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Her Keeper

By: Helen Karol
Published By: Lily Publishing
Copyright: Copyright © 2016 revised by Helen Karol
Twenty-four Chapters / 51,647 Words
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The feud between Detective Rick Andrews and Sara Michaels is legendary and no one ever wants to stand in the line of fire when they go at it. Despite the feud, everyone knows Rick and Sara fell in love in love the day they met - only they just keep making war not love. 

Their latest battle is over the Gencor case and Sara’s role as town prosecutor. Watching Sara buckle under the burden of the crushing case arouses Rick’s protective streak Big Time and he wants her off the case, out of the prosecutor’s office and back in private practice so he can enjoy seeing her tilted smile a lot more often, even if it isn't directed at him. 

During a roadside arrest, Rick finally takes Sara in hand. The HOT encounter includes frisking, spanking, cuffing and later a shattering first kiss. Rick thought Sara was too independent, but once he sees her submissive side, he commits to taking her in hand with his own brand of dominant lovemaking. Now Sara has tasted what it is like to be in Rick’s care, she wants to surrender to him and her own desires, but she fears she'll miss her independence. 

Can Sara submit and can Rick learn to rule her in a way she can accept? Follow the fireworks and the fire between this feisty couple as they enjoy a happy for now ending. This book does not end in a cliffhanger!.

Her Keeper is an erotic romance with explicit sexual content. It has a hot cop (two actually), sexy frisking, spanking, cuffing, a crazy, hot proposition and two people who are stubbornly in love. 

Chapter One - A tiny little ding! 

SARA 

“A vintage Mustang. Nice.”

My best friend Lisa walks around the classic car parked inside my neighbor, Rick’s, boathouse. She looks back over her shoulder to where I’m standing beside Rick and his best buddy, Luke. She's staying with me for the weekend and has her eye on Luke. I imagine she'll be successful. He was the one who suggested we share a taxi back from the Saturday town dance and was insistent we come in for a drink before we head back to my little bungalow. He's visiting from Boston for the weekend, but he and Rick are close enough that he's comfortable making free with his friend’s hospitality.

Lisa looks back at the car and then gives Rick a questioning look. “68?”

“You know your cars.” Rick is impressed, Lisa has quadrupled in his estimation. He loves that car. It's his pride and joy to be guarded fiercely. I have firsthand knowledge of that fact.

She walks around to the front of the car. “You restore it yourself?”

Rick nods.

“Mmm, wow, classic chrome bumper. Original?” She bends to get a better look.

Rick nods again. He doesn’t look at me as he flicks the light to aid her admiring inspection.

Promising numerous minor gods my first born, I desperately pray she won’t notice.

“Oh, too bad about the dent.” She notices.

I groan inwardly. Of course, she notices, everybody does. Why the hell doesn’t he just get it fixed?

Because he likes to see you squirm over it, of course, why else?

Too many margaritas from Mexican Night at the community center make me belligerent and too full of bravado. “It’s not really a dent, more of a little ding.”  I claim recklessly.

He looks at me then. Expecting dark, stormy recriminations, I'm surprised to see what suspiciously looks like a quirk of his lips. My eyes fly up to his, but they're bland. They're devoid of amusement and there's no hint of annoyance. He must have had a shitload of margaritas of his own to be acting this magnanimous.

He flashes Lisa a smile and what might be a hot look. My stomach sinks when it dawns on me that his mellower mood could be attributed to more than the margaritas. Lisa, my best friend since we were in law school together, is very, very sexy, especially when she's putting on the moves like she is now. I thought it was Rick’s cop buddy from Boston homicide, Luke Kincaid, she was interested in. I fight a sick feeling that, my neighbor and nemesis, Detective Rick Andrews of the Lake Andrews Sheriff’s Department, might now be the lucky man on her radar.

“How did it happen? Why not get it fixed?” She asks him.

