Addison Parker is on the run. No matter how fast she runs, or how far she travels she can’t hide from herself, or the gift she’s been cursed with. She can read people’s minds and with a touch can see into their future. That is a secret that she has learned to keep well―everyone always wanted something from her when they learned what she could do. It’s easier to avoid people all together.Jarrett Emerson is just helping his dad and brother protect an innocent from a perverted wretch. But when a falling brick knocks Addie unconscious, she falls right into Jarrett’s arms. To his surprise he realizes that she is his mate and human…
Addie felt stupid standing there like she was and moved to the sink. Jarrett watched her before he reached for a second glass. Addie had no idea why, but she thought he was nervous. “I’m not going to pounce on you.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, she knew that she’d made a major mistake. He turned so quickly that she backed up and hit her ass on the counter behind her. He didn’t stop there but took the two more steps to have her leaning back to look up at him.
“I’d like nothing more than to have you pounce on me.” His voice was a soft growl that had her thinking all sorts of things that had nothing to do with food. “You’re very beautiful.”
“No, I’m not.” He nodded and halved the distance between them. “You’re too close. I can’t think when you’re this close.”
Jarrett doesn’t want her to leave. If she goes, he goes with her. That’s the way it is with mates. But when a corrupt attorney has other ideas, the Emersons have to regroup to protect what they now consider their own….
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“Well, of course you couldn’t last for one more day, could you?” Addie got out of the front of her camper and looked at the smoking hood. “One more day. That’s all I needed. Then I could have been settled some place nice, and you could have rested while I fixed some of the things that you needed. What is wrong with that, I ask you?”
She felt the tears well up in her eyes and let them fall. She wasn’t a whiner, nor was she all that mushy when things didn’t go her way. But it had been a long few years and she’d just about had all she could take. If things didn’t turn around soon…well, they wouldn’t, so she had no idea why she even bothered speculating about it. She looked at the camper she’d purchased secondhand because she was cheap, and decided that it had served her well. Better than other things and people she had in her life currently. It was a recent purchase, as her other cheap mode of transportation had also died along the way to her finding herself.
The hood lifted with a loud screech. She looked around. Most of the time a person would come out of their house when someone stopped in front of their home, but it was still really early in the morning. Just shy of five, she supposed. Looking into the engine, she could see right away what it was and realized that while it was an easy fix, it wouldn’t get her far. So before she did anything like that, she pulled out her new phone and looked to see if there were any campgrounds close by.
There was one, and it was open. The middle of January in Ohio more than likely didn’t see a lot of campers, but she was happy to find them not just with a listing, but one that said that you could call twenty-four seven. The snow crunched under her feet as she called. As soon as the person answered, Addie knew that she’d woken her up. But while she sounded sleepy, she didn’t sound pissed.
“I’m so terribly sorry. But I have a bit of an emergency. I was wondering if you have a space for a camper trailer for about a month.” The woman mumbled something about how early it was and for her to hang on, so she did.
Addison Parker was on the run. Not from the police or even a boyfriend. Her family was all gone except for one, and so far as she knew there was no way there could be anyone she owed money to. Who she was running from was herself, and her depression. It had come to the point in her life when she was either going to park in her garage and let the car run until it was over, or find something to keep her mind on her life. She’d often thought, over the last few years, that she should have used the garage.
“I have spaces. I’m guessing you want some electric and water, so I’m putting you in that kind of space. And real close to the bathroom. There’s a washer and dryer too. I’ll have my son run down and turn it on for you so’s you can use it.” The woman laughed. “Course, it’s colder than a witch’s tit in a brass brassiere out, so I’m thinking you ain’t here to fish or look at the wildlife.”
“No, ma’am. Just having engine problems and need a place to fix it.” The woman told her it was fine. “Can you tell me how much? For about a month or two? I’m no problem to have stay, I promise you. I just need a place to do some repairs.”
“It won’t be the going rate being how it’s January and all. How about you pay me…?” Addie closed her eyes, thinking that if it was anything over about fifteen hundred dollars, she was going to have to think of another place to stay. Not that she didn’t have more money, but that was all she had on her right now. “Listen, how about I let you just stay there for fifty bucks for the whole month? That’ll get my son Josh some spending money, and I don’t have to worry about there being nobody at the sites. If you wouldn’t mind keeping an eye out for me.”
“No. Not at all.” Addie laughed. “Not one bit. I have to work on getting me there. But yes. I’d love it. Thank you so very much.”
She was crying again and wiped at the cold tears on her cheeks as the woman told her what site she was in. Mrs. Carlyle told her that her son would be going down to shovel it off for her so that it would be perfect. After she hung up, she looked at her ride again.
“Perfect? How the hell would anyone think of me as perfect?” Addie looked at the town she’d gotten off the wrong exit for, then at her camper. “You have been my greatest purchase, yet you fail me all the time. What am I to do with you now?”
Instead of expecting an answering, she bent into the engine compartment and started to pull the hose out. She was sure if she could patch up the hose again, it would get her the mile or so that Mrs. Carlyle had told her to go to get to the campground.
An hour and a half later, she had it running. Not well, but enough to get it started and going. She made the drive slowly, which was good, as there was little traffic out this early, and she only had to pull over once more to get it going again after putting more water in the radiator. Pulling into the spot that had been cleaned, she didn’t even have to turn the engine off, as it seemed to give up at that moment. As it sputtered to a dying stop, she laid her head on the wheel.
