Hey there! I’m M.J. O’Shea, and I just wanted to share an excerpt from my current book, Coming Home, that came out last month from Dreamspinner Press.
Tallis Carrington ruled Rock Bay with his gang of jocks and an iron fist—until a scandal destroyed his family’s name. Ten years later Tallis is dead broke, newly homeless, and on the walk of shame to end all walks of shame. He needs money and needs it fast, and Rock Bay is the only home he knows. But the people of Rock Bay haven’t forgotten him—or the spoiled brat he used to be.
The only person in town willing to overlook his past is Lex, the new coffee shop owner, who offers Tally a job even though he appears to despise Tally based on his reputation alone. When Tally discovers his gorgeous boss is the kid he tortured back in high school, Lex’s hot and cold routine finally makes sense. Now Tally has to pull out all the stops to prove he was never really the jerk he seemed to be. After all, if he can win Lex’s heart, the rest of the town should be a piece of coffee cake.
It’s Tallis’ Carrington’s first day on the job, and his new boss Lex is having problems getting used to a new employee. Especially him.
* * * *
It was pitch black outside when Lex’s alarm started blaring the next morning. Except in the lightest parts of the summer it usually was. He reached over with a groggy slow-moving hand and slapped ineffectually at the snooze button on his alarm until the god awful thing was finally silenced. Groaning, he flipped his legs over the side of the bed until his feet were resting on the small Persian replica he had there for chilly mornings just like that one. Sometimes, Lex wondered what on earth had made him choose a business that required him to be up before the crack of dawn. He’d never been a huge fan of early mornings and most of the time when he got up it still felt like night. Too late to rethink that now.
Too late to rethink hiring Tallis Carrington as well. Lex halfway thought that perhaps Amy was right. Maybe it was a bad idea to hire his old nemesis and misguided crush. He shrugged it off and stepped into the shower, hoping that the steam would wake him up. He really had needed the help. It didn’t mean he had to like the person who was helping him.
His back hurt like hell from the heavy box of new cups he’d put down the wrong way the day before. Damn, I’m getting old. He could almost feel his mother smacking him on the arm with a rolled up newspaper and saying ‘if you’re old, what on earth does that make me?’ Lex grinned to himself. Twenty eight wasn’t so bad anyway. It would be nicer if he wasn’t alone, he imagined, but there was no way he was going to give Amy the satisfaction of knowing that thought had even crossed his mind.
Lex got out of the shower and ran a towel cursorily over his skin, missing a few drops here and there but in too much of a rush to care. As usual, he’d lain in bed till the last possible moment and there was so much to do in the mornings before he could open. He pulled a pair of jeans from his dresser and shoved his legs into them before grabbing a shirt from the closet.
Dressed and as awake as he could possibly be, Lex closed and locked the door to his upstairs apartment and walked down the staircase that ended up in the hallway behind the coffee shop where his office and the storage room were. Some days he wished his home were more removed from work but usually in the morning, when he could barely drag himself up; he loved the fact that he was already where he needed to go.
He was almost surprised to see Tallis waiting for him outside the glass door of the shop. Almost. There had been a desperation in Carrington’s eyes the day before that Lex definitely didn’t remember. It seemed that things hadn’t been so easy for him after…well everything that had happened. So perhaps life had changed Tallis Carrington just a touch. Didn’t mean Lex could trust him.
“Carrington. You’re on time,” He said as he opened the door. Snapped was more like it. He was annoyed with himself for thinking that the guy looked amazing in his well worn designer jeans. “You need some new jeans. Work on that.” God why did I say that? What a jerk.
“Well, yeah, you told me not to be late. Here’s my paperwork.”
Lex grunted noncommittally as he took the stack of papers with a less than gentle swipe.
“Could you please not call me Carrington? I’m not a huge fan of my last name anymore. Tally is fine.”
“And I’ll get some new jeans after a paycheck or two. It hasn’t been an easy few months.”
Lex wanted to tell Tally not to worry about it but he stopped himself. This guy isn’t unassuming Tally. He’s still Tallis Carrington no matter how far he’s fallen. Give him one rung to pull himself up on and he’ll squash you on his way back to the top. Instead Lex opened a bottom shelf and got out an extra apron.
