Southern Love

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Maggie supervised as the delivery guys from the appliance store removed all of the old appliances from the kitchen, then replaced them with the new stainless-steel ones that she had purchased. She by no means considered herself a master chef, but she knew her way around the kitchen a fair bit. With the help of her brother and Dee she had resurfaced all of the kitchen cabinets, which allowed her to have the money left in her budget to replace the old counter tops with granite. All the kitchen needed was a new coat of paint and the tile repaired, and it would be a whole new space. She considered backing out of going to the community bonfire tonight with Colby and Dee so she could actually make a decent home-cooked meal for once, but knew that backing out wasn’t an option. She only hoped that it wouldn’t be as terrible as she had imagined.

After showering she pulled on a denim skirt and a white tank top, grabbing a hooded sweatshirt from her closet before heading out to the truck. The ride was quiet as she followed the directions that Colby had provided for her, but it was easy to find the spot by the nearly 10-foot-high fire that was surrounded by many cars and even more people. She pulled in and found a place to park before calling Dee to find out where exactly they were in the mess of bodies. It took a bit to navigate through the large crowd to get to the few people she knew.

Once she located her group, she was quickly handed a cup with some type of mixed drink in it that was sweet and fruity. She was happy to see some of her old friends who were also in Dee’s bridal party, as she hadn’t seen them in years. Apparently, community bonfires were a big deal in this town, and it wasn’t uncommon for people to come in from neighboring areas to partake in the festivities. She was sitting around on camping chairs with a group of her friends as they all caught up and continued to drink when she spotted Kai walking by. He looked over at her and subtly winked before continuing on in search of a drink and his friends.

Kai found the coolers of beer and cracked one open, tossing the cap into one of the nearby trash bags. One of his friends from the football team in high school called over to him and greeted him with a hug. He didn’t see a lot of these people with the exception to the big bonfires, but he easily fell into comfortable conversation. He had lost touch with nearly all of them when he had joined the Army and they had gone off to college, but they would quickly get back into their old shenanigans when they saw each other. Aside from the bonfires, most of his time spent hanging out with the guys consisted of going out with his bandmates or tossing a few drinks back with Colby.

Despite catching up with his friends, he would periodically scan the crowd looking for Maggie. He knew he had come on pretty strong the other night and he hoped that he didn’t ruin it for himself. It was just that when he was around her, he felt like he couldn’t control his desire for her. There was something about her that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. She was sexy as hell, and her cocky little attitude turned him on every time. Still, there was something else. Maybe it was because she had experienced more than most women who never left the small town. She definitely didn’t come off as the type who would be content to be a homemaker who was always barefoot and pregnant. From what Colby had told him in the past, she had a lot of ambition and wasn’t afraid to fight for something that she really wanted.

Quite a few hours passed, and people didn’t start to head out until long after the sun went down. He had mingled throughout the crowd with those who he cared to have a conversation with and was considering heading out when he spotted Maggie again. She was heading for the cars and he could tell by the sway in her step that she had had more than a few drinks and was in no shape to be driving. He panned the crowd looking for Colby, but he was nowhere to be found. He knew that he had to step in and prevent her from getting behind the wheel.

Maggie fumbled with her keys to try to get door of the truck unlocked, dropping them on the ground and almost losing her balance as she bent over to pick them up. She knew she shouldn’t be driving, and she told herself that she would just sit in the car a bit and drink some water before leaving. She started fumbling with her keys again, quickly dropping them for a second time. She startled as she heard someone clear their throat from behind her.

“Don’t you think you should take that as a sign that you shouldn’t be driving?”

Maggie tensed as she recognized Kai’s voice. She turned around to face him, sighing deeply as she glared at him.

“Not tonight,” she stated as she held her hand up. He ignored her and walked closer. “I’m not in the mood for your bullshit, and I’m definitely not sleeping with you tonight.”

