I LOVE LUCY (The Bachelor Pact) (4 page)

BOOK: I LOVE LUCY (The Bachelor Pact)
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3 days until Christmas

Three long days had passed and no word from Lucy.

Reid was going out of his mind. Why in the hell hadn’t she called?

He grabbed a vitamin water and chugged it down. The renovation on the Tybee house looked terrific. In fact, he’d put overtime in this week, pounding out his frustration with a hammer and nails, and was ahead of schedule.

He checked his phone but there were no messages.

Irritated, he punched Sophie’s number. Her morning talk show should be over now, so hopefully he’d catch her at a good time.

She answered on the fourth ring. “Hello, it’s Sophie.”

“Reid,” he said without preamble. “Have you heard from your sister?”

A second passed. “No, why?”

Reid scrubbed a hand over his face. Would he sound too damn needy if he asked?

He was going to ask anyway. “I’m worried,” he admitted. “She left three days ago for an audition in L.A. and she hasn’t called.”

Sophie sighed. “Reid, you know Lucy. She’s probably shoe shopping or maybe her agent set up several auditions. She probably doesn’t want to call until she knows she got the part.”

And if she did, she’d never come back.

“She will be back for Christmas, won’t she?” Reid asked.

“Of course,” Sophie said. “Deseree is coming, and we’re all meeting at Maddie and Chase’s house.”

Relief surged through Reid. He didn’t know why his gut had been churning since Lucy had left, but he had a bad feeling something wasn’t right.

Was this Lucy’s way of blowing him off?

If it was, maybe he should just accept it. He liked being a bachelor. He would go back to his single life.

Bar hopping. Dating a different girl every night. Having sex with one girl one day and then jumping into bed with another.

A cold sweat broke out on him. Except suddenly he didn’t want to move on or sleep with anyone but Lucy.

He waved good night to his crew as they left, then jumped in his SUV and drove toward Lucy’s. Maybe she’d come home early and was just jet lagged and had crawled into bed to catch up on her sleep.

And if not, he’d pick up a Christmas tree and decorate it as a surprise for her when she returned. If they waited any longer, the good ones would be gone.

A half hour later, he parked at her house, disappointed when he didn’t see her car in the driveway. The house was dark, too. He climbed out, then untied the tree from the roof of his SUV and dragged it up to the front door.

Lucy was notorious for losing keys, so she had several hidden outside. He dug the spare key from beneath the plastic Snowman in the front yard, then let himself in, hauled the tree into the den and set it up in front of the window.

Then he retrieved the box of ornaments and lights from his trunk and brought them in.

Lucy usually kept the radio playing, and Vegas show tunes wafted from the upstairs. Had she left the radio on when she left?

He could see her dancing in that nothing of a costume she’d worn in the Diva act. Even at home, Lucy was always moving, fluid, graceful sexy moves that made him hard just thinking about them.

A sound jarred him, and he frowned and went to the kitchen to see what it was. The back door was cracked slightly, wind whistling in.

That was odd. Had Lucy forgotten to lock it?

Then he noticed that the stove eye was red. He checked the knob, but the oven was off. Still, it felt warm.

Which meant someone had been here recently.


Had she come home and not called him?

Maybe she was upstairs…

Curious, he climbed the steps to the bedroom, then paused at the sight of the unmade bed. The sheets looked tangled, the comforter thrown off as if someone had been romping around in bed.

Like it did when they made love.

Several silk nightgowns, panties and bras were also spread across the sheets.

His gut tightened as he realized the obvious. Lucy
been home…

But where was she now?

A low light glowed from the bathroom. Maybe she was bathing, then she planned to pick out the teddy she wanted to wear when she called him and invited him over.

His blood running hot at the thought, he crossed the room and opened the door. The tub was filled with bubble bath, flower petals floating on top, but Lucy wasn’t in the room.

Then his gaze swept the romantic set up. Candles glowed from the windowsill and two half full wine glasses sat on the table next to the claw foot tub.

Disappointment ballooned in his chest.

Dammit, he’d snuck in to surprise her, but she’d pulled one over on him.

She hadn’t left town at all.

She’d been here all along -- entertaining another man.

Emmet backed himself inside Lucy’s closet, hiding behind a rack of dresses as he listened to the footsteps inside her bedroom. The scent of her body lotion clung to the satin sheaths and feather boas dangling in his face. He pressed a fluffy red boa to his cheek, drowning himself in her exotic smell. He couldn’t resist trying on the black spangled stilettos on the floor.

By God, they were sexy. And they made his feet look so small…

A noise sounded, startling him back to reality, and he peered through the crack in the door and spotted a dark-haired muscular guy in jeans and a denim shirt looking at the underwear he’d spread across Lucy’s bed. Was this the low rent carpenter she’d hooked up with?

The man touched one of the silky teddies and Emmet’s blood boiled.

How dare he touch Lucy’s underwear. He should be hanging off a ladder repairing other people’s roofs or on his belly fixing toilets, not in her house!

A sneeze tickled his nose, but he pressed the feathers into his face to stifle it while he waited on the man to leave. Then a thought struck him.

He’d been here three days waiting on Lucy to return. If this creep was Lucy’s boyfriend, maybe he would lead him to Lucy.

Then he’d get rid of the competition and Lucy would be his.

Chapter Four



Three more days until Christmas. Lucy missed Reid more every day that passed.

But she tried to focus on her new friends at Sunset Vista.

The fact that their families were either gone or were too busy to include them in their plans broke her heart.

