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Authors: Rachel Gibson

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary

Crazy on You

BOOK: Crazy on You
5.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub









ily Darlington hated being called crazy. She’d rather someone call her a bitch—or even a stupid bitch—because she knew she was neither and never had been. Not on purpose anyway. But put the c-word in front of bitch, and Lily was likely to go all
bitch on someone’s ass.

At least she had in the past, when she’d been more impulsive and let her feelings and emotions control her. When she’d gone from zero to ten in under five seconds. When she’d dumped milk on Jimmy Joe Jenkin’s head in the third grade and let air out of Sarah Little’s bike tires in the sixth. When she’d thought that every action deserved a reaction. When she’d been reckless and occasionally over the top—like when she drove her Ford Taurus into her ex-husband’s front room.

But she hadn’t done anything over the top recently. These days, she was able to control her feelings and emotions. These days she was a respectable businesswoman and mother of a ten-year-old son. She was thirty-eight, and she’d worked hard to get the
out of her life and off the front of her name.

Lily grabbed her tote and rushed out the back of Lily Belle’s Salon Day Spa. Her last cut-and-color appointment had taken longer than expected, and it was already past seven. She had to drive sixty-five miles, make dinner for her son, help him with his homework, and force him into the tub. Once he was in bed, she had to put together all the gift bags for her spa event next Saturday night.

A single bulb glowed above her head as she locked the door. Cold night air touched her cheeks and a slight breeze caught the tails of her wool coat. It was late March in the Texas panhandle and still cold enough at night that her breath hung in front of her face.

From as far back as she could remember, people had called her crazy. Crazy Lily Brooks. Then she’d married that rat bastard Ronny Darlington and they’d called her Crazy Lily Darlington.

The sound of her boot heels as she walked to her Jeep Cherokee echoed off of the Dumpster. With her thumb on the keypad, she unlocked the doors and the back hatch popped up. She set her heavy tote next to boxes filled with skin and hair care products, then reached over her head and closed the door.

Okay, so maybe she’d been just a
crazy during her marriage, but her ex-husband had made her crazy. He’d skirted around with half the female population of Lovett, Texas. He’d lie and tell her she was imagining things. He’d been so good at sneaking around that she’d almost convinced herself that she
imagining things. Then he’d dumped her for Kelly the Skank. She didn’t even remember Kelly’s last name, but he’d moved out and left Lily behind without so much as a backward glance. He’d also left her with a pile of bills, a bare refrigerator, and a two-year-old boy.

He’d thought he could just move on. He’d thought he could get away with making a fool of her. He’d thought she’d just take it, and
more than anything, had made her drive her car through his living room. She hadn’t been trying to kill him or anyone else. He hadn’t even been home at the time. She’d just wanted to let him know she wasn’t disposable. That he couldn’t just walk away without suffering like she was suffering. But he hadn’t suffered. Lily ended up in the hospital with a concussion and broken leg, and he didn’t give a shit about anything but his busted TV.

She shut herself inside her SUV and fired it up. The red Cherokee was the first new car she’d ever bought. Up until a year ago, she’d always bought used. But with the success of her salon and day spa, Lily was able to splurge on something that had always been a dream—one she’d never thought would actually come true. Twin headlights shone on the back of the spa as she reversed out of the parking lot and headed home—toward the small three-bedroom house right next to her mother’s, in Lovett, in the little town north of Amarillo where she was born and raised.

Living next to her mother was both a curse and a blessing. A curse because Louella Brooks was retired with nothing to do but pry into everyone’s business; a blessing because Luella was retired and could watch Pippen when he got out of school. And as much as her mother drove her insane, with her “yard” art and rambling stories, she was a good grandmother and it was nice not to have to worry about her son.

Lily eased onto the highway toward Lovett and switched on the radio to a country station. She’d never wanted to raise her son alone; she was raised by a single mother herself. Louella worked hard to support Lily and her older sister, Daisy, pouring coffee and slinging chicken fried steak for long hours at the Wild Coyote Diner. She wanted better for own child—Phillip Ronald Darlington, or, as everyone called him, Pippen. Lily was twenty-eight when she gave birth to him. She’d already known her three-year marriage was in trouble but held on desperately, trying hard to keep her family together to give her son something she’d never had—a daddy and a stay-at-home mom. She’d overlooked a lot for that to happen, only to watch Ronnie walk out on her and Pip in the end anyway.

At seven
the traffic to Lovett was sparse to nonexistent, and as she drove her headlights flared on asphalt and sagebrush. She turned off the radio, fiddled around with her iPod, and sang along with Rascal Flatts. The posted speed limit was seventy, which really meant seventy-five. Everyone knew that, and she accelerated to a reasonable seventy-six.

For a year after her divorce, she might have gone a
. . . wild. She might have been impulsive and emotional. Might have been lost; might have been fired from a few too many jobs; tossed back a few too many tequila shots and slept with a few too many men. Might have made a few rash decisions—like the Lily tattoo next to her hipbone and her breast augmentation. But it wasn’t like she’d gone stripper-huge. She’d gone from a B-cup after the birth of her son to the full C she’d been before. Now she hated having spent money on a tattoo, and was also ambivalent about the money used on her boobs. If at a better place in her life, she might not have done it. If she’d had the confidence she had now, she might have spent the money on something more practical. Then again, Lily liked how she looked and didn’t really regret it. At the time, Crazy Lily Darlington’s new boobs had been the talk of the small town. Or, at least, of the Road Kill Bar where she’d spent too much time looking for Mr. Right, only to hook up with yet another Mr. Wrong.

