Jack paced back and forth by Baby’s sliding door. He knew his hair must be a complete mess from running his fingers through it. And if there was a god, he was going to hell for sure, given how much cussing he had done for the last half-an-hour. In a church parking lot, too.
But he hadn’t felt this scared and unsure since that social worker had dropped him off at his grandfather’s casino. It had been nothing more than a tacky cinderblock building then.
Since Rex and Jaycee’s wedding, Grandfather had been telling him that he would know when he found her. But Jack had thought that was all just more of the old man’s mystical mumbo-jumbo.
Then he had looked up from that receiving line and saw her. Tall. Blond. And more curves than Farm-to-Market Road 149. But it wasn’t just how beautiful she was, and she was stunning. No, there was something utterly innocent about her. Something that woke the beast inside of him. Made Jack want to protect and defend this woman with his dying breath. No, not want…need.
He thought he knew all the eligible women in this town. Goodness knows he had gone through the limited list during the last twelve months. Maybe she was from out of town? One of Mercy’s friends from college or another writer? He’d like to give that woman fodder for those sexy books his friend wrote.
He’d bought every one of Mercy’s books, even before she suddenly became famous. At first, he’d done it to help out a friend. Not that he’d dare tell her that. But one night, he’d been lying in the spare room off his office at the casino. His mind was so full of all the shit he was dealing with. Kerr’s extortion. The money that the casino was losing. His grandfather’s fucked up will. Hell, the old man’s sudden death. And a few other demons that he didn’t like thinking about.
He opened the damned thing on his phone. He’d thought it would be good for a laugh. But damn, that shit was the hottest porn he’s ever read. He’d only felt a little bit guilty beating off to his friend’s writing. It certainly had him questioning all those rumors around town about the Vestal Virgins. It had undoubtedly put Mercy at the top of his potential bride list. Except for the one kiss they had shared as kids. It had definitely been like kissing his sister. That was why he’d moved on to Laura.
But damn, had he let his little head mess everything up. The Reynolds girls had been almost like family to him. And he’s blown it. Laura refused to ‘babysit’ anymore, saying he obviously didn’t need one anymore. He still saw Mercy around school, but things had never been the same. He hadn’t even gotten a decent feel of those magnificent tits, either.
None of it, no woman had torn his guts up and pulled them out his asshole the way that one did, though. That’s why Jack was hanging out with Baby, hoping to catch a word with Mercy. Find out who the hell the woman was. He was already working on a plan of attack. She’d never know what hit her. He’d sweep her off her feet, give her everything she ever dreamed of, and make damned sure that she never had second thoughts about him.
But dammit, when had Mercy become some social butterfly? Flitting from her friends to her mother and then that man of hers. Not that he had anything against Will, he didn’t. He trusted that the man would do right by his friend.
It was just that after watching his cousin and all his friends, fuck even Reb, find love, he’d given up hope of ever finding the one for him. Until today.
But she had been crying. What or who caused those tears? Whatever or whoever he’d handle it. He always would for her.
Damn it, what was taking Mercy so fucking long. He needed to know her name. Hell, her whole life story. No, he’d wait. Let her tell him that. As they lay in their bed between bouts of making love. He’d learn it all. What made her smile, what made her sad, her dreams, he’d make all those come true.
Jack came up short when he bumped into something. He’d been so lost in thought that he’d not even noticed her. Lizzie Patterson. He’d barely known the girl. She’d been a couple of years behind him and Mercy in high school. To be honest, he’d been a bit jealous when the girl took his place as Mercy’s best friend and partner in crime, well, mischief.
Of course, Lizzie had made his shortlist too. He’d even asked her out after one of the Sebida Small Business Association meetings. But the woman had been brutally honest with him. She didn’t have the time for dating. And she was not looking for a husband. She had a brother to care for and a business to run. That was all she could handle. He’d respected that.
But what if his woman faced similar obstacles? She had been crying after all. No, with her, it wouldn’t matter. He would not accept no. Okay, he would. He wasn’t some stalker or rapist. But he’d just find some other way to convince her.
Then it hit him. Lizzie was the other one in that group. She had been the one holding the woman. And something began to itch at the back of his mind. But he pushed it aside. No, fucking way, would Fate be that cruel a bitch.
“Who is she?” Jack forced the words out before he lost the courage.
Lizzie stepped back. She stared at him and shook her head for a moment. “Well, hello, Jack. It’s nice to see you, too. Did you enjoy the service?”
He knew what she was doing. He and this woman were like oil and water. He was rebellion, and she was prim and proper. Little Miss Do-the-Right-Thing. He admired that. Except when it stood in the way of him getting what he wanted. But he knew to pick his battles, and a bit of small talk wasn’t going to kill him. If she told him what he wanted to know.
“Hello, Elizabeth,” Jack used her full name because he knew it irritated her. He might have to play her games, but he’d do it his way. “I ain’t one for church or any of that spiritual bullshit. But some of the things the man said made sense.” He held her gaze, “Now, who the fuck is she?”