I gulp, willing the lake to have an unexpected tsunami or perhaps a dark monster a la Loch Ness to distract them. It's all I can do not to yell at Lisa and drag her off to my small but, increasingly, inviting abode next property over. Well, the only property over. My little patch by the lake and Rick’s sprawling land and comfortable lake house are the only inhabited properties on the south side of Lake Andrews. I'm terrified that if I don’t get her home soon, he'll volunteer the story.

I hold perfectly still and then relax when Rick decides not to go there. He shrugs.

“That’s a story for another time. I’ve got used to it. Fixes never work on originals. It would never be quite the same. Keeps it more authentic, I guess. Besides, nothing should be flawless, right?”

Tilting his head, he melts her with that grin and hot chocolate gaze of his. I swear I can see Lisa’s knees buckle. I don’t like this. I tell myself it's because I don’t think they're a good combination, but I know that’s not true.

I am jealous.

I'm shocked at the white-hot heat of my jealously as it sears through me. I turn and walk down the dock straight to the water’s edge. Rocking a little drunkenly on the end of the wooden pathway, I lean forward and peer into the midnight black depths of the lake. Rick stiffens, Lisa no longer has his attention. He may be flashing sexy grins at her, but he's as intractable as ever with me.

“Get back from the end of the dock, Sara.” He growls at me without ceremony.

“Now.” He adds sharply when I don’t immediately react. 

He lets out a frustrated breath and moves rapidly towards me when I still fail to obey him. Picking me up by the waist, he carries me along the length of the dock and deposits me in the redwood swing seat on the lawn.

“Hey, what’s your problem?” I throw at him, steadying myself as the seat rocks a little. It's the only protest I can manage in my pleasantly drunken, jealous, and pathetically turned–on by his caveman tactics state.

“The water’s high tonight, you’re too drunk to swim and none of the rest of us are in any better of a state to fish you out. Stay there and don’t move any closer to the dock. And don’t let me see you anywhere near the water when you get home, either.”

There's a shocked silence from Lisa and Luke and I want to hide under the chair. Rick seems oblivious to the atmosphere he's created and just stares down at me with a dark look. Despite my embarrassment, I feel stupidly reassured by his overbearing concern.

Luke coughs and Lisa finds her voice.

“Wow, bad cop. Hot!”

She sidles up to Luke. “So does that make you good cop?” She's blatantly coming on to him and I'm ridiculously pleased.

Not missing her invitation, he smiles and moves closer. “Sure. Unless you want me to be bad.”

They stare lecherously at each other not caring that they look and sound like something out of a stupid porno movie.

Rick is not so forgiving. “Hate to put a damper on things, but it’s late.”

He's right. It's much closer to the next morning than the previous evening, but I rebelliously feel like a naughty child he's sending to bed early. Fighting the feeling, I stand up and walk back up the expanse of lawn in front of the lake house.

“Rick’s right. We should get going, Lisa.”

“We’ll walk you back.”  Rick’s voice is firm.

I open my mouth to protest and then think better of it. The set of his jaw, the stance of his tall, ripped body, along with the look in his eye and the way he pushes back on his tawny brown hair, shows this is non-negotiable. Making our way down the winding footpath that joins our properties, we walk in pairs, Luke and Lisa a little distance behind as they exchange cell numbers and continue to flirt, sordidly. 

I shiver a little in the early autumn breeze from the lake. Rick takes off his leather jacket and drapes it over me. It's infused with his body heat and scent and I try not to make it too obvious that I'm stirred by its presence around me. Like his Mustang, this supple, worn jacket is a part of him, both staples of his since I first met him eight years ago in college. He looks at me suspiciously.

“What no protests?”

I look at him in confusion. “Huh?”

“Normally you object to my - what is it now? Oh yeah, my ‘throwback’ tactics and remind me we live in the 21st Century. Don’t tell me you’re losing your edge, Michaels.”

