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Authors: Rachel Gibson

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary

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BOOK: Crazy on You
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“Bullshit.” He moved across the kitchen and grabbed his coat. “You’re not old enough to be a cougar.” He shoved his arms into the sleeves. “I have my own house and car and money. I don’t need a woman to take care of me. I can take care of myself and anyone else in my life.” He stormed across the kitchen but paused in the doorway long enough to say, “I tried to do the right thing today, but the next time I get my hands on you, we’re not going to stop.” She heard him walk through the living room and open the front door. Then, “Hello Mrs. Brooks.”

Crap! Her mom.

“Deputy Matthews?” Lily raised a hand to her throat as her mouth fell open. Please God, just let her mom walk inside without stopping to ramble. “How’s your cat?” Obviously God wasn’t listening to Lily Darlington. Probably punishing her for putting her hands on the young neighbor.

“Pinky’s good. Thanks for asking.”

“Marylyle Jeffers had a black cat like yours. She had diabetes and had to have her foot cut off.” No wonder Lily acted a bit imprudent sometimes. Her mother was one taco short of a combo plate. “Leg too.”

“Oh I’m sorry—”

“Then she caught the pleurisy and died. Not saying it was her cat, but she did have horrible luck. Even before she was struck with—”

“Momma, you’re letting out the bought air,” Lily interrupted and stuck her head into the living room. She couldn’t look at Tucker and pinned her gaze squarely on her mother’s pile of gray hair. She was sure she was a bright red and didn’t know what was more embarrassing—what she’d done with Tucker or her mother’s inane rambling. “Thank you again for carrying in my groceries, Deputy Matthews.”

“You’re welcome. See you two ladies around.”

Louella Brooks stared at the closed door, then turned her gaze to her youngest daughter. “Well.”

That one word packed a wealth of meaning. Lily ducked back into the kitchen, looked at the two coffee mugs, and raised the Everything’s Bigger In Texas mug to her mouth. She managed to hammer back half. It burned her tongue and throat and she set it back down as her mother entered the room.

“He certainly is a nice-looking boy.”

Lily swallowed past her scalded taste buds and throat. She reached for her pink Deeann’s Duds mug and turned with a slight smile on her face. “Nice too. He carried in my groceries.”

A scowl settled into the wrinkles on her mother’s face. “You’re a single woman, Lily. You have to be careful who you let in your house.”

“He’s a deputy. What do you think he’s going to do? Kill me?” Touch me? Kiss me? Drive me as crazy as everyone says I am?

“I wasn’t talking about your physical safety.”

Lily knew that. “He just carried in my groceries and had a half a cup of coffee.” With her free hand, she pointed to the mug on the counter. “Then he left.” And thank God too. If he hadn’t stopped when he had, her mother would have used her key and strolled inside. The mere thought of her mother walking in on her and Tucker was too horrible to contemplate.

“Single gals can’t be too careful when it comes to their reputations. Just the other day, the cable repairman was in Doreen Jaworski’s house for three hours.” She gave Lily a knowing look. “Cable repairs don’t take three hours.”

“Ma, Doreen is in her seventies.”

“Exactly. She always did wear her clothes kind of sudden. Or course that was before she married Lynn Jaworski . . . which just goes to show, people’s memories are longer than pulled taffy.”

Lily closed her eyes and blew into her coffee.

“Her daughter Dorlynn didn’t fall far from that tree. She—”

Lily didn’t bother to stop her mother. Louella was going to talk until she ran out of words, which could take a while. Since her mother’s retirement from the Wild Coyote Diner, the rambling had gotten worse. Nothing to do for it but block out her mother’s voice and retreat into her own head. Unfortunately, her head was filled with Tucker. He’d said he wanted a relationship, but he didn’t know her. Didn’t know her past and what everyone said about her. At least not yet. He’d no doubt change his mind once she heard about the Ronnie incident of ’04.

Lily took a sip of coffee and winced as it hit her scalded tongue. But her past wasn’t the biggest reason any sort of relationship was impossible. She was busy. She didn’t have time. She couldn’t get involved with him.

