Three Simple Words (Kingston Ale House)

By: A.J. Pine

Chapter One


“I think we have time for a couple more questions,” Wes said as he looked out onto a sea of smiling, beautiful faces. One of the perks of the job for sure.

A hand shot up from the center of the crowd, and Wes nodded toward the woman. She stood, blond waves tumbling over her shoulders and directing his eyes right to where her breasts swelled beneath her shape-hugging sweater.

His lips curved upward. She glanced down to where his gaze rested below her eyes and offered a coy smile of her own. Then she surveyed his form, starting from his head and traveling lazily to just below the belt. She raised her brows with what felt to him like approval. She glanced up, and he met her stare with unabashed boldness.

“You…have a question?” he asked.

“Yes,” she answered without hesitation. “Your hero, Ethan, is a very skilled lover in Down This Road. Tell me, do you write from experience or just base those scenes on extensive—research?”

He flashed her a roguish smile and leaned back against the signing table, running a hand through his light brown waves.

“I like to think of experience as research,” he said. “And I’m always looking to learn something new—for the sake of the next book, of course.”

The woman narrowed her stare and pressed her lips into a knowing smile.

“The oral sex!” a petite brunette with a pixie cut blurted from her seat before he could ask for the last question, and gasps and murmurs echoed among the seated crowd. “The oral sex scenes were my favorite,” she said with a slight tremble in her voice. “He wasn’t just a skilled lover but an attentive one. I think that’s one of the reasons why all those women were forgiving of his inability to commit. Because—because—”

“The oral sex,” Wes said, finishing her thought, and she nodded vigorously.

His agent, Max, shot up from his stool at the bar. “And, that’s it for questions, ladies. Let’s give Mr. Hartley here a few minutes to grab a drink, and then he’ll be signing for those of you who purchased books.”

Max ushered him toward the bar as he thanked the crowd for their patience.

“You really are an asshole,” Max said. “Seriously. You’ve fucking ruined sex for those of us with wives and partners who expect us to be able to do what Ethan can do. If you didn’t pack houses like this with readers willing to throw their money at you, I’d cut you loose right now.”

Wes ordered his drink and laughed. “I could do a how-to manual next if you want. Maybe a YouTube video? Or how about this? If you’re doing it wrong, ask her how the hell you can do it right.”

“Fuck you,” Max said. “It’s not that easy.”

Wes raised a brow. “Have you ever asked your wife what she likes?”

Max laughed. “You mean other than her personal shopper at Bloomingdales?” He went silent for a moment, and then his eyes widened. “Jesus, you’re a genius, Hartley.”

Wes took a slow sip of his drink. “True—but I don’t follow.”

Max pulled his phone from his pocket and began hammering out a text. When he finished he looked at Wes again. “I just told her I’m meeting her at Bloomingdale’s after my breakfast meeting tomorrow. In a fitting room. Where I’m prepared to ask her what she’d like.”

Wes laughed and shook his head. “That’s one way to go about it. Feel free to bring the book if you want to reference a specific scene.”

“Speaking of books…” Max said, but Wes cut him off.

“There’s a line at the signing table. I’ll catch you after?”

He didn’t wait for Max’s response. He was on too much of a high from the Q&A. Now wasn’t the time to get into book two—or the current lack thereof. He had a line of women waiting for him, and he wasn’t one to disappoint.



Wes scrawled his name across the title page along with his signature phrase, “Enjoy the journey.” He slid the book back to the woman, enjoying the flush that grew in her cheeks as her hand accidentally brushed his.

“Thanks for coming out tonight,” he said, lifting his rocks glass in a gesture of cheers before he threw back what was left of his scotch. The woman from the Q&A—the one so curious about his research—bit her lip and smiled, glancing behind her to the handful of other women still in line. When she looked back at him, she swiped a tongue over her painted bottom lip and tucked her blond waves behind her ear.

“Will you be staying for drinks after the signing?” she asked, her tone full of innocence, but her blue eyes brimming with heat.

Wes noted his empty glass and gave her one of his patented “Wes Hartley author” grins.

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