I shrug. “Margarita enhanced state, I guess. Besides it's chilly.” I draw the jacket around me and add gruffly. “Thanks.” I shift the jacket a bit and decide I need to rally and not leave myself too open around him. “I owe you for that little scene on the dock though. I'm not that drunk. I wasn’t in any danger.”

He grunts. “Sure you were.” He shakes his head and I sense exasperation in his body and tone. “Typical, Sara. Reckless with no sense of how close you are to the edge.” He hesitates and then his voice is tight. “Speaking of which, you ready to quit the case yet?”

We've reached the wraparound porch to my home and I tense and hand him back his jacket. My voice is as tight as his. “Not tonight, Rick. Just don’t start, okay.”

“It’s not worth it, Sara. It’s wearing you down. This is the first time I’ve seen you relaxed in months. And it took way too many margaritas than it should to do it.”

  “Oh so now I’m a lush. Mind your own business, Rick. I’ll drink as many margaritas as I like and work on any case I please. I’ve told you before, you’re not my keeper.” Despite my words, my tone is more crushed than angry.

Heading in the door, I throw over my shoulder to Lisa. “I’ll see you inside when you’re ready.” Letting her know I'm okay with her getting it on or whatever with Luke on the porch if she's so inclined.

It turns out she is so inclined. I hear her and Luke start to giggle and fumble around on my wide, padded porch swing, leaving Rick no choice but to walk back to his place. Through the screen door, I look after his figure as he walks quickly back, hands in his pockets. I'm unaccountably disappointed when he doesn’t turn back to look or wave goodnight. I can hardly blame him. It's not as if we've ever been on fond or waving terms.

No, we're much closer to fighting terms. It would be no exaggeration to say we've had an ongoing feud ever since we met, recognized by all who know us. Luke is familiar with it and Lisa knew of it, although this is the first time she's met Rick. She's never been persuaded to leave Boston for the backwaters in the six years I’ve known her. I’m convinced that her trip here is because I told her Luke was home for a visit and staying next door with his high school buddy. I introduced Lisa to Luke in passing while in Boston a couple of months ago and she's been asking about him ever since.

I shrug. It's nice to finally have her here for the weekend, whatever the reason. At least the town Mexican Night was relatively uneventful without any of the anger-laced interchanges Rick and I've shared over the years. The most memorable one was about four months ago when he - I'd say suggested, but it was clearly an order - I not take my current case. He was furious when I wouldn’t listen. I was equally furious and told him to shove it in exactly those words. 

Mature I know. Even less mature is the fact that, until he tried to lay down the law, I was determined to refuse the case. 

Now my knee-jerk reaction has really come back to bite me. All the reasons he laid out logically in front of me, and I already knew, are making my life miserable.

Prosecuting, even only as second chair, in the biggest corporate fraud case my little New Hampshire town has ever seen, is pure pressure and I'm not holding up well. Gencor is the biggest, make that the only, employer in town and the case against them in these hard times is generating very mixed feelings among the town’s population. The prosecutor’s office is under fire in a big way and me along with it. 

I'm not sleeping well, my good habits are slipping, and I'm increasingly not paying attention to what I'm doing. My refurbishing plan for the little Cape Cod bungalow I inherited from my grandparents is close to halted, I can’t remember the last time I went for a run or a swim and my car is full of discarded coffee cups and junk food wrappers - a testament to the fact that I haven’t had a decent meal in weeks. I know I need to get a grip, but I'm not sure how to go about it.

Moans, pants and grunts start emanating loudly from my porch. They're getting pretty hot and heavy, so I walk across to my kitchen to set up for some cocoa and fill a jug of water to fight off dehydration and mitigate our inevitable hangovers. Then I head to the shower. By the time I've showered and changed into pajamas, Lisa is walking in through the door with her panties in her hand and a glow radiating from her I'd deeply envy if I could remember what it felt like. I grin at her.

“I take it Detective Kincaid performed his duty to your satisfaction.”

She gives a Lisa leer and collapses on my couch, holding up three fingers. “Oh yeah, satisfied me again and again and again.” She drop curls a finger with each ‘again’. She turns sideways towards me. “But, hell, who’s counting.”