He was thirty. She hadn’t even known what she’d wanted at thirty.

He might not have a problem with the age difference, but she did. People would call her a cougar. That crazy cougar, Lily Darlington. If it was just about her, she might risk it. Might show the world her middle finger. But it wasn’t just her. She’d gone to school with a momma who wasn’t wound too tight. Kids could be really cruel, and she couldn’t do that to Pip.

 

C
HAPTER
F
IVE

 

T
he rows of track lighting in Lily Belle’s Salon and Day Spa sparkled like gold fire in the sequins of the owner’s dress. The long-sleeved dress covered Lily from collar bone to mid-thigh, and might have been considered modest if not for the fact that it clung to the curves of her body. A body she kept thin and toned through a busy life, Rodney Yee, and the Pilates Power Gym in one of the spa’s back rooms. She not only cut hair, she was the owner and face of her business, and it was important that she reflect a positive, healthy image.

Lily’s blond hair was pulled into a loose, sexy bun on the left side of her head, and she stood in the middle of the spa, chatting and sipping her first glass of champagne of the night. The party was officially over in half an hour and she was looking forward to slipping her feet out of the sparkly gold pumps. The spa had given away over ten thousand dollars in products and services and signed up a lot of clients for spa packages. Given the expense of the party and giveaways, Lily figured she’d broken even, which was fine with her. Her goal had been to bring in new clients, make them happy so they’d return. And with each return visit, happy clients generally wanted to try the newest facial or latest filler.

“I need to get going,” her sister, Daisy, said as she moved toward Lily. She wove her arms through her tan trench coat and pulled her blond hair from beneath the collar. Daisy was six months pregnant and a red maternity dress hugged her belly. Daisy was older, but Lily was taller. There were other little differences between the two, but they looked enough alike that there was no denying they were sisters.

“I’ll walk you out.”

“No need.”

“I want to.” Lily set her glass on a table and moved through the spa toward the front. “I’m so glad you came tonight.”

“I didn’t win a darn thing, though.”

Lily smiled and opened the door. “Don’t worry about it. I know the owner and I’ll hook you up.”

“Good, ’cause once this baby is born, I need some color in my hair and Botox in my forehead.”

Lily folded her arms across her chest and huddled against the chill of the night. “I’ve been trying to talk mom into getting Dysport because she doesn’t want ‘poison’ in her face.”

Daisy laughed. “How did it go with Ronnie yesterday?”

Lily shrugged as the two moved across the parking lot. Their heels tapping against the pavement as they walked to Daisy’s new van. “Ronnie was an hour late, of course. But he did make it.”

“Do we think that’s progress?”

Lily shook her head and a gold hoop earring brushed her neck. “We think it’s a fluke. He’s dumber than a road lizard and admitted his last girlfriend took off with his big screen TV and Xbox. Once he finds a new sloozy, he’ll forget about Pippen again.”

“Oh, my gosh,” Daisy said, disgust lowering her voice. “He still plays Xbox? At his age? What a loser.”

“I know. Right?” Lily laughed. “A thirty-eight-year-old ‘gamer.’ He probably sits around with one hand on the controller and the other on his balls.”

“Ick.”

“It’s just embarrassing that I ever married him.”

“Well, at least Pippen takes after you.” An awkward pause stretched between them before Daisy said, “You had a hard time for a while, but you came though all that. And look at you now.” They stopped by the van and Daisy opened the driver’s side door. “I’m really proud of you, Lil.”

Her heart got all mushy. “Thanks.”

“And I wanted to ask you if it would be okay if we name the baby after you.”

Her mushy heart got all tingly and the backs of her eyes pinched. “Are you sure?”

“Absolutely.”

“Is Jack sure?” Given her past, it might be something the baby had to live down.

“It was originally his idea, but as soon as he mentioned it, I knew I wanted to name her Lily too. It just seems right, but I wanted to make sure you weren’t planning on having your own baby ‘Lily’ someday.”

