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Authors: Kate Perry

Tags: #Romance, #Women, #sexy, #love story, #Romantic, #fun, #sweet, #Contemporary Romance, #beach read

Dream of You (16 page)

BOOK: Dream of You
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To prove her point, she grabbed him and
kissed him one more time—in case he missed it all the other
times.

When she released him, they were both panting
hard. Voice low, she looked him in the eye and said, "You can't
tell me you don't feel that. You can't tell me your heart doesn't
want me, that you don't look forward to seeing me, and that you
don't miss my face when it's not around."

He was quiet, but then he said, "Is that
enough?"

Growling, she flounced away, walking to the
front door. Hurt. "Would it be enough if I was a white-collar
worker? If I wore heels and power suits and went in to a cubicle
every day? If I sat in gray walls and was miserable? Because you're
saying that it might be."

"I—"

"I used to do that," she yelled over whatever
he was going to say. "I used to rule the world. Ever heard of
Aspire? Well, that used to be my baby before I realized that I
wanted a living, breathing one instead of who'd give something back
to me beyond just more zeros in my bank account."

"Aspire, the consulting firm?"

"Are you impressed now?" She reached the
front door and opened it.

"Where are you going?" he asked, coming up
behind her.

"I'm taking my eggs and going away to find
someone who appreciates me for more than my money-making
ability."

"That's not what I was saying," he called
after her.

"Then I must not understand English," she
said over her shoulder. She rushed to the street and then blindly
turned in a direction, not caring where she was going as long as it
was away.

Chapter Twenty

 

"Louise is in love with Sawyer," her mom
declared after Lola finished reading the selection she'd
brought.

Startled by the decree, Lola looked up from
her purse, where she was tucking away the pages. "How do you
know?"

"It's obvious," her mom said simply as she
knitted.

Lola sat and watched her mom's nimble
fingers. Was her mom right? Was she in love with Sam?

She'd always expected love to be a
thunderbolt—a big blast that rocked the center of her universe.
With Sam it'd started as an irritation, a reluctant attraction, and
grown into something warm and fuzzy that made her grin like a loon
when she thought of it.

Was that love?

It felt like it, especially if the
effervescent giddiness inside her as she thought about him was any
indication.

How did Sam feel?

He liked her—that she knew without a doubt.
And he trusted her, otherwise he wouldn't have let her anywhere
around his daughter.

She shook her head. She was playing
tit-for-tat with the emotion, waiting to decide if she loved him
based on whether he loved her. Love didn't work that way. Love
happened, whether you wanted it to or not. Whether the other person
reciprocated or not.

Her problem was that she was afraid to trust
someone after what had happened with Kevin. If she were writing
herself as a heroine, she'd make the character realize that
sometimes in life you got burned. That was the essence of living.
You couldn't very well hide from life, right?

Well—you
could
. But where would the
fun be?

"I think I might take a nap," her mom said,
setting down her knitting. Then she looked around the room, her
face paling in alarm. "Why aren't I in my room? Where am I?"

Lola got up quickly to keep her mother from
panicking. "You're in your room, Mom."

"No, I'm not." Her voice rose and she tried
to rush to her feet. "My room has green paint on the walls."

Lola tried to keep her voice as even and calm
as she could. "Your old room had green paint, but you don't live in
that house anymore."

Sally blinked, then her face went blank and
she stopped struggling.

Lola pushed aside the futile anger and grief
and helped her mother shuffle into bed. She almost wished her mom
were still in her delusion instead of catatonic. She went to kiss
her mom's forehead, but Sally had already turned around and was
sound asleep.

She sat on the edge of the bed, touching her
mom's back. Feeling her warm back made her feel like her mom was
the same as she'd always been when Lola was a kid and used to climb
into bed with her.

But it was a fairy tale.

Gathering her things, she left, feeling
heavy. She should have gone home and gotten back to work, but her
heart wasn't in it, so she stopped at Grounds for Thought
instead.

Eve was manning the counter, looking radiant
and happy. Eve was one of those perpetually polished women who
couldn't look disheveled if she tried. Lola imagined that if she
worked in a kitchen all day, she'd be splattered and shiny. Eve
always looked like she'd stepped out of an Ann Taylor catalog.

