On the Rocks (Mixology #2)


by Alyssa Rose Ivy

Chapter One

Carly

I’m all about ‘80s Flashback Fridays on radio stations as long as I don’t have to listen. I love music, but the ‘80s is one decade of tunes that needs to be buried—in a deep hole—and covered over. At least that’s how I felt as I sat in traffic while the sun beat down on me through the window.

My Camry is a great car. I love every little thing about it, except for its malfunctioning radio, and said radio’s impeccable timing of getting stuck on a station at the worst moment. That’s how I came to be singing along to Madonna’s Like a Virgin at the top of my lungs with the windows down as I drove into Corolla, North Carolina. I need to amend my earlier statement; there are a few redeemable songs from that decade.

I hadn’t actually told my brother that I was coming to stay with him. That kind of forewarning would have resulted in him trying to dissuade me from visiting. As cool as Colin was, he had a thing about privacy, especially now that he had a serious girlfriend. He’d been home from Paris less than a month, but I knew he was trying to convince Maddy, the girlfriend, to move in. From what I understood she was resisting. Maddy also happened to be one of my favorite people in the world, so I was trying to be Switzerland in the whole situation. Of course her moving in might make it more likely that they’d get married, which would mean I’d see her for the rest of my life. I guess in that way I was kind of biased.

After getting a few stares from pedestrians, I lowered the volume of both my voice and the radio. There was no reason to annoy the neighbors—even if they were mostly tourists.

I pulled into Colin’s driveway, taking in his gorgeous two story beach house. The place wasn’t actually his. His company owned it, but it was still pretty cool.

Nine o’clock at night seemed like a safe time to show up unannounced. It was late enough that even my workaholic brother should have been home, but it was early enough that I wouldn’t interrupt any activities he was having with Maddy. I’d done that before, and Colin was less than thrilled.

Maddy was there. I noticed her bicycle leaning against the garage. I was surprised Colin hadn’t brought it inside. He was very much into keeping the property visually appealing. I know I’m probably painting him in a negative light. I’m not trying to. He’s a great guy, a fantastic brother and all that, but he could be incredibly uptight about some things. Maddy seemed to chill him out and bring out all his good qualities. She needed to stick around. In my defense, I knew he was good for her too. I guess you could say they brought out the best in each other.

I popped the trunk and pulled out a couple of bags. I’d probably over packed, but I didn’t plan to leave for a while. Going home to my parents’ house was out of the question, and now that I had a college diploma, my on-campus apartment was no longer an option. I brought everything I didn’t want to leave in storage. I walked up the steps dragging an oversized duffel and a large rolling suitcase. By the time I reached the top stair I regretted the decision to drag them up myself. Colin could have lifted them and saved me the effort.

I took a deep breath and readied myself before knocking.

The door opened, and Maddy pulled me into a huge hug. “Carly!”

“Hey!” I shared her enthusiasm. I was probably even more excited to see her than I was to see my brother.

Maddy opened the door wider and picked up the duffel. I’d taken two steps into the entryway when Colin walked down the hall.

“Carly?” Wearing only jeans and with wet hair, Colin’s appearance made me doubt my timing analysis. But then again Maddy’s hair was completely dry. Maybe he’d just taken a post-work shower.

“Hey, brother.” I dropped the handle to my suitcase and hugged him before he could respond.

“Uh, why are you in my front hall with all of your belongings?” He looked around the entryway like the walls might provide him with an answer.

“You think this is all my stuff? You did live with me for fourteen years of your life.”

Maddy laughed. “Are you in town for awhile? When we saw you at graduation you said you were planning to stay around campus for the summer.”

“Yeah. Change of plans.” The staying around idea had sounded good until my friend who was supposed to be splitting the rent in an apartment went and got engaged. The trials of being a single twenty-something.

“So you’re here for a few days then?” Colin’s voice lilted a little. He was afraid of my answer.

“Maybe a week—or a month or something.”

“Carly!” Colin turned red. That’s what he always did when he got annoyed.

“What?”

“You know I love you, but you can’t move in here.”

“Why not? You have tons of room.”

“It’s my house.”

“I’ll be good. I was helpful when I was here in December.” The jab probably got him where it hurt. I’d rescued Maddy when he’d stood her up on their three-month anniversary because of work. That should have entitled me to something.

A smile crossed his lips, and I knew he was done fighting. “Fine. You can stay a few days.”

“Awesome!” Maddy popped up on her toes. I’m pretty sure I brought out the giddy, girly side in her. I got the feeling she was usually more reserved. Her current position was as a bartender, but she definitely seemed very type-A personality. That side of her nature mirrored Colin’s.

I edged my way further into the room. “I’m sure you guys already have plans, so I’ll go unpack.”

“Plans? Not exactly.” Maddy reached for the duffel she’d dropped, but Colin went and picked it up along with my suitcase. He moved them easily down the hallway to the guestroom.

He returned a moment later smiling. He could act tough, but he loved seeing me.

“Then what should we do? Want to go out for a drink, or watch a movie or something?” I threw out suggestions, wanting to keep things fun.

