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Authors: Brinda Berry

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult, #Suspense

Chasing Luck (21 page)

BOOK: Chasing Luck
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ou gave
me your warmth when I was cold as a morgue. You gave me your love when I was dead. You gave me your joy when I could find none. You gave me your all.” ~ Jelly Bean Queen

he numbers
on Malerie’s largest box opened the vault, and she donated the priceless paintings to several museums. JT’s legacy lives on in the world.

The carriage house is my current residence. It’s a little girly for my taste—shabby chic is what she calls it—but I can stand sacrificing my man card. It’s more than a fair exchange for waking up next to her every morning. The mansion next door sits empty because no one really needs a dozen bedrooms.

I turned in my notice to my landlady, Mrs. Prata. My notice included a request that she take my cat Evanescence to her place. The cat and Mrs. Prata are much happier. I bring her over to our place for weekly visits.

“Thank you, dear, for having a birthday party for me.” Mrs. Pratt sits primly with her hands in her lap and waits for Malerie to slice the cake.

“We love this. It’s fun.” Malerie smirks. “Ace was so excited about having cake.”

I chuckle. “Whatever you say.” I wink at Mrs. Prata. “We know who
wanted cake today.”

“He eats all the time,” Malerie says. “I mean he can’t get enough.”

“Never get enough,” I agree and shrug. “Who wants to get enough of a good thing?” I smile at Malerie and waggle my eyebrows lasciviously.

Her cheeks blush as dusty pink as the girly curtains and I laugh.

“I haven’t had any birthday cake since Morrie was alive,” Mrs. Prata says. She twists the gold ring on her left hand. “My Morrie loved cake. I told him everyday he was alive he could have as much to eat and as much sex as he could want.” Mrs. Prata takes a large bite of chocolate cake and looks at me with an expression of complete sincerity.

“He lived to be a pretty old fella, didn’t he?” I ask, the corner of my mouth twitching.

I look over and see Malerie’s blush is spreading.

“Yes, Achilles, he did.” Mrs. Prata takes another bite of cake.

I hold up my coffee cup. “To cake and other fine things in life.”

“To lots of cake,” Malerie says and rolls her eyes.

I take a large bite of cake, hoping it’s better than the last one Malerie attempted. And score. It melts chocolaty goodness onto my tongue. I’d eat it if it tasted like my boot, but it’s a very nice surprise.

Malerie’s stepping out of her comfort zone in more than cooking. She’s decided to start college in the fall, majoring in media. I’ll be going back to major in business and marketing, which will come in handy since I’ve taken on management of some her charities as a part-time job.

We’re both working on an online project with Collin. Turns out I have a lot in common with the guy. We think we can take the
Rock Universe
podcast to the next level with all the recent publicity. Jelly Bean Queen’s media connections are bringing in more interviews than Malerie and Collin can handle.

It’s good to see my girl smile about our future.

I excuse myself and grab a couple of boxes from the dresser in my bedroom. “Mrs. P, I got you something.” I scoot one box over to her side of the kitchen table and take my seat again.

Mrs. Prata drops her fork and it clatters on the table. “Oh, I didn’t expect that.” Her birdlike features glow like a young girl’s. “I just thought, well, you know what I thought.”

“From me and Malerie.” Malerie stands behind my chair and I reach around to loop my arm around her waist to pull her forward.

Malerie gives me a curious look.

Mrs. Prata opens the flat box and takes out a gold chain with a garnet pendant. “I don’t have anywhere to wear it.”

I rise and walk around. “Wear it here.”

“Put it on me, Achilles.”

“Yes, ma’am.” I struggle with the clasp that seems to be made for elves’ fingers and fasten it around her neck.

“Ah, it’s beautiful,” Malerie says. She looks a little teary-eyed and a knot forms in my own throat.

Get a grip, man.

“Not as beautiful as you are.” I feel like an idiot after I say it, but I swear Mrs. Prata and Malerie are both smiling like they’ve won the lottery.

“Here’s the other one,” Malerie says and hands the remaining gift box across the table.

I turn to Mrs. P who smiles and nods at me. “Go on,” she says.

“Mal.” I take the small wrapped box. “I got you a little something, too.”

I notice her furrowed brow. “Just a small gift,” I say.

“Hurry,” Mrs. Prata says in a chiding voice.

“Oh, sorry.” I walk around the table and hand her the gift, a sprig of silver curling ribbon bobs on the top. “Mrs. Prata doesn’t know what it is. It’s killing her.”

“I feel kind of silly because it’s Mrs. P’s day.” Malerie purses her lips like she’s embarassed.

Mrs. Prata waves a dismissive hand. “We can share my day.”

Malerie tears the paper and removes another flat velvet box. The moment she opens the lid, I know she likes it.

“Oh,” she says. Her hand is a little shaky and the box vibrates.

“You like it?” I can’t help the question, but I know the answer.

She does.

Atop the blue velvet lining, the silver cuff bracelet gleams. A script runs around the middle of the wide band. Malerie carefully places the box on the table and removes the bracelet.

“Is that writing on the side?” Mrs. Prata asks. “Read it, please.”

“I give you my all, today and always. Love, Ace,” Malerie says.

It’s a Jelly Bean Queen lyric, a line I know she recognizes. I have two seconds before Malerie runs into my arms, right where she belongs.

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BOOK: Chasing Luck
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