Only You (Red Hook 5) - Page 1

Chapter One

Alicia Garcia leaned against the long wooden bar waiting for her drink to be made. She was at the local pool hall called Blue Diamond in her hometown of Red Hook, Texas with her friends. She took a moment to observe her closest friends as they stood across the room, playing pool. The lights were dim, but a bright lamp hung from the ceiling over the pool tables. There were several scattered around the place. Music poured over the speakers along the wall. There were other people, but it wasn’t so crowded you felt like you couldn’t breathe.

Her friend, Jasmine Garrett, and her fiancé, Drake Lopez, were kissing in the corner. Her other friend, Holly Davis Smith, was rolling her eyes at the couple. Holly had a pool stick in her hand. Her husband, Matt Smith, was giving her instructions on which ball to hit. Holly wasn’t very good at the game, but she played for fun, she told them. Alicia envied the two couples. They had found true love and it showed. She wanted that, too. Despite having a few fears about dating, she still longed to feel that connection with another human being.

Her eyes landed on Tony Smith, Matt’s older brother. She thought he was an attractive male. Maybe not in the conventional way, but in a tough, bad-ass way. His brown hair was kept short as if he was still following military regulation. He had been retired for a few years, but she could tell he followed a routine because it was comforting to him. Many people thought he was carved from stone. She could always tell how he was feeling from his mossy-green-colored eyes. The man stood six-four and was well defined with muscles.

Many people took one look at his large size and stayed away. Not her. She chatted up a storm with him the first night they met here months ago. He nodded and grunted, but didn’t talk much. She hadn’t minded. She was happy doing all the talking. They had become good friends, even joining a tournament team to play pool. She thought they made an excellent team. Lately, she had been seeing him in a different light. She found him compelling and sexy. It took every ounce of her control to not jump into his arms and just kiss him until he gave in and kissed her back. Her body always had an overwhelming response to his nearness. It was difficult to act unaffected.

She wasn’t that experienced when it came to dating. Her first time taking a chance had been a bust. She had gotten burned by trusting the wrong man and had been consumed with regret, guilt, and sorrow for a long time. She had walked around depressed and angry with herself for thinking John Daniels was genuine. She had been fooled so easily by his charm and, well practiced lines. Now those feelings were all gone and she felt free. John had been a huge mistake. That was part of growing up. You learned your lesson and you moved on.

Tony was nothing like John. He wasn’t conceited or a womanizer. He had a mature personality she found very appealing. Alicia trusted Tony, to be honest. Maybe she could ask

Jasmine and Holly for advice. They had to have a few tricks up their sleeves since they landed their men.

* * * *

“When are you going to finally ask her out?”

Tony Smith heard the low words coming from his younger brother, but he decided to ignore them. He kept his eyes on Alicia standing by the bar. He wanted to make sure she wasn’t bothered by the many admiring eyes on her. He tried to tell himself he was only looking out for her out of friendship, but deep inside he knew he wanted Alicia Garcia. She was slim with a generous bust and curvy hips. She had big brown eyes so filled with zest, and a wide grin that automatically made you want to return it.

Obviously, he wasn’t doing a good job of hiding his feelings. He was friends with her, and at first, that was enough to satisfy him. He truly liked Alicia. He found her amusing and honest. He enjoyed spending time with her. Slowly, as the weeks passed, he’d started noticing how her smile warmed his cold soul. When she laughed, his pulse sped up and he felt tingling inside his gut. Her warm brown eyes looked into his as if she saw who he really was.

When she leaned her soft, curvy body against him, his body reacted favorably. He spent most of his time trying to hide the bulge beneath his pants. He glanced at the way her faded jeans molded her plump ass. The sight made his mouth water. Her black hair landed on her shoulders. Her white, silky blouse was tucked into her jeans, showing off her trim waist.

“Do you want me to ask Holly to ask Alicia if she likes you, too?” He heard the teasing in his brother’s voice. Little brothers were annoying. He turned and growled at Matt. Matt’s green eyes were filed with amusement.

“Don’t you dare say a word,” he warned.

Matt laughed aloud, ignoring Tony’s grumpy look.

“Matt, quit teasing your brother and come and help me.” Holly pouted. Her curly blonde hair cascaded down her back. She wore faded jeans and a blue-and-gray flannel shirt. The couple were still newlyweds, having been married for two months, and they acted like it.

Matt laughed and moved her curls out of the way so he could kiss her cheek. “Sure thing, doll.”

Tony liked Holly. She was smart and sweet. The two truly loved each other. Matt had ignored his feelings for almost a year because he thought Holly was too young and naïve to handle him. Matt had been afraid of hurting her. Tony was glad they were married now. He had never seen his brother so calm and happy. He hardly ever had his moody days since he got back with Holly.

Tony couldn’t help but wonder if Alicia would invoke those types of feelings in him. He still had nightmares and he hated crowds. He was too scared to try. That was the problem for him. Alicia had a painful relationship in her past. She had confided in him how hard it had been to get over. She tried to act as if she was so tough, but inside she was sensitive and soft. He didn’t want to add to her hurt. Maybe he should slowly distance himself away from her so she would be free to date again.

A piercing pain went through his heart at the thought of not seeing her again. He wanted her to be happy, though. She deserved to be happy. She had a lot to offer the right man. He just wasn’t sure he was that right man. She needed someone close to her age, someone who knew how to romance a woman. She deserved all the frills and flowers, things he wasn’t good at.

Alicia joined them with some fruity drink in her hand. He looked at her pretty brown eyes and not the drink. He loved how her eyes always sparkled with humor.

