The Banovic Siblings Excerpt

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Chapter 19: Cocktails and Dreams

L’Wren entered Bacchanal Jake’s with two of her girlfriends. While their intention was to have fun and enjoy the attention of guys, her mission was to see Kevin Banovic again. She knew he worked there and, without alerting her friends to her plan, casually chose Jake’s as the hangout spot for the evening.

She hated the way they’d left things. Why did she care what he thought of her? He was just some guy—some guy who cared enough to stand up for her and got hurt in the process. She carried around immense guilt, and he’d made her feel worst when she tried to apologize. She had no idea what she was going to say to him. She just knew that she had to see him again.

They ordered drinks and found a booth. L’Wren’s eyes combed the room, her breath unsteady, her palms sweaty and her stomach in knots. Maybe he had the night off.

L’Wren’s friends noticed her distraction.

“Hey, what’s going on with you?” one friend asked.

“Nothing.” She smiled nervously.

A couple of guys came over with drinks for the girls. They began chatting them up. L’Wren was not interested. She just smiled and nodded and kept an eye out for Kevin.

Her hopes began to fade after an hour. L’Wren was about ready to leave when she spotted Kevin. She took a deep breath. The air in the room was getting tight again. She watched as he flirted with a woman at the bar. The scene reminded her of Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail, minus the bar theatrics.

She felt a twinge in the pit of her stomach that surprised her. The guy next to her said something, but she didn’t hear him. Her mind was focused on Kevin. Mentally she tried to muster courage and find something to say to him.

Her legs felt heavy as she stood and walked over to the bar. With every step her heart pounded harder and faster. As she got closer, she straightened her spine, lifted her head, and steadied her breath. She walked straight towards the end of the bar where he stood still chatting up the brunette, who looked like she was ready to ravish him. Kevin said something to her, and she smiled, then tossed her long mane, retrieved her cell phone, and touched hers with his.

Kevin stood up and looked at L’Wren. The brunette shot her a menacing look.

“What can I get you?” he asked as if she was a complete stranger.

“I just thought I’d come over and introduce myself,” she heard herself say. New-formed confidence took over. “Hi, I’m L’Wren.” She extended her arm.

The brunette’s eyes switched between them. She eventually walked away without saying a word.

“What are you doing?” Kevin asked.

“Starting over.”

Kevin was unsure where she was going with this but played along. “Kevin, nice to meet you.” He gently shook her hand.

“I’d like a martini, please. Shaken not stirred.” She perched herself on the bar stool.

They looked at each other for a moment, and then started to laugh at the obvious James Bond reference.

It was late when L’Wren’s friends said their goodbyes and left her at the bar.

Kevin served drinks, and then returned his attention to her.

It was last call when Kevin walked her to her car. “You okay to drive, or should I call for a cab?”

“Kevin,” she leaned in close to him, “when you weren’t looking, I ordered diet Sprite from the other bartender.”

“What about the martini?”

“I don’t drink martinis. I sent it to my girlfriend.”

“Oh, I feel so duped, seriously?”

She nodded affirmative.

“Since we’re confessing … I saw you the minute you walked into Jake’s.”

“Liar! You were nowhere around.”

“I was in the back room … I wanted to see if you were waiting for someone.”

“I don’t believe you. You can’t stand to be duped.” She laughed.

Kevin watched her as she got into her white Prius V and drove away.

L’Wren looked at him in the rearview mirror and smiled. That turned out better than she’d expected.

As she pulled into her driveway, she hummed ‘Kokomo’, the theme song from Cocktail. The house was dark, and she knew no one was home. Leighann had gone to the game with Zax, and who knew where Savi was. L’Wren smiled as she thought about Zax and Leighann. Those Banovic boys had charm. If Zax was anything like his brother, Leighann was a lucky girl. Just then she heard footsteps and turned around quickly.

“Jeff! You scared me.” She playfully punched him.

“Hey, baby.” He kissed her. “Here let me.” He took the keys and opened the door for her.

They began turning on the lights.

“I didn’t realize we were supposed to get together tonight,” she said, feeling uneasy.

“Do I need an appointment to see my girl?”

“No … if I knew you were coming over, I would have gotten here sooner.” She busied herself in the kitchen.

“Where were you?”

“Traffic on the 405 was a bitch.”

“Where did you say you were again?”

“Out with a couple of friends. No place special.”

“You could have called me. I would have gone to no place special with you.”

“Jeff, we talked about this. You can’t have a cow every time I go out with my friends.”

“You never invite me anywhere with your friends. Are you ashamed of me?” Jeff towered over her.

“Don’t be silly. It was just us girls. None of them had their boyfriends with them.”

“Did you have a good time?”

“Yes.” She tried to walk away from him, but she was trapped between the counter and Jeff.

He boxed her in with his arms. “Did guys hit on you?”

“What? No.” She tried to move his arm, but it was firmly planted against the counter. “Why don’t we go in the living room and talk,” she suggested, trying to sound calm.

“Why can’t you look me in the eye and tell me that guys didn’t hit on you?”

“Jeff, I think you should leave.”

“Is he coming over? Is that why you want me to leave?” Jeff raised his voice.

L’Wren knew what was coming next. She braced herself for him to either punch her in the gut or pull her hair. He wouldn’t slap her face; he didn’t like to leave visual bruises. He couldn’t have his friends know that he beat up on his girlfriend. He was quarterback of the football team and had a reputation to uphold. She gripped the counter as he yanked on her hair, tugging her head back, causing her to bump her head on the overhead cupboard.

“I have absolutely no qualms about putting a bullet through your brain right now,” Savi said calmly.

Jeff turned around to face the business end of Savi’s shiny silver revolver. L’Wren gasped. Something in her eyes told him that she meant it.

“As far as I’m concerned, you broke into my daughter’s house. I came home and found you roughing her up … a plausible story … for the police.”

Jeff held her gaze.

She clicked the gun. “Bounce.”

Jeff did as he was told. Savi walked out behind him and locked the door. L’Wren was still shivering in the kitchen.

“Where do you find those losers?” Savi asked casually. She set the gun down on the counter and poured herself a glass of wine.

L’Wren stared at the gun. She had never seen one up close before. “Why do you have a gun?”

“Target practice.” Savi drank the wine and poured another. This time she also poured a glass for L’Wren, whose hands were shaking so badly that she could barely hold the glass.

“I don’t want to be around it.”

“Then move out.” Savi picked up the offending object and walked out into the living room.

L’Wren followed. “This is my house. You’re a guest.”

Savi placed the gun in her Dior handbag.

“What if Leighann finds it?” L’Wren continued.

“It’s not a dildo, for Christ’s sake.” Savi headed to her room and shut the door.

 Read the first chapter of book one.


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