Heart's a Mess
Author:Scott, Kylie

What the fuck had she done?


Violet Moore shoved her handbag into one of the staff lockers and slammed the door shut with more zest than necessary. Fury didn’t cover it and frustration barely skirted the edges. She had only herself to blame.


She’d made promises, lots of them. And she’d meant every last one, damn it.


No more stupidity, time to start behaving like an adult. She’d enrolled in a long-distance education course and stopped sharing an apartment with Sarah the stoner. She’d gotten a mortgage and stopped dating bad boys. Her shit had officially been gotten together. It had. Everything had been going great. Dumb-ass decisions made in the spur of the moment were done with, totally.


Except they weren’t, were they?


Because here she stood, third day on the job and about to get her ample ass fired. Her parents would be so proud, thirty-one years old and still fucking things up with aplomb.


Not that she’d ever tell them. She’d had enough of their disappointed looks to last her a lifetime.


Fuck it.


She smacked the flat of her hand against the locker door. A zing of pain ripped through her palm. It suited her mood to perfection.


There’d be other jobs, other opportunities, sure. But she’d wanted this one, damn it. The Southern Cross had a reputation as one of the best bars in the area and its clientele and conditions reflected it. Marie, the restaurant manager, had wanted to train her to take over and Nicole had been so excited. God, it had all sounded so great.


Her heart took a dive for the dozenth time. Had, past tense.


And there was no one to blame but her own sweet self.


She paused in front of the mirror to straighten her favorite black pencil skirt and pat down the fringe of her straight red hair. At least she’d go out with style. Wearing the black suede heels decorated with little white skulls might have been overkill, but frankly, she’d needed the boost in confidence if not in height. The thought of calling in sick had occurred to her more than a dozen times. But Violet version 2.0, the good girl, didn’t do that sort of thing.


Of course, good girls also didn’t screw their bosses second day on the job, did they? No.


Enough evading, it was time to face her doom.


Down the back hallway and out into the bar room she strode, shoes click-clacking alarmingly loudly across the wooden floor. Nerves rioted in her belly. Her breakfast churned. It was barely eleven, and already customers sat at tables. A song by the Jezabels hummed through the sound system. But no one spoke, bizarrely enough. In fact, no one even seemed to move. It felt as if she’d wandered into the twilight zone. The bar had somehow become a frozen tableau, stuck in time. Every eye in the place was fixed upon the couple standing in the front doorway.


The woman was petite, pretty. When Violet had been little, she’d pretended she looked like that. Even back then men’s preferences had been glaringly obvious. Big with bouncy bits almost always lost out to tiny and trim. But fuck that. She was fine with her own skin and all the flesh beneath. No more apologizing.


The other component of the couple was him, of course. Her nemesis. Her downfall. Her destruction. Six foot plus worth of ridiculously hot and handsome that she should have walked away from but hadn’t. God help her. Her body took immediate attention, irritatingly enough. Between her legs awoke instantly. The man packed the punch of a double espresso so far as her sex was concerned. Stupid, stupid sex.


But hell, look at him. She bit back a heartfelt sigh. Who was she kidding? Given the chance to do it all again, she’d take nothing back. Last night had been the best sex of her life. Climbing all over him had been a dream come true.


So, given her dreams had a tendency to turn into nightmares, this must be the girlfriend. They certainly looked perfect together. And like everyone else gathered, she stopped, watched and waited, caught up in the picture-perfect moment.


In something akin to slow motion, the woman in the doorway raised her hand high. Dazzling sunlight glinted off the rings on her fingers. Her hand flew and the flat of her palm struck the man hard across the face. The sharp sound of impact cut straight through the crowd.


Somebody gasped.


Someone else dropped a teaspoon. It clattered on the floor.


Without further ado, the woman turned on her heel and stalked out of the bar.


No one even dared breathe.


Slowly, the man, Alex Stuart, turned to face the assembled crowd. The imprint of the woman’s hand was emblazoned bright red across his cheek. He glared at his younger brother. His shoulders shook and his eyes spoke of murder.


“I’m going to fucking kill you,” he growled.


Duncan, the youngest of the three-brother management team and a pretty party boy if she’d ever seen one, took one look at the enraged man, turned and fled.