It’s getting HOT!!!!

February 28, 2010 at 5:15 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

Well, it has been a lazy weekend!  Pretty soon, I will begin edits on Shadows of Ecstasy, the third book in the Club X series.  If you haven’t read the rest of the Club X series, you can check it out at www.shaunahart.com.

I hope that you are all enjoying Choices.  Let me know what you think 🙂

Without further ado, let’s get right to Mallory and Jackson:

Excerpt 18

Jackson twisted his tie, scowling at his reflection.  Despite his best efforts, the damned thing still wasn’t straight.  Yanking it out, he began the laborious process of starting over again.  After several minutes of cursing, he was able to get it on right.  He leaned over the sink, gripping the porcelain edges as he hung his head. 

How the hell was he going to get through this day?

            Last night, as he stared at what was left of his mother, things had become real to him.  He supposed that his mind had played tricks on him since he came back.  He hadn’t wanted to face her death, and his mind had done the humane thing by pretending that she was just on a vacation. 

            Lifting his head, he stared at his own reflection.  Putting this off wouldn’t make it go away.  He had to face it, no matter how painful it was.  The service seemed to pass by in a blur.  He sat alone in the front row, which was always reserved for family.  He knew that he made a pitiful display.  But a part of him didn’t care.  The people in this town would remember this day as they remembered everything else, with a half-true version of it.  It didn’t matter anymore what the town’s elite thought about him.  Now, they were clamoring for his attention, but the second his star lost its luster they would be telling each other they had never thought much of him. 

            Climbing into the black limousine, he leaned his head back on the seat.  Rain glided down the windows in sheets.  When they reached the cemetery, he let out the breath he had been holding.  Standing beneath the green tent, the raindrops created a clattering sound overhead.  He felt the presence of people all around him, but he didn’t see them.  He didn’t see anything, except his mother’s casket perched above her plot.

As he climbed back into the limo to leave, he caught a glimpse of the woman who made him run from this place years ago.  Her eyes met his, and he realized how costly her hold on him had been.

            Mallory watched him drive away, her heart aching for him.  Walking back to the car, she tried her best to shield herself from the pouring rain.  Derrick, she couldn’t help but notice, had chosen not to make an appearance today.   She had to admit that she was grateful for that.  With Jacob spending the night there, she was left alone again.  The thought of going home made her stomach turn.  She hated being alone.  True, there were moments when she was glad for some quiet time, but there were other moments where she felt lost.  If it wasn’t for Jacob, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself.

            She spent the rest of the day at the store trying to keep her thoughts centered, but no matter how she tried they always returned to Jackson.  Deciding to punish herself, she began to do inventory in a vain attempt to keep her mind centered. 

She was in the back when she heard the bell ring. 

“I’ll be right there,” she called out.

            Pushing a wayward strand of hair off her forehead, she walked up to the front.  Curtis lounged against the counter, his arms crossed over his chest. 

“Hey sis, how’s it going?” he asked with a smile that didn’t quite meet his eyes.

            She put the stack of books down on the counter.  “Curtis,” she replied with a nod.  “What brings you here?”

            Cocking his head to the side, he gave her a sly wink.  “Can’t a big brother check in on his little sister every once in a while?”

            Her eyes narrowed.  “Did Dad send you?”

            “He’s a little bit concerned,” he admitted.

            Glaring at him, her hands flew to her hips.  “Concerned about what exactly?”      Holding his hand in the air, his eyebrows arched high.  “Hey, don’t shoot the messenger, okay?”

            Her lips formed a grim line.  “Let me guess, he heard that Jackson Hart was back in town?”

            “You have to admit that you don’t have the best track record in that department,” Curtis defended.

            “He’s unbelievable,” she exclaimed, shaking her head in frustration.

            “He just wants you to remember that you’re a Westfall,” he relayed evenly.

            She rolled her eyes.  “How could I ever forget?”

“Great!” he said, walking over to the door.  When he reached it, he turned to face her.  “You really should visit him more.  He misses you and Jacob.”

            Before she could respond, he was gone. 

            She sighed heavily.  Years after she had made the ultimate sacrifice for him, her father still attempted to run her life.  She hated him for the years he had cost her, for the lie he made her live.  As she closed the store, her thoughts returned to Jackson.  She couldn’t help but wonder how he was doing.  Before she could think things through, she found herself heading toward the cabin.  The lights inside created a halo around it.  Parking her car next to his jeep, she climbed out.  Fighting the mosquitoes, she walked across the dirt road, climbing the steps to the front door. 

            As she stood on his porch, she began to question her sanity.  After all, she wasn’t naïve enough to think he would be glad to have a visitor right now, especially a visitor that hurt him as badly as she had.  Before she could think about it any further, she lightly wrapped her knuckles on the screen door.  The door opened to reveal Jackson, bare-chested in sweatpants.  Memories washed over her, heating her in all the wrong places.  His black hair was tousled, and his eyes were glazed. 

            She waited for his reaction, not sure if she was about to be thrown off the patio. 

Instead, he opened the door, one arm hanging lazily on the doorjamb.  “I knew you’d find your way here sooner or later,” he drawled. 

            Before she allowed herself to ponder that statement too much, she came inside.  Out of the corner of her eye she saw a stack of empty, half-crushed beer cans on the coffee table.  He closed the door behind her, his hungry gaze traveling over the length of her body.  Heat pooled in sensitive places, making her mind swim. 