Maddy tried to stifle a yawn. “I was thinking about baking something.”

“Baking?” Colin and I asked in unison.

Maddy laughed. “Ok, you two sound related right now. Why are you surprised?”

“You don’t bake,” Colin said matter of factly as he pulled his t-shirt on over his head.

Maddy put a hand on her jean clad hip. “Brody’s teaching me. He’s given up on the cooking, but he thinks I have some ability when it comes to baking. I like it. It’s more of a science.”

I made myself at home on one of Colin’s couches. “Oh yeah. Brody’s a chef, right?” Brody was one of Maddy’s two roommates. I’d only met him once but he’d seemed cool.

Maddy sat down next to me. “Yeah. He’s amazing. He’s also a good baker, but it’s not his specialty.”

I stretched, I’d spent entirely too long in my car. “Not only do you live with attractive guys, but one can cook. You’re a lucky girl.”

Colin scowled. “And you wonder why I’m frustrated she hasn’t fully moved in yet?”

Maddy gasped. “You told Carly that!”

“Yes. She agreed with me that after months of living together in Paris, this shouldn’t be a big deal.”

“I did not agree.” I turned to Maddy. “Ignore him. What are we baking?”

“Oatmeal raisin cookies.”

“Can’t you make them chocolate at least?” Colin whined but his grin made it clear he wouldn’t have cared if she’d suggested baking liver and onions. He loved having Maddy in his home. I wondered if she realized how much her moving in meant to him.

“I found a great recipe, but I need to run to the store.”

“Oh, can I come?” I might have just spent five hours in the car, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t tag along.

Colin put a hand on her shoulder. “What do you need to get?”

Maddy smiled. “Raisins, oatmeal.”

Colin laughed. “All right, why don’t we all go? But we’ll have to take your car, Carly. Maddy’s is at her place, and mine only seats two.”

“Or we could take your BMW. You can stay home.”

Colin shook his head. “Nope. It’s a lease.”

“Fine, but I’m not driving.” I tossed him my keys.

He caught them. “All right, do you have enough of a list, babe?”

Maddy stood up. “Yeah. I’m all set.”

“I’m surrounded by crazy girls.” Colin put an arm around each of us, and we headed out the door.

“Yes, but loveable crazy girls.” Maddy kissed him on the cheek.

“Most of the time.” He moved away in time to avoid her hand making contact with his arm.

Maddy refused to let me sit in the backseat, so I reluctantly took the front. There was no reason to argue over something like that. Colin drove down the one major road in town and pulled up in front of a small general store type place. There was a large grocery store in town, but apparently Maddy preferred this family owned market even though it took longer to get to.

Colin met Maddy on her side of the car and took her hand. I probably had a goofy grin on my face. I loved seeing my brother so happy, and it was because of a great girl. At least I could have a normal relationship with one of my siblings.

The surprisingly spacious store was nearly empty. Only an older couple perused the shelves. I didn’t even see anyone at the register. Hopefully they’d get back by the time we finished.

I followed Maddy around as she filled a basket with ingredients.

“Boo!”

I jumped back, turning around and coming face to face with a set of drop-dead gorgeous blue eyes. The owner of the eyes ran a hand through his dark brown hair.

I recovered from the surprise, but not from his closeness. “Umm, what the hell was that?”

“Macon!” Maddy groaned. “You scared Carly half to death.”

“Carly wasn’t scared, were you?” Macon, Maddy’s roommate, took a step back and grinned.

Colin responded before I could. “Don’t mess with my sister.” He emphasized sister more than he probably needed to.

“Funny. I almost forgot you two were related. You don’t look anything alike.” Macon let his eyes roam over me. “And that’s a very good thing.”

I looked down at my violet sundress self-consciously. I could count the number of times a guy had undressed me in his head like that before. He hadn’t done that to me the last time we met. I wondered what had changed.

“Macon, quit perving on Carly.” She shook her head before turning to me. “I guess meeting Macon for the second time means he’s going to show you his true colors. Also known as his annoying side.”

Macon laughed. “Don’t listen to a word she says. She loves me.”

“Not as much as you love yourself.”

It was my turn to laugh. Macon was a riot—and sexier than sin. I completely understood why Colin didn’t want Maddy living with him.

“Ok, this love fest is great and all, but if we want to make cookies we should go. Now.” Colin put a gentle hand on Maddy’s arm. He was always really careful with her, like if he wasn’t, she’d break. I didn’t see Maddy that way. She was one of the strongest girls I knew.

“Cookies?” Macon looked in Maddy’s basket. “Wait. No. Oatmeal raisin? For real?”

“That was my response.” Colin laughed. “Why not chocolate chip?”

“Exactly.” Macon looped his thumb in the front pocket of his jeans. The action brought my eyes down in that direction. I quickly glanced back up, but not before he caught me looking.

“Are there going to be enough cookies for four?” Macon asked Maddy.

“I thought you didn’t like oatmeal raisin cookies?” She raised an eyebrow.