Authors: Wendi Zwaduk
A Total-E-Bound Publication
Please Remember Me
ISBN # 978-0-85715-553-5
©Copyright Wendi Zwaduk 2011
Cover Art by Lyn Taylor ©Copyright May 2011
Edited by Stacey Birkel
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.
Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing. Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.
Published in 2011 by Total-E-Bound Publishing, Think Tank, Ruston Way, Lincoln, LN6 7FL, United Kingdom.
This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. This story has been rated
PLEASE REMEMBER ME
For my CP, N, who had the faith and drive to stick it out with me.
For KC and MO who read this when it was really rough.
To my editor for sticking by me even though it got a tick rocky.
JPZ—Please Remember Me when I’m gone—I’ll be thinking of you always.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Mercedes Benz: Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC.
Jeep: Chrysler Group, LLC
Crock-Pot: Sunbeam Products, Inc.
Barbie: Mattel, Inc.
Coke: The Coca-Cola Company
Ford: The Ford Motor Company
Mercury: The Ford Motor Company
Styrofoam: Dow Chemical Company
Cadillac: General Motors
Glock: Glock Gesellschaft mbH
I told him I’m coming back to Crawford because I want to see him.
Jade smoothed her hands over her satin jacket and squared her shoulders. Men never got to Jade Weir, movie star. It wasn’t an option. She held control…except when it came to the copper-haired deputy with eyes the colour of tropical ocean water. Just the thought of Deputy Marlon Cross made her thighs heat. They’d shared one quick kiss when she’d said goodbye at the sheriff’s department but, good grief, how the kiss had stayed with her. The memory of the rasp of his beard abraded her cheeks and kicked her desire up a few notches. She fanned her face. No matter how many sexy text messages and
emails they’d shared, a handsome man like him wouldn’t be on the market for long.
The lights flickered in his living room. That was a pretty good indication he was home, right? Shit, was he alone? She folded her hands in front of her mouth and peered around the lot. Three cars sat outside his apartment. His? A girlfriend’s? Pain seared her chest in the vicinity of her heart, making her gasp. God! Here she sat in a car pining for a man who probably had a woman in there with him.
Glancing in the rear view mirror, she ran her tongue over her teeth to remove the stray lipstick and rubbed the sleep smudges from under her eyes. “I look like I’ve been on a bender,” she muttered, “rather than clean for six months.”
Driving sixteen hours straight wasn’t her best idea, but it had got her the rest of the way to Crawford, Ohio. Would Marlon recognise her without the heavy mask of makeup? Finger-combing her hair, she considered pulling the strands back into a clip. The last time she’d seen him, the colourist had insisted she looked best with platinum highlights.
With a final look at her makeup—modest by Hollywood standards—she opened the car door. No one recognised the slightly dented Benz or the Topher Azad jeans and hoodie she wore under the jacket. Not exactly glamorous, but not awful. Her phone buzzed as she slid out of the seat. She glanced at the screen before flicking open the phone.
“Hey, Bobby. Yeah, I’m in town, so keep an eye out in case they came, too. We’ll meet up tomorrow.”
“Yup,” came the reply just before the line went dead.
Jade closed the car door with a snick and forced herself towards Marlon’s front door. She shoved her phone in her jacket pocket. Each noise, each little movement, put her on edge. A gale of laughter and shouting came from the neighbouring apartment. She nibbled her top lip as her high heels clicked on the pavement.
Please don’t let any of Daddy’s goons or the press be on my tail.
From his open living room window came the gentle sounds of his television, accompanied by soft groans. What the heck was he watching? More importantly, was he alone?
She closed her eyes and took a long breath, letting it pass slowly between her lips on the exhale.
I’m visiting a friend.
Opening her eyes, she inched forwards.
No one knows where I am and I can blend in.
Her heart hammered against her ribs.
Don’t turn back.
She stopped at the bottom of the short set of stairs and held on to the wrought iron railing.
I can do this
. Thumps came from the other side of his door. Fear and revulsion coursed through her veins as she crept towards the porch. The soft thumping grew louder.
He did have someone there with him. Had to. Hot guys of his calibre weren’t alone for very long.
Her hand hovered over the doorbell. Had he just called her name? Shaking her head, she blew off the word she’d heard. A man like Marlon didn’t yearn for a woman like her. He probably fantasised about the old Jade, the Jade who took her clothes off to get attention. The Jade who ate drugs for dinner and passed out at parties. The old Jade no longer existed.
The new Jade, with thirty extra pounds, rounder cheeks, filled-out hips and honey-blonde hair, had taken her place. The Jade she’d become was the Jade she’d always been on the inside—Jaden Marie Haydenweir. Sure, she still wore designer and insisted her hair be in a perfect tousle. No need to go totally off the deep end.