“I understand why you would think that’s why I followed you, being as though every time I’m around you I think with my dick instead of my brain. However, I saw you swaying your way back to the car and I figured I would stop you from doing something stupid,” he explained with a smirk.

“You’re not stopping me from doing shit,” she spat as she turned around and finally got the key into the lock and opened the door. She climbed into the truck and tried to pull the door shut, but Kai wedged himself into the opening, preventing her from closing it. “Get out of my way, Kai. I’m not playing games tonight,” she growled.

“I’m not playing games either. You’re giving me your keys, or I’m taking them from you,” he stated. When she looked away from him for a brief second, he took the opportunity to reach down and adjust himself. It turns out that pissed off Maggie was quite the turn on as well.

Maggie started trying to put the keys in the ignition despite Kai trying to wrestle them from her. She got even more angry with him, stepping down between him and the truck and shoving him away before quickly jumping back in and shutting and locking the door. His muffled voice tried to convince her through the glass window that this was a bad idea. She finally got the keys in the ignition, turning them once, twice, and then three more times before she realized the truck wasn’t going to start. Kai braced himself against the window with his arm as he leaned in so she could see his face.

“See, even God thinks this is a bad idea,” he called through the glass with a laugh. “Now get out of the truck so I can take you home.”

“Go to Hell,” she spat as her head fell back against the head rest.

“Too late for that, sweetheart,” he smirked again, and she rolled her eyes. “Look, I know I can be an ass, but I really just want to make sure you make it home safely.”

Maggie cracked the window open just enough so she wouldn’t have to yell.

“Give me one good reason why I should trust you. You’ve already made it abundantly clear that you want to make me your sex slave,” she looked over at him seriously.

“While that does sound fun, I’m not into taking advantage of angry drunk women. We can discuss our carnal cravings another night, but right now I just want to get you home where I know that no one else will try to take advantage of you,” he tried to reason with her.

“Well, aren’t you just my knight in shining armor,” she mumbled after taking a moment to contemplate her other options, or lack thereof. “Fine,” she gave in with a sigh before rolling up the window and retrieving her keys. Once she unlocked the door Kai pulled it open for her, reaching for her arm to steady her as she climbed out of the truck and tripped over a rock. She looked up at him with a small blush of embarrassment and the corner of his mouth curved upwards slightly. She rolled her eyes before following him to his truck.

Maggie sat quietly and looked out the passenger’s side window as they drove back towards town on the county road. She was annoyed with Kai, but she was more annoyed with herself that she had gotten into this situation. She hated relying on any man, let alone one that she loathed every part of with the exception to his cock. She was still pretty curious about what he had to offer. As soon as she realized he was eliciting sexual excitement from her just by being in the same truck, she forced herself to shut the idea down. If she decided that it was a good idea to let him into her bed, she wanted to be clear headed when she made the decision.

The ride to Maggie’s house was made in silence with the exception to the country music softly playing from the radio. Kai looked over at her periodically to make sure she hadn’t passed out since she didn’t seem too keen on talking to him. He didn’t think she had enough to drink to reach black-out or projectile vomiting phase, but he valued his truck more than most people and wasn’t about to risk the interior. As soon as he parked in the gravel driveway Maggie was pushing her door open and hopping out. He shut off the engine and followed her up to the front door where she managed to get the correct key into the lock on the first try. She quickly made her way inside and Kai followed right behind her before she could shut him out. She tried to push the door closed but he wedged himself in and pushed his way through anyway. She glared up at him.

“What, Kai? I told you, we’re not doing this tonight,” she spat in frustration.

“Maggie, I’m not trying to do anything except for make sure you’re okay,” he reasoned back, slightly annoyed.

“I’m fine. Now leave so I can go to bed,” she growled through gritted teeth.

“Have you eaten anything since you started drinking?” He questioned, and Maggie rolled her eyes before turning to head for the kitchen. Kai followed her.

