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A silly college girl prank soon lands her on the wrong side of Cal's law.
Cal's young wife, Jenny, just wants to play house with her husband, Sheriff Cal Bennett. Cal wants her to complete one more year of college before choosing a path. Although Jenny is tired of school, she bends to her husband's wishes. On their precious days together, Cal educates his beautiful girl to the idea of kinky fantasies and bedroom toys, and here, Jenny is an eager student!
She is applying herself to her classes and showing Cal she can be responsible, when she finds herself being stalked by a mysterious police officer who views every move she makes as criminal. Everyone she cares about knows that what ensues is not Jenny's doing, but she can't keep herself from giving in to some sweet revenge.
Publisher's Note: This steamy romance contains elements of power exchange.
Jenny entered the house with an armload of groceries. Pushing the door shut with her foot the idea popped into her head, we need a dog. She grinned at the thought. What else did they need to make their lives perfect? A white picket fence? Two point five kids? Jenny laughed to herself. Everything was perfect. It didn’t need improving.
Six months before, Jenny would have described herself as angry and lonely. Part of her first year of college was spent in a sorority full of mean girls. She hated school, hated the sorority, she probably hated herself too. All that had changed when she met the big, hunky, sexy sheriff of the county, Cal Bennett. Talk about a life changing moment.
Although they hadn’t met under the best of circumstances, Cal had become her mentor. With his help, her grades improved, and she learned some much-needed life skills like cooking, cleaning and doing laundry. Jenny knew it wasn’t her life goal to be a happy little housewife, but this all seemed real to her. This was their home and she was managing to run it efficiently. Simple things like cooking and doing laundry were new to her. Doing them well made her feel like a real person acquiring real skills. She thought briefly of her mother. Left to her own devices, her mother would have either starved to death or been overcome by filth. To Jenny these new domestic skills truly felt like life skills and mastering them made her feel accomplished.
She was still in awe of the miraculous, passionate whirlwind courtship they’d experienced, but now she and Cal were happily married. She had a job she loved and friends, real friends, who cared about her and who would be there for her. Lane was Cal’s sister and Allie was Jenny’s boss. Although Jenny hadn’t known them long, they had clicked from the first minute they’d met. Jenny had read books where girls were true friends and told one another their secrets and dreams, but getting to know Lane and Allie was the first time she’d experienced it for herself.
Cal had worried before they’d married. First, he’d worried about the nine-year age difference. Since that couldn’t be changed, he’d just had to deal with it. His other big worry was that she’d had wealthy parents and was used to having more money than she could ever spend. Could this work with his sheriff’s salary? So far it hadn’t even been a small problem. Jenny guessed Cal must have pictured her going on a buying spree every day when she’d lived with her parents. Her parents had bought her things to keep her occupied, so she wouldn’t bother them. Maybe because she’d always had things, going out and buying more things wasn’t a big draw for Jenny anymore.
It was the things she hadn’t had—a loving family, a job, friends and most important of all, Cal—that had her excited to get up every morning. Every day was special whether she cooked and cleaned their home or spent the day at the river with friends and family. Jenny was as happy as she’d ever hoped to be.
However, in the midst of all this happiness, Cal had placed a dark cloud on the horizon. Jenny hoped that by ignoring it the whole thing would go away. That didn’t seem to be happening.
The dark cloud was college. What was so damn important about college? Cal was not letting up on her going back for at least one more year. Jenny wasn’t giving in. If she went back for her sophomore year he’d start with, Come on, you have half of it behind you, go on and finish. Just because college was important to him it didn’t have to be for her. She loved their life together just as it was. She didn’t want anything to change.
Early the next morning Jenny was up and fixing Cal’s breakfast. When Cal joined her in the kitchen, he began nuzzling her neck. “You know there’s all kinds of sustenance. Anytime you don’t want to get up and make breakfast, we can just stay in bed a little longer. Sometimes that’s all the nourishment I need.”
Jenny laughed. “I’m all for that, but big strong crime fighters have to eat their Wheaties in the mornings. Big studly husbands, too,” she added. “Now go sit and I’ll serve my lord and master,” Jenny teased.
Cal gave her butt a stinging swat and a sexy squeeze. “And don’t you forget it, wife!”
Conversation was light and fun over breakfast, but as they finished up Cal grew serious saying, “I got some news yesterday, Jen, and I want you to hear me out.”
Jenny gave him a suspicious stare. “I’m not going to like this news, am I?”
“It’s good news,” he insisted. “Last year we were pursuing a kid who was involved in a hit and run. He crashed his car and it caught fire. We got the kid out in time. His dad was so grateful he set up a scholarship fund for our department. It was for officers, and their spouses and children. I put your name in. I got word last night that you were accepted. Now, you have a full year’s tuitions at Wilmington.”
Jenny stared at him dumbfounded. “What is it with you?” she finally asked. “Is it being a cop or a husband that causes deafness? I’m not going back to college. Period. What is so hard to understand about that?”
