Authors: Melody Snow Monroe
“He doesn’t beg
. He did ask once, but you shot him down. He’s ready to move on. Now that times have gotten hard, you want a father for your daughter.”
“Am I in love with him or am I a gold digger?”
“You’re definitely in love with him, but you won’t admit it. Your money is tight and your daughter needs a lot of things.”
She couldn’t quite get a handle on Ellen’s motivation. “So this is my last chance to snag him before he marries Cecile.”
Parker grinned. “Yes, so make it convincing.”
Thank goodness all of Parker’s plays were rated PG. “What will I be wearing?”
“As little as possible.”
The actors filtered back on stage and Parker returned to his director’s seat. “Okay, everyone. Let’s take it from the top of act two.”
Butterflies licked the inside of her stomach as she waited in the wings until Parker waved her on for her short scene. She was supposed to be standing outside Justin’s apartment in the hopes of catching him off guard. Being a stalker wasn’t her choice of a role, but if it meant she could share an experience with her men, she’d do it.
She pictured the set rotating and her balconies appearing. The door would open and Logan would strut down the steps she needed to build. Right now, they had to pretend. When he got to the right spot on the floor, she rushed up to him and plastered her hands on his chest. Since she hadn’t memorized her lines, she asked if she could ad lib. Parker was fine with that.
“Justin, can we talk?”
He seemed to freeze and focus only on her. The other actors melted away, and all she could think of was kissing him for real. Praying Parker didn’t yell
, she wrapped her arms around Logan’s neck and planted a big kiss on him while she pressed her body tight against his. He did nothing in return. There was no ass grabbing, no tongue, no nothing.
Her arms dropped to her side and she stepped back. Her brows pinched. “What’s wrong?”
“You’re asking me that?”
“I thought I meant something to you.”
He looked over her head as if he was trying to come up with something to say. “Not anymore.”
He brushed past her and disappeared off stage. Her body cramped at the rejection.
“Cut. Holy shit.” Parker got up from his seat and raced toward her. “Sugar, you’re a freaking natural.” He gave her a supportive hug.
She glanced over his shoulder at Logan, who was grinning. Now she felt stupid. She thought they were talking about New Orleans, and here he was acting. “Logan was the amazing one.”
She glanced over at Marlene, who’d stepped next to Logan and possessively wrapped an arm through his. Jade wanted to rush over and tell her that Logan belonged to her, but she wasn’t so sure that was true anymore since they really hadn’t connected since their trip. That needed to change soon.
Parker lifted her chin. “If you want to leave, you can.”
“The play’s not over.”
“I know, but you have a walk-on part at the end. I know you’re busy.”
That was true, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to be dismissed either. “What happens between Ellen and Justin? Does she get to plead her case again?”
“Justin tells Cecile about you and your past, and she then spends the rest of the act trying to convince Justin to set the wedding date. At the end I’ll have you walk down the street. The show will end with Justin running after you.”
She grinned. “So he’s secretly loved Ellen all this time?”
Parker laughed. “I’m leaving it up to the audience to figure out.”
He sighed. “Why do you people need resolution?”
, she guessed he meant women in general. “Because your female audience wants a happily ever after.”
He kissed her forehead. “Maybe I’ll have to rewrite the ending. Get some sleep. You look tired.”
Because I’ve worked nonstop to build your damned set that you don’t like.
“I thought you needed help building the flats.”
“Tomorrow we’ll discuss that. Go.”
She could use the time to work on Logan’s staircase as well as the month-end books. She waved good-bye to Logan, but apparently he didn’t notice. Marlene was in his face.
Fatigue attacked her the moment she walked into her studio. If Parker thought she looked bad, it might be best to actually get some rest.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t sleep. Kissing Logan and not feeling even a spark between them unnerved her. Either he didn’t care for her anymore or he was the best damned actor this side of the Mississippi. She wasn’t sure she was willing to go through that quasi kiss each night for the next several weeks.
The whole three-way relationship wasn’t going to work if something didn’t change. If only she could figure out what to do to reignite the fire between them. Contacting Parker made the most sense as he had been supportive.
* * * *
A knock sounded on his back door. “Logan?”
“In here.” He poured the hot drink into his cup
Parker stepped into the kitchen and made a beeline to the coffee. “Got an extra cup for me?” The play hadn’t finished until after eleven, and Parker looked none too perky. “You look like you could use some caffeine.”
“You can say that again.”
Logan poured him a cup. “Here.”
“You look like shit, too.”
That was because he hadn’t shaven and was dressed in a T-shirt with holes, which wasn’t his usual style. “Thanks.”
He brought his mug to the table and sat down. “You have to ask that question?”
“I thought Jade’s performance was terrific.”
“Did you see the hurt in her eyes when I didn’t respond?” It had killed him to walk away from her without an explanation.
“You were acting.”
He lifted the mug and blew on the steam coming off the top. “Tell her that. She looked at me like I’d slapped her.”
Parker seemed to contemplate that comment for a while before speaking. “This stay-away shit isn’t working, is it?”
“I plan on cornering her at the rehearsal tonight. I can’t wait around until she comes to us. That stupid idea of mine backfired big time.”
Parker sipped the hot brew. “I think she needs to know that we want her. When I took charge in making love to her, she loved it.”
“You’re right. I wanted her so bad that I let my priorities get messed up.”
He waved his mug. “To tonight then.” Parker finished his coffee. “Gotta go. I need to start working on the set.”