            “I just wanted to see if you were okay,” she explained softly.

            “Uh uh,” he said, shaking his head.

            “What?” she asked, clearly confused.

            “That’s not why you came,” he replied, stalking toward her.

            The look in his eyes worried her.  “What are you talking about, Jackson?” 

Her eyes searched the room for a way to escape as he came dangerously close.  The smell of alcohol drifted up to her nostrils.  In her attempt to move away from him, he had effectively cornered her against the wall. 

He leaned in, his breath teasing her ear.

            “I know why you came, Mallory.  It’s the same reason you always used to come to see me, and it sure as hell doesn’t have anything to do with making sure I’m okay.”

            Her body tingled with his nearness, but she struggled to maintain control.  “You’re drunk, Jackson,” she pointed out, her voice sounding way too breathless.

            The corners of his lips tugged up on a grin.  “Maybe…But I can still give you what you want.”

            Gripping her hips, he hauled her against him.  Her hands instinctively splayed across his nipples, causing a low groan to rumble from deep in his throat.  The feel of him against her made her nipples tighten.  His tongue reached out to tease her earlobe making her eyelids flutter closed. 

She was losing this battle. 

And fast. 

Unable to stop herself, her palms turned to cover his nipples fully.

He moaned.  “That’s right, baby.  Take what you came for.”

            The words jolted her out of her sensual haze.  Pushing away from him, she raced to the other side of the room. 

“Jackson, I did not come here for this,” she vehemently denied.

He stalked her like a lion stalks his pray.  For each step he took forward, she took one back. 

            “Sure you did, baby.  It’s the only reason you ever came to me, isn’t it?”

            “That’s not true.”

            Tilting his head to the side, his steps never faltered.  “No?  Perhaps you forget how quickly you left when you were done.”

            A quick glance made her realize that somehow he had trapped her in his old bedroom.  Looking inside, she realized that nothing had changed.  It was as if she had stepped into a time warp.  Memories assaulted her, making her eyes squeeze shut. 

            “Remember the night I had you for the first time?  You were so wet I could barely hold out long enough to make you come.”

            Biting her lower lip, she tried to block out the images his words were conjuring.  He backed her up against the wall, his hands splaying on either side of her head. 

“Do you remember what if felt like to have me inside of you?” he whispered, his breath tickling the side of her neck. 

            When he leaned in, she felt the length of his arousal against her stomach.  She knew that answering him would give him what he wanted, but she couldn’t help herself. 

“Yes,” she breathed, her head falling back against the wall.

            She felt his hands cover her breasts, taunting her nipples to full points.  “Did you miss me, baby?” he asked, his breathing ragged.

            His tongue snaked out to trace the length of her jaw.  He sucked her earlobe into his mouth, his teeth nipping at it gently.  His hands slid around her waist to cup her buttocks, lifting her against his bulging erection and causing her to gasp. 

“I’ve missed you.  Can you feel how much?”

            Instinctively, her arms came up to encircle his neck, her hands delving into his hair.  His hands curved around the cleft of her ass, lifting her off the ground.  Her legs circled his waist.  A breathy moan escaped her lips at the intensity of feeling him against her, cradled in the one place that needed him most.  Heat pooled between her legs as he rubbed against her.  Her mouth fell open and he took the advantage to cover it with his own.  His tongue plundered her mouth, taking what he needed.  Her tongue curled around his. 

She knew that her willpower was slipping away, but she couldn’t find it in her to care.  She wanted him.  God, did she want him.  There was no more denying it.  Like an addict crying out for one last taste, her body refused to be denied.  Walking over to the bed, he let her slide down the front of his body. 

When he pulled away, his eyes seemed to devour every inch of her.   

“Take your clothes off,” he ordered, his eyes dark with passion.

“Jackson…” she began slowly.

“Take them off, Mallory,” he repeated more firmly this time.

She searched for some kind of understanding, but she found none.  “No,” she answered, her chin lifting in defiance.

His head tilted to the side, a cynical smile forming on his beautiful mouth.  “No?” he asked, clearly amused.  “Would you like me to do it for you?”

“No,” she answered honestly.   She had no doubt that he would do just that. 

His eyes narrowed dangerously.  “Then, take them off.”

She should have refused him.  But the truth was that she wanted him as much as he wanted her.  Her fingers came up to slowly pull the buttons of her shirt free, his eyes following every movement.  It fell to the floor moments before she pushed her jeans over her hips.  Trying to block out the resemblance to the first time they made love, she unclasped her bra, sliding it over her arms to free her breasts.  When she pushed her panties down her hips to reveal an auburn patch of curls, she heard his quick intake of breath.

“Lay down,” he instructed. 

Climbing onto the bed, she watched as he pushed the sweatpants down his legs to free his erection.  Staring up at him, her body tingled.  He was even more beautiful than she remembered.  His lips tugged up on a smile as her mouth fell open.  Then, he was on top of her, his mouth plundering hers, taking what she offered.  Spreading her thighs wide, he pressed his erection against her. 

His mouth traveled lower to cover her nipple, his tongue toying with the pink bud.  Her fingers dove into his hair imprisoning him against her.  He tilted his head giving the same attention to the other peak that strained against him.  When he began to move lower, she caught his shoulders. 

Her eyes searched his uneasily.

“I want to taste you.” 

