Free Read! Check out Excerpt 4 of Choices!

October 11, 2009 at 8:33 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

I hope that you are all enjoying my blog book, Choices.  I’m sure, like me, you are all getting ready for Halloween.  This is one of my favorite times of year.  It’s when a person’s creative side can definitely come out.

Excerpt 4

The rest of the day seemed like an eternity to Mallory.  Every few minutes, her gaze would be inevitably drawn back to the novel he left on the counter.  She would never understand him or his motives.  All she knew was that whatever Jackson Hart did these days, it certainly wasn’t in her best interest. 

She was just counting out the register, when she saw Jacob in the window.  She waved him in.  “How was school?” she inquired with a smile.

The door shut behind him, his dark brown hair still blowing in the breeze.  His faded brown corduroy jacket almost completely concealed the blue polo shirt he wore beneath it.  His jeans were faded, but not from long years of use, the washed-out color was factory generated.  The tennis shoes he wore, made famous by a basketball star, had been something he just had to have.  Mallory couldn’t keep up with the latest trends, but she didn’t have to worry.  Jacob was all too happy to keep her apprised of what was cool to wear to school.

“A pain in the ass,” he answered candidly.

“Jacob Daniel Lange!” she yelled.

“Sorry, but it’s true,” he said, kicking his feet against the bottom of the counter.

“You know how I feel about that kind of language, Jacob,” she admonished.

“I know.  You can use it, but I can’t,” he retorted with a roll of his eyes.

She gave him a stern glare.  Ever since the divorce, he seemed to feel he could say anything to her.  Her first instinct was to punish him severely, but in the end she usually backed down.  Soon, she would have to put a stop to his acting out.  She couldn’t let him think this was acceptable.  Somewhere, in the middle of her own personal trauma over the divorce, she had loosened the reigns on her son’s behavior.

And now she was paying the price for it. 

“I try very hard not to use that kind of language, Jacob.  And you need to do the same.”
            “Whatever,” he bit out on a harsh sigh.

She closed the register drawer, grabbing her coat from the stool.  “Are you ready to go to dinner?”  Coming around the counter to follow him out the door, she took care to make sure the lights were off and the door was securely locked.

She had hoped Jacob’s sour mood would sweeten by the time they reached Dick Clark’s, but unfortunately, it hadn’t.   When they slid into a booth, he grabbed the menu ignoring the waitress’s chipper greeting.  By the time their drinks came, he was slouched low in the seat. 

“Didn’t you have a math test today?” she asked, as she took as sip of her soda.

He let out a sarcastic grunt.  “When am I ever going to use Algebra anyway?”

She wasn’t really sure she had ever used Algebra in her adult life, either; but, she forced herself to play devil’s advocate.  “You can use Algebra for all sorts of things,” she assured evenly.

He held up a hand to halt her.  “Spare me the pep talk, Mom.”

She sighed heavily.  Her son was becoming a smart ass, and she wasn’t sure what to do to stop it.  In less than a year’s time, he went from a straight A student on the basketball team to not wanting to participate in anything, especially conversations with her.  She glanced around the small interior of the restaurant just in time to see Jackson Hart come through the front door. 

Great, just what she needed to make a bad day worse

She quickly lowered her gaze to the placemat, which held a sketch of the restaurant along with facts about when it first opened.  Feigning interest in the cost of a tenderloin sandwich in the fifties, she tried to ignore the man who was lithely moving toward her.  She told herself not to look up, that he would hopefully soon be seated far away from her, but curiosity got the better of her.  She raised her head only to find him hovering over her. 

“Small world,” he observed.

“Isn’t it though?” she replied, trying to muster her most congenial smile.

 He gave Mallory an expectant look as he glanced over at Jacob.  “So, are you going to introduce me?”

All of the air in her lungs seemed to vanish in an instant.  Somehow, she regained enough of it to say, “Jacob, this is Jackson Hart.”

Her son’s eyes widened as he quickly slid out of the booth extending his hand to Jackson and giving it a firm shake.  Mallory stared at him in amazement. 

Was this really the same child she was just having dinner with? 

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Hart.  I’ve read all of your books.” 

Suddenly, she felt like she was in the middle of a science fiction movie.  Had her son been invaded by an alien force that compelled him to be pleasant?  The warmth of Jackson’s smile when he gazed at him made her insides shake.

 “You’ve read my books?”

Jacob bobbed his head excitedly.  “Yes, sir.  My favorite is Twisted Paradise,” he beamed.  “Do you want to have dinner with us?”

“Honey, I’m sure Mr. Hart is too busy to have dinner with us,” she interrupted.  Jacob was beginning to take this nice act a little too far.

Jackson turned to give her a look of admonishment.  “Actually, I don’t,” he said turning back to her son with a grin.  “I would love to have dinner with you.  Thank you, Jacob.”

Jackson motioned his head toward Mallory.  Just when she thought he was obviously kidding, he sat down next to her forcing her to move over.  Jacob returned to his side of the booth completely enamored with their new dinner guest.  Mallory scooted in as far as she could, trying desperately to ignore the heat of his leg pressing against hers. 

