A Shot with You Bourbon Brothers #2
By: Teri Anne Stanley
Releasing January 9, 2017
One more will never be enough…
Bourbon is in Brandon Morgan’s blood. His family owns the best bourbon brand in the country—or it will be with his marketing genius. And after meeting the fiery daughter of a tequila distillery owner, he’s never been more sure.
His barrels, her tequila. It’s a match made in heaven. But only if he can keep his hands off the owner’s daughter…and his secrets to himself.
Lesa Ruiz will do anything to keep Little Possum afloat, but one look at Brandon’s gorgeous dimples and Lesa knows two things for sure: forever is not in the cards with this man and he’s way too sexy to resist for long.
Well, three things… Brandon is hiding something, and she’ll need to get a lot closer to figure it out and save her family’s legacy. Shots, anyone?
Brandon Morgan stood in front of the Travel Adventures office in Puerto Vallarta and stared down at Mexico’s youngest extreme watersports guide.
Call him Mr. Excitement with as much sarcasm as you like, but he was on vacation, and he’d choose the fun. The “high adventure” he’d signed up for was as appealing as a trip to the dentist. For fillings. Without anesthetic. And it was his vacation, damn it. If he had to leave his cozy, air-conditioned stateroom and its wifi connection, he was going to live it up in a way that made him happy.
He looked at the kid and said, “Sorry, bud. I think I’m gonna contribute to my life insurance for a few more years. I’ll pass on ski-surfing today.”
“But senõr, you’ve already paid for the trip. If you join the tequila tour, you’ll have to pay again.” And I’ll lose the generous tip you’d give me for bringing you back alive. If I bring you back alive.
At least that’s what Brandon figured he meant, so he gave the kid a few bucks and escaped into the liquor store that had a sign reading, “Tequila tour! Cruise guests welcome!”
Before he reached the smiling attendant behind the counter, a familiar label caught his eye: Blue Mountain Bourbon, Dangerous Dave’s Eight Ball. Sweet. His distribution team had managed to get it out, right on time. It wasn’t available on the ship, so he snatched a bottle from the shelf and carried it back to the cashier.
“This bottle, and one ticket for the tequila tour.” He could skip the tequila tasting—yech—and have bourbon. No cactus water for him.
“You’d better hurry, amigo,” the attendant told him. “The bus is leaving.”
Brandon threw a handful of bills at the guy and sprinted from the shop, across the crumbling roadway, and leaped onto the bus filled with grinning, sunburned tourists.
As the doors shut behind him, he fell into an empty seat next to an elderly woman with purple hair. She didn’t glance away from the iPad she held to the window, videoing the scenery, which in this case, consisted of a broken-down truck in front of a store claiming to have “Authentic Aztec silver jewelry at rock bottom closeout prices.” Brandon would have to remember to stop by there to pick up something for his mom’s birthday. Mom would appreciate authentic rock-bottom-discounted jewelry. After all, she’d loved—and still occasionally wore—the vending machine plastic gemstone ring he’d given her when he was eight.
The bus jerked with a hiss of air brakes and jolted forward.
“Welcome to the Pequeño Zarigüeya tour! Sit back and enjoy the ride as you enjoy these hits of Mexican radio.” The music that fuzzed through ancient speakers was nothing that had been produced before his parents were in diapers, but then, he wasn’t a big connoisseur of south-of-the-border pop. Maybe they did play a lot of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass here these days.
He’d made the right choice to bail on the extreme sports and could instead fantasize about mergers and acquisitions to his heart’s content. He slid the bottle of bourbon into his drawstring backpack and tucked it between his knees, grateful to have escaped another freaking adventure.
Gramps had challenged Brandon to “get the hell off the cruise ship and do something interesting. Meet some women instead of hiding in your cabin to work, for Chrissakes,” so for the last few stops he’d done things that his family and friends deemed exciting. He’d gone on a zip line tour of the rain forest in Costa Feo. And spent the next day swallowing Advil. He’d gone kayaking down the Rio Tehuantepec and wound up with mosquito bites the size of dinner plates. At least he was pretty sure he didn’t have Zika virus, always a bonus. Plus, he could check “Stretch outside of comfort zone” off of his corporate leadership self-improvement list. But he’d had enough.
This distillery tour—this was what interested him. He wouldn’t pretend that he was going to drink instead of work—as one of the sons of a prize-winning bourbon distilling family, sniffing samples of tequila and touring a distillery was work. It was market research and checking out the competition, and he loved it.
“Hey! You. Mr. Cutie Drawers!”
Brandon grunted when a sharp elbow dug into his ribs.
He sucked in a deep breath and looked at his seat mate, who grinned at him. Her lipstick-smeared teeth reminded him of a vampire ready for the second course.
“Name’s Edna VanMacintosh. From Alberta, Florida.”
“Uh, Brandon Morgan. Crockett County, Kentucky.”
“You a coal miner or a tobacco farmer?”
“Just kidding. I know there’s also horses and hillbillies in K.Y. I’m a hairdresser,” she rasped, without waiting for him to elaborate. “Was going to go on this trip with my husband for our second honeymoon, but he went and died on me.”
“I’m sorry,” Brandon told her after a beat. “So you’re taking this trip in his memory, that’s nice.”
“Nah.” She wheezed with laughter. “He died fifteen years ago. I was bumping uglies with his brother Si for a while, thought I might get him to come along, but then he died, too. I’m on this trip hoping to find me some new man-flesh.”
“Oh.” Brandon’s brain froze.
