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Authors: Susan Behon

One Last Call (6 page)

BOOK: One Last Call
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“When I left, he was still lookin’ under the hood. He knew I was comin’ over to tell you.”

“Still!” Lucy wasn’t mollified in the least.

“Yes, ma’am.” Josh set a hand on Sarah’s elbow and led her out the door so Lucy could have some privacy while she laced into his dad.

Sarah paused in front of his truck and met his gaze with troubled green eyes. “So Bambi’s not the one out to get me?”

Josh shook his head and opened the passenger door. “Not unless he has opposable thumbs and access to your car.”

* * * *

Josh knew Sarah would have refused being carried out of the house, so he slowed his pace to a near-crawl and guided her to his truck. She wasn’t happy that he’d lifted her onto the passenger seat. By the way her breath hitched, she’d noticed he’d taken his sweet time letting go too. Josh wasn’t going to apologize for it. It was a temptation he couldn’t resist. Now that they were on the road, he’d focus on the problem at hand, not finding excuses to touch her. He would give it a try anyway.

“How is this happening?” Sarah’s voice came out barely above a whisper.

“That’s what I’d like to know.” He reached into the cup holder and handed over her cell phone. “Here, I found it under the front seat.” Josh then took a breath and asked something that he knew was none of his business. He wanted an answer anyway. “So, you and Dick gettin’ back together?”

Sarah stared aghast at her phone like it had asked the question and not Josh. “God, no! Why would you think that?” She gave him a sidelong glance before adding, “And his name is Richard.”

Josh did his best to tamp down his unearned jealousy. “Maybe because he’s textin’ you links to YouTube videos.”

“What?” Sarah gripped her phone in both hands. “First of all, how would you know that unless you were messing with my cell? And second of all, why would that mean Richard and I were getting back together?” She didn’t give him a chance to answer any of those questions and continued on with her rant. “We’ve been officially divorced for almost two years now. Not to mention that we’ve been separated longer than that.”

As she huffed out a breath, Josh took the opportunity to explain himself. “I wasn’t messin’ with your phone. It kept goin’ off, so I thought it was an emergency. Turns out it was your ex-husband tryin’ to get a hold of you. Have you clicked the links?”

“I haven’t seen any links. I usually delete his texts, which are rare anyway.”

Josh nodded toward her phone. “You might want to do that. Your ex is serenadin’ you with love song music videos.”

Her eyes widened. “Shut up.”

“Take a look for yourself.”

Sarah thumbed her phone on and searched for the messages in question. As she scrolled through the list, she put a hand over her mouth in what could have been disgust or disbelief, maybe a mixture of both. “Oh my God. He sent me our wedding song. Why would he do that?”

Josh gave a one-shoulder shrug as he drove toward town. “I’d say he was feelin’ nostalgic, but the ten other songs on there say he was drunk textin’ or delusional. What do you think?”

Chapter 5

“I
think this is crazy. I haven’t talked to Richard since the last time we had a court hearing. I was trying to get the spousal support lifted since he’s living with Brandi, but technically, her address is still listed as her mother’s house. All of her mail goes there, so I couldn’t establish proof of residency.” Her eyes got wider as she stared at the screen. “I don’t understand any of this. It says that he wants me back.”

Josh braced himself. “Is that what you want?”

Her grimace was answer enough. “No. Hell, no. I don’t care how many music videos he sends. This is so freaking weird, Josh. Richard wasn’t even romantic when we were married. For God’s sake, he was knocking boots with his secretary on our wedding anniversary! ‘Yuck’ doesn’t begin to cover how I feel about that visual nightmare.” She glanced over at him. “And he has the nerve to send me our song?”

“I never liked that song.” Now, Josh officially hated it.

“I didn’t either.”

“Then why is it
your
song?” Yeah, that came off sounding a little jealous.

“It was one of Richard’s favorites, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I never liked it or any of the other music on here.” She continued to stare at her phone. “He never knew me.”

Josh knew her. He knew that she loved country and classic rock. At least, she used to. None of the songs in the videos fell into either category. Richard was sending her music that could have been on a Kidz Bop album. This guy had all the emotional depth of a puddle. Shallow or not, Josh wasn’t ruling him out as the one who was screwing with Sarah’s car. His sudden interest in his ex-wife was suspicious.

“Has he threatened you?”