I frown fondly. “Lucky slut!” I pour us both a glass of water. “Cocoa?”

Lisa sits up and downs most of the glass. “Grandma’s recipe?”

My grandmother’s cocoa was the best, guaranteed to provide a good sleep. I found out why when she let me in on the secret a few months before she died. Half cream and a teaspoon of whisky. It stopped doing the trick for me weeks ago.

I head into the kitchen and Lisa joins me and sits at the table. I still haven’t started on the hatch and breakfast bar I've planned to open up the kitchen and living room. I turn on the hob, add the milk and cream with the cocoa at a slow heat, and start to slowly whisk. Standing looking out at the lake from my grandmother’s hob is straight from a childhood memory. It feels right, connected.

“You know, if you really want a good night’s sleep you should be having some of what I just had.”

I turn to her with a grin. “You think so? Maybe? But don’t you think you’ve worn him out too much to service me as well?”

“Smartass. Actually, he's probably ready to go again by now, but you know damn well I wasn’t talking about him.”

I don’t answer her and gaze out the window instead. Across the lake, I can see Rick’s dock and notice him and Luke walking down with beers in hand. I guess they decided to have their nightcaps outside. They're two very fine male specimens and I can’t help staring. At 6’3” Rick’s lithe, tawny-haired, graceful physique is an inch or so taller than Luke’s dark, rugged, rough good looks. Ironic really, Luke has the typical hard man appearance against Rick’s more refined appeal, but Luke’s a soft mark really. Of the two, Rick is unquestionably the tough guy. Not for the first time, I get hot imagining him in the interrogation room and redden heatedly as a dirty little role-play around that room starts to invade my mind. I turn to Lisa to distract my wayward thoughts.

“You could be right, Luke and Rick are on the dock. Maybe I should go ask him.”

Lisa deliberately misunderstands. “Hell right! You should go ask, Rick. You’ve been holding out on me, Sara girl. I can’t believe he's the guy you’ve been sounding off about these past two years.” She gets up and joins me to look out the window.

“When you complained about him, I imagined some overbearing old guy, not Detective Sex-on-Legs, out there. He’s gorgeous. He lives right next door and clearly likes you. What’s wrong with you woman! You should be a lucky slut every night with him just across the way. Not to mention lunch time quickies.”

I shift awkwardly, trying to ignore the heat in my womb and the hope in my heart her assertion unwisely arouses. “He doesn’t like me. He just likes ordering me around.”

Lisa looks at me with a raised eyebrow. “Duh! Exactly. It's hot! I love a dominant, alpha male. That’s how they claim you, sweetie. It’s very - my woman, do as I say. And, you’re all pouty defiant with him, acting out your part of the mating ritual. That was a cute little stunt you pulled to get his attention.”

I look at her belligerently. “What stunt?”

She snorts. “Teetering on the dock like that. You sure know how to press his buttons.”

I consider another denial, but think better of it. She's got a point, I constantly push him. 

“You can’t fool me, Sara. You like him too. A lot. So why aren’t you together?” She accepts the cup I give her, sips from her cocoa and gives me a shrewd look. “What gives, girlfriend? Spill.”

Chapter Two – A definite dent!

 

SARA

 

I sip my own cocoa and walk away from Lisa into the living room. Sitting in my armchair, I've an even better view of the two men. I remember that white-hot jealousy that seared through me. His power when he picked me up from the water’s edge. The feel of his body heat and smell from his jacket along with the gentle way he placed it around me. Yes, I've totally overdosed on Rick Andrews’ attractions tonight. 

Lisa’s comments are so tempting and far too perceptive. How many times in the past two years, have I looked over with longing at his handsome figure on that dock, and how often have I masturbated at the sight of him when he's out there for his ritual stroll? Imagining quickies and nights of long passion, and maybe even some of the tenderness I see him lavish on the people he cares about, is my secret vice.