“Jenny, it’s a free ride for a whole year. You can’t pass up an opportunity like this.”
“Who needs a free ride to somewhere they don’t want to go?” Jenny was fully ready for a full-blown fight, even though she didn’t want one. Leaving the table, she grabbed her bag and headed for the door.
“Where are you going? You don’t have to leave for work for another hour,” Cal said.
“I’m getting out of here before I tell you exactly what I think about your fuc… stupid scholarship. If I stay here right now I’ll tell you what I’m really thinking and give you the excuse you’re looking for to bust my ass over this.”
“Wait,” Cal snapped. Coming to her, he grabbed her by the shoulders. His look was so intense, Jenny wondered if she should have gotten out faster. Cal leaned down and kissed Jenny softly on the mouth. “Go on and gripe to your friends, just remember how much I love you,” he told her.
“I love you, too,” Jenny assured him and she hurried to her car. She was so grateful to have her car back. Just before she and Cal had married, her parents had launched a full-scale war to keep them apart. Stealing her car had been one of the minor things they’d done. When the worst was over, her father had returned the car to her in her name, without comment. Jenny was grateful for the return of her independence and not having to wait until Cal was free to drive her somewhere, or waiting for a friend to have to come get her. She quickly headed to work knowing she’d have time for coffee with the girls.
Jenny worked for a cleaning service run by her friend Allie. She loved spending time with both Allie and Lane. If she counted all the girls, she’d have to include Allie’s mother-in-law and her friends. Now these old women were a hoot. Jenny had had no close friends growing up and she’d never known any older people. She’d definitely had no decent adult role models. Then she’d found the whole package out at the river.
Cassie, Sue, and Annie had been close friends for nearly fifty years. Lily worked for all three families as a maid and cook. She was one of the few people who could keep Cassie and Sue under control. Jenny knew she could always look to Annie or Lily or even Allie for good sound mature advice. However, for the sheer joy of living life to its fullest, she would turn to Cassie and Sue every time. Truth be told, she had a serious case of hero worship for the two of them. She enjoyed getting to work with enough time to have coffee with them all.
Today she needed to vent to them. She parked at Allie’s and walked next door to join the girls on Cassie’s deck. As usual, Lily came to her and gave her a hug, something Jenny always looked forward to. As Lily headed in to get Jenny some coffee, Jenny thumped down in a chair with a scowl on her face.
“It’s easy to see you’re mad. What’s Cal done now?” Cassie asked, grinning.
“Same as always,” she began. “He won’t let up about school! What is it with him? You’d think he was a paid recruiter. And now without even asking me, he put my name in for a scholarship through the sheriff’s department and I got it. Full tuition for a year at UNCW.”
“He got you a free year at a wonderful university? The bastard!” Sue teased.
“It’s not funny. Sure, it would be great if I wanted to go to college. He’s just so damn stubborn; he won’t listen.”
“Too damn stubborn to listen, hmm. Now who does that remind me of?” Allie mused. “Come on Jenny, give in on this one. We can do this year together. It’ll be so much fun. I need a roommate, the condo’s plenty big enough. You’ll have your own room and bath. Let Cal have his way.”
Jenny sat, still scowling. “Allie, I love you. But, no offence, I’d rather live with my husband. It’s too far to commute. I’d never get to see him.”
“That’s not true. I get to see Ryan a lot. He comes to spend the weekend or I come home to him. I admit it’s not the romantic way I’d have liked to spend our first year as a married couple, but we’re making it work. You guys can do it,” Allie assured her.
Annie and Lily were keeping quiet. Jenny knew their position. They wanted her to get her education. Cassie, however, had been surprisingly quiet on the subject.
Turning to her now, Jenny asked, “Cassie, what do you think?”
“I think Cal’s acting like a big bully. He’s nearly as bossy as Tom, and he needs to realize that this should be your decision, not his. Lots of people do just fine without a college education. I never went, neither did Annie or Sue or Lily. You’ve got common sense, something lacking in many these days. You’re going to do fine whichever way you decide. Cal needs to butt out.”
Finally, someone understands.
Allie and the others, not counting Sue, stared at Cassie with looks of disappointment and disapproval.
Cassie went on, “Now that’s the first thing. Second thing is, I think you should go to college this year.”
“Oh Cassie, not you too?” Jenny whined.
“Like I said, it’s your decision. However, you’re seeing it as a wasted year. It’s not. For one thing, it’s only about nine months. I know at twenty that sounds like forever. It’s not. It’s a drop in the bucket of your lifetime. You’ll learn things you don’t know. Some of it will be useful, some won’t. But Allie once bested Tom in a game of Trivial Pursuit. In my book, that made her college education worthwhile. But you asked what I thought and there you have it. Think about it. And then you decide.”
“Aw, hell,” Jenny grumbled.