Her eyes never left his as his mouth covered her.  She cried out at the exquisite feeling of his tongue parting her tender folds.  He slid a finger inside of her as his tongue toyed with the sensitive nub at the top.  One of his hands curled around her thigh as he slid another finger inside.  Her lower body tightened as the first wave of pleasure swept through her.  Gripping the sheets, her body moved against him.  Finally, she could take no more.  She needed to feel him inside of her. 

“Jackson, please,” she begged, her breathing coming out in short pants.

Moving up her body, he pressed himself against her slick folds.  He drove into her in one long thrust.  Crying out against his neck, her nails bit into his back. 

“God, you’re tight.”

Slowly, he began to move inside of her.  When her legs wrapped around his waist, his hands curled around her wrists hoisting them high over her head.  Her eyes widened and she gasped in surprise.  Bucking against him, her movements only served to drive him further into her body.  He plunged into her again, his body bent on its own satisfaction. 

“Jackson, please.  Not like this,” she whimpered. 

His grip loosened on her arms, his tongue teasing the sensitive skin of her neck.  She shivered against him, her hands gripping the muscles in his back. 

“Can’t wait,” he murmured. 

His hand moved between their bodies to rub the notch at the apex of her thighs.  He caught her moan in his mouth as his tongue danced with hers.  Curling a hand around her thigh, he spread her legs wider as he pounded into her.  His positioning brought him hard against the tight little nub that cried out for attention.  Suddenly, it was all too much.  She could feel him everywhere, and she didn’t want it to ever stop.  Waves of pleasure washed over her causing her to cry out.  Letting out a low groan, he joined her. 

For a moment, neither of them moved. 

Then, he pushed himself up, his eyes searching hers. 

Sanity began to return. 

God, he hadn’t come that hard since…since the last time they were together. 

There was nothing like being inside of her, having her naked and shaking beneath him.  He hated her for that.  He hated her for the feelings she made him feel, but refused to share. 

His chest aching, he struck out.  “God, you always were a good fuck.”

Stay tuned for more of Choices…

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What do you do when your past confronts you?

February 21, 2010 at 2:31 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

It has been a long weekend for me.  Unfortunately, I have some kind of bug and have been feeling bad since Friday.  I did get to make it to see Percy Jackson, though, with my husband and son.  It was very good and I know my son loved it!

I hope that you are all enjoying Choices.  The past is about to collide with the present in a BIG way…

Excerpt 17

Jackson walked into the room where his mother’s lifeless body lay. 

“I’ll just give you a few minutes alone.”

He heard the door close behind him.   A shiver raced up his spine as he realized that this was really happening.  Denial was so powerful, that it was sometimes hard to give up.  But there were no more hiding places left.  He was really about to bury his mother.  Never again would he hear her laughter or her stern, all-knowing lectures about what she wanted out of life for him.  She would never pat him on the back again giving him that unspoken sign that everything would be okay.

He didn’t want to say goodbye, wasn’t ready to face this moment.

But here it was, and it wasn’t going to go away.   

            Taking a couple of steps into the room, he stood before the beautiful ivory casket that he had chosen for her, despite her wishes.  A variety of brightly colored roses surrounded her.  The sweet fragrance wrapped around him.  He was sure that he would get a harsh scolding when he met her in heaven for disobeying her direction.   But he didn’t care.  He wouldn’t see her out without something that was as grand as she was.

She looked so hollow.

So empty. 

Makeup had been applied to even out her coloring.  Leaning over her, he reached up to push an errant strand of gray hair back into place.  He placed his hand on top of hers.  This was really it.  This was really the end. 

How was he supposed to say goodbye? 

            In vain, he wished for all of the things that he knew could never be.  He wished that he had visited more often.  He wished that he had spent more time with her.  He thought of all the moments she would never share with him. 

His wedding. 

His children.

Gripping the edge of the casket, his head fell between his shoulders. 

His shoulders shook as he wept for everything they would never share. 

****

            Mallory sat in her car, her hands gripping the steering wheel.  The old funeral home loomed high reminding her of a long ago day when she had put her own mother into the ground.  On that day, she vowed never to come back here.  Yet, here she sat.  She only came today for Jackson.  Despite his harsh words, she knew what he was feeling right now. 

            Still, a part of her knew that she was a fool for coming here.

            But then again, she had always been a fool for Jackson Hart. 

Taking a deep breath, she opened the car door.  If Jacob was here, it would be easier.  For the last year, he had been her support system.  Maybe she had leaned on him too heavily, depended on him too much, but she couldn’t help it. 

He was all she had. 

Unfortunately, tonight he was with Derrick. 

            With him away, she couldn’t help but worry.  Derrick had been a sorry excuse for a stand-in father over the years.  He seemed to make it a point to miss Little League games and school plays.  Despite Jacob’s best efforts at getting his attention, Derrick had remained at a distance.  The indifference caused Jacob to wilt every time his efforts failed, and it killed her a little bit every day to witness it.  In the beginning, she tried to make Derrick see the harm that he was doing, had begged on more than one occasion for him to at least put in an appearance, but it had all been a wasted effort. 

            Only she knew the real reason for his indifference.  Jacob would always be a constant reminder of what happened to him.  He had never forgiven her for her indiscretion with Jackson, no matter how short-lived.  He had made her pay in too many ways to count, including the rough way he had taken her on their wedding night.  Watching her son suffer at his hands had been the ace up his sleeve.  It had done more damage than any physical pain he might have inflicted. 