Lisa has followed me in and is sitting across from me on the couch. I know that expression. She gets it when she's on to a flaw in some poor bastard’s testimony. Only tonight, the poor bastard is me. What the hell, maybe it was time I confided in someone, she'd probably get it out of me eventually.

“Alright, there is something between us, but it never goes anywhere but feuding. We just rub each other the wrong way. We have done from the start. He's too bossy, I’m too independent and he did something the day we met I’ve never forgiven him for.”

Lisa allows the silence to encourage me to speak, but I know that technique and don’t give in. She gets that eventually and sighs. “Okay, I’ll bite. What did he do?”

“He humiliated me my first week in college in front of everybody when I wanted to make a good impression.” Thinking about it triggers the humiliation all over again and my grudge emerges in spades. “And all because of that stupid car! And FYI it's a tiny ding not a dent!”

“Yeah, that’s what Luke says, that you’ve a massive grudge against Rick because of what he did when you banged into his car riding your bike drunkenly right into it. Or at least, he says that’s the excuse you still use.”

I sit up feeling betrayed. “Lisa, you discussed this with Luke! How could you?”

“It was easy. I just asked, “What’s the deal with Sara and Rick?” He was real forthcoming. The way you two go at it pisses him right off. He reckons you need some more of what Rick gave you back then, followed by a good seeing to.”

I fume so much, I wonder if smoke is coming out my ears. That’s just the kind of crude crap Luke Kincaid would spout. “Yeah that’s about Kincaid’s speed. He was part of the group of buddies that egged Rick on that day. So now you know what he did to me, I can’t believe you still think I should go for it with him. And you know what I mean about discussing it with Luke. What about girlfriend solidarity?”

“This doesn’t breech that. I didn’t tell him anything about you. I don’t think I'd be much of a girlfriend to ignore this, Sara. I think you need to talk about it, as well as what’s going down with you at work. I don’t know what he did. Luke refused to tell me, he said I had to get it out of you.”

Crossing my arms, I make a harrumphing sound. I feel a bit guilty about my earlier thoughts of Luke. It was good of him not to spill it to Lisa. I compensate for my guilt by giving him ulterior motives. “Yeah? Probably because he knew you’d want no more to do with either of them once you found out.”

Lisa sits up with a concerned look. “Okay. So now, I'm worried. Sara, he didn’t…I mean I know these frat parties can get out of hand, but please tell me he didn’t…”

I get what’s worrying her immediately. “No. No. It wasn’t like that. God, I can’t imagine Rick ever doing that! He pisses me off hugely, but he’s not like that.”

Lisa relaxes. “Thank God. You had me going for a minute. But I can’t see you letting that go anyway. You would’ve reported it.”

That gets me thinking. She’s right. If Rick or any man did that, I’d prosecute without a qualm. So how come it never entered my head to press charges for what could technically be termed assault?

“Sara?”

“What”

“You’re driving me crazy, here. What the hell did he do to you that made you nurse a grudge for eight years?”

Good question.

I look at Lisa and take a deep breath. I've never actually said it out loud. I still don’t, at least not the word that mortifies me. “He hit me.”

“Hit you?” Lisa shakes her head in disbelief. “Hit you?  Like knocked you about, slapped you, punched you, what? That seems as unlikely as the other.”

I start to blush. “No, not like that.”

Lisa looks baffled. “Then what…” Her face lights up as comprehension dawns. I can feel my whole body blush uncontrollably as she starts to laugh. Really laugh. She doubles over and doesn’t stop until I start pounding on her with one of my cushions. I vent my humiliation and fury, pounding on her relentlessly. She sits up wiping away tears, trying to fend off my blows.

“It's not funny, Lisa James! I can’t believe you’re behaving this way when I just confided my most humiliating moment.”

She's unrepentant. “Oh Sara, if that’s your most humiliating moment you’ve had it easy.”