Lily laughed. “I don’t even have a boyfriend.” For some weird reason Tucker’s face popped into her head. “And I don’t see a man in my future. I don’t think I have very good judgment.”

“The rat bastard doesn’t count. He never deserved you, and you deserve someone as great as you, Lily. Someone who looks at you and knows he’s lucky.”

Someone like Jack. Jack looked at Daisy like that. She hugged her sister. “You’re going to make my face run.” She stepped back and waved her hands in front of her eyes.

Daisy climbed into the van. “Go back inside before you catch your death.”

“Drive carefully and take good care of little Lily.” She took a step back as Daisy fired up the engine, then waved as her sister pulled out of the parking lot. She refolded her arms and smiled as she walked toward the front of the spa.
Little Lily.
Several years ago, she had given up the dream of finding the right man and giving Pip a sibling. She’d always wanted a happy family, and hoped for two kids and a dog, but it just wasn’t in the cards for her. That was okay. Her family wasn’t perfect, but they were happy.

When she opened the door to her salon, she had a big grin on her face. There had been a time when she and Daisy hadn’t been very close, and now she was naming her baby girl after her.
Little Lily.

While she’d been outside with Daisy, the rest of the clients had left and only a few employees remained. The sound of female laughter filled the front of the spa and salon as the caterers started to pack up and break tables down—laughter mixed with one deeper chuckle. Lily’s feet skidded to a halt and her gaze took in the back of a familiar dark head, broad shoulders narrowing to a trim waist and nice behind. She didn’t need to see a uniform or ratty sweatshirt to recognize Tucker Matthews.

“Deputy Matthews.”

“Hey, Lily.” He turned toward her and his brown eyes took her in with one sweeping glance. “You said to come by and get a facial.”

She looked at the faces looking back at her. At the inquisitive gazes of her assistant manager, two beauticians, and aesthetician. “Deputy Matthews is my neighbor and I mentioned he should come by and
win
a facial.” She turned toward him. “I didn’t think you’d take me up on it.”

“Yeah. I noticed there aren’t any men here tonight.”

A few women had dragged their husbands or boyfriends, but they’d left as soon as the final prize had been won. She glanced at the clock on the wall above a manicure station. “The party is over in fifteen minutes. If you wanted to win a facial you’re too late.”

His grin told her he knew that. “You should show me around your salon. In case I need”—he glanced around—“a haircut or something.”

No, she
shouldn’t
. The caterer caught her attention and gave her a nod. “I have a few checks to write,” she said. “Maybe one of the girls will show you.”

“I will,” young, perky Melinda Hartley volunteered.

Tucker lifted one brow and wrinkled the scar on his forehead.

“Excuse me.” Lily moved through the salon to her office. The caterer followed her. She sat down at a desk covered in paperwork and a big open appointment book; her computer sat at one end of the desk, and behind it hung a massive ornate mirror that had once decorated a brothel in Tascosa. The caterer sat opposite, slid a red velvet chair toward Lily’s big desk, and then they went over the bill. While they counted the bottles of wine and champagne that had been consumed and calculated the charges for the extra linen Lily had ordered at the last minute, her mind was elsewhere in the salon. Melinda Hartley was about twenty-five. She was pretty and a really good colorist. She was also a little conceited and loud. If Melinda was in the room, everyone knew it. Just as everyone knew all about Melinda’s sex life, whether they wanted to know or not. She
was
a butt girl, and Lily had had to talk to her about appropriate workplace conversation. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was hard to find a good colorist in the Texas panhandle, she would have fired Melinda months ago.

And she was out there. In the salon. Somewhere with Tucker. Probably telling him about her sex life. Tucker was a guy. He was probably loving it.

Lily wrote out the balance she owed the caterer and tore the check from her business account. She handed it across her desk and watched the caterer walk out the door. Melinda was closer to Tucker’s age and didn’t have a child and Lily’s baggage. She shuffled the paperwork on her desk, sorting customer surveys and treatment plans. Until tonight, she hadn’t seen Tucker since that morning in her kitchen five days ago. She’d heard from Pippen that the two played basketball when Pip got home from school and before Tucker got ready for work. By the time Lily made it home, Tucker was already gone, which was a good thing. He clearly wasn’t good for her good intentions.