“I thought Jade was going to help.”
“I think we’ve pushed her enough. I’m going to call Colby Stone. He once told me that if I ever needed some help with the sets he’d be willing to lend a hand.”
He was the vice president of Callen Construction and a whiz with a hammer. “I guess you didn’t hear. Someone mentioned that Tracey had the baby last night.”
He tried to think of someone else in construction. “Call Wade Watson. He’s helped in the past.”
He knew firsthand how hard it was to get good help. After Parker left, he got dressed and headed out to the construction site. He’d already sold many of the homes and couldn’t be happier. He’d been serious about looking for another project. Building all those green homes had taken years. Now was the time for a little downtime. Renovating a warehouse like Jade had appealed to him. There were several abandoned ones in town that would make for a great place to live. Many were more than ten thousand square feet. The inside would give him carte blanche, but he’d only proceed if he had Jade on board. He wanted her to move in with him and Parker. To make the place something she’d be proud of, he’d need her input.
After he made all his calls for the day, he stopped at the Eatery for dinner. Play practice was going to run from six to nine tonight, and he hoped he had some time to be with her. He’d brought his script and went over his lines. Usually, he recorded the play on his iPod and played it back while he drove. Between going back and forth to work and back and forth to the theater, he’d have his lines committed to memory in no time.
He was one of the first to arrive for rehearsal. Hammers were going crazy behind the set. Logan made his way backstage, hoping that maybe Jade was there to help, even though he hadn’t spotted her truck out front.
Parker and Wade were there. He stepped up to the man his cousin had married. “Hey. How’s Sam?”
“Loving being a mom and loving running her dude ranch.”
“Tell her I said hi.”
Logan stood next to Parker. He looked up and flashed him a brief grin. “Give me a sec.”
Parker secured the last piece of the wooden structure and put down the hammer. “That’s about it for tonight.” He pulled out his phone. “Guess it’s time for rehearsal. Wade, we can’t have the banging during rehearsal. I really appreciate your help.”
“Happy to lend a hand.”
Parker looked tired. “You eat today?”
“Had a bag of chips.”
“You’ll live to one hundred on that.”
His friend patted his abs. “Jade didn’t seem to mind.”
Speaking of her, he hated that she might think he hadn’t loved the kiss. Before he could figure out how he wanted to handle the situation, Marlene and three of the other cast members came in. He turned his back to the leading lady, needing her to understand that Justin might want her but he didn’t.
When 6:00 p.m. rolled around, Parker called the cast in. Since Jade wasn’t in the first act, she probably figured she could come along in an hour. The blocking went well, and they even got to work on their lines.
At the end of act one, Parker called for a break. Logan was worried.
“Any news from Jade?”
“I forgot to tell you. She called in sick.”
His gut soured. He wanted to rush to her place and see if she needed anything, but he understood he needed to fulfill his commitment here first. “How did she sound?”
“She coughed a bit, but I didn’t detect a cold. Maybe it’s PMS time.”
“I hope that’s all it is. I’m going to check on her right after rehearsal.”
“I’ll come with you.”
Normally, he liked the two of them to stick together, but in this case, he didn’t want to overwhelm her. “I’d rather see her alone. I think she might be pissed at me.”
“Ah. You might be right. Okay, but don’t do anything I might not do.”
That lightened his mood.
After the second act finished, he broke away from Marlene, who’d asked him to go out for a drink. He’d given her some lame excuse why he couldn’t stay. If he thought there wouldn’t be any backlash from her, he would have told her he was committed to Jade. Having two jealous women on the set wouldn’t help Parker have a successful run.
Since it was only a few minutes after nine, he stopped at the Eatery and ordered a quart of chicken soup to go. His mom was notorious for giving him ginger ale if he had sore throat and chicken soup if he had a cold. The memory still brought a smile to his face.
He rushed over to Jade’s house. If she didn’t answer, he’d assume she was asleep. He parked in back and knocked on the back door. No one answered, but he could hear banging. What the hell was going on? He tested the knob. It was unlocked and he pushed it open.
There she was with a blowtorch in her hand leaning over a shovel. “Jade?”
When she didn’t respond, he stepped closer, not wanting to disturb her concentration and make her jump.
He got within two feet of the shovel when she looked up. She fumbled with the off switch. “What are you doing here?”
He waved his mother’s medicine. “Parker said you were sick, and I came to comfort you.”
She put down her gear and tore off her goggles. “Oh.”
“You feeling better now?”
Her mouth screwed to the side. “Maybe.”
“Why don’t you go take a shower, and I’ll have some soup ready for you when you get out?”
She stared at him for a bit. “Okay.”
Together they went upstairs. The temperature difference from the workroom to her apartment was quite substantial. “You got any heat up here?”
She shrugged. “I just leave the door open to let the heat rise. It works well for the second floor, but my bedroom on the third floor often gets chilly.”
“I could help keep you warm.”
Way to go, Logan. That’ll charm her.
She turned her back before he could see her reaction, but he thought he caught a smile. As soon as she went upstairs to her bedroom, he listened carefully. Her boots dropped on the floor, and then her feet padded to the bathroom. When she turned on the water, he knew he had to do something.
He glanced around the room. Seeing her work turned him on. He wanted her. Hell, he’d wanted her every day since her parents’ anniversary party and their divine excursion to New Orleans, but he didn’t want to pressure her. Waiting for her to come to him was like watching water freeze in the midday sun. It never was going to happen.