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Authors: Laurie Breton

Sleeping With the Enemy

BOOK: Sleeping With the Enemy
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Table of Contents

JACKSON FALLS BOOK 2

chapter one

chapter two

chapter three

chapter four

chapter five

chapter six

chapter seven

chapter eight

chapter nine

chapter ten

chapter eleven

chapter twelve

chapter thirteen

chapter fourteen

chapter fifteen

chapter sixteen

epilogue

BOOK 3 IN THE JACKSON FALLS SERIES,

Table of Contents

JACKSON FALLS BOOK 2

chapter one

chapter two

chapter three

chapter four

chapter five

chapter six

chapter seven

chapter eight

chapter nine

chapter ten

chapter eleven

chapter twelve

chapter thirteen

chapter fourteen

chapter fifteen

chapter sixteen

epilogue

BOOK 3 IN THE JACKSON FALLS SERIES,

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

 

JACKSON FALLS BOOK 2

 

by Laurie Breton

 

 

 

 

 

c. 2012 by Laurie Breton

All rights reserved.

 

www.lauriebreton.com

[email protected]

 

chapter one

 

Summer, 1990

Jackson Falls, Maine

 

Damn, but she hated weddings.

Rose MacKenzie Kenneally edged closer to the buffet table and plucked a cocktail shrimp from a heaping platter.  Nibbling at it, she leaned against the table and critically surveyed the circus that was her brother’s wedding.  The ambiance surrounding this little shing-ding had improved dramatically since Uncle Seamus had spiked the punch, effectively lubricating the starch out of this dour band of Down East Yankees her new sister-in-law called relatives.

Casey and Rob should have known better than to think they were going to have a quiet, tasteful little wedding.  Rob had spent thirty-six years as a MacKenzie, long enough to know that, wedding or wake, if the MacKenzies had an excuse to party, they were determined to do it up right.

Not that either of the principals in this little domestic drama had even noticed that their carefully planned wedding had deteriorated into a free-for-all.  The bride and groom were in their own little world, oblivious to everything but each other as they danced cheek to cheek on the makeshift dance floor that had been built on the back lawn of Casey’s New England farmhouse.

Somebody nudged her elbow, and Rose looked up to find her older brother Pat standing beside her.  At forty, his sandy hair was beginning to recede, but beneath that high forehead sat the twinkling green eyes that were the MacKenzie family trademark.  In a lilting Irish brogue, he said, “Such a fine institution, marriage,” raised his bottle of Sam Adams to his mouth, and upended it.

Irritated, Rose folded her arms across her chest.  “Fine it may be,” she said, “but who the hell wants to live in an institution?”

He cupped his hand over his mouth to hold back a small belch.  “A little jealous, are we, Rose?”

“Dream on.  This broad has seen more than enough of marriage for one lifetime, thank you.  I burned my bra the day I gave Eddie Kenneally the boot, and it didn’t take me more than five minutes to figure out that the ratio of frogs to princes is radically skewed in favor of the frogs.  End of story.”

Pat slung a heavy arm around her shoulder.  Watching the bride and groom, he said philosophically, “Don’t use Eddie as a yardstick.  Not all guys are determined to test drive every female from here to Baltimore.”

“And what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  Spare me.  I’ve already heard it.”

“Your bitterness is showing, Rose.  Be happy for Rob.  He deserves it.”

She opened her mouth to protest, but he was already gone.  She
was
happy for her brother.  But truth was truth:  some people were cut out for marriage, while others weren’t.  And Rose had been taught by a superb teacher that she belonged in the latter category.

Across the lawn, Uncle Seamus was pontificating, no doubt on some obscure point, with his arms gesticulating wildly as he waved his flask of Irish whiskey for emphasis.  His victim stood listening politely, his weight thrown on one leg, his hands tucked into his pockets, but even from this distance, Rose could see the glassy glaze in his eyes.  Tall and lean, with chiseled cheekbones above dark hollows that rendered his face a study in light and shadow, he was immaculately dressed in a dove-gray suit.  Neatly trimmed hair the color of moonbeams touched the starched white collar of his shirt.

She uttered a small snort of derision. 
Moonbeams, for the love of Mike.  Time to have your head examined. 
But she could think of no other word that fit, no other word to describe hair so blond it was silver.

He looked up and met her gaze, and something went hot inside her. 
Celibacy
, she told herself as she tried to slow the sudden hammering of her pulse. 
Too damn much celibacy. 
It made a woman crazy after a while.  In a split-second decision, she began marching resolutely across the grass to rescue him from the clutches of her uncle.

He watched her coming, his dark eyes openly following the sway of her body in the green jersey dress

With hair that color, his eyes should have been the blue of his Norse ancestors, but as she drew nearer, she realized with a sudden shock that they were a deep, liquid black.  And right now, they were warm with a combination of humor and masculine appreciation.

“Excuse me,” she said to him, and tapped her uncle on the shoulder.  “Uncle Seamus, I think maybe you’ve had a little too much joy juice.”

Her uncle wheeled and flung his arms wide in delight.  “Rosie, darlin’ of me heart, when d’ye think we’ll be dancing at
your
wedding?”

The lilt of the emerald isle always grew thicker in his voice when he was in his cups.  Rose reached for the flask before he could dump it on her, turned her face away from the breath that could knock a longshoreman on his keister, and flashed a quick grin of apology to the stud muffin.  “Better make a run for it while you can.” She capped the flask, tucked it into her uncle’s pocket, and steered the old man in the direction of the coffee urn.