Lily didn’t really like to look back at that year of her life. She hadn’t been the best mother, but supposed it was something she had to work out to get where she was today. Something she had to live through before she got her head straight and could think of her and Pip’s future. Something to get out of her system before she went to cosmetology school, got her license, and built up a clientele.

Now seven years after she’d rolled her first perm and butchered her first head of hair, she was the owner of a salon—Lily Belle’s, where other stylists, massage therapists, manicurists, and aestheticians rented chairs and rooms from her. She was finally doing good. So good she no longer used her caller ID to screen bill collectors.

She thought about everything she had yet to do that night and hoped her mother had fed Pippen dinner by now. The kid was bigger than most boys his age. He was going to be as big as his daddy, the rat bastard. Although lately, Ronnie had been paying a bit more attention to his son. He was taking him next weekend, which was nice since Louella had one of her bingo nights and Lily had her spa event.

The phone in her purse and the UConnect in the vehicle rang and she glanced at the steering wheel. The Jeep was still so new to her that she often hit the wrong buttons and ended the call instead of answering. Especially at night. She hit what she hoped was the right button. “Hello?”

“When are you going to be home?” her son asked.

“I’m on my way now.”

“What’s for dinner?”

She smiled and reached into her purse on the seat beside her. “Grandma didn’t feed you?”

Pippen sighed. “She made spaghetti.”

“Oh.” Louella made notoriously bad Italian. Tex-Mex too. In fact, for a woman who’d spent her life serving food, she was a bad cook.

“I’m hiding in the bathroom.”

Lily laughed and pulled out a bottle of water. “I’ll make you a toasted cheese and soup,” she said and unscrewed the cap. Her throat was sore and she wondered if she was coming down with something. Just one of the many hazards of working around a lot of people.


Now it was Lily’s turn to sigh. “What do you want?” She looked over the top of the bottle as she took a long drink. She didn’t have time to get sick.


She smiled and lowered the bottle. “Again?”

A flash of light in her rearview mirror caught her attention. A cop car followed close behind, and she slowed and waited for him to go around her. When he didn’t, she shockingly realized he was after
. “Cryin’ all night,” she muttered. “He can’t be serious.”


“Nothing. I have to go, Pippy.” She didn’t want to alarm him as she slowed. “I’ll be home soon,” she said and ended the call. She pulled over to the shoulder of the road, and the headlights and red and blue flashers filled the Jeep as the sheriff’s vehicle stopped behind her.

There might have been a time in her life when she would have freaked out. When her heart would have raced, her pulse pounded, and her mind spun, frantically wondering what she’d been caught doing now or what might be stashed in her glove compartment or console or trunk. Those days were over, and tonight all she felt was annoyed. Which she supposed meant she was a law-abiding citizen. A grown-up at thirty-eight. Even so, she was annoyed.

She shoved the Jeep into park and hit the window button in the armrest. The window slid down and she looked in the side mirror as the sheriff’s door swung open. She knew most of the Potter County deputies, had gone to school with half of them or their kin. If it was Neal Flegel or Marty Dingus pulling her over, she was going to be
annoyed. Neal was a friend who wouldn’t think twice about pulling her over just to shoot the shit, and Marty was recently divorced. She’d cut his hair for him last week, and he’d actually groaned when she’d had him in the shampoo bowl. She didn’t have time for a traffic stop so Marty could ask her out again.

A wrinkle furrowed her brow as she watched the deputy, lit from behind, move toward her. He was shorter than Marty; thinner than Neal. She could see he was wearing a brown nylon jacket and a star on his chest. He had some gadgets hooked to the collar of his coat, and his belt seemed weighted down with various cop stuff. The stream of his breath hung in the headlights behind him as he approached, the steady thump-thump-thump of his cop boots closing the distance.

“I don’t believe I was speeding, Officer,” she said as he stopped by her door.

“Actually, you were.” The red and blue lights bounced off the side of his face. She couldn’t see his features clearly, but could tell he was young. “Do you have a weapon in the vehicle, Ms. Darlington?”

Ahhh. He’d already run her license plate and knew she had a permit to carry concealed. “It’s beneath my seat.”

He pulled out his Maglite and shone it in her lap and between her feet.

“You won’t see it.”

“Make sure I don’t.” He angled the light on her shoulder. “I need to see your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.”

She grabbed her purse and pulled out her wallet. “You talk too fast to be from around here.” She slipped out her driver license and her insurance card. “You must be new in town.”

“I’ve been in Potter County a few weeks.”

“That explains it.” She reached for her registration in the glove compartment, then handed everything over. “No one gets pulled over for going five miles over the limit.”

“That isn’t why I pulled you over.” He shined his light on her information. “You crossed the center lane several times.”

Seriously? So, she wasn’t the best driver when she tried to do two things at once. That’s why she got the UConnect hands-free system. “There’s no one else on the road for ten miles,” she pointed out. “I wasn’t in any danger of a head-on.”

“That doesn’t make it okay to take your half out of the middle.”

She looked up and into the dark shadows of his face—and to where the light touched his clean-shaven chin, square jaw, and a mouth made impressive by the shadow across the bow of his upper lip. The rest of him was hidden within the inky night, but she got the distinct impression that he was not only young, but very hot. The kind of hot that in her younger days might have made her fluff her hair. These days she felt nothing but a longing for home and her old flannel pj’s. She should probably feel sad about that but didn’t.

“Have you had anything to drink tonight?”

She smiled. “Just water.” She remembered the last time Neal had given her a ride home from the Road Kill Bar.

“Is something funny?”

And the many times she’d run home from parties, diving into bed as her mom got up for work in the morning. “Yeah,” she said and started to chuckle.

Only he didn’t laugh. “I’ll be right back,” he said and headed to his cruiser with her info.

BOOK: Crazy on You
5.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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