            Slowly, she climbed the steps realizing that it was just as she feared.  She was early.  The half empty parking lot confirmed that fact.  In truth, she wanted to get here before everyone else.  If Jackson changed his mind about wanting her here, it would be better to find it out in private rather than subject herself to a public scene.  She pulled the door open stepping inside.  The familiar smells washed over her.  She fought the urge to leave, to run back to her car, but refused to give into the impulse.

With no one to greet her, she took a step further stopping beside a table filled with pamphlets.  Memorial announcements were scattered along the top with scriptures neatly printed on them.  Picking one up, she idly fingered the edges. 

A sound caught her attention, bringing her head up.  The door was cracked slightly, and she couldn’t help but peak inside.  Jackson stood alone in front of his mother’s casket, his shoulders shaking as he wept for her.  Tears filled her eyes at the solemn sight.  She wanted to go to him.  Every part of her cried out for it, but she couldn’t.  She wouldn’t intrude on such a private moment.  Besides, she of all people knew how raw the emotions were at a time like this.  No words could ease a person’s suffering as they said goodbye to someone they loved.

            Jackson watched as people milled about in the large room.  People he hadn’t seen for years turned out to say goodbye to his mother.  It always amazed him how quickly fame changed people’s opinions.  After all, he was still the same person that they had all turned their noses up at years ago.  Only now, his recent success seemed to buy him a one-way ticket into Princeton’s elite.  He watched them as they watched him.  They sat in chairs leaning over the backs to whisper the latest rumors. 

Remaining by his mother’s side, he calmly greeted the guests as they strolled in.  An elderly group of women came up to him, one coming to stand directly in front of him.  Her gray hair was pulled into a neat bun, her navy blue dress covered in cheerful flowers.  She grabbed his hand, holding it tight. 

“I’m Gladys Ridgefield.   I knew your mother from church.  She was such a wonderful woman.  She talked about you all of the time.”

“All good I hope,” he joked.

She laughed.  “She was so proud of you.  Always going on and on about what a great son you were.”

“That was nice of her.”

“She was always such a help over at the church, sang in the church choir.  We’re all going to miss her so much.”

His gaze inevitably strayed to the woman who had broken his heart years ago.  The black dress she wore outlined the curve of her breasts, the flare of her hips.  As she moved, it flowed with her brushing against her long legs as she made her way to the front of the room.

“Now, we’ve made sure to leave you plenty of food in the refrigerator in the back,” the older woman said, as she patted his hands.  “We’ve left instructions on every dish, so that you know how long to cook it.”

“I can’t thank you enough for how kind you were to me and my mother.”

She pulled him into a bear hug, and when she drew back he saw fresh tears in her eyes.  “Your mother was one of the finest women I’ve ever known.  I’m going to miss her something awful.”  As if embarrassed by her lack of composure, she quickly moved away. 

He stared after her for a moment, before Mallory moved into view.  Her hair was pulled into a clip at her nape, but a few curly tendrils had escaped the rigid hold.  More than anything, he wanted to pull her against him and block out everything else. 

But he couldn’t. 

Too much had happened now. 

“I’m so sorry about your mother, Jackson.  I know how hard it is.  If there’s anything I can do…” she trailed off.

He offered her a cynical sneer.  “Don’t worry, Mallory.  I won’t be coming to you for any late night talks about my feelings.”  

He was being an ass, and he knew it.  After all, she was only here to pay her respects.  Privately she would turn her nose up at him, but publicly she would play the part. 

It was one of the things he hated most about her. 

“I only meant that I’m sorry for your loss,” she said, her lips pursing together.

His gaze strayed to her mouth.  Her lips were so full that they beckoned a man to take them.  He wanted to.  God, did he want to. 

He wanted to taste every inch of her…slowly. 

He hated himself for it.   

But it didn’t stop the ache.

****

Her lips fell open, and her eyes widened.  Her pulse began to race.  She glanced to the side to see that others were waiting to pay their respects.  Offering him a quick smile, she excused herself to escape the heat that emanated from him.  She felt his gaze on her as she walked away.  Why did he still have this hold on her?  As she moved to the back of the room, she noticed that Derrick had finally arrived. 

A leggy blonde on his arm appeared at his side.  She wasn’t sure why she was surprised that he brought Darcy with him.  After all, they had been dating for a long time, even before the divorce.  Still, watching them walk in together twisted in her side.  Furtive glances were cast her way from all areas of the room.  As if they all expected her to run over and scratch out the other woman’s eyes.  Well, they would be sadly mistaken tonight, because she refused to be a part of any more gross displays. 

Lifting her chin, she looked around the room.  She knew what they were saying.  It was probably the same thing she had been listening to for months.  Poor Mallory, I don’t know how she deals with it.  In truth, she was sick of being Poor Mallory. 

So her husband had run off with another woman? 

So what? 

Did this town never forget?  Or forgive? 

The answer, though unfortunate, was a simple no. 

She watched as Jacob separated himself from Derrick to walk over to Jackson.  Jackson reached out to shake his hand.  Fear raced up her spine as she saw the similarities between them.  Glancing around the room, she couldn’t help but wonder if anyone else could see how alike they were.  But no one else seemed to notice.  Only she felt the sharp pain in her chest as they watched them together.

