Davis: I’ve had my eye on Grace Buchanan for a while now. Unlike the bubbly blondes I usually date, the feisty, flame-haired bartender both intrigues and bewilders me. Something about Grace—the tattoos? the nose ring?—makes every part of me sit up and beg. There’s only one problem: She hates me. Trading insults and one-liners has become our M.O. But when Grace bets me that I can’t get a date with a non-blonde if my life depends on it, I’m determined to prove her wrong by landing the ultimate non-blonde: her.
Grace: I’m used to regulars hitting on me, and I’ve turned them all down, except for one: Davis Price. I like giving him a hard time, and he’s kind of cute in his suit and tie—if you’re into that kind of thing. Anyway, I don’t care how many blondes he takes home . . . until one of them sidles up to him in my bar. Nuh-uh. But after my little bet with Davis backfires, our first date lands us in the sack. So does the second. And the third. Neither of us wants more than the best sex of our lives. The trouble is, it’s not a question of what I want. It’s what I need. And what I need is Davis.
Look for Jessica Lemmon’s standalone romances with heartfelt HEAs:
FIGHTING FOR DEVLIN | FORGOTTEN PROMISES | SHUT UP AND KISS ME | EYE CANDY | ARM CANDY | MAN CANDY | RUMOR HAS IT
Praise for Arm Candy
“Arm Candy is sexy and fun. Jessica Lemmon created an entertaining opposites-attract story with a great balance in the funny, sexy, sweet, and serious moments. Ms. Lemmon provided a rich cast of supporting characters.”—Harlequin Junkie
“Arm Candy is a sexy romance that is going on my re-read shelf, with a sigh of envy for Grace having found a partner like Davis.”—All About Romance
“Lemmon puts a twist on the friends to lovers theme . . . the perfect balance of humor and emotion with characters that are easy to fall for.”—Smexy Books
“I highly recommend this book. . . . Arm Candy is charming and sweet . . . I love the fact that it can be read as a standalone.”—The Clever Bookworm (five stars)
“Bartending is the perfect background for a tangled romance that leaves you aching and filled, and Arm Candy 100% delivers.”—Sarah Robinson, bestselling author of the Kavanagh Legends series
“One of the sexiest romantic comedies I’ve read in a long time—Arm Candy is a perfect laugh-out-loud, seriously steamy opposites attract story, with just the right amount of sweetness.”—New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne
This standalone novel includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
I collect the two-dollar tip on the bar, sticky from sitting in a ring of spilled beer, and notice a phone number jotted on the back of one of the bills. I know it’s fresh because next to the number is the name “Gregg,” and the guy who sat here and drank three Bud Light drafts was named Gregg.
Question: Do guys really think that works? Like, can you find one and ask him for me? I can’t imagine a bartender—or beer mistress, as I like to call myself—who would be wooed by a sopping-wet single covered in blurred ink from “Gregg,” or any other guy angling to get a date.
Let’s say I call him. Let’s just imagine that scenario for a minute. Let’s pretend I bite my lip, shivering in anticipation. Let’s set aside the likelihood that Gregg leaves his number for every other bartender in this city. The man spent over twenty dollars and left me a crappy tip, and wants to take me out. Little old me! I’m overjoyed! I call. He answers. I introduce myself as the redhead from McGreevy’s Pub who received his phone number on my tip. He remembers me. In our fantasy world, let’s imagine a best-case scenario: Gregg asks me out to a restaurant, actually pays (except you know I’m going to have to slide extra money into the black book for a tip), and then tries to get into my pants all night long.
I’m not opposed to sex on a first date, but Gregg, who occupied my bar seat for the last two hours, most certainly didn’t leave an impression on me. He was average-looking and dressed casually. I remember that. But his facial features? A blur of attributes on an otherwise blah face.
Do I sound bitchy?
I don’t mean to. And anyway, I prefer “jaded.” No! How about “experienced”? Worldly. I understand a cold, hard truth most women refuse to believe.
There is no such thing as Mr. Right.
Hell, sometimes there’s not even a Mr. Right Now.
If you thought otherwise, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. If you’re with a guy currently who seems perfect, I don’t begrudge you your happiness. Enjoy it for as long as it lasts, but know this: Every relationship has an expiration date. We’re not Twinkies. We’re more like Bibb lettuce. A relationship’s shelf life is short, and I operate like the end is nigh because, well, it is.
I could blame my divorce-lawyer parents (who themselves are divorced), but that’s another can of worms. Let’s get back to me.
I’ve been beer mistress at McGreevy’s Pub downtown since the beginning of summer—a handful of months now—but my experience behind a bar is extensive. So much so, that I can predict, with a scary level of accuracy, what a couple on a date will order to drink. Most often the girls have the sweet pear cider on draft, and their male counterparts order the bitter IPA. There’s a lesson in there about coupledom in general, but I digress.
Bob over there always has a shot of bourbon and a light beer. Shawn orders two Budweisers and takes both of them to the dartboard, where half his throws end up in the plaster. And then there’s Davis Price.
Davis, who comes in here damn near every day. Davis, who requests the television be set on CNN rather than sports. Since he’s the most common of our regulars (he has a seat at the bar he claims is “his”), one of our three TVs is always tuned just for him. He orders a bottle of Sam Adams and keeps his eyes glued to the television in between trading barbs with me.
I can handle him. It’s his version of dipping my pigtails into the ink to get my attention. But here’s the kicker.
Lately he has more of my attention than I’d like him to have.
Remember when I described Gregg and couldn’t quite put the pieces of his face together? Davis Price is another beast. You could blindfold me and I could describe him to one of those artists who draw criminals, and it’d be like looking at a photo of Davis when he was done.
See? Too much attention.
The coping mechanism I’ve chosen is antagonism.
“Another?” I sweep by him, clean glasses in hand, and set them upside down on a shelf behind the bar. The key is to pretend that a shiver of awareness didn’t just shock the air between us when I swept by.
“Yeah,” he answers, eyes on the TV. Despite his fine visage being burned in my memory, I take advantage of his averted attention to check him out while I uncap his beverage.
He wears his standard attire: a pressed, expensive suit. He’s tall yet fills out the jacket with a set of deceptively strong shoulders. I’ve seen them for myself on the rare occasion when he slips that jacket off—the way his rounded muscles press against a crisp oxford shirt. I’ve never considered myself a “shoulder girl,” but laying eyes on his physique has a way of making me wonder what he might look like not wearing pressed cotton.
Not wearing anything.
Davis’s hair is in sandy brown disarray like someone just ran her fingers through it in every direction. Given that he’s not shy about taking a woman home from McGreevy’s, that’s not surprising. But I’d like to think he did it himself, while hunkered over his office desk, working hard to crunch the numbers as a . . . whatever he does with stocks. I glance at the television and the scrolling numbers.
Gibberish to me.
I plunk the beer bottle down in front of him. I don’t ask him if there’ll be anything else, because if there is, he’ll yell. I’ve made it halfway to the sink when I hear him do just that.
That’s not exactly my name. Grace is my name. He added the flair. Gracie Lou has a cute dinerish sound to it, doesn’t it? The nickname has the added bonus of reminding me why I don’t see Davis as even a Mr. Right Now. The expiration date with us has already passed. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.
I turn to look over my shoulder and find his full lips pulled into a frown. His thick, dark brows center over smoky gray eyes. This grouchy expression does little to dampen his attractiveness.
When he doesn’t say more, I sigh and pace back to him. That’s new. I never go to him unless it’s on my time.
Or maybe I’m overanalyzing.