Home > My Cone and Only

My Cone and Only
Author: Susannah Nix








I sensed it the moment Wyatt walked into the room. Like an electrical charge or a change in barometric pressure, I could always feel when he was near. I didn’t even have to turn and look.

It was Saturday night, and I’d come out with some friends to go dancing at King’s Palace, the local country-western dance hall here in Crowder, Texas. There was a bar to one side of the stage at the back where live music played every Friday and Saturday night, and an open space for dancing in front of the stage. People came from all over the state to two-step in the historic dance hall, but for us it was just one of our regular local hangouts.

“Wyatt just got here,” my friend Kaylee said, because I wasn’t the only one who noticed Wyatt King. Every head at our table snapped toward the door at the opposite end of the hall.

Except mine.

I didn’t need to see Wyatt with my own eyes to know he’d be looking fine as hell, and I was in no hurry to inflict the sight on myself. Besides, I knew he’d find his way over to me eventually. He always came to pay his courtesies.

I also knew he’d be stopping to say hello to every pretty woman he passed on his way through the dance hall. Wherever he went, he had to work the room like some sort of celebrity. Wyatt was addicted to attention, and most of the people in this town were only too happy to give it to him. Like the three women I’d come out dancing with tonight.

We were standing around one of the high-top tables by the bar. The band didn’t take the stage until eight, so a George Strait song was being piped over the sound system. The Palace was one of the oldest buildings in town, five thousand square feet of weathered wooden floor beneath a pitched beam ceiling, the rough-hewn walls decorated with vintage music posters and old tin signs. There were a couple of pool tables on the other side of the stage, and rows of long wooden tables up at the front where Wyatt was currently mingling his way through the room.

Kaylee sighed and rested her chin in her hand. “I’d let Wyatt King ruin my life.”

I didn’t bother to suppress my eye roll. The irony was, I more or less had let Wyatt King ruin my life, just not in the way Kaylee meant.

“I’d let any of the King brothers ruin my life.” Megan smiled as her eyes tracked Wyatt’s slow progress toward the bar. “Even the stuffy suit and tie one.”

“Nate?” Kaylee’s pierced nose wrinkled. “Isn’t he like forty?”

“Thirty-eight,” I corrected without thinking. Kaylee gave me a sidelong look and I shrugged. “Nate’s eight years older than Wyatt, who’s the same age as my brother. It’s not like it’s hard to remember.”

“Whatever,” Megan said. “I’d still hit that.”

“Same,” said Rain, who was standing across from me, twirling one of her box braids. Rain and I had been in the same high school graduating class, while Megan and Kaylee were a couple of years younger—young enough not to have known Wyatt in high school as well as we had. “Although…” Rain’s brown lips tilted. “I’d rather break me off a piece of Brady King.”

“Who wouldn’t?” Megan’s gray eyes lit up as she nodded. “And he’s even older than Nate, right?”

Brady was the oldest of Wyatt’s siblings and the town’s only homegrown celebrity. He’d left Crowder when he was twenty-one and wound up the lead guitarist for Ghost Ships, who’d been topping the alt rock charts for more than a decade. Brady also hadn’t been back home or spoken to his family for almost twenty years, so there was pretty much zero chance of Rain getting her wish.

“Quite frankly, it’s rude of all the King boys to be so good-looking,” Rain said.

“Right?” Megan set her beer bottle down a little too hard, sending droplets of foam flying. “Like it’s not enough that the Kings are made of money and own half the town. They all have to look like the sons of Aphrodite to boot.” Megan had been a classics major but was currently waiting tables at the new craft brewery that had opened in town.

“Mmm hmmm,” Rain hummed in agreement. “And don’t forget all the free ice cream they can eat. Total bonus.”

I smiled, probably the only one at the table who knew how much Wyatt King hated ice cream.

His family owned King’s Creamery, the second-best-selling ice cream brand in the country, which had been founded by Wyatt’s great-grandfather here in Crowder. Between the corporate headquarters, the ice cream plant, and the accompanying amusement park that brought hundreds of tourists into the town every day—not to mention all the other businesses that fell under the King corporate aegis—the whole town had basically been built on a foundation of ice cream and King money. Even the dance hall we were in right now, King’s Palace, was owned by Wyatt’s uncle Randy.

“I’d sure like to lick Wyatt King’s ice cream cone.” Megan waggled her eyebrows as the others snickered.

“I’d let him eat my ice cream sandwich any day,” Kaylee added with a dramatic nod, and even I snorted in amusement.

Megan slapped a hand over her mouth, her eyes widening as her attention caught on something behind me. “Holy shit, I think Brianna Thorne just stuck her tongue in Wyatt’s ear.”

Everyone turned to look, including me this time. Sure enough, Brianna had her lips stuck to Wyatt’s ear like some kind of suckermouth catfish. He was laughing as he sipped a beer someone must have given him, seemingly in no hurry to shake her off.

Of course he was enjoying himself. It was Saturday night, and if he was here, it was probably because he was looking to get laid. All the single women of a certain age would be vying to keep Wyatt King company for a night.

He looked just as good as I’d known he would, with his longish golden brown hair hanging down in his face and the sleeves of his midnight blue shirt rolled up to expose the tattoos on both his forearms. The sight of him with Brianna plastered to his side made my whole body clench.

I turned back to my beer, knocking back a mouthful to hide my grimace. It shouldn’t still bother me after all these years. This was exactly who Wyatt had always been, after all.

And yet, here I was, totally freaking bothered.

“Shameless.” Rain shook her head as she tipped back her own beer bottle.

Megan shrugged. “Whatever works, I guess.”

“It won’t work,” Kaylee said, pursing her glossy pink lips. “He likes it better when they play harder to get.”

“How would you know?” Megan’s eyes went to slits.

Kaylee shrugged. “It’s obvious if you watch him. Wyatt gets off on the chase.”

“Don’t all men?” Megan muttered.

“Is that your big plan to seduce him?” Rain asked in amusement. “Hang back and watch him obsessively until he’s so captivated by your cool disregard that he drops to his knees at your feet?”

Kaylee smiled and stuck out her tongue. “Something like that.”

As she shook her head, Rain’s eyes fell on me and narrowed. “I feel like Andie’s been awfully quiet on the subject of Wyatt King.”

“That’s because I don’t have anything to say about him.” I wiped my sweaty hands on my jeans and rested the toe of one boot on the floor, trying to look casual.

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