****

Jackson watched Derrick walk in with a blonde woman on his arm, Jacob already a few steps ahead of them. He searched the crowd to find Mallory.  She sat in the corner, her eyes following Derrick.  So, this was the woman that Derrick Lange left his wife for.  He couldn’t deny that the other woman was overtly sexual.  Her breasts were barely contained in the black halter dress she wore.  She clung to Derrick’s arm, her short skirt riding up on her thigh as she pressed herself against him. 

It was a display of possession.

And it was obviously meant for Mallory. 

Watching the scene play out should have amused him. 

But it didn’t. 

Lange, himself, looked just as he remembered.  His chin was thrust upward as he strutted into the room in a navy suit.  He watched as Derrick made a quick scan of the room, and he couldn’t help but wonder if he brought the other woman just to make Mallory jealous. 

It shouldn’t have bothered him. 

But it did.

Jacob came forward to stand in front of him.  “I’m real sorry about what happened to your mom,” he offered solemnly.

“It teaches you to appreciate the time you have.  You never know what might happen,” he replied pointedly.

Jacob nodded, giving his hand a quick shake before moving to the side.  Derrick moved over to stand in front of him.  His gut tightened as he stared at the man who had been handed everything he had ever wanted out of life simply because he had the right last name. 

“Hart,” Derrick said slowly with a nod of his head.  “Sorry about your mother.”  He held out his hand expectantly.

After a moment of tense silence, he took his hand giving it a firm shake.  “Thanks, Derrick.  I don’t believe I’ve met your…” he trailed off not knowing what to call the woman at his side.

“My fiancé, Darcy Sampson,” Derrick beamed, a possessive look gleaming in his eyes.

Derrick moved aside to include Darcy.  She extended her hand.  “It’s so nice to meet you, Mr. Hart.  I’ve read all of your books.”

Jackson shook her hand.  “I hope you enjoyed them,” he replied, noticing the way Derrick tightened his hold on her waist.  He couldn’t help but take a perverse pleasure in the other man’s unease.

Her hold on his hand tightened marginally.  “I always do.  I’m your number one fan.  I’ve bought all of your books.  I loved that last one ‘Death’s Last Dance’.  I think that was my favorite of all time.”

Noting Derrick’s scowl at her enthusiasm, he smiled at the young woman, his other hand coming up to cover hers.  “Thank you.  That really means a lot.”

Derrick took Darcy by the arm, pulling her away.  “It was really nice to meet you,” she muttered over her shoulder.

Watching the couple walk out the back door, he couldn’t help but notice Mallory’s gaze following them.  Once they were gone, her eyes met his.  He looked away. 

Mallory Westfall was not his problem. 

She hadn’t been for a long time, and he wanted to keep it that way. 

He just hoped that he could.

Stay Tuned for more of Choices…

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The past has a few more secrets to tell…

February 14, 2010 at 8:49 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope that you are all having a spectacular Valentine’s day with someone special. Valentine’s Day is a wonderful day to celebrate the people you care about.

I also hope that you are enjoying Choices. Mallory and Jackson’s story is far from over, but the past has more secrets to tell…

Chapter 16

Jackson pulled onto the dirt road, his eyes squinting against the darkness as he tried to steer.  He had to admit that it wasn’t just the darkness that blurred his vision tonight.  It might have something to do with the bottle of Jack Daniels that he had consumed all by himself.  It had been two weeks since Mallory Westfall had walked out of his life for good, and it had been the longest two weeks of his life.  He pulled the bike to a stop across from the cabin, leaning heavily on the handlebars as he tried to get his leg over.  He stumbled, falling to the ground.  Unable to stop the chuckle that escaped his mouth as his bike landed beside him in a loud chatter. 

It seemed that even gravity had turned on him. 

            Bracing a hand against a large oak tree, he slowly got to his feet.  He barely made his way up the steps to the front door, before it was wrenched open. 

“Jackson Hart!  What do you think you’re doing?” his mother demanded, her voice echoing in a high-pitched squeaking sound that made his brain cry out in pain.

He winced.  “I’m trying to get in the door,” he admitted, his words slurring together.

She shook her head in exasperation.  “Get in here,” she instructed, moving aside.

Once inside, she rounded on him again. 

“You think you’re just going to throw your life in the toilet because some snooty girl doesn’t love you anymore?  Are you even my son?”

He fell onto the sofa, wishing that she would stop yelling.  “You don’t know anything about it, mom,” he complained, his hand coming up to rub his forehead.

Hovering over him, she pointed her finger.  “Don’t I?  You’ve been licking your wounds for weeks!  Drinking while you’re out on that bike…it’s a wonder that you’re still alive.  What?  You think you’re nothing because a Westfall tells you so?”

Mom, just stay out of it!”

Shaking her head solemnly, her lips formed a grim line.  “I think I’ve done enough of that.  I thought that if I left you alone, you would find a way to deal with what happened.”

Leaning back, he propped his feet up on the coffee table as he closed his eyes.  His mother kicked his feet to the floor, her eyes shooting fire. 

“That girl waltzes into your life and suddenly the sun rises and sets with her?  Is that it?  You’re not going to be the man you should be because she doesn’t love you anymore?”

“You don’t understand,” he yelled, getting to his feet to tower over her.

She didn’t back down an inch.  “Don’t I?  I’ve lost more than you will ever know, but I didn’t crawl into a hole and bury my head like a coward.  I got out of bed each day and went about making a life for myself.  If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll make sure that you do the same.”

Fuming, he stood before her.  He wanted to yell at her, wanted to hurt her the way she was hurting him, but he couldn’t. 