Just as Deseree had so many times.

She would not let the Silver Sneakers, the women who walked every morning on the beach, down.

Pasting on a smile, she entered the common room, laden with decorations. Some of the men had already strung colorful, twinkling Christmas lights across the room, and another resident had decorated the doors with angels and wreaths. Santas and snowmen stood out against the palm trees outside.

Her phone buzzed on her hip, and she checked the number. Reid and Sophie had each left a dozen messages.

She set the box on the table and the Silver Sneakers attacked it, grabbing ornaments and mistletoe and tinsel and giggling as they discussed the upcoming talent show.

She stepped aside to listen to Sophie’s message wishing she could talk to her and tell her about this place.

“Lucy, call me,” Sophie said. “I’m counting on you being home for Christmas. Deseree is actually talking about cooking this year.”

Lucy blinked back tears. She wanted to be there with them and see
But she couldn’t bring Emmet into her sister’s life, not when Sophie had finally found happiness.

The room grew noisy as more residents filed in for the tree decorating party. Christmas t-shirts were the theme since it was too warm for sweaters, and Moon handed out Santa hats.

Birdie, the matchmaker of the Silver Sneakers, stood instructing Able Cooligan, her current boyfriend, strategic places to hang the mistletoe to optimize kissing opportunities for the singles.

“Our bodies might be sagging and bagging,” Birdie said as she pointed to her wrinkly knees and winked. “But inside we’re still the same.”

Lucy hugged the woman. “Everything looks great.”

Mae strolled in wearing a reindeer shirt, and Lucy detected the smell of blueberries. “Have you been baking?”

Mae blushed. “I’m making a cobbler to take to a man from my church whose wife just passed. I just saw the obit this morning.”

“It would be awful to lose a loved one during the holidays,” Lucy said. It was bad enough just being separated.

“I know. It’s so sad.” She dabbed at her eyes. “But there’s a whole pew of widow women who’ve been eying him,” Mae said with a nervous frown. “He probably has casseroles up to his eyeballs.”

“I’m sure your pie will be the best,” she told the sweet woman.

“I don’t know, Ellen made him her sour cream coconut cake. Everyone says it’s better than sex.”

Lucy grinned. She wanted a piece of that cake.

Mae patted her gray curls. “You think I should get highlights to make me look younger? Or maybe we should have a Botox party.”

Lucy shook her head. “No, you are beautiful just the way you are.”

Moon and three of the men adjusted the tree in the tree stand while Rhoda, a woman who wore diamonds on every hand, directed them, her bangled bracelets jangling.

“To the right a little. No, no, now to the left.”

The group had bickered about where to put the tree at first, then how much to cut off the bottom. She’d finally stepped in to settle the dispute and now the tree stood by the picture window that offered an impressive view of the pool and intracoastal waterway.

In another corner, seventy-year-old DeEtte, one of the quilters of the bunch and the leader of the Silver Sneakers, taught a group how to make Christmas ornaments from the seashells they’d collected on their morning walk.

Flora, a spry eighty-year-old who suffered slight memory lapses and constantly forgot her teeth, filled candy jars with red and green M & M’s, placing them around the room while Billy and Nelda, the couple who’d been married so long, erected a manger scene on the front lawn.

Lucy spied the table where several Secret Santa gifts waited to be picked up. Since most of the residents were on a budget, she had instigated a ten-dollar limit on presents. So far, the group had loved their surprises and were constantly whispering, wondering who’d drawn their name.

Their five o’clock cocktail hour began, and Sue, a smart real estate saleswoman, passed out holiday martinis complete with peppermint chips floating on top. Lucy flipped her ipod to a Christmas playlist and snapped pictures as the group decorated the tree.

“Tomorrow morning we start practicing for our holiday talent show,” Lucy said. “Start thinking about what you want to do. We want everyone to have a part.”

“I don’t have a talent,” Ellen said.

“Yes, you do,” Nancy, a woman who dyed her hair blue said. “You can sew.”

“That’s perfect,” Lucy said. “You can make the costumes and sets!”

Moon sat down at the piano and began to pick out
White Christmas

Inez, a seventy-year-old who was proud of her two new hips, passed out jingle bells, and they all joined in and began to sing.

Mae sidled over to Lucy. “You know what, hon. There’s a secret Santa gift over there with your name on it.”

Lucy tensed. “But I didn’t put my name in the stocking.”

Mae shrugged. “Maybe you have a secret admirer.”

Lucy’s stomach fluttered. Emmet used to leave her little presents all the time when he’d been stalking her.

Lord help her. Surely he hadn’t found her here.

Dad blast it. Lucy was two-timing him.

Reid surveyed her bedroom again, stunned. Sure, he hadn’t exactly proposed to Lucy or bought her a ring, but he thought things had been going well.

How could he have been so wrong?

Lucy was fun loving and flirty and had been a dancer in Vegas, but would she really hop from his bed to another man’s?

His cell phone buzzed, and he checked the number. Sophie.

Maybe she knew what was going on. He quickly punched connect. “Sophie?”

“Reid, have you heard from Lucy?”

“No. Have you?”

A tense heartbeat passed. “No. I’ve left several messages but she hasn’t returned my calls.”

Worry knotted his belly. Sophie sounded anxious, not a good sign. “I’m at her apartment now,” Reid admitted. “I dropped by the house to surprise her with a Christmas tree when she returned, but she’s not here. Although it looks like she has been.”

BOOK: I LOVE LUCY (The Bachelor Pact)
10.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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