“Lisa, I was eighteen, just arrived in America for college from years as a missionary kid. I just wanted to be so cool and, you know, maybe be part of the in crowd and have a real college romance. It had taken over a year, but my missionary parents had finally given in to my entreaties to go to college in America. They agreed as long as it was here where my grandparents lived. Lake Andrews, NH might be sleepy by American standards, but not for me after living in third world countries all my life. I remember, Lisa, I was so excited and terrified and hell bent on making a good impression. I was starry-eyed, convinced I finally had my shot at my very own college crush, just like in those American teen dramas I couldn’t get enough of.”

I gaze ahead of me, wistfully indulging the naive eagerness of my younger self.

“Instead, I got a run in with Rick Andrews and my pride and social career never recovered. He was in the last year of his criminology degree and was the college crush. I was making the rounds of the freshman events on my bike and was headed for the frat house everyone was at. I admit, I was a little drunk and building speed on a downward incline. He and all the senior frat guys were drinking and hanging around that Mustang of his. It wasn’t long since he’d finished restoring it.” I pause for breath and then plow on with my tale.

“I couldn’t stop and ended up hitting the chrome bumper rail. Picture it Lisa. Here I am, shy as hell, and I go careening down the path and fall off my bike all arms and legs. I was so embarrassed I just lay there for a while with my eyes closed. Then I open them and I'm looking up at the most gorgeous guy, ever. It was like right out of my fantasies. He was a hot guy with a hot car and he was looking at me intently. Really looking at me, like I mattered. As if my welfare was his number one concern. I wasn’t used to that. I was used to considering myself way down the line on anyone’s agenda. Especially my parents, who were too busy saving other people’s children to wonder if their own daughter might need some loving.”

Lisa reaches out and pats my hand, but says nothing. I know she wants to keep me talking. She was right, I needed to get this out. I look at her ruefully. “You’ve seen that molten look of his. That hot chocolate gaze was doing weird things to my lower body and I was terrified I was looking at him with my mouth open and maybe even some drool.”

Lisa can’t hold back a laugh and I relax. Somehow this is beginning to sound a lot better than I remembered. “I was determined to look like any cool, born and bred American college girl. So I adopted the bratty shrug and look I’d seen one of the heroines in my latest teen drama throw at the cocky, varsity captain. I had a bit of an alcoholic buzz going on, not to mention the sexual buzz he started. So, I swung my hair back exuding all of the sassy confidence I was actually lacking and I told him to get over it, the dent was just an insignificant ding.”

“Oh, Sara! No wonder he did what he did. Don’t you know anything about men, never mind young, hormonal men? You challenged him in front of his frat buddies about his car!”

“Fine! I get that he acted on impulse. The frat herd mentality even, but he’s never apologized.”

“Maybe he doesn’t feel like apologizing. Maybe he feels you deserved it. Have you ever considered that maybe you did? That’s one fine car you messed with. And it's not a ding, BTW, it's a definite dent!”

“I can’t believe you just said that. How could I deserve it? He beat me, Lisa.”

“Stop being so dramatic. He spanked your drunk, sassy, little ass. He did not assault you. Jeez, spanking is rife at those parties. They have frat paddles for fuck’s sake! You’re lucky he didn’t use one.”

“Someone handed him one. He turned it down.”

“See, you were lucky. He let you off easy.” She looks across the distance between our two properties at the two men standing on the dock. She gives a low, appreciative growl. “That is one gorgeous man. If you don’t want him, be prepared to move over, girlfriend. He can spank my ass, any day.”

“Lisa!”

“What?

“You’ve just had wild, triple orgasmic sex on my porch with his best friend.”

“So? I didn’t marry him.”

I hunker down in the chair and work up the courage to ask. “So have you let a guy do that?” I blush hotly at taking this subject from expressing outrage to sexual exploration.

“Come on. Who hasn’t these days? 

