It’s time to fight fire with fire!

November 8, 2009 at 2:31 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

I had a fantastic time at the signing yesterday at Altamonte Mall. I was so excited to see so many familiar faces 🙂

Now, it’s back to work on the third book in the Club X series. You’ll be happy to hear that this will be Cal’s book 🙂 Cal has a pretty big secret and it is about to come back to haunt him.

I hope you are enjoying Choices. Have a great week!

Excerpt 7

The next day at school, Mallory couldn’t help but look for him everywhere she went.  At lunch, she finally spotted him across the cafeteria.  To her dismay, he was sitting with Cherie Brightwater.  She paused for a minute, her tray in hand, as she watched Cherie lean across the table to put her hand on Jackson’s arm. 

“Mallory, did you forget where we normally sit?” Leah asked sarcastically, coming up behind her.

She followed Leah to the table, barely seeing anything as she took a seat across from her.  What could he possibly see in Cherie Brightwater?  She wasn’t even that pretty!  Sure, she had a reputation for going all the way, but he saw through that.  Didn’t he? Leah continued to chat animatedly about her latest science experiment debacle, but all she could do was steal glances at the pair across the room.  She felt like a fool.  After last weekend, she thought…well, she didn’t know what she thought. 

But she certainly didn’t expect this! 

“So, Mr. Keller tells me that if one more thing blows up in his classroom, he’s going to fail me.  And, I’m like I never said I was a science genius!”  Leah paused to take a bite of her hamburger.  When she looked up, she asked, “Have you even heard anything I said?”

Her head snapped around.  “What?  Of course, I did.  Mr. Keller is a jerk.  No big news there.  No one likes him.”

Leah’s gaze drifted to the couple on the other side of the room.  “Isn’t that your date?”

Mallory glanced over nonchalantly.  “He was just my date for the barbeque.  It was nothing serious,” she refuted.

Leah’s eyebrows rose, as she shook her head.  “Well, it looks like it might be serious with Cherie Brightwater.  How long do you give her before she climbs over the table and sits on his lap?”

She turned her head to see Cherie Brightwater lean across the table to kiss Jackson.  On the mouth!  Her temper began to boil, and even though she told herself she had no claim on him, she could barely stop herself from running over and slapping the other girl. 

Why was he doing this? 

“I hadn’t noticed,” she dismissed.

Leah let out a sarcastic laugh.  “Yeah right!  And I actually like science! Why don’t you give him a dose of his own medicine?”

Giving Leah a quick nod, she stood up.  “You’re right.”

Walking over to Derrick, she wrapped her arms around his neck from behind and leaned into him.  “I’ve missed you,” she whispered seductively into his ear.

His surprise was evident.  “You have?”

She leaned in closer, her mouth next to his ear.  “You know I miss you when you’re gone.”

His hands came up to imprison hers around him.  “Well, I guess we will have to fix that.  Do you want to get together after school?”

“I can’t wait,” she said, turning to place a lingering kiss on his cheek.

“I’ll give you a ride home.  Meet me in the parking lot,” he instructed firmly.

“Sounds good,” she replied, leaning in to press another kiss on his cheek.  To her surprise, he turned giving her his mouth as his hand held her head.  His friends began to hoot and holler as he prolonged the kiss.  Finally, he let her go giving the other occupants of the table a satisfied grin.

Stumbling back to the table, she tried to ignore Leah’s amused look. 

“That certainly went a little farther than planned,” Leah observed, shaking her head.

She couldn’t bring herself to look around the room after what had just happened.  “Did he even see us?”

Her friend offered her a sad smile.  “Oh, he saw all right.”

“And?”

Her lips formed a grim line.  “And then, he left.”

Mallory’s head whipped around to see Cherie Brightwater sitting with her friends.  Jackson was nowhere in sight.  “Where did he go?”

“Out the back door,” Leah offered, taking another bite of her sandwich.

She grabbed her purse and books.  “I need to run to my locker before class.  I’ll see you later.”

She walked out the back door following the sidewalk that led to the area most of the kids called “the smoker’s wall.”  There he was.  A thin veil of smoke hovered over him as he leaned against the building.  When he saw her coming, he quickly looked the other way.  She squared her shoulders, as she began to walk past him.  Realizing that he had no intention of stopping her, she spun on her heel to confront him.

“You know, you could do better than Cherie Brightwater.”

One side of his mouth quirked up, as he took a long drag of his cigarette.  “Thanks, I’ll take that under advisement.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she retorted.

He pushed off the wall, dropping his cigarette on the ground.  “It means I don’t need advice from you on who to date, considering…”

Her eyes narrowed.  “Considering?”

 “Considering your current tastes,” he explained.

“Is that why you left?  Because you didn’t want to see me with Derrick,” she prodded.

“It didn’t look like you needed a bigger audience,” he bit back trying to push past her, but she grabbed his arm. 

“Why are you doing this, Jackson?”

His eyebrows rose.  “Doing what?”

Her gaze lowered.  “I thought that we…”

He looked down at the hand that restrained him.  “Look Mallory, I don’t know what you think happened this weekend, but whatever it was, it’s over.”

His words were cruel, meant to cut.  And they did.  She felt like her heart was being ripped out of her chest.  Why was he acting this way?  What had she done wrong?  She wanted to scream at him, hit him, but none of those things would make her feel better and she knew it.  Had she been wrong about him?  Had she completely misjudged him? 