“For someone who thinks so little of women, you sure are making an effort tonight, aren’t you?” She snapped as she yanked open the refrigerator door and grabbed out a bottle of water.

“If I was making an effort to get you into bed, you’d fucking know it. You’ve already had a taste of it, in case you forgot,” he smirked. She was cute when she was angry.

“Go home, Kai. Thank you for the ride, but please go home,” she growled. She was starting to feel defeated, but she didn’t want him to know that.

“Fine,” he smirked, spotting her keys on top of the small island in the kitchen where she had dropped them. He grabbed them off the counter and started working to separate the truck key from her house keys.

“What exactly do you think you’re doing?” She raised her voice.

“Taking the key to your truck so it’s easier to tow in the morning,” he stated as though it should be obvious.

“That’s not how this works, Kai,” she informed him as she reached for the keys and he quickly pulled them away.

“It absolutely is how it works. Your only two mechanic options are the auto chain in town or me, and they do shoddy work for twice the cost. Plus, you get the family discount because Colby is like a brother to me.”

“You don’t get to make that decision for me,” she warned him through gritted teeth, reaching for the keys once more.

He pulled them away and held them up out of her reach. She shoved him in the chest, and he let out a small laugh. This angered Maggie even more and she shoved him again and he took a step back against the island. She stood on her tip toes and tried her hardest to grab the keys he was now holding above his head. She tried her best to ignore the rush of electricity that flooded through her as her lush breasts pressed against his hard body. She had been focusing so hard on trying to ignore her body's response to his proximity, that she was completely caught off guard as his free hand tangled in her hair and pulled her in for a heated kiss. She quickly stepped back from him, staring at him in disbelief. His eyes locked on hers as he finished separating the keys, then shoved the key to her truck in his pocket and dropped the rest back where he had taken them from.

“I’ll call you tomorrow when I figure out what’s wrong and have an idea of how long it will take me to fix it,” he said softly as if nothing had happened before turning and heading out of the kitchen towards the front door.

“You’re an infuriating man, you know that?” She spat and he smirked to himself as he kept walking towards the door. “So that’s it, you’re just going to leave?” She glared at the back of his head.

“Unless you’ve changed your mind about getting naked,” he laughed. Maggie grabbed a throw pillow from the sofa and chucked it at his head, missing by a few feet. “Don’t quit your day job for the softball team, baby,” he laughed again, opening the door and stepping out before pulling it shut behind him.

Maggie stared at the closed front door with her arms crossed over her chest. She couldn’t believe the nerve of that man, assuming that he had the right to stroll in and take her key. She was half tempted to go try to take it back, but she had a feeling that things would either end up with her crying in frustration or with the two of them tangled in her sheets. As much as she couldn’t stand him, she did find him attractive, and in her current state she would have been more likely to let her defenses fall.

Kai climbed into his truck and started it, turning up the radio and putting his seatbelt on before turning the truck around and heading back down the long driveway. The thought of her body pressed against his as she struggled to grab her keys replayed in his mind over and over. As much as he would have loved to stay and tease her a bit more, the feeling of her full breasts against him had him hard and ready to go. Had she been a tourist passing through, he gladly would have taken advantage of her drunken state. However, given that she was the sister of one of his best friends and he was bound to see her often he didn’t want to go there. He wanted her clear headed the first time he seduced her; she would be less likely to regret it then.

When Maggie stirred awake the next morning, she was thankful that she only had a dull headache and not a full-blown hangover. She had taken Kai’s advice and eaten a couple of slices of leftover pizza before showering and climbing into bed. She was still angry with him, and now she had no way to get to work. As much as she wanted to blame him for that, too, she knew it wasn’t his fault she was driving a 20-year-old truck around. She hoped it was repairable as she didn’t really have the money to go buy a new car at the moment.