She held the drink out to him. Her genuine smile affected him greatly. It was hard not to smile back. “Want a drink?”

“Please. Give me a shot of tequila without the fruit and umbrella.” He snorted, making the others laugh. He kept his face looking serious, but inside he was amused. She shrugged and took a sip of it. She made some encouraging comments to Holly, who hit the wrong ball, making his brother groan and slap his forehead. The two girls giggled.

After the game ended, they all went their separate ways. Tony insisted on walking Alicia to her car. The parking lot was mostly empty, but it was dark.

“But Deputy Smith, isn’t Red Hook a safe town?” Alicia teased, hooking her arm through his. He was used to her touching him all the time now. At first, it had been strange. Most people shied away from him. She didn’t. He liked to think she needed the connection as much as he did. He was coming to depend on feeling her soft hands on some part of his body. The problem was that there were other hard parts he wanted her hands on.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry. Humor me. My mama taught me manners, Miss Garcia.” He tried to sound polite and not like he was turned on by her soft body leaning against his.

He liked the sound of her light laughter. She laid her head on his arm and he felt the gesture go straight to his heart. He definitely was getting too emotionally involved with her. Emotions were dangerous. Emotions caused havoc and chaos to one’s peace of mind.

He had to remind himself he was too rough, too old for Alicia. She was only twenty-five, and he was ten years older than her. His heart ached, but maybe it was time to let her fly free. He didn’t want to hold her back from finding a nice man. It would be selfish to keep her to himself. He was tempted, though. The battle inside to restrain his hand went on through the night.

Chapter Two

Alicia looked at herself in the mirror. She could feel the excitement build in the pit of her stomach. Her heart was racing with elation. Tonight was the night. She felt confident. She was meeting Tony in an hour for a tournament.

Her black hair touched her shoulders. She hadn’t cut it in quite a while. She liked the longer look. It made her face look softer. She wore jeans, and liked how they hugged her form. They fit snugly without being overly tight. She chose a soft pink, long-sleeved buttoned shirt, leaving a few of the top buttons open. That had been Jasmine’s advice. Holly had told her to be open and let Tony know she wanted to take their friendship to the next level. She had talked it over with them when they met for lunch yesterday. Jasmine was sure Tony liked Alicia as more than a friend.

“I see the heat in those green eyes of his.” Jasmine had laughed. She had fanned herself with the menu playfully. Holly nodded and agreed.

Alicia left the house and got in her car. She felt light and happy. It had been a while since she felt that way. A long while. Getting over her mistake with John had been hard. She realized it wasn’t because she loved John so much. Yes, she had feelings for the man, but she had felt guilt, regret, and foolishness after she saw his true colors. Knowing someone fooled you not only broke your heart, but it made you afraid to trust. She trusted Tony. He was different. Not just because he was older in years, but because he was mature and settled. He was someone a girl could count on.

She put on her favorite country music station and sang to a song. She didn’t care if she was out of tune. She couldn’t wait to talk to Tony. She pulled into the billiard hall and found a parking space, smiling when she spotted Tony’s huge black truck. Good, he was here already. She wouldn’t have to wait around for him to show up and let her nervousness rise. She planned to corner him before the rest of the team showed up.

She opened the heavy glass door and felt the air-conditioned air hit her. It was mid-September and the nights weren’t as hot as they used to be, and the coldness felt good. She was a little nervous. She had never been the one to make a first move, despite her outgoing personality. She waited until the man flirted with her first, then she would join in and let him know she was receptive.

She waved to a few people she knew and headed to the table they always used. Soft rock music played over the speakers and she hummed to a tune. As she got closer, she waved to Kyle Lewis, a team member.

“Hey, Kyle,” Alicia said. He lifted his beer in greeting. He didn’t look too happy, but he usually looked angry when he was smiling.

“What’s wrong?” she asked him.

“I thought Dee liked me,” he mumbled. “Instead, she jumps all over Tony as soon as he walks in and he doesn’t stop her.”

His words shoc

ked Alicia. Her heart dropped to her toes and she felt the tightness in her chest. “What?”

Maybe she’d misheard him. She heard giggling and turned her head. Despite Kyle’s warning, she still felt nothing but shock. Tony sat on a stool with his hands around Dee’s tiny waist. Dee was a lot thinner than Alicia. She suddenly felt like a whale in the outfit she had just liked less than thirty minutes ago. Dee was giggling and had her mouth on his neck and her hands on his chest. Kyle was right. Tony was not pushing her away. The bastard looked like he was enjoying Dee’s attention. Alicia was tempted to pull Dee’s fake blonde hair and snatch her away from Tony. Jealousy hit her so hard it almost buckled her knees.

“See?” Kyle muttered, slamming his beer bottle down so hard it broke. That caught the attention of Tony and Dee. Tony looked at Alicia and she swore he looked at her with a guilty expression. Kyle cursed under his breath and stomped off. Tony stood up, moving Dee to the side. Her shirt was unbuttoned very low, leaving nothing to the imagination.

“What is his problem?” Dee scoffed with a shake of her head. She looked at Kyle with confusion.

“He liked you. Everyone knows that, yet you flaunt your relationship with Tony right in front of him.” Alicia knew she sounded angry, but she was angry. She was also hurt and disappointed. Men were the scum of the earth. How long before she learned that lesson for good?

She looked at Tony and held her tears in. Pride would not let them fall in front of Tony and Dee. “You asshole, Tony. I thought Kyle was your friend, yet look at you two carrying on in front of him.”

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