Because she was right. 

And deep down, he knew it.

“What?  This Westfall girl walks into your life and suddenly you’re ready to throw all of your plans away?  Suddenly you don’t have a future unless she’s in it?  Am I getting close?”

Stumbling to his room, he slammed the door behind him.  He fell onto the bed, looking around the room.  She had called him a coward.  Never before had she been so harsh with him.  It hurt.  But the knowledge that it was true hurt even more.   For the past two weeks, he had done nothing but find comfort in the bottom of a bottle, and it wasn’t making things any better. 

It wasn’t making the pain go away.

Mallory’s scent filled the room. 

It was in his pillow, on his sheets, and he couldn’t even bring himself to get rid of it.  It was like a self-inflicted punishment that he chose to face every day.  Smelling her without being able to touch her was torture. 

Why had she done this? 

Why had she thrown away everything they had for a paycheck? 

He stripped down to his boxers falling back on the bed. 

The next morning he packed his things.  When his mother woke up, her surprise was evident. 

Jackson, what are you doing?” she asked.

“I’ve packed all of my things.”

“You have?”

He hesitated for a moment before pushing forward.  “I’m leaving for Indiana University today.  I know it’s a little bit early, but I think it’s for the best.”

Concern laced her features.  “But…” she trailed off.

“I can’t stay, Mom.”

At her shocked silence, he continued.

“If I stay, things will only get worse.  I need to do this,” he assured more firmly.

Standing up, she crossed the room to wrap him in her arms.  He closed his eyes wishing that things could be different, wishing that he could stay.  But he couldn’t.  She didn’t offer him any words of wisdom, and he was glad for that. 

It was too late for advice anyway. 

The damage was done. 

All he could do now was try to pick up the pieces.

And that was just what he intended to do.

 

Mallory lay in bed staring up at the ceiling.  It had been three weeks since she had walked away from the man she loved.  Every day hurt a little bit more.  Each day her father pressured her more and more to say yes to Derrick’s proposal, but she stubbornly held out.  She wasn’t sure why.

 There was no reason to now. 

Jackson would never take her back even if she wanted to change her mind.  And she did.  Ever since she left him in that jail cell, she had thought of nothing else.  She grabbed her purse off the bed, reaching inside for a stick of chewing gum when her hand collided with something. 

Everything inside of her went still. 

Five weeks…It had been five weeks. 

Her fingers curled around the tampon, and a sickening feeling spreading through her stomach.  She had given herself to him five weeks ago, and since then, she hadn’t…

Oh my god!

It couldn’t be. 

She rushed down the stairs.  It wasn’t possible.  Climbing into her car, she turned the key in the ignition.  Thank God, her father finally loosened his tight hold and allowed her to have access to her car again.  After the scene at the courthouse, he figured that the damage was done.

 And he was right. 

She told herself to calm down as she drove the thirty miles to Vincennes to pick up a home pregnancy test.  Picking one up at the grocery store in Princeton would be tantamount to announcing that she was pregnant to the world. 

She couldn’t risk it. 

Three minutes later her worst fears were confirmed by a single pink line. 

She was pregnant.    

She had destroyed everything between them, and now she was pregnant with his child.  How could she have been so foolish?   The truth was that protection hadn’t seemed necessary when she thought she would soon be Mrs. Jackson Hart.  

Unable to sleep, she stared at the ceiling overhead for the entire night.   What was she going to do?  The answer hit her with blunt certainty.  She had to tell him.  She was carrying his child.  He had to know.  It was his right. 

The next morning as she got dressed, she gave herself a mental pep talk.  She would just go and tell him.  He wouldn’t want to listen to her, but he would have to.  He would yell and scream, but he wouldn’t be able to turn her away. 

Whatever they decided to do, they would make the decision together.  First, she had to find him and tell him the truth.  She would deal with the fallout later.  Driving to the cabin, her heart jumped into her throat.  Parking her car underneath a huge oak tree, she sat glued to the seat.  Her hands gripped the steering wheel so hard it hurt.  Staring out at the field ahead, she wondered what he would say, what he would do. 

There was only one way to find out.

Slowly, she climbed the steps to the cabin, trying to block out the memories.  Memories that were too painful to face. 

Would he ever be able to forgive her for what she had done? 

Could he? 

He had to. 

They were going to have a baby.  He may hate her right now, but he would have to listen.  Lightly, she wrapped her knuckles on the screen door.  She heard movement inside, and her heart leapt at the thought that he was only a few feet away. 

But the person that opened the door was not Jackson.  It was Myrna Hart.  A scowl marred her features as she realized who her visitor was.  She stared at her, not saying anything for the longest time. 

Mallory pulled her lower lip beneath her teeth, tension tightening her muscles. 

“Hello, Mrs. Hart.  Is Jackson here?” she asked, her voice quivering just a little bit.

The older woman’s eyes narrowed, her lips pursing together.  “No,” she said, not caring to elaborate. 

She began to close the door.

“Wait!  Do you know where I can find him?”

Myrna crossed her arms over her chest.  “No, and even if I did I wouldn’t tell you.”

Her mouth fell open.  “Mrs. Hart, I…” she stammered.

“Why don’t you just leave him alone?  Haven’t you done enough?”

“Mrs. Hart, I just…”

She held up a hand to silence her.  “No!  I don’t want to hear anymore of your lies.  Jackson is gone.  Do you hear me?  He’s gone,” she replied, slamming the door in Mallory’s face.

