Want to read this as it was sent out as an enewsletter?
The Coffee Wars
by Michelle Miles
(the fifth installment in the Coffee House Chronicles)
This title contains explicit language and graphic sex.
Lilly owns the new up and coming, Java Perks. She’s determined to be the number one coffee house in town, crushing her competition down the street, The Bitter End.
Meeting the mystery woman in his coffee house, David immediately wants her for himself. After a hot encounter on his desk, he can’t stop thinking about her. Until he learns she’s the owner of the place trying to put him out of business.
When David confronts Lilly accusing her of using him, she throws down the gauntlet. Now the two are at war and may the best woman win!
Read an excerpt:
Standing at the counter early one morning a few weeks before Christmas, Davis Sawyer expelled an exasperated breath as he inventoried their latest in icing-covered pastries. They were out of Christmas tree-shaped cookies, leaving only wreathes and stars. And no one had touched the slices of fruitcake since they arrived six days ago. He suspected the only thing they’d be good for was as a doorstop.
It was nearly seven-thirty. Where was the morning crowd?
“Where’s the morning rush?” Louise asked, echoing his thoughts. She was in her early twenties, putting herself through college to complete her master’s degree. “We’re usually busy as hell this time of year.”
David couldn’t agree more. The holidays at The Bitter End Coffee House started in early November with the first wave of special blends of coffee and tea, coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments, and holiday pastries. That was only the beginning. The postage stamp-sized stage had an act booked on it from the first weekend in November until New Year’s Eve.
“I bet it’s that damn Java Perks up the street,” he said, glaring at the new store through the front windows. “They’re stealing our business.”
The new store had been open barely a week, and already he’d seen a decline in business. Usually, he’d discuss this with his mother, owner and operator, but she was currently on a six-week-long cruise in the Mediterranean with the new love of her life. She wouldn’t be home until after the New Year. Meanwhile, his brother, Mark, had gone off with his little woman for a four-day weekend, leaving the store solely in his hands.
Which also meant he had to decide what to do about Java Perks. He made a mental note to do some recon later.
A new customer came in to busy Louise, while he scratched a note to order more Christmas trees. Putting down his order form and pen, he scanned the coffee house. Their holiday season was in full swing, and he expected larger crowds by now. There were clusters of people here and there, all sipping lattes or cappuccinos. He could smell peppermint wafting on the air, lingering with the scent of java, vanilla, and pumpkin bread.
There wasn’t a line, however, to order the latest drink of the season, only the regulars lounging in the leather chairs prolonging the inevitable—going to work. He wondered if the bitterly cold wind and gray overcast sky kept people away.
He scowled. Christmas was his least favorite time of year.
When the door chime signaled the arrival of another customer, he glanced up. She walked in with such cool confidence it rivaled the cold wind outside. She wore knee-high, brown suede boots, coupled with a mid-thigh length skirt, exhibiting plenty of her shapely legs. He idly wondered how she managed to keep warm in such a get-up. Her coat looked like something straight out of a 1950s high fashion magazine and, underneath that, she wore a fuzzy white sweater with a plunging neckline, showing off enough cleavage to be enticing yet not enough to be slutty. Her porcelain face seemed to be carved into perfection with pouty red lips, almond-shaped café au lait colored eyes fringed in dark lashes, high pink cheekbones, and shoulder-length brown hair falling in soft waves.
As she placed her order, he edged toward the counter, his blood pressure rising. Normally, David wasn’t a man to hit on the customers, but this one he couldn’t resist. She was different from the normal crowd, exuding an electric air about her.
Just looking at her wrapped in those layers of chocolate made him want to run his tongue over her from head to toe. She looked delectable. He had every intention of getting her under him as soon as possible.
“Will that be all?”
“And a blueberry scone,” the goddess replied. Her sultry voice matched her svelte body.
“On the house,” David said, smiling as he nudged aside his barista. “I’ll take it from here, Louise.”
Louise dutifully went off to brew the latte.
“That’s very generous of you,” the woman said. In her suede-gloved hands, she held a designer wallet with the embossed letters LV. “But not necessary.”
“Oh, I think it is.” David punched a few buttons on the register and swiped his manager’s card. “I insist.”
She paused a moment, considering, before putting away her wallet. “All right, then. I can’t argue. Especially since your competition up the street has a line out the door.”
“Competition?” He played dumb, hoping to get some insider information.
“You didn’t know about Java Perks?” The beginning smile tipped the corners of her perfect mouth. “It opened last week.”
David glanced around again to see only his faithful regulars. He was grateful to them. His mind raced, trying to come up with a marketing plan to reward loyal customers. But marketing wasn’t his thing. That was all left to his mother, Jody. Still, he made a mental note to do some Internet research to come up with creative ways to get his clientele back.
“You didn’t know,” she said, “did you?”
“Of course, I did.” He didn’t want to admit it. “They’ll be lucky to last a week. We’ve been around nearly ten years.”
Never mind they’d nearly lost the place to nasty developers, only to be saved by his bad-guy-turned-good-guy brother. Mark got half ownership out of the place and a girlfriend. Sometimes life wasn’t fair.
To take his mind off the thought of losing half his business to Java Perks, David packaged her blueberry scone as her order was called out from the other end of the bar.
“Thanks for the comp.” She dazzled him with a smile that seemed genuine. “Glad I stopped in.”
He watched her as she sauntered down the length of the bar, her hips swaying in the miniskirt that left not much to his imagination. All he could think of was running his hands up those soft legs, cupping that round bottom, and thrusting deep inside her, while she moaned his name.
And suddenly an idea struck him. He fumbled for his business card in his shirt pocket and found the pen he’d discarded on the counter. He scrawled a discount on the back of it.
“Before you go,” he called, nearly running over his barista trying to get to the woman. She paused at the door, giving him a quizzical look. “Why don’t you come back tomorrow and bring a few friends? I’ll be here again.”
He handed her the card. She clutched her bag in the same hand as her coffee, doing her best to juggle the two so she could take the card. She skimmed it quickly then looked up and met his eyes, her mouth quirking in a half grin.
“I’ll see what I can do.” She paused and glanced down at the card before meeting his gaze again. Those coffee-colored eyes sent his mind reeling. “David.”
He edged closer to her. “I’m afraid now you have me at a disadvantage.”
“I like that,” she purred. “It’ll keep you on your toes, won’t it?”
“Perhaps,” he agreed. “I’d still love to know your name.” He leaned closer, caught a whiff of her perfume. A rich, spicy, oriental scent with a hint of vanilla that tickled his nose and sent his senses on high alert. He flexed his fingers, trying hard to keep his hands to himself when all he wanted to do was run them through that silken hair of hers.
“Maybe you’ll find out tomorrow.”
“Does that mean you’ll be back?”
She tipped her head to one side, giving him a view of her long, lean neck, making him want to plant his mouth there and taste her. Then sink his teeth ever so gently to nip her. He wanted to trace a long line from earlobe to collarbone, to slide his hands under that fuzzy sweater and feel her cool skin. To pull her close until skin met skin.
“I suppose you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.”
She tucked his business card into her handbag, turned on her red-soled boots, and slipped out of The Bitter End into the bitter wind.
He certainly hoped that wasn’t the last he’d see of her.