A lot less so when Daniel and Mark had gotten ahold of it and decided it was the funniest thing in the world to imagine her trying to get a date to the coveted fund-raiser. The fact that she had bet on her dating prowess was…

Because apparently the idea of her having a date at all was the pinnacle of comedic genius. Well, embarrassing didn’t even begin to describe it.

But on top of that, she was a little concerned that she had no prowess to speak of.

A man whose presence should be commonplace, and usually was. “That’s kind of an unusual order for you,” she continued, more to remind herself of who he was than to actually make commentary on his beverage choices.

She was just in a weird place, thanks to high-pressure invitations and idiot brothers. Square jaw, straight nose, strong brows and dark eyes that were so direct they bordered on obscene. To remind herself that she knew him better than she knew herself. Lumbersexual, or so she had overheard some college girls saying the other night as they giggled over him. Of course, easy compliments and charm aside, he also had his pick of any woman who turned up in his bar. She let go of her fleeting Ace fantasy pretty quickly.

“Okay, I’ll bite,” he said, regarding her a little more closely than she would like. It was Friday night, so most of the town of Copper Ridge, Oregon, was hanging out, drowning the last vestiges of the workweek in booze. Farmers and ranchers didn’t take time off, so neither did she. ” She took a deep breath, keeping her eyes fixed on the fishing boat that was mounted to the wall opposite her, and very determinedly not looking at Chase. They bet that I couldn’t get a date to this thing I’m invited to and I bet them that I could.” She thought about the woman he’d been talking to a moment ago.

“Why are you in the mood to cause death and dismemberment? She had to be on hand to make repairs when necessary, especially right now since she was just getting her own garage off the ground. A woman so different from herself they might as well be different species.

In fact, it was entirely possible that she had never technically been on one.

That quick roll in the literal hay with Corbin Martin hadn’t exactly been a date per se. Since she had done a wonderful job of smashing his ego with a hammer the next day at school when she’d told her best friend, Chase, about Corbin’s…limitations.

For a moment the sight of the man standing there struck her completely dumb.

Broad shoulders, broad chest, strong-looking hands. The kind of hands that made her wonder if she needed to investigate the potential fuss of sex again.

And to talk to Ace about the damn lighting in here. And her heart stopped altogether when she heard a deep voice from behind her.

“Why don’t you make that two.” She whisked around and came face-to-chest with Chase.

He leaned up against the wall, his forearm above his head. To have him look at you like a sex object instead of a drinking buddy.