Title: An Uphill Battle
A Southern Roots Standalone
Author: LK Farlow
Genre: New Adult
Release Date: January 18, 2018
Azalea Barnes has hated Drake Collins since the day he broke her teenaged heart.
Fast forward almost seven years later and her libido still hasn't gotten the memo.
Now they're frenemies... with benefits.
Which suits Azalea just fine. She gets what her body craves while keeping her heart safe. Kind of.
Drake has loved Azalea since the day they met. He knows that she's his forever. Too bad she only sees him as a good time. He wants more. Needs more.
If only he could convince her that it's real this time. He's more determined than ever to prove to Azalea that chemistry like theirs doesn't exist only in the bedroom.
The odds may be against Drake, but he's prepared for an uphill battle.
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“Drake Collins, I don’t see you on our appointment book today,” Seraphine says, wagging her finger at me with a twinkle in her dark brown eyes.
“That’s because I’m not. Does Azalea have time to fit me in?”
“Hmmm. Magnolia could fit you in quicker than—”
“Nah, I don’t mind the wait. How long’s it gonna be?”
“About twenty minutes.”
I turn, and make myself comfy in one of the waiting room chairs, “That’ll be just fine, Seraphine.”
She rolls her eyes at me, “I’ll let her know you’re here.”
“Totally unnecessary. It’s a surprise visit.”
Seraphine shakes her head at me, but goes back to whatever she was doing at the computer, thank God. Because I’m counting on the element of surprise to work in my favor here. If she knows I’m here, she’ll start working on getting her walls up, but if I catch her off guard, I might just catch her unguarded, if you know what I mean.
To pass the time, I play around on my phone, checking social media and shooting the shit with Simon and Cash in group text. I impress myself by only checking the time every five minutes, but my God, it really does feel like an eternity waiting on her.
I perk up when I hear the sound her sweet voice coming closer. “You have a wonderful day Mrs. Jones, and be sure to tell Seraphine to book extra time at your next appointment so that we can do those lowlights.”
She doesn’t walk far enough into the room to see me, so I stand and follow behind her to her station. She grabs the broom and starts sweeping, but jumps and throws it down when she sees me. “Holy guacamole, you scared the ba-jeezus outta me!”
I cover my smile with my fist, “I can see that.”
“What’re you doing here?”
“Need a haircut,” I tell her, claiming her chair.
She scowls her trademark scowl at me, her eyes drilling into me like lasers. “So, make an appointment.” She turns of walk away, but I reach out and snag her wrist.
“Don’t need one,” I tell her, knowing it will make her that much more irritated. I know these games are stupid, but her mad gets me so hot.
“You most certainly do,” Azalea replies, her cheeks red with anger.
“Pretty sure there’s a sign in the window that reads ‘Walk-in’s welcome’. You’re certainly not making me feel very welcome. Not at all. Which, as the owner of this establishment, you should know is bad for business.” I tsk, wagging my finger at her.
“Drake Ulysses Collins, you get your ass up right now!” Azalea hisses through clenched teeth. Her eyes are so big, they look like they might pop right on out of her head.
“Nah, don’t think so. You get your cute ass over here, and buzz my hair down.”
“Now.” It’s a battle of wills and I’m playing to win. We remain frozen, staring one another down, until she rolls her eyes and stomps back over to me, like I knew she would. Drake, 1. Azalea, 0.
With a snap of her wrists, she has the cape draped around me. She shoots me an evil gleam, before pulling it as tight as it will go, damn near choking me. “Take it easy, Bit,” I croak, only to be whopped upside the back of my head with her comb. “What the hell?” I yell at her, but she just smiles and pops the guard she knows I like onto her clippers.
With one hand planted on the top of my head, she uses the other to move the clippers through my hair, buzzing it down in fluid movements. Azalea takes her time, dragging out my simple buzzcut because she thinks it’ll annoy me. She couldn’t be more wrong. Hell, for half the haircut, her perky C cups are all up in my face, and for the rest of it… her hands are on me, and there’s not a single thing annoying about any of that. No, I fucking love it.
“There, all done assface.”
“Assface, huh? That an invitation?”
“God! You’re so gross!”
Grasping the front of the cape with both hands, I pull until it unsnaps. Rising from the chair, I take two steps toward Azalea, effectively backing her into her station. “Gross? You think I’m gross?” I gently run my nose up her neck, lingering just below her ear. “Naw, you don’t mean that, do you?” My voice is hoarse and low, the sound of it causes Azalea’s skin to break out in goosebumps.
“Sure do,” she fires back, but her tone—all soft with want— betrays her words.
I take a step closer, leaving not even an inch between us, “We both know you’re lying through your teeth, but that’s okay Bit. Best be glad we’re in your place of business, or I’d call your bluff.” I cover her lips with mine and tunnel my fingers into her long, blonde hair. “Or maybe I still will,” I speak the words against her lips, delighting in the feel of her rapid breaths. “Right here. Right now.” I punctuate the words with a kiss, hard and rough, before stepping back.
Azalea stands there, bracing herself against her station, almost as if she’d crumple to the floor without its support, and damn if that doesn’t make me feel like the king of the world. “Thanks for the haircut. You have a nice day, and when I call you later… answer.”
LK Farlow (A.K.A Kate) is a small town girl with a love for words. She’s been writing stories and poems for as long she can remember. A Southern girl through and through, Kate resides in beautiful, sunny LA—that’s Lower Alabama, y’all—with her amazing husband and three wonderful children. When she’s not writing, you can find her snuggled up on the couch watching nature documentaries while she crochets or with her nose in a book. All Kate really wants in this life is her family happy, strong coffee, a good book and more Happily Ever After’s.