Chasing Perfect

Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery

Book: Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Mallery
east-coast family.
    Josh suspected the latter was the most likely story. Jo, a pretty woman in her mid-thirties, seemed to know a little too much about life to have been raised in the ’burbs. He knew she kept a loaded gun behind the bar, and when a fight had broken out last year, she’d looked more than ready to use it. Which also gave credence to the abusive husband story, he thought as he crossed the street and walked into the bar.
    The place was well lit without breaking the mood. Baseball played on the small TVs. Giants on one, Oakland on the other. A few die-hard Dodger fans huddled around one of the smaller screens. The larger flat screen showed skinny models walking down a runway. There were several groups of women around round tables and balloons proclaiming it was someone’s birthday. A few guys played pool at the lone table in the back.
    Several of the customers greeted him. He waved and made his way to the bar.
    â€œBeer,” he told Jo before turning to watch the Giants. A commercial filled the screen. He looked away, glancing at the women at tables, about to face the bar again, when he saw someone he knew in a corner.
    Ethan Hendrix sat with one of his brothers and a third guy. Josh stiffened. This seemed his week for dealing with the past, he thought grimly.
    In a perfect world he would walk over to Ethan and they would talk. The past had been over for years. It was time to get over it. He’d phoned Ethan a few times over the past couple of years, but his old friend had never returned the calls. Now he couldn’t seem to move and Ethan never glanced in his direction. Then Jo was putting a beer in front of him.
    He took a sip.
    â€œGood,” he said. “Where’s it from?”
    â€œA microbrewery in Oregon. South of Portland. The guy came through with samples. You have to respect that. Apparently he travels up and down the west coast, trying to get places to take his beer.”
    â€œDoes that make you a sucker for a sad story?”
    She grinned. “Maybe. What of it? You ready to take me on, Golden?”
    â€œAnd get beaten by a girl? No, thanks.”
    â€œYou know it. I’m tough to the bone. Ethan’s here,” she added, speaking low enough that only he could hear.
    â€œI saw that.”
    â€œYou could talk to him.”
    â€œI could.”
    He didn’t question how Jo, who had only been in town three years, knew about his past with Ethan. Jo had a way of finding out things.
    â€œYou’re both idiots,” she said. “In case you were wondering. He’s as bad as you, acting all pouty.”
    Josh chuckled. “There’s ten bucks in it for you if you say that to his face.”
    â€œI don’t need the money. You’re wallowing in guilt and he’s playing the martyr. It’s like living in the middle of Hamlet. ”
    He frowned. “How do you figure?”
    â€œI don’t know. It’s the only Shakespearean play I could think of. Well, there’s always Romeo and Juliet, but that doesn’t fit. You know what I mean. Just go talk to him.”
    She was right, he told himself, as he put down his beer. He would walk over and…
    He turned on the stool, but Ethan and his friends were gone, the table empty.
    â€œNext time,” Jo said when he faced her again.
    â€œSure. Next time.”
    She moved on to another customer. Josh sipped his beer, thinking about Ethan, wondering how things would have been different if he’d been the one injured instead of his friend. He had a feeling Ethan wouldn’t have lost his nerve. He would still be racing.
    The pool game finished up. One of the guys walked toward Josh and sat next to him at the bar.
    â€œHey, Josh.”
    â€œYou still thinking of heading to France this summer? We could use another win.”
    Sure. Because that’s how it happened. A person woke up one morning and thought “I’m going to enter the Tour

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