Her father’s parting words rang in her ears. “You can’t make it on your own. Men want the ideal. Without the gloss, you look like the girl next door and not the ones on television. Men want fantasy, not your boring reality. You’ll see I’m right.”
Taking one more deep breath, she fisted her hand.
Had he seen her? Without thinking, she spoke. “I’m out here!” Her eyes widened and she slapped both hands over her mouth. Oh God, had she just answered him? What would his girlfriend say?
Turning around, she stepped off the small concrete porch and retreated to the parking lot. The click of her heels echoed in the silence of the evening. No, he wouldn’t see her beg or embarrass herself again. When they’d kissed in the parking lot of the airport, her blood had heated. Her mind had spun. Words she’d only spoken in jest before had flowed from her lips, I love you. She shivered. Love at first kiss wasn’t possible. Well, not in the real world—only in movies.
When she reached her car, she gripped the door handle and rested her forehead on the cool frame. Tears of mortification pricked her eyes. She had never seen another woman, but he couldn’t be alone. Maybe he’d found someone else named Jade.
“Who’s out here? Jade?”
Jade froze. His voice sounded strained. Surprised? Worried? Had Marlon come out looking for her? She wasn’t sure. Shifting into the shadow of her open car door, she slid behind the wheel.
Marlon, clad in nothing more than low-slung, plaid pyjama bottoms, stood on the porch with his hands on his hips, his gaze darting around the lot. With long, confident strides, he stepped into the splash of fluorescent light. Spiked nipples and a sprinkling of crisp hair decorated his toned chest.
Licking her lips, Jade curled her fingers around the steering wheel. Oh, to caress those muscles and nuzzle his pecs. To feel safe in his arms and hear his heart beat as she rested her head on his chest after they’d made love. Oh God. Now she had to explain why the heck she’d ended up sitting out in front of his apartment. Crap. She looked no better than the throngs of photographers who dogged her every step.
He rubbed his hand over his abs as he continued to look back and forth. When his gaze met hers, Marlon strode towards her car, the beginning of a grin on his lips. Did he recognise her?
A light clicked on in one of the units across the narrow parking lot. Tearing her gaze from Marlon’s body, Jade peeked over her shoulder. A woman with gleaming blonde hair stepped out onto her porch. “Marlon? What’s going on? Is there a prowler? I’m scared.”
With a groan only she could hear, Marlon waved. “Hi, Sabrina. It’s safe. Go back inside your apartment.”
Jade gasped. She’d know that svelte blonde anywhere. Sabrina Jeffries. They’d been up for the same part in Kicks. The speculated closeness they’d shared on set had gone deeper than anyone knew. Jaden shuddered, not wanting to return to the mistakes of her youth. The gossip papers claimed Sabrina had retired. Apparently so.
Sabrina sashayed out into the light. Her diaphanous nightgown shimmered around her body and left nothing to the imagination, revealing perfect swells and curves. “Why don’t you come over for a little while and keep me safe?” She wriggled her brows. “I miss our long talks over cappuccino.”
Jade’s eyes widened. Long talks? With her? She gagged. Maybe she’d better go back to the hotel by the freeway. There she wouldn’t have to look at the Barbie doll wannabe. No wonder women disliked her—she’d been just as plastic as her former co-star.
A shadow darkened her window. When she turned, Marlon stared at her. He tapped the glass with a long finger. “What are you doing out here?”
Jade squared her shoulders and rolled the window down. “I’m sitting. Isn’t it obvious?” Wincing, she cursed her cowardice.
Don’t slip back into Jade. Let Jaden shine
. Swallowing her pride, she spoke the truth. “I wanted to see you.”
Squatting, Marlon folded his hands on her doorframe. “In a beat up Benz? Are you in disguise?”
She stared at his hands. A light sprinkling of hairs covered the backs—enough to be seen without seeming obtrusive.
“This is me.” Her stomach dropped to her toes. The nerve of him, to even think she’d come in disguise. Did he think she looked silly? “I thought maybe I’d stop in for a visit—so sayeth my text.”
“Got the message three days ago.” He cocked his head. “I didn’t expect to see you, but it’s the highlight of my night.”
Clad in a flimsy nightie, Sabrina strolled up behind Marlon. Her face twisted into a frown. “Who’s the dump driving the used sports car?”
Clenching his jaw, Marlon closed his eyes. “Sabrina, go home.”
Long fingers tipped with crimson nails kneaded his shoulders. “Are you sure, honey? I don’t want anything to harm you and she looks sleazy and strung out, whoever she is.”