He could see Lizzie fighting to hold her laughter back. “Who is whom, Jack? There are a lot of people here today. But I thought you’d know them all? Better than I do.”
Jack flexed his fists at this side. He did not hit women. But damn, this one always had gotten under his skin. And not in a good way either. He must have been desperate to even consider this one. But he bit his tongue. “The woman with you and Mercy earlier. The blond that was crying all over your shoulder. Who is she?”
Jack was glad that he was so close to Baby’s open door when her eyes met his. He knew. He knew the answer then. From that look in her eyes. The broad smile on her face. He almost fell down. He held on to the door frame to keep from ending up on his ass in the gravel parking lot.
As Lizzie spoke the words that sealed his Fate for all eternity. “What, Jack, I’m surprised you didn’t recognize Abby Jean Monroe. Didn’t you use to push her in the swing? Of course, I suppose she has done a bit of growing up, ain’t she?”
He hated the smirk on the woman’s face. While he supposed he had justifiable reasons to be pissed at that smugness, it wasn’t her fault. He should know better by now. Whatever made him think that Fate would be kind to him. The vicious bitch never had been before. From the druggy prostitute that had been his mother to the pussy-whipped old man that had taken him in, then the blood baths that he would never erase from his mind.
But not this time. No way. Three more days. He would sign those papers. Turn that money-pit of a casino over to the Nation. And he would hop in Baby and just go. He didn’t know where. But that didn’t matter. As far as he could from this place. And that…
Jack wasn’t sure he could bring himself to even think the word woman when it came to Abigail. The tempting siren of sexy curves and innocence was nothing like that cute little kid who always had stars in her eyes when she saw him. He could almost hear her squeal, ‘Jack.’
If she were anyone else on this planet, he would give his life to put those stars back in the woman’s eyes, the way they had been in the child’s. But the words, ‘more, harder Jack’ would not be about some damned swing unless it was a sex one.
Oh, fuck. Why did he get hard at that thought? He could almost see how fucking sexy she would look in a black satin corset, hands and ankles bound in the swing.
But no. Not her. Not that woman’s precious granddaughter. This was one Greywolf man who was never going to end up entangled in a Monroe woman’s web.
He stood up and slung open the driver’s door. He’d owe Baby an apology later. Maybe an oil change or perhaps a lube job?
If what they said was true, he’d need a helluva a lot of lube to work his cock inside that tight virgin cunt. “Shitpisscockcuntmotherfuckinsonsofbitches,” he pounded the fake-fur padded steering wheel.
He could see Mercy and her man joining Lizzie as she stood laughing in the parking lot. He hated those fancy custom side-mirrors as he peeled out of the parking lot. Three days. He could do. Just three days, and he could leave this place forever. And her.
Jack wanted to believe that if he ran far enough and fast enough, someday he’d find another woman that turned his insides to jelly the way that one did. But he knew better. Why did Fate have it out for him? Had he been some kind of monster in another life? He must have been. What other explanation was there?
The one thing he had wanted most, hell, he’d even come as close as he could to praying for. And he fell in love, at first sight, with a Monroe woman.
It was a damned good thing Kerr was dead, or his ass would be in jail considering the traffic laws he broke. He drove. Just drove. He knew he should go back to the casino. Begin all the paperwork that he had already been contemplating.
Instead, he found himself sitting at the edge of that driveway. The house was in worse shape than he remembered. But that wasn’t surprising. He knew the truth.
Miss Myrtle had been broke for years. And since she retired from her job as principal at the high school, it had been his grandfather who had made the monthly mortgage payments on this place. Stupid old-fool. Jack was half-surprised the man hadn’t left the casino or at least the trust fund to the girl.
Girl? Lizzie was right. Abigail was not that little girl anymore. Not with curves like that. Damn, was that the old swing still hanging lopsided from the tree?
“Fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck,” Jack started the engine and turned Baby around. But every mile he put between them took another bite out of his broken heart. Just once. Would it have been too much? For Fate to be on his side? But evidently, it was.
Let that preacher talk all he wanted about reconciliation. Jack knew it was something he’d never find. No matter how far he went from this place. Or how long he stayed away. But there was one other thing he needed to do. One other legal document he’d sign before Sebida, Texas, was just another memory in his rearview mirror.
He might never have the wife or kids that he had dared to dream of. But he could make sure that she had at least one of her dreams. The preacher had been right about that, at least. Revenge would never be as sweet as knowing he had given her something to hold on to. He’d sign the deed tomorrow. And that would be it.
But Jack knew he was lying to himself. He would never get Abigail out of his mind. For as long as he lived, she’d visit his dreams each night. And the words ‘more, harder, Jack,’ would never be the same.
I hope that you have enjoyed this story. As with real life and that song, when a door closes, a window opens somewhere. Next week, we begin looking through that window into a future of #ReconciliationTX. A smalltown Texas, America, and world that I believe we all hold the keys to creating.