Can their love survive the judgment of others?
Turning the big 4-0 has Jocelyn Nichols sitting at her favorite restaurant bar, alone, forgoing a night out with her girlfriends to reflect on her life. She's a wealthy widow whose biggest regret is living a life void of adventure. The future is flooded with concerns: the what nows and where to even start?
Mason Kopp, co-owner of the popular restaurant, The Viggo, has seen the alluring blonde several times, but he's never had a chance to speak with her. But it's a slow night, and the thoughtful woman calls to him. He's both surprised and pleased when it doesn't take much to convince her to join him for a night of adventure—after he promises to be on his best behavior.
Jocelyn is captivated by her blooming friendship with the devilishly handsome, young, bar owner. Thirteen years younger to be exact. A fact that she reminds herself of often, and more so with Mason's desire to make her his.
She finds herself falling for the outgoing man who helps push her toward a life and career that she never believed she could have. But there is one little complication: thirteen years. Passive remarks from their friends start to plant seeds of doubt that the couple could have a real future together. The saying that age is just a number is proving to be just that—a saying.
A determined Mason is ready to convince Jocelyn that they are meant for one another, the world be damned. But can he do it before she runs?
Content Warning: contains sexual content and strong language
It was pushing midnight as Jocelyn pulled up to Mason's place. He'd promised to have her home by midnight, but in all honesty, he hadn't expected them to stay out as late as they had. He'd made assumptions about her that she had corrected at every turn.
Jocelyn cleared her throat, and Mason realized he'd been silent too long, reflecting on the night. He'd enjoyed the evening, and he already knew that he'd like to see her again. She was one of those women that was easy to be around. Or maybe it was the absence of pressure from the non-date date. It was a nice change. Maybe a perk of hanging out with an older woman? Not that age ever mattered to him, but this was a first.
"Thanks for sharing your birthday with me. I had a lot of fun. We should do it again."
When Jocelyn didn't respond with anything other than a smile he knew she was going to need some convincing. In all fairness, she'd told him that she wasn't the adventurous type, and taking a chance on a random guy might have been all the excitement she was up for.
"Come on, don't overthink it. I just think since we are friends and all…you know, friends hang out."
"Mason…" She paused. "Thank you for tonight. I really had a great time. Probably one of the best birthdays I've had in a long time. But this," she said, gesturing between the two of them, "isn't a good idea."
"Why?" he asked, needing to understand her hesitation. Was it because they hardly knew each other, or had he offended her on their outing? Did she think he was a creep?
"I just don't think it would be right. I'm thirteen years older than you." With a heavy sigh, she continued. "What will people think? You're an incredibly handsome man, but I'm not looking for anything like that. People will assume we're lovers, or worse…that I'm your mom." She paused before speaking again with a smile. "Thank you for tonight. I had a great time. I'll see you at the bar from time to time." She gave a hopeful nod.
Mason nodded with a flat smile. The concerns she had weren't anything he was worried about; they hadn't even crossed his mind. He didn't hate the idea of people thinking they were lovers—she was stunning—and he couldn't imagine anyone thinking she was his mom.
Jocelyn took a deep breath and let it out, and Mason couldn't help but notice the rise and fall of her breasts. Though her cleavage wasn't visible, the dress was tight enough around the bodice that he would have to be blind not to notice. Too bad lovers is off the table. But settling for friends didn't seem like settling at all. The idea of not seeing her again other than at the bar bothered him, and he wasn't about to give up.
"Okay, Joss," he politely conceded and turned to get out of the car. "Shit," Mason swore as he patted his pockets. "I think my cellphone slipped out of my pocket. I had it when I got in the car. It must be around here somewhere. Can I use your phone to call it?"
"Oh, sure, of course."
He accepted her cellphone, using it to call his own. Mason tried to hold back the grin spreading across his face when he heard the ringing in his pocket, knowing the phone had been there the whole time. He hit end on her phone, adding his contact info to it before handing it back to a confused Jocelyn. He had picked up a few tricks in his years of dating, and this was worth a shot.
"So now you have my number, and I have yours," he announced, flashing his phone toward her. Her eyes widened with what might be considered horror, and that had him worried. "Shit. That came out a little creepy. I promise, I'm not a stalker. I just think we should give a friendship a shot. Text me sometime and we can hang out, but expect a text from me. If you don't reply, I'll take the hint."
He leaned across the center console, staring into her nervous, green eyes before swiftly planting a kiss on her cheek.
"All right, Joss, take it easy." With that, he hopped out of the car, not taking a second look as he jogged up to his apartment.
Thinking back now, he had enjoyed spending time with her more than he had expected to, almost regretting that their evening wasn't considered a date. And a part of him wondered if he should be offended that she couldn't wrap her head around the idea of being lovers. Regardless, he had a chance to be friends with her, and he wouldn't pass that up.