A single tear slid down her cheek, making him feel like the biggest ass in the world.  All day he told himself that he had to do this, even if he didn’t want to.  The die was cast.  It wouldn’t do any good to start something they couldn’t finish.  Still, as he looked into her wounded eyes, he wanted to pull her against him.  Seeing her with Lange made him crazy.  If he hadn’t left when he did, he would’ve made an even bigger mess by beating the other boy to a pulp.  

He reached out to wipe the tear away, causing her to look up.  Her mouth fell open inviting him to break every promise he had made to himself this weekend. 

God, he wanted to. 

His head began to descend toward hers. 

“Hey Hart, you want to take your hands off my sister!” Curtis yelled, as he and his friends walked over to the pair.

Jackson turned to face him as several of the boys crowded around him pushing Mallory to the side.  Before he could get to her, one of them grabbed him from behind pinning his arms behind his back. 

“Get your hands off her!” he bit out, as Mallory struggled against one of the boys.

Curtis stood in front of him, his brown hair slightly ruffled.  “She’s my sister, Hart.  I’ll say who touches her and who doesn’t,” he added with a sneer.

Wrestling one of his arms free, he tried to turn, but another boy grabbed him.  He tried to move, but with two of them holding him, he didn’t make much progress.  His gaze flew to Mallory, who was fighting against the boy holding her. 

“Curtis, make him let me go!  You can’t tell me what to do.  You’re not Daddy!”

Curtis glanced over at her shaking his head.  “It’s a good thing Daddy isn’t here to see this or you would be in bigger trouble than you already are.  Did you think I wouldn’t find out about the Buchman’s party? What the hell were you thinking?”

“It’s none of your business,” she retorted.

“I think it is when my sister decides to take up with the town scum,” he bit back.  “Hold her, and shut her up!”

At his instruction, the other boy covered Mallory’s mouth.  Curtis turned his attention back to Jackson.  “I’m going to enjoy this.”

Jackson saw the fear in her eyes and knew he had to do something…quick.  “Why don’t you fight me like a real man?  Or is this the only way you can win?”

Curtis’s eyes narrowed.  “Shut up, Hart!” 

He threw the first punch.  It connected with Jackson’s abdomen, and he winced as pain shot through his stomach.

“Real men don’t need two guys to hold me back!  A real man would take me on himself!”

Another punch landed on his chin snapping his head to the side and causing his jaw to throb painfully. 

“Chicken shit!” Jackson muttered, despite the pleading he saw in Mallory’s eyes for him to stop.

The next punch landed in his ribs.  His head fell forward at the intensity of the pain.  The other two boys were supporting most of his weight now. 

Curtis snorted.  “Let him go,” he instructed.

When they released him, he barreled into Curtis, both of them falling to the ground.  They wrestled.  Jackson threw several punches making Curtis grunt in pain.  Several of the boys pulled Jackson off him, throwing him to the ground as they kicked him in his already-injured side.  He was able to grab the legs of several of the boys making them stumble and fall, but there were too many.  Then, as quickly as it started, it was over, and Jackson was left on the grass alone.

Mallory ran over to him, her hands caressing him.  “Jackson, are you okay?”

He slowly got to his feet trying not to show the pain that sliced through his entire body.  “I’m fine,” he mustered.

“I’m so sorry,” she said gently, a worried look marring her perfect face.

Stumbling over to the wall, he placed a hand on it for support.  “Sorry that I got hurt?  Or sorry that he is your brother?”

“Both,” she admitted sincerely.

At that, he smiled.  “It’s okay.  We can’t pick our family.”

“If I could, I would return him,” she confessed ruefully.

He laughed, the motion making him grimace at the slice of pain it caused.  “Don’t worry, Mal.  I’ll live,” he assured.

Her hand came out to stroke his arm.  “At least let me give you a ride home.”

He gripped his side, as he tried to ignore the tenderness he found there.  Before he knew what she was doing, she grabbed his arm sliding it around her shoulders to help him shift his weight.  When he started to protest, she looked up at him to shake her head. 

“You can’t be a tough guy all the time,” she chided.

Unable to fight any longer, he allowed her to help him into her car.  Somehow, his plan had gotten way off track today.  As he watched her navigate through the city streets, he realized that he would not be able to discard her as easily as he thought.  Pushing someone like Mallory Westfall away was not a task he would accomplish without effort.  When she made up her mind about something, she didn’t give up. 

“I can’t believe Curtis did that,” she muttered, her fingers gripping the steering wheel.

“I can,” he replied.

“I hate him.  He is such a jerk.”

“No arguments there, but he’s still your brother,” he reasoned.  “Turn right up ahead.”

Pulling onto the small dirt road, they drove past a small abandoned fruit stand to the right.  Despite the advertisements of watermelon and cantaloupe, it was bare today.  “You’re going to turn left at that entrance between the trees,” he explained, pointing to a small opening.

Mallory followed the road around a curve.  Corn fields flanked the path.  When they rounded the bend, the cabins came into view.  “Ours is the one with the blue shutters just up ahead,” he instructed, his expression blank. 

Pulling her car over to the side, she shifted into park.  He quickly climbed out leaving her to trail behind him as he climbed the steps.  He could only imagine what she was thinking.  The cabin was a far cry from the Westfall estate. 

“Well, thanks,” he said, in an effort to dismiss her.

“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” she asked expectantly.

He let out a long sigh.  He didn’t want to invite her in, didn’t want to spend any more time with her, when he knew what the ultimate outcome would be.  Still, his mother had not raised him to be rude. 

“Yeah, sure,” he mumbled, as he pulled open the door.       

Mallory Westfall was about to invade his world, and there was nothing he could do about it.

Stay Tuned for more of Choices…

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