I sit up, feeling better about those hot aches I get every time I remember him putting his foot up on the chrome rail bumper and turning me over his knee. And my urges since. Growing up with missionary parents in more restrictive cultures, I was very innocent at eighteen. Although a tanning from him was mortifying and painful, he was the college crush. Despite the public arena, it was still a physically, intimate act. The heat he raised in my rear soon created a disturbing heat elsewhere that had my lower body throbbing over his powerful thigh for reasons I didn’t quite understand. Now, at twenty-six and knowing a lot more about my sexual preferences, I understand only too clearly. I worked up the courage to broach those urges with my last two boyfriends and they tried to get into the idea, but their few smacks before and during sex just didn’t do it for me and left me wanting.

Lisa responds eagerly to my interest. “You should go for it, Sara. That stuff is trendy. It’s sexy and hot. And so is he. Sizzling hot!”

“Yeah, well he didn’t think I was sexy and hot. He just set me on my feet and went back to laughing with his buddies. Like I was just some inconsequential kid who needed straightening out.”

“Oh. My. God. You mean he didn’t follow up in any way?”

I shake my head. It should be laughable that Lisa is outraged by him not following up, rather than by the action itself. Only she's hit on exactly the right nerve that upsets me the most about the whole thing and I feel close to tears.

“No wonder you’re so mad at him. The bastard! Getting you all hot and bothered and not following through.” Her indignant expression makes me laugh and then before I know it, I can’t stop the slow tears rolling down my face.

Lisa is immediately at my side on the couch, arm around me. “Hey, baby. I’m sorry. If I’d known you felt this way I'd never have made light of it.” She hugs me and offers some tissues. “Well this sure explains a lot. No wonder you haven’t given other guys a chance.”

I sniff loudly. “What’d you mean?”

She turns me to look at her. “Face it, Sara. You’re in love with your college crush.”

I scoff at her, sniffing and blowing my nose. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m just drunk and worn out. Not to mention horny. I need to make time for my toys. Then I’ll be fine.”

Lisa is not so easily dismissed. “Uh uh, Sara. I'm sure you’ve strong feelings for this guy. And he may not have followed up then, but he definitely has the hots for you now and then some. It’s not just lust either, he seems genuinely concerned for you. Really protective. I think he might be half in love with you too, Sara. He was only twenty then. Maybe he felt he crossed the line and wasn’t sure how to approach you. Maybe he thought you were too mad, especially if you were spitting fire like only you can.”

“And have done ever since.” I admit.

Then I shake my head. I know the real reason. I just hate to look at it. Time to remind myself and wise up my friend to the politics of living in a small town.

I sit back. “You don’t get it, Lisa. He's an Andrews and I'm a Michaels. His family own most of this town. You’ve seen his lake house. Look at this place.” I gesticulate encompassing the tiny bungalow and all the work it needs done, as well as the tiny patch of land, the waterfront it’s one redeeming feature. “I'm the white trash of this town. No way am I good enough for either him or this community.”

“That’s crazy. Your grandfather was a lawyer, your parents are missionaries and you’re one of the town prosecutors. In what universe is that white trash?”

“It has to do with status and opinion. The Michaels have always been considered loose cannon. My grandfather supported controversial causes, my parents devote their lives to saving savages and I'm prosecuting the town’s main employer. The weird Michaels girl is not good enough for the perfect Rick Andrews. You saw how everyone looked disapproving and conversation buzzed when he asked me to dance.”

“Yeah. Because you turned him down all haughty and pissed. He's popular and a nice guy, actually, considering he's so hot. You treat him mean, Sara. Watching you turn him down like that was what got me asking Luke about the dynamic between you two. You’re usually more considerate of a guy’s feelings.”

I snort. “Get real. It was his token offering. He feels it's his duty to ask every woman to dance at these functions. He didn’t really want to dance with me. Believe me, his feelings are just fine.”

Lisa looks at me with narrowed eyes. “To quote the bard, baby. Methinks too much protesting. Why are you so against him? It can’t be the college incident. Luke’s right, that’s just your excuse. What are you really afraid of?”

 

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