“Here. Put this on. Today is little stuff; cleaning, garbage, we’ll see how it goes from there.”
Cleaning? Garbage? I’m not fifteen. Tally bit his lip. Gorgeous Lex’s expression couldn’t have said asshole any more clearly than it did. Too bad because it kind of ruined that perfect face. Tally plastered a smile on his own face ready to take whatever was dealt out. He needed the job too much to be picky. He started by windexing the counters and the glass in front of the display shelves. He could only imagine that’s what Lex Luthor had in mind when he’d thrust the cleaner and a towel into his hands with a taciturn grunt. Tally had to stop himself from chuckling at the spontaneous nickname. Lex Luthor it was. Gorgeous and a dick—but his employer none the same.
“Hey, I’m done with counters and the glass. Hit all of the tables too. What’s next?”
He watched his boss look around the nearly pristine shop. There was nothing left to clean and they both knew it. Tally could almost see the mental wheels spinning.
“The store’s going to open in about fifteen minutes. You know how to work a cash register?”
What happened to cleaning and garbage? If nothing else, maybe cash register experience would save him from a day of busboy duties.
“Yeah, I’ve been using them for years.”
“And I’m assuming you are pretty good with taking orders down, restaurant history and all.”
Tally flinched. Somehow, Lex had somehow made the words ‘restaurant history’ sound like ‘rap sheet’. “Yes. I’m good at taking orders down.”
“Good. Here’s the menu. The food’s pretty self-explanatory as far as pricing, but the coffee is a bit more involved. The prices listed here are for one flavor twelve, sixteen, and twenty-four ounce drinks. It’s another fifty cents per flavor and another dollar on top of that for anything special like breve or specialty milks like soy or rice. If they want the powdered white chocolate flavor, it’s seventy-five cents extra because it’s more expensive than the syrup to buy. Oh, and our special this week is the butter pecan. That’s two dollars flat if it’s a sixteen, regular price for any other size. Every week it’ll be a different flavor but the same rules apply.”
Is he fucking kidding? Tally knew what Lex was doing could only be new employee homicide. Tally really wanted to call him on it, but he was fairly sure that Lex knew exactly what he was up to and would never even consider doing it to anyone else. The jerk wants me to quit. Screw that. The little surge of his old competitive spirit felt better than anything had in years. He used to hate losing but he’d spent so long doing nothing but losing that it’d become second nature. Not this time. He was sure this whole town would delight in seeing him fail, new guy obviously included. Hell if he’d give them the pleasure.
“You got a pen and a blank piece of paper? I’ll need to have a cheat sheet for a few days until I get the coffee pricing down.”
“I said I didn’t want to tell you anything twice.”
Tally took a deep breath. “I’m not asking you to tell me again, I just want to write it down. Is that okay?” Patience. You need this job.
Lex seemed to relax a little, like he’d caught himself being a prick and didn’t know quite how to get out of it. “Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll get you a sheet out of my printer.”
It was going to be a trial by fire for sure. More like a trial by hot steaming espresso…and a possible tarring and feathering by his old fellow townspeople. Honestly that worried Tally a whole hell of a lot more than any complicated price list. Lex wordlessly handed him a blank sheet of printer paper. Writing the pricing rules helped him to start memorizing them. It also helped him to relax a little, in what he supposed was the calm before the coming tempest. Lex waited, in an unexpected show of patience, for him to finish writing his list before speaking again.
“So you take orders, call the drinks and sandwiches to me, and ring them through. If you have extra time, you can also bag any pastries that are ordered. You think you can handle that?” Lex’s face said that he assumed the answer was no.
“I think so,” Tally answered. He didn’t want to be too cocky, but he wanted to show confidence, despite the general non-existence of any form of training. It was a balancing act, trying not to piss the new boss off.
Lex only nodded, then walked to the front of the shop to unlock the front door.
“It’s show time.”
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Blog with Piper http://mjandpiper.blogspot.com