She cackled and gave his ribs another jab. “Don’t look so scared. You’re not quite man enough for me. I like ‘em a little more broken in. A few more miles on the odometer. I don’t want to spend ten years trying to teach you all the tricks.”
Brandon was torn between massive relief and the need to point out that in spite of the way his last few relationships had ended, he wasn’t wet behind the ears.
Fortunately, massive relief won out, because Edna looked like she might be inclined to want details on his skills.
“You married? You look like the marrying kind. I bet you’ve got two point four kids, too.”
“No, not married.”
“Well, why the hell not?”
“Just haven’t met the right girl, I guess.” And the one he thought was “right” turned out to be terribly, horribly, wrong.
“Hmph. You a virgin?”
Brandon coughed. “Well, ma’am—”
Edna snorted. “Just kiddin’. What kind of girl you lookin’ for? There’s a shit ton of horny women on that cruise ship back there. I’ll hook you up before we make it back to San Diego.”
“I’m not really looking—”
“Are you gay? ’Cause there’s plenty of single men hanging around, too. You like the hairy ones or the twinkly kind?”
“No, no. Not gay. But I’m not looking for anyone on this cruise.” He decided to elaborate, before she came up with any more wild assumptions. “Most of the girls I’ve met on this trip are a little too busy taking selfies and Snapchatting themselves to have a conversation.”
“Oh. Well, if you’re looking for a wife, you’re gonna be looking for a while. You’re a good-looking fella, but girls these days are all about the temporary hookup. The Redbox and Cool.”
“Netflix and Chill?”
Unfortunately, Edna was right. He’d gone out with a few women in the past few years, but he always found something that didn’t work for him with each one. Like…she didn’t want to hang out while he added one last entry—or fifty—to a spreadsheet. Or she wanted to actually go on dates instead of visiting random liquor stores to check his company’s product placement. Or maybe she’d only pretended to be crazy for him while she helped to steal thousands of dollars’ worth of inventory from his family’s business. Maybe he was too picky, but some of those things were deal breakers.
“I’m not looking for a wife,” he told her. “But some meaningful conversation would be nice.”
Edna cackled. “Is that what you kids are calling it these days?”
The bus made a hard left and lurched onto a—was this really a street? It seemed more like an alley. Trees scraped the windows on each side of the bus, before parting to reveal a boarded up house, followed by a weed-strewn yard full of broken-down cars and skinny dogs.
A hundred yards later, the bus groaned to a halt in front of a colorfully painted but rickety wooden fence, and half of the occupants immediately stood and shoved into the aisle. Brandon waited until there was a space and stood, too. He hoped Edna would find another victim to interrogate, but alas, she actually grabbed his belt so she wouldn’t lose him as he joined the milling crowd of partiers in front of the gate that read Pequeño Zarigüeya Entrada in colorful script.
“So what are you looking for, in case we get lucky and find you the right girl? Surgeon, lawyer, international venture capitalist?”
An international venture capitalist might be nice. They did have internet at Blue Mountain, and most of that work was on the phone or online, right? But realistically… “I don’t know. Accountant? Tax attorney?” Someone who would want to climb the corporate ladder with him, not over him.
The gate opened, and a laughing, dancing, Mexican goddess swirled out into the crowd. “Welcome to the wonderful world of tequila!” she called out. “I can’t wait to show you Pequeño Zarigüeya.”
Okay. Maybe he should add “tequila distillery tour guide” to his list of options.
Teri Anne Stanley has been writing since she learned to hold a crayon. Though her handwriting hasn’t improved, her spelling is a little better now. She spends her days as an evil genius’s sidekick in a research lab, and her nights weaving tales of heroic hunks and sassy, smart women. When she’s not at work, Teri, Mr. Stanley, and the Stanlettes enjoy spending time at their weekend estate, located in the thriving metropolis of Sugartit, between Beaverlick and Rabbit Hash, Kentucky.
Most true bourbon aficionados would say that you should only drink Kentucky’s best with a little water, if you have to add anything at all. Some wouldn’t even condone ice. But seriously…how many people can drink straight whiskey without making that face? You know the one. The “HOLY CRAP, MY ENTIRE BODY’S GOING TO CATCH ON FIRE!” face.
And if the bourbon industry turned their nose up at the cocktail mixers of the world, they wouldn’t sell much liquor, would they?
Besides, there are so many awesome cocktails that include bourbon, that it would be very wrong to ignore them.
There’s the Old Fashioned, which is made with whiskey, bitters, simple syrup, a twist of orange and a cherry. The Manhattan, which has bourbon, vermouth (bleh!) and a cherry (I detect a theme!). Don’t forget about the Mint Julep…mint, sugar, bourbon…
And my old family favorite, the Whiskey Sour. I remember getting to have a tiny bit of this on special occasions when I was younger. It was sure better than the beer we’d maybe possibly try to sneak out of the garage refrigerator! The traditional recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, sugar, and whiskey, but here’s the Big Dick version (Big Dick was my dad, Richard. Not a commentary on the character or man parts of anyone):
1 can of frozen lemonade Dump the contents of the can in to a blender
1 can of bourbon Use the lemonade can. It will help rinse all the lemonade into the blender. Add a bunch of ice and grind the heck out of everything, until you have a slurry.
1 can of Sprite Give it a quick mix. You gotta do that part last, because 1), if you add the Sprite after the bourbon, you’ll be sure to rinse out any residual liquor that would otherwise go to waste stuck to the inside of the can, which would be wrong, and 2) the fizzy in the Sprite would go whizzy if you added it before you blenderized it. Pour into glasses, give to guests, and watch Mom start to act silly.