She was talking a woman at the counter who
looked like an angel from an Italian master's painting. Aqualine
nose and long, curly brown hair. Lola stared at the woman, seeing a
story behind the sad almond-shaped eyes and wondering what it
was.

"Hi, Lola," Eve called out when she saw her.
"Come meet Daniela."

The woman turned to her and gave her a smile
that didn't quite reach her eyes. "Nice to meet you."

Somehow, Lola knew Daniela's lack of warmth
had nothing to do with her. In fact, she could relate, because she
wasn't in the perkiest mood herself.

"Daniela's moving into the neighborhood.
She's a dessert
artiste
. She's making the cake for my
wedding."

"Oh, right." Lola nodded, remembering. "You
wrote a cookbook."

"It was the hardest thing I've ever done,"
the woman admitted. "Harder than culinary academy even."

"Tell me about it, but not really, because I
already know." She grinned.

"Lola writes romance novels," Eve
explained.

Daniela blinked once, and then it was like
her whole being came to life. "Lola Carmichael?"

"Yes."

"I've read your books. You're a great
writer," Daniela effused. "I just read your latest book on the
flight out from New York. I finished it and started reading it
again immediately."

"You're either sweet or crazy," Lola said
with a teasing smile.

"I like to think I'm sweet, but my assistant
might debate that." She stood up and faced Eve. "Thanks for the
information, Eve."

"Treat's expecting your call. He's the best
contractor out there, and I don't say that because he's my fiancé."
She smiled like a woman in love. "He can get your remodeling back
on track."

The chef sighed. "I'll call him. It was nice
meeting you, Lola. I hope you stop by when I get my storefront open
and say hi."

They watched her stride out of there.

"She seems unhappy," Lola ventured.

"She does. I discreetly offered to listen,
but she doesn't know me well enough to trust me yet." Eve frowned
at her. "Do you trust me enough to tell me what's wrong?"

Lola blinked at the café owner. Then she
surprised herself by saying, "I'm in love."

Eve grinned. "Congratulations."

"He doesn't know." She pursed her lips. "It
may be more accurate to state that he may not reciprocate."

"Ah. I have just the thing."

Lola watched Eve begin a seemingly
complicated drink that involved stirring, steaming, and stirring
some more. A flourish, and it was in a cup being pushed toward
her.

She took a sip. Hot chocolate, only it was so
much more. Silky and dark, with just enough sweet to balance the
bitter.

"Delicious," she said, trying not to gulp the
hot liquid down. "A shot of vodka and it'd be perfect."

"No wonder you and Gwen are friends."
Chuckling, Eve looked up as the door chimed someone's entrance.
"Excuse me a second."

Lola nodded, hands cupped around her drink,
thinking about Sam. It seemed like forever since she'd seen
him—he'd had Madison the past couple days. She missed him—a
lot.

She'd go home and call him, she decided. The
idea of talking to him was strangely comforting. She wondered if
she could discuss her feelings about him
with
him. She had a
feeling she could. She trusted him.

"Lola!"

She looked up to find Madison rushing over to
her. Grinning she stood up to give the girl a hug.

Sam must be there. Lola's heart leapt in
pleasure, and she realized that maybe talking out her feelings
wasn't necessary. Maybe she'd already fallen.

Searching behind Madison for Sam, she only
saw an aggressively thin, coldly beautiful brunette with
calculating eyes.

Sam's ex-wife. Lola knew it without a
doubt.

As if she suddenly remembered she was with
her mom, Madison stopped short, her eyes wide as she obviously
decided it wasn't a good idea to hug her dad's girlfriend in front
of her mom.

Lola smiled reassuringly. "How's it going,
Madison? You're far from home."

"We were close by, and Grounds for Thought
has the best hot chocolate ever." She glanced at her mom, obviously
not sure what to do.

Not wanting the girl to be punished for
anything, Lola turned to the other woman. "I'm Lola, a friend of
Sam's. You must be Madison's mom. It's Chelsea, right?"