“So, you liked Twisted Paradise?  It wasn’t too violent for you?” Jackson asked with raised eyebrows.

Jacob shook his head.  “No sir, I thought it was great.”

The waitress appeared at their side, and Jackson quickly ordered a sandwich.  All through dinner, Mallory watched her son talk to Jackson in the most animated tone she had heard him use in months.  Although she didn’t completely understand it, Jackson Hart was the one person who seemed to have the ability to bring her son out of the funk he had been in since the divorce.  It was disturbing to watch how easy their encounter was.

Especially, when her own were so difficult. 

“I’m going to go to the restroom,” Jacob said standing up to head toward the back of the restaurant.

Jackson leaned an elbow on the table turning to face her in the booth.  “Good kid you have there,” he observed with a casual smile.

“He has his moments,” she replied keeping her gaze trained on her plate.

“Don’t we all,” he agreed with a chuckle.  “How old is he?  Thirteen, fourteen?”

Panic made her blood pressure shoot up.  Did he know?  Would he guess?  The look in his eyes told her that she didn’t have much choice but to answer.  “Fourteen,” she heard herself say.

His jaw clenched and his hand curled into a fist.  “So, you were screwing Lange even then?” he bit out angrily.

He didn’t know.

He hadn’t guessed the truth. 

The realization was tampered with the knowledge that he thought she was a whore. It hurt more than she wanted to admit. 

“You can think what you want, Jackson.”

He leaned in closer.  His chest rubbed against the side of her arm leaving a trail of fire in its wake. 

“I just want to hear you say it, Mallory.  For once in your life, I want you to own up to every dirty thing you’ve ever done.”

Before she could reply, Jacob returned. 

“Jacob, I was thinking, if you want to earn some extra money, I could use some help at the cabin,” Jackson offered. 

Mallory’s head whipped to the side to stare at him.  He switched gears so easily it made her head spin.

“I’d love to!”  “He can’t!”  Mother and son both spoke at the same time.

Jackson looked back and forth between the two of them, his amusement clear.              “Come on, Mom.  You know I’ve been saving up for a Yamaha YZ250,” he cried out.

At Jackson’s apparent confusion, she tilted her head to the side murmuring, “A dirt bike.”

Jackson’s eyes widened and he nodded his head appreciatively.  “Don’t worry, Mal.  I won’t let him get into anymore trouble at my place then he would on a dirt bike,” he promised with a mischievous wink.

An unwelcome fluttering began in her stomach, and she wasn’t sure if it was because of the wink or his use of the familiar nickname.  With both of them staring at her, Mallory knew she had only one option if she wanted to avoid further questioning. 

“Fine, but only for a few days.  I’m sure Mr. Hart has to be getting home,” she relented.

“Actually, I was thinking about sticking around for a while,” he explained.

“What?”

He smiled at her obvious unease.  “Well, I have some work to do around the cabin.  I was going to sell it, but now I’m starting to reconsider.  After all, it would be a nice, quiet place to write.”

Mallory twisted the napkin in her hands.  He wasn’t serious.  He couldn’t be.  He was just trying to rattle her, and unfortunately, it was working.  When the waitress came with the check, Jackson quickly threw out several bills.  She stilled his hand with her own.

“I can’t let you buy dinner.” 

Jackson’s gaze remained on the hand that covered his own.  She quickly pulled it away, uncomfortable with his intense scrutiny. 

“I insist,” he replied firmly.

“But…” she began.

He gave her a look of warning.  “I’m not letting you pay for dinner, Mallory.”

She let out the breath she had been holding as her gaze returned to her son.  The look on his face told her that the bizarre encounter was not lost on him.  She could only guess what he might be thinking right now. 

Jacob followed Jackson out the entrance leaving her to trail behind them, apparently forgotten.  As she followed them out, she realized that for now she had successfully dodged the bullet.  Jacob was enthusiastically detailing the highlights of the dirt bike he wanted when she caught up with them. 

“Do you need a ride back to your car?” Jackson offered.

“No,” Mallory dismissed, ignoring her son’s look of protest.  “The fresh air will do us good.”

“Oh Jacob, I have something for you,” he explained, leading them both to the parking lot out back.  He reached inside the front seat to pull out a manuscript.  He handed it to Jacob.  He finished the book six months ago, and was waiting for the final edit to come in.  Jacob stared down at it with reverence.  “It’s a copy of my new book.  Maybe you can help me think of a title?”  

Jacob’s eyes lit up at the request.  “Thanks,” he said walking to the back of the truck already reading the first page.

Before she could walk away, Jackson grabbed her arm.  He pulled her against him, his voice low in her ear.  “I haven’t forgotten, Mallory.  You will tell me everything, before I leave.”

“I’m not telling you anything, Jackson.”

“Then, I guess I’ll just have to stay.” 

 

Stay Tuned for More of Choices…

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