After eating a light breakfast and sitting out on the back deck that overlooked the lake as she drank her coffee, she called Dee to see if she wanted to get together for a bit and then give her a ride to Kai’s shop to check on her car. She didn’t want to wait around for Kai’s phone call. Dee agreed and the girls stopped to get manicures and pedicures as they talked about upcoming plans in regard to the wedding. After getting pampered a bit, they stopped for lunch before going to the shop. They stepped inside the small reception area where they were greeted with the classic garage smells of oil and rubber. A young guy was manning the counter, and when Maggie gave him her name, he explained that it was going to be a few days for her truck to be repaired, but they had a loaner she could borrow. She reluctantly agreed to take the loaner and told Dee she would catch up with her later on and she didn’t have to wait with her to talk to Kai to figure out what was wrong.

Once she signed some paperwork, the young man led her into the shop where a shirtless Kai was leaning over the front end of an SUV as he explained things to two more teenage boys. He instructed them on what they needed to do, and they got started on following his instructions when he turned to face Maggie and the guy that had escorted her back. He flashed a small smile and told the guy (apparently his name was Kyle) that he could take it from here. He waved for Maggie to follow him and she did so as she looked around at her surroundings. The garage was a decent size. It had 3 indoor bays and all of the typical lifts and equipment you would expect to find. She looked over at the boys who were searching for tools in one of the large toolboxes.

“Family members?” She questioned as she nodded towards them.

“Nah, those are just a couple of kids from the Vo-Tech. I take a couple of kids each year, let them practice what they learned and give them some hands-on hours. I put them on the payroll and let them do oil changes and routine maintenance part-time. Keeps them out of trouble and helps me keep up with the work load,” he shared as he grabbed the bandana that was hanging out of his back pocket and wiped the sweat from his brow.

“How charitable of you,” Maggie marveled at the way the muscles in his back rippled with his movement. Kai became aware that she was staring him up and down.

“See something you like?” He grinned as he turned to face her once they had reached her truck outside behind the shop.

“If I said yes?” She countered, surprising both of them.

“Oh, someone’s in a better mood today,” he smirked, and she couldn’t help but flash a small smile.

“Maybe I was a little ungrateful last night,” she shrugged with a sigh.

“Well, maybe I deserved it for being such a jackass the night we met,” he admitted.

“Call it a truce?” Maggie offered.

“Truce,” he agreed with a small nod as he opened the driver’s side door and popped open the hood. “So, when’s the last time you actually looked at this truck?” He questioned, getting down to business.

“Um,” she cleared her throat, “probably never.” He snapped his head towards hers and looked at her like she was insane. “To be fair, Colby said he changed the oil and made sure it was running before I came back from New York.”

“You’re such a woman,” he scoffed, shaking his head. “Do me a favor and don’t trust him with any vehicles. He’s a great guy, good business owner, but he’s no mechanic. You’re lucky this thing didn’t die on you while you were driving it.”

“Why?” She furrowed her eyebrows in confusion.

“Because, it needs a new fuel filter, the starter is shot, spark plugs need replaced and you need a new alternator. This thing is a death trap,” he explained as he propped the hood open. “Do you see the rust there and there?” He pointed out two different spots and she nodded. “That’s all inside the radiator too, so I’m going to have to flush it and clean it out. Most of what’s wrong is from sitting without being driven, so once we get it fixed up you should be fine. It’s going to take me probably about a week to get it going.”

“How much is this going to cost me?” She asked.

“It depends on the deal I can get on replacement parts, but I’ll give you a break on the labor. Probably four hundred or so,” he estimated, and she nodded. She could swing that. “You can drive my old truck while I’m getting yours fixed. I just have to run upstairs and get the keys,” he added, dropping the hood back down. “You want to come up for a minute? Get a break from the heat?”

“Sure,” she shrugged, even though she knew it was probably a bad idea. Being anywhere close to him when he had so much exposed skin was dangerous.