"Yes," the woman said coolly. She didn't
offer a hand or even the remnants of a smile. She just stared, part
curious and part hostile.

Lola could see her in Madison, but Madison
had enough of her father to balance out the sharpness. This woman
was all edge. She must have made Sam's life hell.

Just when she thought Chelsea was just going
to give her the silent treatment, she said, "Madison, why don't you
go order your drink while I talk to Lola."

Madison glanced between the two of them,
worry creasing her forehead. Lola nodded reassuringly at her and
then returned her attention to Sam's ex.

"You've been spending a lot of time with my
daughter," Chelsea said once Madison had moved away.

Not that the girl couldn't hear them. She
wanted to point out that the register was a mere four feet from
where they stood. But she just said, "Madison's wonderful. You must
be proud of her."

"Fortunately, she takes after me."
Rather
than her father
was implied.

"You and Sam have done a lovely job raising
her."

Chelsea must have heard the sincerity in her
voice because she frowned. "You care about him. You poor, poor
thing."

"Um..."

"It's such a shame you've fallen for Sam's
lies." She tsked, shaking her head.

Lies? Lola blinked. Maybe she'd entered the
Twilight Zone?

"Sam
is
very convincing, so you can't
take all the blame yourself."

Blame? She shook her head. "Convincing about
what?"

"About his affections." Chelsea's eyes
widened. "Don't worry, sweetie, you aren't the first woman to fall
for lines, and you won't be the last."

She wanted to disagree—Sam was genuine with
her. But as she started to argue in his favor, she remembered his
program manager Jennifer and the brokenhearted way she looked at
Sam.

No, Sam like her—Lola knew that without a
doubt. No one could fake the tenderness and excitement he showed
when he was with her. Why would he?

His ex-wife, on the other hand, had every
reason to try to sabotage his relationships. He'd described her as
bitchy, and she was living up to that assessment.

Lola wouldn't fall for the woman's bait. She
wasn't that gullible.

Chelsea continued blithely. "Granted, I
believe he actually does care, at least until he gets bored and
moves on."

"He didn't seem that type."

"I think I'm more qualified than you to
describe his type," the woman said dryly. She shrugged. "Believe
what you will."

Madison rejoined them, a hot chocolate in one
hand and a little bag in the other, her gaze darting between the
two of them. "Mom?"

"Let's go, Madison." The woman pivoted on her
heels and strode out.

Madison shot Lola an apologetic wince.
"Sorry."

"There's nothing to be sorry about." Lola
smiled at her, running her hand on the girl's hair. "Go catch up.
Maybe I'll see you this weekend."

She lit up. "Okay!" she exclaimed, hurrying
after her mom.

What had she gotten herself into, dating a
man with baggage like this? Lola shook her head.

At the door, Madison turned around and gave
her a wide grin before running outside after her mom.

Lola's heart turned over. Okay, maybe it was
worth it. Then she thought about Sam—his kisses, how he respected
her work, and then way he touched her, like she was sacred.

It was definitely worth it.

Chapter Twenty-one

 

For something different to do, Sam had
suggested going to a jazz club on Fillmore. Happy to be taken out,
Lola had told Sam she'd meet him at the radio station for their
date.

Before she left, she checked her official
author email to see if anything needed her attention. There was a
bunch of fan mail, some spam, some marketing emails, another email
from Kevin asking for his T-shirt back, and one from a couple days
before entitled
TOP SECRET—Very, Very Important!
from
Madison Taylor.

Curious, she opened it.

 

----------------------

To: Lola Carmichael

From: Madison Taylor

Subject: TOP SECRET—Very, Very Important!

 

Hi Lola! Sorry to bother you, but I have a
problem and I need to tell someone, but I can't tell my mom or dad.
But you HAVE to keep it TOP SECRET. Okay?

Today I fell in love for the first time ever.
His name is Jeff, and he's twelve years old.

I just wanted to tell someone. But you can't
tell Daddy. Or my mom. They'll kill me.

 

Madison

----------------------

 

BOOK: Dream of You
13.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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