Could you resist?

May 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

Well, it has been a busy month already.  On May 23rd from 2-4pm, I am going to be signing books alongside Karen Rose, Karen Hawkins, Karen Kendall and James Gillen at B&L Books in Altamonte Springs.  Drop by if you are in the area.  I would love to see you there 🙂

Also, I have finished edits on Shadows of Ecstasy, the third book in the Club X series.  It will be out from Whiskey Creek Press Torrid on July 1st and I can’t wait!

Now, let’s get back to Choices…

Chapter 22

Mallory looked around the shop in awe.  In truth, she never would’ve believed that her little place could actually hold this many people.  Women were lined up along the walls.  All of them were clamoring to get the chance to talk to Jackson.  She allowed herself the indulgence of taking a long look at the man who had been commanding her thoughts for years.  His head was bent down, intent on writing some endearment to the elderly woman standing over him.  The woman sighed, her cheeks turning pink as his head rose to look up at her.  The mischievous wink he gave her made her giggle. 

            He definitely knew how to work a crowd.

The power he had over women, it seemed, extended to all ages. 

The next woman was a busty blonde who was about to burst out of her top.  Stepping up to the table, she leaned over him giving him a generous view of her attributes as she wet her lips.  Jealousy flared through her, making her want to run over and rip the other woman’s eyes out.  She barely held back the raging impulse by reminding herself that the woman was a paying customer. 

Wasn’t that what she wanted? 

Paying customers? 

Wasn’t that the reason he was here right now?

            Deep down, she wanted to scream out that she didn’t care if the woman was paying or not, she needed to step away from the table.  Glancing over, she watched the woman reach out to touch his shoulder. 

That was it! 

She was going to go over there and tell that woman to back off.  Just as she took the first step, she heard the bell jingle.  She winced.  At this rate, she was definitely going to get a visit from the fire marshall for being over capacity.  Besides that, the noise level in the shop had reached eardrum-shattering proportions.  She could barely hear a thing amidst all of the chatter.  When she looked up, she saw Darcy Sampson standing by the door. 

            The look on the other woman’s face left little doubt that she knew she was in enemy territory.  She clutched a couple of books to her chest as if they could protect her.  Mallory’s eyes narrowed, her lips pursing together in a frown.  Darcy had never set foot in her shop before.  In fact, she avoided any place Mallory frequented like the plague.  It had been the only way that they had co-existed for this long without a big blowout.  

Yet, here she stood. 

The other woman’s gaze remained focused on something across the room. 

When Mallory followed her stare, she noticed that it was centered on Jackson.

            She gritted her teeth.  It seemed that even Darcy Sampson was helpless to resist his allure.  Despite herself, she almost growled in anger.  She wanted to drag the other woman out of her shop right now. 

Preferrably by her hair. 

The woman definitely had a lot of nerve.  It was too bad that she didn’t have the same amount of brains.  Well, this time, she wouldn’t sit back all quiet and accepting.  This time she would show Ms. Darcy Sampson that she couldn’t have any man she wanted.

Especially if that man was Jackson Hart.

            “Mallory,” she heard someone say, feeling a gently tug on her arm. 

            She turned to find Leah standing next to her, a confused look marring her features.

“What?” she snapped.

            Leah’s eyebrows rose.  “You okay?”

            “I’m fine,” she replied harshly, turning to grab another stack of books off the counter. 

            Leah nodded.  “Yeah, you sound fine,” she snorted, rolling her eyes. 

            She let out a huff of aggravation.  “Leah, what are you doing here?”

            Leah threw her hands up in the air in surrender.  “Hey, I just came to see the legend,” she explained motioning to Jackson with a tilt of her head.  “But now, I see that I’m needed here for a different reason.”

            Her mouth formed a grim line.  “And just what is that?”

            Leah chuckled.  “To keep you from tearing Darcy Sampson’s hair out,” she pointed out.

            Begrudgingly, Mallory released the tension in her jaw. 

Damn, sometimes having a best friend wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, especially when they could read your every thought. 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she quickly denied, hoping that Leah would drop it.  But it just wasn’t in Leah to leave it alone when she knew there was something there.

            “Don’t you?  You’ve been glaring daggers at her across the room.  I’m half tempted to sit back and watch what happens hoping you will actually finally give her a little piece of what she deserves.  But, then again, I am trying to be a better person these days and give up my evil ways.  So, I guess I have to stop you.  At least, until these people leave so that you don’t cause a scene in front of paying customers.  But once they’re gone I can’t make any promises that I can maintain my good behavior.”

            Unable to stop herself, her lips curled into a smile. 

Leave it to Leah to somehow find a way to make her laugh. 