But Seamus had other ideas.  “Since we can’t dance at your wedding, me dear, we’ll dance at Robbie’s instead.”

As she tried to keep the heels of her dyed-to-match shoes from sinking into the sod and sending her tumbling, he hauled her toward the dance floor.  And with the grace of a man half his age and nowhere near as drunk, he whirled her around in an elegant two-step that had her laughing aloud in delight.

Together they spun around and around, until she was breathless and giddy.  The band slowed to a waltz, and the old gentleman wheezed in her ear, “Ah, Rosie, happy it makes me to see the bloom back in your cheeks.  Now this old man needs a rest, and you, me girl, need to find a more suitable partner.”

With a steady gait that belied his inebriated condition, he trotted off affably to whisper some naughtiness in the ear of the bride, most likely sage advice regarding the wedding night.  Rose watched him go with a smile on her face.  She turned to exit the dance floor, and suddenly forgot to breathe as she saw the Viking god striding steadily, determinedly, in her direction. 

For an instant, she was accosted by the bewildering sensation that this moment was somehow of utmost significance.  But that was absurd.  She was thirty-six years old, and hard experience had taught her that if something appeared too good to be true, it probably was.  She didn’t even know his name.  Didn’t know if he was married or single.  He could be an ax murderer, for all she knew.

Breathe, idiot!
she commanded herself. 
Breathe, or you’ll pass out at his feet and make a complete fool of yourself!
But her stubborn lungs refused to function.

Then he was standing in front of her, and even with the three-inch heels, she still had to lean halfway to China to meet those bottomless dark eyes. 

“Would you like to dance?” he said.

She must have answered him.  She had no memory of speaking, but she must have answered him because a moment later she was in his arms, and the musky scent of his aftershave, released by the heat of their bodies pressed so close together, hit her with almost physical force.  Rose slowly, tentatively, rested her cheek against his crisp white shirt.  Beneath her cheek, his heart beat strong and steady, and she prayed he couldn’t hear the erratic racing of hers.

He danced divinely, his steps simple and easy to follow.  Rose closed her eyes and forgot to tuck in the tummy that wasn’t as flat as it used to be, forgot that the humidity was frizzing her tangled red mane, forgot everything but the feel of this man and the delirious pleasure of following his lead as they swayed together in time to the music.

She would have been content to go on dancing forever, but as usual, the gods declined to smile upon her.  When the waltz gave way to a Bob Seger baby boomer classic, she realized she was still standing there in his arms.  Reality washed over her, bringing her common sense rushing back. 
Jesus, Mary and Joseph. 
Here she was, thirty-six years old and hyperventilating over some man she didn’t even know.  Uncle Seamus obviously wasn’t the only one who’d overdone the sauce.  What she needed was a cup of black coffee.  A big one.  Or maybe a cold shower.  Something, anything, to whip her overheated hormones back into submission.

She stepped out of his arms.  Discreetly peeled her dress away from her sticky body.  And gave him a quirky grin.  With forced lightness, she said, “Thanks for the dance.”

And without another word, she walked away from the best thing she’d seen in thirty-six years.

 

***

 

Outside the bedroom window, the party was still in full swing.  Inside the bedroom, Rose gnawed on her lower lip and studied her reflection in Casey’s oval cheval mirror.  The dress had cost her a fortune, but the end result was worth the cost.  So what if they ate macaroni and cheese from a box for the rest of the month? It was the only thing Luke would eat anyway.  And the jewelry had been a stroke of genius:  a copper sunburst pendant and matching shoulder-length moon and star earrings that she’d picked up for a little nothing at a New Age emporium on Newbury Street.  She looked more like a rampaging Amazon goddess than a divorced mother of two teenagers.

Beside her, Casey Bradley Fiore MacKenzie set down her bouquet and frowned at her own mirrored reflection.   “We should have eloped,” she said.   “All we wanted was a quiet little wedding, and it’s turned into a three-ring circus.   And my hair has completely given up the ghost.   I should have known better than to have it curled and styled.   It always does exactly what it wants, and what it wants is to lie flat as a pancake.”

“It’s not that bad.   Here, let me see what I can do to fix it.”

As matron of honor, Rose was duty-bound to play handmaiden to the bride.  She pulled a hairbrush from her purse and began brushing her new sister-in-law’s hair with smooth, light strokes.  She suspected that Rob would have taken over the job with very little coercion on her part.  But she wanted to be sure the newlyweds made it to the airport on time.  She wouldn’t want them to miss their plane to Paris because they’d started the honeymoon prematurely.

Rose had never been to Paris.  She and Eddie had spent their wedding night at the Holiday Inn in Braintree before setting up housekeeping in that first South Boston apartment.  Her mouth thinned as she lifted Casey’s hair and tackled the underside.  With elaborate casualness, she asked, “Who’s the Viking god?”

In the mirror, Casey’s eyes met hers.  “Viking god?”

Inside Rose’s tummy, something fluttered.  “Tall, blond, gorgeous.  Gray suit.  Dark eyes.” She steeled herself for the bad news.  He was an ex-con.  A wife-beating, rabid alcoholic.  A priest.

“Oh,” Casey said.  “That Viking god.  He’s my brother-in-law.”

“Damn.   Your sister’s husband?”

“Ex-husband.   They’ve been divorced for years.”  Gazing speculatively at Rose, Casey added, “He’s single and available, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Rose’s heart started to pump like an oil rig on a hot Texas morn, and suddenly all was right with the world again.  She set down the hairbrush and fluffed Casey’s hair. 

BOOK: Sleeping With the Enemy
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