What Happens in Denver by Liz Crowe Genre: Humorous Contemporary Romance
Meet Andi Rigby. She and her husband own a famous bar. Andi can mix a cocktail, change a beer keg, soothe ruffled customers, and drink you under the table. Life is good until the day she finds herself divorced and unemployed. After a suitable period of ice-cream and whiskey infused mourning, she heads to a beer conference in Denver on a mission to rediscover her joy and find a new job.
Between fielding gossip, saving a drunk woman from herself, and dodging a hot but ill-advised boozy hookup, the weekend leads to a few surprises. She ends up employed with an unexpected bonus—a new friend. Oh, and the guy she kissed? Turns out her new job includes selling his brewery's beer. No big deal. Except the bit about him being practically perfect for her at a moment she's determined to focus on her own success.
A story of new friends, fresh starts, and a side order of romance served up with a nice cold pint.
“Okay, I’ll admit it. You’re a natural,” I said.
“I think we’re a pretty good team.”
We had been, especially at the last stop. The fawning over James and his as-yet-to-be-released New England IPA had been non-stop, but Palio was a stubborn so-and-so. He’d taken a lot of convincing to put the Burke Brothers standards back on his shelf. James and I had, by then, developed a decent give and take between us so the buyers or owners didn’t feel so much assaulted by a sales pitch. It was less stiff, antisocial beer-snob and more casual, cool-kid conversation.
James had outdone himself. The perfect balance of humble and apologetic about his brewery’s past screw- ups and honest about what he and his brother were doing to put it right. At one point, when he’d been rhapsodizing about how much he loved working with Michael, how much better everything was already, I’d heard something in his voice—sincerity bordering on real emotion—a clear signal to me that he’d fight the buyout.
I just hoped it didn’t split their brotherly team. I could tell they were close, but this issue could rip that apart.
“What? I got something in my teeth?” He lowered the visor to look in the tiny mirror.
“No, no, sorry.” I started the engine. I had to admit it. I didn’t want the day to end.
His phone buzzed with a text. He glanced at it. The shit-eating grin was back. “Well, I didn’t ask her out, but she’s asking me, the brazen hussy.” He waved the phone at me.
“Good for her. We twenty-first century women have to take matters into our own hands. If we waited around for you guys to make a move, we’d be clearing cobwebs off our hoo-hahs.”
“Your...what?” He chuckled. “Is that Southern for ‘ask me out, James, quick, before my vagina gets old’?” I blushed so fast and so hot I thought I might pass out. “No. Shut up. Leave me alone. Oh Lord.” I put a hand to my face. “I have no idea why I said that.”
He laughed again. “So should I say yes?”
“Say yes to what?” I slammed the car into reverse and nearly backed straight into an oncoming car in the parking lot. “Shit. God damn it.”
“Nice mouth, Scarlett. I thought cussing was lazy talk.”
“Go fuck yourself, Rhett.” We glared at each other until I was overcome with giggles—nervous ones, but it broke the tension.
He grinned, and it had to be the most wonderful thing I’d seen in a long time.
“You have a great smile.” I cleared my throat. “I mean, nice work today, with the smile...and the smoldering gaze...and the ass.”
“Why, thank you,” he said.
“Okay, I think I can do this without killing us now.” I backed out of the space and headed toward V anAnsel.
“I have a better idea,” he said after about ten minutes of silence.
“Better than what?” I signaled to get off the expressway. I was already pondering my night ahead— a hot bath, after a cold shower, Chinese take-out, a bit of movie binging, then early to bed. I needed to shake off everything about this day so I could move forward, let James go about his business while I went about mine.
“Go out with me.”
My foot hit the brake as we approached the top of the exit ramp with a little too much energy. We jerked to a stop, our heads rolling forward, then thumping back against the headrests.
“Sorry,” I muttered. I kept a death grip on the steering wheel.
James stayed quiet. I pondered the pros and cons as quickly as I could. In the pro column—I was dying to go out and have a nice, quiet, possibly romantic dinner with the man sitting next to me. A con—I shouldn’t get myself any further entangled with him. His company was about to undergo a huge trauma.
I knew I wasn’t ready for this. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be ready. I couldn’t trust my own judgement anymore.
As if sensing me waffle, he leaned forward so he could look me in the eye. “Come on. You know you wanna.”
I stuck my tongue out at him. He grinned and sat back. “Okay, I will. But just dinner.”
“Well, of course. What else would it be? I mean, what do you take me for?”
I pulled into the parking lot and drove around back near the warehouse entrance. I turned off the engine, took a breath, and looked at him. I was going with brutal honesty. I didn’t have the energy for anything more.
“I take you for a handsome, charming, talented, recently divorced guy used to getting his way, including with women. And you have to know, James, that I’m...I...” My throat betrayed me, closing up so tight I could barely suck air. “I can’t get involved with anyone right now. I’m not in a good place with myself yet, you know? I have some work to do still.” I bit my lip. “Jeez Louise, do I sound like a sappy soap opera or what? Sorry. Never mind.”
I opened my door, eager to escape these close confines.
Time to detach.
Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville living in Central Illinois. She's spent her time as a three-continent expat trailing spouse, mom of three, real estate agent, brewery owner and bar manager, and is currently a social media consultant and humane society development director, in addition to being an award-winning author. With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, inside fictional television stations and successful real estate offices, and even in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are compelling and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, at times frustrate, and always linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.