She followed him up the steps into the apartment and was greeted by an old bloodhound who wagged her tail happily. She crouched down to pet her, scratching behind her ears which made her tail wag faster. She laughed as the dog gave her a big lick on the cheek, giving her a good rub down before standing back up. Kai handed her a cold bottle of water from the fridge before rummaging through it to find the sub sandwich his sister had dropped off to him earlier in the day. Maggie once again found herself staring at the muscles in his back, noticing the waistband of his boxer-briefs sticking out from the top of his jeans when her eyes roamed over his muscular glutes. Kai felt her eyes on him again as he found the sandwich and set it on the counter before stalking towards her with a mischievous grin. He pinned her back against the counter and his lips moved to her neck where he gently kissed and nipped at her skin.

“If you want me, all you have to do is ask,” he whispered huskily into her ear.

“Kai,” she whimpered softly as she placed her hands on his muscular, damp, bare chest. The tips of her fingers curling into the light patch of hair as she suddenly craved his body on hers. He worked his hands around to her bottom that fit perfectly into his grasp. He squeezed gently, pulling her up against his pelvis, a soft moan escaping from her lips as she felt his erection pressing against her. “We can’t do this,” she tried to protest, but he quieted her with his lips.

“I want you, Maggie.” He stated pointedly. “I want to be inside of you, make you scream my name as I make you come for me,” he breathed, catching her lips in another kiss.

“I can’t,” she protested again, managing to slip away from him as she gained her bearings.

“Why? Because I’m friends with your brother? You don’t think you can trust me?” He growled in annoyance.

“No, Kai,” she paused as their eyes met. “It’s because I don’t trust myself with you,” she answered coldly.

Kai couldn’t believe how quickly the mood in the room had changed. He shook his head in frustration, grabbing his spare keys from a hook on the wall and handing them to her. He led her over to the door and pulled it open, pointing out the truck to her. She could tell he was upset.

“So, now you’re mad at me because I won’t give you the goods?” She mumbled as she stepped past him.

“No, Maggie. I’m frustrated because I can’t fucking read you. I’m all about pursuing you if it’s worth the chase, but I feel like you’re just trying to mess with my head,” he spat in anger.

“I never asked to be pursued!” She raised her voice slightly.

“You teased me the first night we met. You opened yourself up for it. Every time I’ve touched you since then your body responds to me. Your words say one thing, but your actions and your body say another. If something happening between us is completely off the table, you need to tell me so I can focus my energy elsewhere.”

“What do you mean ‘elsewhere’? Your next lay?” Maggie crossed her arms over her chest and shifted her weight to one leg. “You honestly expect me to believe that you wouldn’t be sleeping with other women if we were to hook up? I know you’re not into relationships, and I don’t know that I want to do the friends with benefits thing. I get jealous very easily, that’s one of the reasons why I don’t think this would work.”

Kai ran his hand through his hair. He didn’t do monogamous relationships. He wanted to be able to be with who he wanted, when he wanted. He contemplated for a moment about if this girl was worth sleeping with exclusively. If she was anything like he expected her to be in bed, it might be worth it.

“What if I told you I wouldn’t sleep with anyone else if we decided to do this? It would still strictly be a friends with benefits situation, but if we find ourselves drawn to someone else, we break it off,” Kai reasoned.

“Would you really be willing to do that, though? I’ve heard about your reputation, and I’m not convinced,” she replied as she turned to leave. He reached out and gently grabbed her arm.

“Can you at least think about it?” He questioned, uncertain of his own action.

“That depends, can you?” She countered. They stared at each other for a brief moment before he dropped his hand and she headed down the steps.

Kai watched her as she went over to his old truck and climbed inside. It wasn’t actually a loaner, but he wanted to do her a favor. Once she pulled out of the driveway he went back inside, grabbing his sub sandwich and sitting down at the table. He rested his elbows down on the tabletop and rubbed his hands over his face. Why was he losing his shit over this girl? Of course, Maggie was hot, and he wanted her, but he’d never been exclusively sleeping with one person. He never would have considered it if anyone else had suggested or wanted it. For some reason she was different.

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