Jade sank down in her seat, not wanting Sabrina to figure out her identity. The strung-out jab weighed heavily on her mind. “I can leave you alone. I just thought we could talk in person.” Grief, she sounded cheesy… No, no backing down. “Your lady friend needs you, so I’ll see you later.”
The beginning of a smile crinkled his lips as he murmured, “You stay. I’ll get rid of her.” He tapped the rubber lining the window frame. “And she’s not my lady friend. Not by a long shot.”
With that, he stood and manoeuvred Sabrina to the rear of the car. His words, although muffled, weren’t quiet enough. “I appreciate your concern, but it isn’t necessary. Why don’t you go home? Really, I’m fine and there’s no threat. Okay?”
Shrugging, Sabrina walked away. Whatever she said in return remained out of earshot.
Jogging back to her car, Marlon opened the door. “Why don’t we talk? I’m sure you didn’t show up at my door just to run away.” He held out his hand as she slid from the seat. When she stood, a long whistle escaped his lips. “Jade! What did you do to yourself?”
Swallowing past the lump in her throat, she hugged her body. The last bit of bravado she held on to evaporated. “Why don’t I just go? You’re busy and Sab—she doesn’t seem to want me here.”
“Not a chance.” Marlon brushed a rogue lock of hair off her face with the pad of his callused index finger. The touch tingled her skin and sent electricity to her core. God, the man made her quiver. How unfair! His gaze lingered over her body, but unlike the throngs of paparazzi and fans, his appraisal felt honest. Could she hide the extra pounds under name brands and creatively draped fabric? Not under this scrutiny.
He cocked his head. “Let’s go inside.”
Although she wanted to run, she allowed him to show her into his apartment. Even through the layers of her jacket and hoodie, the warmth of his hand on her lower back sent heat and chills through her body. Once inside, she froze. What had she come here for? To talk. Right. Talk. Not sex. Definitely not sex.
“Have a seat. Are you hungry? Thirsty?” Marlon gestured to the couch. “Let me grab a T-shirt and I’ll be right back. I wasn’t planning on company.”
Shaking her head, she sat on the very edge of the sofa. Browns and navy dominated the small space. A knobby navy armchair sat opposite the plasma television. A framed painting of a duck hanging from the mouth of a yellow Labrador hung over the couch. She cringed. Who kept pictures of dead animals on their walls? Gross. She gave an inner shrug. Her father had stuffed fish on the walls of his office. Still, if she had her way, the gruesome image would be out.
She bit down hard on the inside of her cheek. If she had her way? Talk about wishful thinking! Besides, she hadn’t come across the country to fall in love.
Marlon shuffled from the bedroom and into the kitchen, clinking glasses and mumbling to himself. Or was there someone in there with him? Squirming in her seat, she folded and unfolded her hands. Leaving. Yes, she should leave before things got out of hand. If Sabrina knew why Jade had come back to Ohio, she’d make it her dying desire to ruin Jaden’s life.
With a kick, Marlon opened the door and strolled into the room. “I brought you a Coke.” He placed the glass on the scarred wooden coffee table and plopped onto the opposite end of the couch. Slurping, he downed part of his can of soda. “What’s wrong? You look like you could run out of here in a second. Don’t tell me Sabrina’s got you flustered. She’s harmless—pushy, but harmless. You probably know her. She tried to make it big in Hollywood about seven years back.”
“I’ve heard of her.” Hoping he didn’t see her tremble, she wrapped her hands around the cool metal. “I had to get away. If I’m intruding, please tell me.”
“Nope. This is my night off. I’m the only one here and I was getting lonely. I’m glad you’re here.” He sipped from his can and smacked his lips. “What did you need to get away from? The hustle and bustle of Tinsel town? Logan says he misses the clubs from time to time, but I think Cass keeps him pretty busy. Actually, I just saw you on television. How is Jeremy?”
Choking on her soda, she covered her mouth and coughed. “Jeremy? Jeremy who?”
He nodded to the blank television. “Jeremy Mears, your current man.”
Her heart thundered in her chest. Oh, that Jeremy. “We only dated for a brief time but he’s moved on.” Grief. They’d had one date and he’d insisted on taking her home by one in the morning—without sex. Jeremy had spoken more about his new clothing line and the record he had in the works than he had about the movie.
“Oh, so there isn’t anything going on in your life? No new movie or new CD? You said you needed to get away. What’s the matter? You know you can come to me if you’re in danger. Door’s always open.”
Clutching the can to prevent herself from reaching for him, she spoke. “I’m in trouble, but not the normal kind.” He opened his mouth to speak and she quieted him with her index finger. His lips twitched. The whiskers on his upper lip tickled the pad of her finger. Ooh, what would it feel like to have him kiss her with those scratchy lips—down there? A shudder ripped through her. It’d be heaven. She blinked twice to clear her mind.