It was one of the reasons she loved her. 

“Okay, so maybe I gave her a look,” she admitted slowly.

            Leah laughed, the sound barely muffled by the chatter all around them.  “Honey, if those looks were actually daggers then little Miss I Think I’m Perfect would be nailed to the wall right now.  To be honest, I can’t believe that she had the guts to show up tonight.”

            They both turned to stare at the other woman who was moving steadily closer to Jackson in the line.  Sensing their rapt attention, she lifted her chin as if she had every right to be there.  Mallory’s fingers tightened painfully around the books in her hand. 

Damn the woman! 

She was nothing but a two-bit tramp who slept with anyone who came along. 

Well, almost anyone. 

If they were remotely involved with Mallory, it apparently made them extremely attractive. 

The woman was a vulcher. 

But Jackson could see through her, couldn’t he?  Her stomach tightened. 

What if he decided he wanted Darcy?

            After all, it wasn’t like Jackson was hers.  He was free to do whatever or whomever he wanted.  The thought made her heart ache.  When she turned back around, she saw that Leah was staring at her.

            “Come on,” Leah said, tilting her head to the side with a devilish wink.  “I’ll take a night off from being good, and we’ll go deflate her boobs!”

            Unable to stop herself, she burst out laughing.  She had to admit that it was good to have a friend that could make her laugh when she was seriously considering doing bodily harm to another.  Suddenly, her face turned somber.  She stared at the couple across the room whose easy conversation was slowly driving her insane. 

“Jackson can see whoever he wants, Leah,” she explained, even though it was tearing her apart.

            Darcy threw her head back on a laugh, flipping her hair over her shoulder.  Mallory all but snarled in frustration. 

This would not happen to her again. 

She refused to watch Darcy Sampson throw herself at Jackson. 

She wouldn’t let her get away with it. 

Walking across the shop to the table, her eyes blazed fire at her adversary. 

            “Go get em, girl,” Leah prodded.

            Jackson’s head lifted as she came over to stand beside him.  Turning to face the other woman, she hoped that she could contain the overwhelming need to let her claws come out.  Darcy seemed unfazed by her presence, meeting her gaze with a challenging one of her own.  Gritting her teeth, she put the books down with a resounding thump. 

            “Sorry, but we have to keep the line moving,” she bit out, silently daring the other woman to defy her.

            Darcy blinked, her red lips forming a condescending smile.  “I didn’t hear anyone complaining.”

            Mallory had heard of people seeing red when they were angry, but she had never experienced it.

Not until today. 

“I’m complaining,” she explained, her tone harsh. 

A quick glance told her that Jackson was clearly enjoying the show.  His eyes traveled back and forth between the two women, a surprised grin forming on his mouth.

            Darcy placed her hands on the table, as she leaned in.  “Do I have to remind you that I’m a paying customer?” she asked, her lips forming a grim line.

            Leaning in, her face came level with the other woman’s, her voice barely audible to anyone but the intended victim.  “Do I have to remind you that this is my shop, and I can have you thrown out at any time?  Now, take your books and get the hell out before I give these people the scene they’ve all been waiting for.”

            Surprise registered in the other woman’s eyes, as if she couldn’t actually believe she was being threatened.  Seeing the anger in Mallory’s eyes, she scooped up her books.  Her eyes scanned the crowd who was watching avidly with anticipation.  After casting a disgusted look her way, Darcy hurried out of the shop.  She could feel Jackson’s probing gaze, but she couldn’t return it.  Not now.  Trying to put some space between them, she hurried to the other side of the room. 

            Eventually, he would demand an explanation for the little scene she caused.  She also knew that she didn’t have one.  At least, not one that she could share with him.  Her feelings for him were way too powerful, too consuming.  And despite the fact that she had told herself that she would not fall for him again, here she was.  She had been kidding herself by thinking that she could resist him.  Loving him was a habit she never seemed to break.  And it was dangerous.  She had found that out the hard way many years ago. 

But loving him now could destroy the life she had so carefully plotted out for herself. 

            If she gave her heart to him now, she could lose everything.  She would lose Jacob, and that was something she was not willing to risk. 

No, she had to stop this thing between them. 

She had to stop it before it was too late, before she confessed all her sins. 

If she trusted him again, she would be laying everything on the line.  Jackson Hart had more money than she could even dream of.  Once he found out that she had kept his son from him, he would fight her with everything he had.  She had no doubt of that.  

After what she had done to him, she deserved it. 

But she couldn’t risk losing Jacob. 

She wouldn’t. 

Even if it meant turning away from the one man she would love forever.             

Stay tuned for more of Choices…


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