Her eyes widened in shock at the announcement.  He was gone?  He couldn’t be.  He just couldn’t be.  Dear God, what had she done?  On the drive home, she didn’t really see anything.  She didn’t want to believe it, but the sick feeling in her stomach confirmed that the other woman was telling the truth.  Her emotions were drained.  Just as she was about to climb the stairs, Curtis stopped her.

“Dad’s looking for you,” he announced, his hand on her upper arm.

“What?”

He shook his head, as he pursed his lips in disgust.  “It must be really nice walking around all day without a clue,” he chided.  “I said that Dad is looking for you, and he looks pretty mad.”

She barely heard him as he pointed her in the direction of her father’s study.  The door was left slightly open and her father was staring out the large picture window at the back of the room. 

“You wanted to see me?” she inquired, her voice completely devoid of feeling.

He spun on his heel, his face red with anger.  “Do you have something to tell me?” he bit out furiously.

Her pulse jumped.  “No,” she lied.

“No?” he yelled, grabbing a bag from his desk.  He reached into the bag to reveal the box from the Home Pregnancy Test. 

Biting her lower lip, her hands wrung together nervously.  

How did he find out? 

She wanted to ask, but knew it would only dig a deeper hole than the one she was already in. 

“Sally was cleaning, and found this in your bathroom.  Needless to say, she was a little surprised and thought I should know.  At least someone thought that I should know!” he bellowed, his eyebrows furrowing together.

“Daddy, I was going to tell you…” she stammered.

He held up a hand to silence her.  “It doesn’t matter.  Once again, you have proven to be nothing but a liability to this family.  Would you like to tell me who the father is?”

“Jackson Hart,” she confessed.

He let out a harsh curse.  For a minute, he was silent and she wasn’t sure what was worse, his verbal tirades or the anticipation that they were soon to come. 

Then, he spoke. 

“Considering the situation,” he said, motioning to her stomach.  “We only have a few options to clean up the mess you created for yourself.”

Bile rose in her throat.  She stared at him waiting for him to drop the fatal blow.  Crossing the room to stand in front of her, he placed his hands on her shoulders causing her to flinch. 

“We will just have to move the wedding up,” he explained, with a stiff smile.

“What wedding?” she demanded, her eyes narrowing.

He gave her a look that let her know that she was trying his patience.  “Your wedding to Derrick, of course.  I’ll admit that it will be sooner than I would like, but considering the situation we don’t have any other choice.”

Eyes widening, her mouth fell open.  “You can’t be serious?  Did you even hear me?  I’m pregnant with Jackson Hart’s child,” she cried out.

His eyebrows rose.  “Do you have a better idea?”

“Yes, I can have this baby on my own.”

He laughed, the sound coming out harsh as it reverberated through the room.  His gaze routed her to the floor, as he gritted his teeth.  “Not in this family you can’t.  Now, you listen to me, daughter.  You have disgraced this family quite enough with your antics.  You will marry Derrick Lange as soon as possible, and that is the end of it.”

She pulled away from him, needing to put some distance between them.  “What if Derrick doesn’t want to marry me?” she challenged angrily.

His cruel smile confirmed her worst fears.  “He will.  After all, you’re still a Westfall.  You two are the perfect match,” he confirmed in a cold tone.

Running out of the room, she raced up the stairs.  Once in the solitude of her bedroom, she threw herself across the bed, letting the tears spill down her cheeks.  All she ever wanted was to be happy, but that was a fantasy.  All of her dreams of a future with Jackson were gone.  Her father had decided things for her, and she was powerless to stop him.  After all, she was a Westfall, as her father so eloquently put it. 

She was a Westfall.

And Westfalls were never happy.

Stay tuned for more of Choices…

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Will she really say goodbye?

February 7, 2010 at 2:39 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

So, this year I am going to focus more on my goals.  I took a wonderful workshop with Roxanne St. Claire and she helped me understand that you can’t set down goals that are out of your control.  For instance, when you write out your goals, you can’t say “I’m going to get published.”  THat is something that is beyond your control.  You can write down things like “I will submit to two contests” or “I’m going to finish writing a book” or  “I’m going to submit to three publishers.”  Those are all things that lead to the ultimate goal of getting published.  Basically, when you write down your goal list it should be a road map that leads you to your ultimate destination.  Another example would be don’t say “I want to lose thirty pounds” say “I will work out three times a week and stay on a low calorie diet.” 

So, in thinking about this, I was wondering what are some of your goals????

Excerpt 15B

Mallory was sitting Indian-style as she listened to her headphones when her father burst through the door.  She pulled them from her ears, her eyes meeting his.  

“Come with me,” he said firmly, holding the door open.

            She slowly got to her feet, her eyebrows crowding together.  “Where are we going?” she asked.

            His look of frustration as he crossed his arms over his chest silenced her momentarily.  “It seems that that boy got into a fight with Derrick last night,” he informed.

            “Jackson?”

            Nodding his head, a grim line formed on his lips.  “He’s in a holding cell right now.”

            Her eyes widened.  “He’s in jail?”

            Glancing at her, his eyes narrowed.  “Have you forgotten that Derrick is only seventeen?  Hart, on the other hand, is of legal age.  He could have some pretty serious charges leveled against him for that.”
            Her heart leapt into her throat. 

Jackson

In jail? 

“That’s where you come in,” her father explained.