She exited out of her messages. “Only with bad music.”

Sarah winced when she leaned down to get her purse.

“Hey. I brought some pain meds for you in case you were a little sore this mornin’. I swear I didn’t lace it with anythin’. It’s safe.”

“Ha. Ha.” Sarah bit her plump lower lip to stifle a smile.

“Will you take some for me?”

“I’ll take some for
me
. I’m the one who’s sore.”

Josh braked at a stop sign and shook out three tablets and handed them to her. “There’s a brand-new, untampered-with bottle of water in your cup holder. I think it’s still cold.”

Sarah studied the orange pills in her palm. “This is more than the recommended dosage.”

“Take it. I think you’re probably hurtin’ more than the recommended dosage. I won’t tell if you won’t. I don’t think an extra Advil is the gateway to a drug problem, Sarah.”

She swallowed the pills and drank most of the bottle of water without any more argument. Josh took that as proof of how much she needed some relief.

Halfway into town, he asked her, “Do you find me irresistible yet?”

Sarah flushed a cute light pink over her cheekbones and the bridge of her nose. “No! Why would you ask that?”

“You know, I wanted to see if the Ecstasy was workin’ yet.” He looked serious for about five seconds until he ruined it with a smirk.

Her lips tugged up in an amused, albeit reluctant grin. “I don’t know how irresistible you think you are, but my muscles aren’t screaming at me in protest anymore.”

“Good, that means the real medicine is workin’.” He took a left on Market Street and passed The Cookie Jar and King’s Cake in a Cup. Since moving in over the shops, Josh had practically become addicted to the delicious scents of chocolate and vanilla that wafted up to his apartment in the mornings. In his haste to get to Sarah’s car, he’d forgotten to eat. “Did you have a chance to eat breakfast?”

Sarah gave a slight shake of her head. “No, my chariot arrived before I had a chance to eat a Pop-Tart.”

“You still eat Pop-Tarts?”

“Every morning.”

Some things never changed. Sarah used to share her Pop-Tarts with Josh when he picked her up for school. As soon as she got in his old Mustang, she’d hand over a warm pastry covered in a napkin and give him a kiss good morning. Her favorites were the brown sugar kind. Sarah changed things up when Josh told her he’d always liked the raspberry flavor. After that, she took turns bringing his favorite and hers. She’d always been generous that way.

“How about a real breakfast after we talk to the sheriff?”

“A real breakfast, huh? Not that I care what you think, but aren’t you the one who said I’d put on a bit of weight?” Sarah folded her arms over her chest and waited for him to dig himself out of that verbal minefield.

“Me? Nah. No way!” Josh winked at her. “Baby girl, you’re light as a feather.” He’d thought his next words. He didn’t mean to say them. “Honey, say the word and I’ll hold you in my arms for hours.” His teasing had turned completely serious.

Sarah didn’t respond to his confession. The sound of the conversation coming to a screeching halt was almost deafening. Out of the corner of his eye, Josh could see her rummaging in her purse. He hoped she wasn’t digging for pepper spray. After a minute, the rustling sounds stopped, and she zipped the bag and scrolled through her phone again.

She was going to ignore what he’d said. Was that better or worse than getting yelled at? Josh turned on the radio in an effort to drown out the silence. He’d considered making light of what he’d said, but it wasn’t a joke. If given the chance, he could and would hold Sarah Brandon in his arms for hours, days, weeks…hell…forever.

* * * *

Sarah felt like she’d stepped into the
Twilight Zone
. Out of nowhere, her ex-husband was blowing up her phone trying to serenade her, creeper-style, her ex-boyfriend was now trying to be her best friend and Johnny-on-the-spot, and someone had allegedly screwed with her car in a possible effort to hurt her.

The frosting on this crazy cake was the added bonus of her mom having an exciting secret life which she’d kept secret because it included more sex than Sarah had seen for herself in years. There had to be a hidden camera somewhere taking in her obvious expression of dismay. She knew “What the hell?” was written all over her face.

Sarah wasn’t ruling out insanity. Why else would she be riding around town with the ex-love of her life like he hadn’t ripped her heart out and stomped on it?

Great, now she’d downshifted to maudlin. It was better when she was pissed off. As soon as she worked up enough energy for that, Sarah would give that emotion another go. For now, she’d wait for a black-and-white Rod Serling to step out from behind the next stop sign and explain things to her.

