hands on the bar as he considered me.

I hadn’t expected to meet resistance with a business owner who’d approached my office and agreed to this meeting. “Yes, your needs in this community.”

He shook his head. “You think you’re here for some worthy cause, but you don’t know anything.”

The air in the bar was chilly with the air conditioner blasting but my body temperature was rising with each word.

 “You’re not from here.” I couldn’t refute him—he was right. “You know nothing about this city, my community, or me.”

Every word out of his mouth was technically true. “I am new to town, but—”

“But nothing, princess. I don’t know if Isaac set up some meeting without telling me, but he’s not here. Tell your boss to send someone else next time—a local. You know, someone who understands the issues.”

“This is my job.” I gestured around at his bar and realized my mistake when his eyes narrowed on me. “When Dean told me about Isaac’s interest in revitalizing this community and reducing crime, I volunteered to take lead.” Even if Isaac wasn’t interested, I knew Dean wanted to help this community now that Isaac had brought it to his attention. The proximity to Harrison Avenue and tourism made the area ideal for revitalization.

“You’re the wrong person for the job.”

Since Isaac wasn’t here, the smart thing to do would be to go back to the office and discuss my next step with Dean, and maybe un-volunteer myself from this task. I turned to leave, and my eyes snagged on a Help Wanted sign for waitresses in the window. If I helped him out, maybe he would return the favor. At the very least I could get a feel for the bar, the clientele, and possibly learn what the issues were.

I was good with my autistic brother because I had years of hands-on experience. Getting to know the community was the same. I needed to immerse myself and get to know the business owners, residents, and customers.

Decision made, I walked closer to the bar. Wood stools butted up against a high counter where the man was stocking stemmed glasses on racks on the ceiling. His arms stretched overhead, lifting his shirt to reveal defined abs. I swallowed hard, forcing myself to raise my gaze to his face. “I see you’ve got a waitress wanted sign over there. Let’s make a deal.”

After stocking the last glass, his arms dropped down to his sides, and his eyes met mine. The eyes that had appeared black in the alley were now gray flecked with gold. His scent floated over me—liquor, leather, and man.

“I’m listening.”

“I’ll work here in the evenings until you find someone else. Dean said the other business owners respect Isaac and his bar, so they’ll be more likely to talk to me if one of you introduces me first.” I wasn’t sure that would be the case, but I’d run into resistance from this man just by announcing my job title and I wanted to make progress in the neighborhood without running back to Dean for help.

He smirked at my suggestion. “You have yourself a deal.”


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