            “Where I come in?” she repeated, clearly confused.

            He motioned with his head for her to follow him.  Once she was seated next to him in the car, he continued.  “Once and for all, you are going to make that boy understand that it is over between the two of you.”

            “How?”

            He pinned her with a steely glare.  “That’s for you to figure out, daughter,” he commanded.  “You got yourself into this mess.  It’s time you got yourself back out.  I’m not going to have that boy making more of a spectacle than he already has.”

            Her heart seemed to be beating at double time.  “And if I can’t convince him, then what?” she dared.

            His hands gripped the steering wheel so hard, his knuckles white from the pressure.  “If you don’t, then that boy can rot in jail for all I care,” he replied ominously.

            Unable to look at him, she turned in her seat to stare out the window.  He had turned them all into pawns in a sadistic game.  A single tear drifted down her cheek, but she quickly wiped it away.  She didn’t want Jackson to go to jail.  The thought of him sitting in a jail cell made her heart ache.  There had to be a way to get him out of this mess.

All too quickly, her father was parking the car and leading her inside.  He walked over to a balding man in a uniform, taking his hand and giving it a firm shake. 

“Thanks for keeping him here, Bill,” her father said quickly.

            The other man nodded his head, an understanding smile forming on his lips.  “No problem at all, Mr. Westfall.”

            “Where is he?” her father asked.

            The other man motioned to the back with his head.  “He’s back there in the holding cell.”

            Her father glanced her way, lowering his voice.  “Would it be okay if my daughter spoke to him for a minute?”

The other man stared at her for a moment, before turning to look at her father.  “I don’t see why not,” he replied. 

            As the other man led the way, her father grabbed her arm.  “I better like what I hear.  You’re holding that boy’s future in your hands.  I sure as hell hope you make the right decision.”

            The other man motioned to the door.  Taking a deep breath, she spared one final glance at her father before curling her fingers on the handle to push the door open.  When she spotted him, her heart seemed to break into a million pieces.  He held his head in his hands, his elbows propped on his knees. 

He looked alone.

Deserted. 

Defeated.

And it was all her fault. 

If she had never started this, he wouldn’t be here right now.  But she hadn’t thought about the consequences.  All she had thought of was how much she wanted to be with him.   

And now he was paying for her mistakes.     

His head came up.  She winced at the bruises already forming on his face.  One of his eyes was already turning black.  His look of surprise was almost her undoing.    

            “Hello, Jackson,” she said, her voice barely audible.  She cleared her throat in an effort to disguise the pain she felt.

            “What the hell are you doing here?  I didn’t call anyone,” he murmured, his brows furrowing together.

            Taking a deep breath, she tried to find a strength that she wasn’t sure she possessed.  “I heard about what happened.”

            “Did Derrick tell you?” he scoffed.

            “It doesn’t matter how I found out.  What matters is that this has to stop.”

            “Afraid loverboy might get hurt?”

            “I’m afraid for both of you,” she admitted.

            “That’s sweet,” he said condescendingly, his lips forming a grim line.        

            After a minute, he continued.  “He told me that you agreed to marry him.”

            Her head snapped up, her eyes meeting his for a moment before looking away.   Damn Derrick.  Damn him and his lying.  She never agreed to marry him.  Still, his lie had done the damage intended. 

            “Did you?” he demanded.   

            Her eyes met his, and she realized that giving him this lie was the only way to save him. 

“Yes,” she lied.

            He squared his shoulders, his pupils almost black with rage.  “And what about what you promised me?”

            The vein on his forehead began to beat double-time and his hands gripped the bars so tightly that she feared he might actually bend them. 

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, her voice breaking.

            “You’re sorry?”  He shook his head, letting it fall between his shoulders.  “Well, I guess that makes it all better, doesn’t it?”

           

At her silence, he lifted his head to pin her with a steely glare.  “Did you mean any of it?” 

His stare was so intense that she felt sure he would see through her facade.  Closing her eyes on a wave of pain, she half turned away, unable to bear the look in his eyes. 

“I thought I did,” she answered, trying to keep her voice even.

            “And, now you don’t?” he scoffed.

            Her fingers curled into her palm so tightly she was sure that if she looked down she would find blood.  “I’m sorry,” she offered, as she started to walk away.

            “It’s all about the money, isn’t it?” he bit out.

            “What?”

            A quick glance over her shoulder revealed a cruel smile twisting on his lips.

            He nodded.  “I didn’t want to believe it, but it’s true.  All you care about is the money.  That’s why you said yes to Derrick, isn’t it?  He has a better bank account in his future than I do, right?”

            The carefully disguised pain in his eyes drove a nail into her already-bruised heart.  Still, with her father on the other side of the door, she had no choice but to drive the lie home.  Tears formed in the corners of her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. 

She couldn’t. 

Not in front of him. 

“You’re right.  I’m sorry, Jackson.  I thought I could go through with it, but I can’t.  It would never work.  I’m used to having more than you could give me.”

           The stricken look on his face let her know that her goal had been accomplished.  Her heart felt like it had been ripped in two.  Half still beat in her chest, while the other was collapsing behind the bars.  She turned to make her way across the room, her hand on the door handle.

           “One day I’ll have enough money to buy and sell you and your precious Derrick,” he warned ominously.

           Mallory didn’t look back for fear she would collapse. 

            She hoped to God that he was right. 

            In fact, she was counting on it.

Stay tuned for more of Choices…

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