Josh had thrown her off with his pronouncement of being able to hold her for hours. Sarah had been quiet afterward simply because she’d had no idea what to say to that. Her first instinct was to respond, “Show me.” She’d put her libido in a stranglehold and kept quiet long enough. Time for a subject change. “Thank you for the ibuprofen. That was thoughtful of you.”

He tilted his head in acknowledgment. “You never know when you might need it. I usually have some stashed here and there.”

“Did you already have some stashed here?”

Josh smiled that heart-stopping grin and met her gaze. The heat in his cobalt blue eyes held her in place. “Not exactly.”

“Not exactly? So you brought them for me, specifically?”

Josh’s lips twitched up in a sardonic amusement. “If you think I’m tryin’ to seduce you with Advil, honey, I swear I can do better.” His voice lowered into that hot, slow drawl that pulled her in and revved her up. Josh wasn’t bragging. He could do better than that on the seducing and had on more than one occasion. “Wanna know where I’d start?”

“No. Don’t you dare start that with me. Stop talking!”

Josh drew back in bewilderment. He volleyed between watching the road and her. “Why?”

“You know why.”

“I do?”

She could see the slight crease of a dimple in a barely there smile. He was being deliberately obtuse. “You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you?”

“I suppose so, darlin’. Why can’t I talk?” The sexy drawl had shifted into overdrive.

“Right there! You see? With the
darlin’
s and the
baby girl
s, you know what you’re doing!”

Josh pulled into the parking lot and shoved the transmission into Park. He rested a tanned, sinewy arm over the back of the seat until his fingers were almost touching the nape of her neck. He unbuckled his seat belt and turned to face her in a casual sprawl. “Explain it to me, sweetheart. What am I doin’ to you?”

His hair had dried into short, light brown layers and the darker grain of his beard was barely visible beneath his freshly shaven jaw. The deep summer tan brought out the blue in his eyes. Josh had thick, gorgeous eyelashes that were wasted on a man. She hated him. Truly.

“You flipped the switch. You’re using verbal foreplay to lure me in!”

“Verbal foreplay? Honey, this is the way I talk.” He ran a hot fingertip down the side of Sarah’s neck in a slow glide. The tone of his voice became wickedly indulgent. “I can’t help it if you like it.”

“I don’t like it!”
Man, I’m such a liar.

“You little liar. I remember everythin’ you like.”

“I’ve changed.”

“Is this…?” Josh danced that fingertip under her ear, and Sarah shivered. “Yeah, still a hot spot for you.” He cupped the back of her neck and traced that spot behind her earlobe with his thumb in a soft back-and-forth cadence until her body practically vibrated with need.
Not fair.

Sarah closed her eyes to block him out. When she felt the puff of his sweet cinnamon breath against the shell of her ear, she squirmed and realized her seat belt had been unbuckled too. She squeezed her thighs together and refused to look at him.

Was that his mouth feathering kisses over her skin? Oh God, it was! The hot press of his lips moving down her neck was driving her crazy.
Stop! Don’t stop! Why should he stop?
Her neck had always been sensitive. The soft moan that escaped from her was proof that Josh still knew what he was doing. Sarah was in some serious trouble here. She was ready to give in and jump him when the weight of his work-roughened hand landed on the smooth skin of her upper leg. Josh’s coaxing fingertips strayed to her inner thigh and sent tingles straight to the center of her.

The sound of a staccato rap on the window yanked them apart. Josh pulled away with a shaky, “God, Sarah.” He scooted over to his side of the cab and pushed the lever to lower the window. Sheriff Seth Hughes peeked in with a smirk on his swarthy face.

“Thought I was here to check out some auto tampering, not breaking up a public display of lewd behavior.” Sunlight glinted off his sunglasses when Seth tilted his head to get a better look in the cab. “I don’t have to bust you for indecent exposure, do I?”

Josh angled his upper body to block out Seth’s view of Sarah. “Go to hell, Seth. There’s nothin’ indecent goin’ on, and you know it.”

Seth laughed a big, good-natured chuckle. “Just messing with you, Josh.” He tipped the brim of an invisible hat toward Sarah. “Sorry, Sarah. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

It was a little late for that. She was mortified. They hadn’t gotten caught making out since they were teenagers, parking out by the Falls.

BOOK: One Last Call
8.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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