“Now, that wasn’t very nice.”

Lily glanced up at Tucker leaning a shoulder into the doorframe of her office. He wore a gray crew neck sweater and button-fly Levi’s. His arms were crossed over his chest and he looked annoyed—annoyed and good enough to nibble up one side and down the other. “What?”

“Melinda.”

She rose from her chair and moved to the front of her desk. “You didn’t like her?”

He shrugged one shoulder. “Not really. She’s loud and talks too much.” He pushed away from where he was leaning and shut the door. “She wanted me to screw her on a massage table.”

That was a bit crude and she’d get to his language in a minute. The inappropriateness of shutting the door too, but first she wanted to know . . . “Did she say that?”

“Not exactly. She was much more graphic about where she wanted it.”

“Oh.” Lily moved past the red chair to the center of her desk and sat on the edge. “She can say really inappropriate and offensive things. She’s one of those people who doesn’t have a filter, but I didn’t know she’d go that far.”

He shrugged. “I wasn’t offended. I was in the Army for ten years, I’ve heard worse.”

She took a breath and let it out. “Thank you for not taking her up on her offer in the massage room.”

He moved toward Lily. “She isn’t the woman I want to shove on a table.” He stopped in front of her and she stood so she wouldn’t have to stare up at him. Just a few sequins separated his chest from hers. “Isn’t her panties I want to see around her ankles.” He took her hand and slid it up his chest. “You’re the women I want to shove on a table with your panties around your ankles.”

“Tucker! Don’t say things like that.”

“Why not?” He buried his fingers in her loose bun on the side of her head. “It’s the truth. I told you how I feel about you. I want you. I want everything about you. Getting you naked is one of the things I want.” With her four-inch heels, they were close to the same height and he pressed his forehead into hers. “I know you want that too.”

After the other morning, she couldn’t exactly deny it, and she was too old to play coy games. “Anyone can walk in here.” The fire he’d started in her veins a few days ago flared in her chest. The crazy consuming lust that absolutely could not happen here.

He shook his head and his eyes turned a shade darker. “They had their coats on and were walking outside when I came in here.”

“They could come back.”

“I locked the door.”

“We can’t do this here.” She meant to sound more forceful, but the crazy, consuming lust burned her throat and toasted her pitiful resistance.

“That’s what I thought until you stood up and walked toward me. You shouldn’t have worn that dress.”

“You’re blaming my dress?” But this is Amarillo, she rationalized. Not Lovett. In a town the size of Lovett, the fact that he’d shown up tonight would have been telegraphed to half the town by now. In Amarillo, she was just another salon owner and no one cared.

“Yes, and the tight outfit you had on Monday. The way you’ve been in my head for the past five days and the hard-on that won’t go away no matter how many times I abuse myself. I didn’t think we were going to do this here, but I’m think we have to now.”

“What if someone—” His mouth on hers silenced her protest. The other morning, he’d started slower, kissing her neck and throat and cheek. Easing her into it. Tonight he hit her fast with hot lust and wet pleasure. His mouth working hers, feeding and hungry. It pulled her up on her toes and smashed her against his chest, so close she could feel the pounding of his heart. Her hands slid over his arms and shoulders and the back of his head. And like the other morning, a deep shuddering groan vibrated in his chest as if he couldn’t get enough of her touch. She liked knowing she did that to him. A strong beautiful man who couldn’t get enough of Lily Darlington.

She kissed him back, her tongue slick with carnal implications. He pressed his erection into her pelvis and she had to lock her knees to keep from falling. She slid up his chest then back down, feeling every hard muscle and length of his harder erection.

He grasped the bottom of her sequined dress, drew it up her thighs to her waist. His hands found her bare behind and he fingered the thin lace of her thong panties. He palmed her bare backside and rubbed his denim button fly against the tiny triangle of lace covering her crotch.

BOOK: Crazy on You
12.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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