She had things to do. Plenty to get herself ready to live in one place for a time. But for now, right now, she needed a nap. For about ten or so years, she thought. Then she had more things to do to just live. A job for starters. Something to keep her mind off things for a while, anyway.
As she got out of the vehicle and moved out to put down the stands that would hold her steady while she walked around inside, she tried not to think about how cold it was and what she’d have to do to keep warm. Then there was the power, water, and the sewage that she needed. As she hooked this up, Addie thought of how she had to call her lawyer soon. He’d have things for her to sign, plus she needed to tell him what else she might need.
They were long overdue for a talk, and she wanted him to explain a few things for her that she’d come across when she’d been looking at some accounts. Money was missing, and there were some back orders for things she knew that he’d said had been delivered. As she sat up, she made herself a mental note on items to get him to send to her.
“Money.” Nodding to herself, she thought of several other things she was going to need as she was looking in the engine again. “A new engine would be nice, but I’m not sure that Carl here could handle that.” She’d named her home after her college professor who had told her it was the little things that made a place a home. She’d left her home with very little and now she had even less.
“You usually talk to yourself?” Addie closed her eyes when the man behind her spoke. As she turned slowly, holding the tire iron in her hand, she heard him laugh.
“I’m very harmless. My name is Josh Carlyle. My mom sent me to see what you might need.” Nodding, she still didn’t let go of the iron, and he noticed it too. “I won’t come any closer if you want. But I’m not going to hurt you.”
“So you say.” He nodded and reached slowly into his pocket with his left hand still up in the air. He told her he was going to show her his identification. “That could be just as fake. Why don’t you just move on? I’m not…I’m not really good with strangers.”
“I can see that.” He put his hands up again. “Okay, I’m assuming you don’t need anything. If you do, here is my cell phone number. My mom and I will be at work until six, then home. She wanted you to come by for dinner, if you want.” He put the card on the small mailbox at the end of her space.
“Thanks, but no thanks. No offense.” He nodded. “I’m very sorry. I’ve been kind of on my own for a while now, and I forgot how to be sociable.”
“We’re here if you need us.” She nodded and watched him move away to a truck that she envied. Turning back to what she’d been doing, she decided that she was too exhausted to try and figure it out.
She went inside and was thrilled to find the place was already warmer than it had been, and her electric blanket had her bed all toasty. Stripping down, she locked the doors and crawled naked into the bed. She didn’t even bother with turning off the lights. As her head hit the pillow, she was asleep. But she knew that it would only last about two hours, and she’d be up again.
Cash walked around the little store twice, trying his best to remember what it was he’d been there for. He’d gotten to talking and now…shit, he needed to start making himself notes, he supposed. Smiling at the little girl behind the counter, he moved out of the building into the cold evening. He nearly squeaked when he saw the young woman sitting on the bench. Her feet out in front of her nearly made him trip up, but it would have been his fault. He was too busy “flirting” again (as Slone called his trips to town).
She was asleep. Soundly, too, if he didn’t miss his bet. And the way she was dressed had him believing that she was homeless…worn-out boots that had broken laces, a coat that was miles too big for her, and a hat that had seen better days. There was no way that a human could just sit there in this weather and not be frozen. He was nearly to his car—well, Slone’s car—when she spoke behind him.
“I don’t think it’s going to start. You left your lights on. They sputtered out about ten minutes ago.” He looked at the car, then the shop. He’d only been in there ten minutes, he was sure. “You’ll need a jump.”
“You offering?” He hadn’t meant for it to sound so dirty, but she sat up and looked at him. “I meant my car. I don’t know you well enough to make that sort of comment to you that would sound like I was flirting with you. But you get to know me and you’ll know I’m pretty harmless.”
“Men are rarely harmless.” He could hear the pain in her voice and felt his heart twist. Such a beauty and all that hatred. “I don’t have a car or I would give you a jump. I’m sorry.”
Nodding, he got into the car and put the key in. Not that he didn’t believe her, but he had to try. Nothing but a click-click-click. Getting out, he pulled the tab to open the hood and looked under it. He had no more idea what was under there than he did in the fertilizer he and Slone had ordered the other week.
“Your cables are corroded.” He looked over at her when she came to stand beside him. “If you go in and get a cola, I can fix that part for you. You’re still going to need someone to give you a jump I bet, but this will keep it from happening so often. And I don’t want to be rude, but can you maybe go in and get it and come back out? I’m sort of looking for a job and I don’t have all day.”
Cash didn’t take offense to her request. He was a social man, and people were just too friendly to not talk to. But instead of going inside, he went to the pop machine outside and got the cola she suggested. As soon as he handed it to her, she opened it and took a small sip before pouring it all over the vise-like clamps that were already pulled from the box in the corner. The nasty stuff bubbling up off them made his belly kind of wiggle.
“Christ, that is some nasty shit.” Her grin told him she loved what she was doing, and he watched as the cola seemed to boil all the rust off them. Even as she used a napkin to clean them off, he was amazed at the difference. As soon as she got them back on the battery, he realized he should have called in one of his boys to help him.
“You should have your battery checked out. It’s expired.” After she showed him the date on it, he wondered how Slone had ever gotten around, and told himself to ask his boys when the last time they checked theirs was. “Also, you need better tires. Those are going to get you killed. They’re nearly bald, and in this slick weather, it’ll be over before it begins.”
“Thanks. Never even thought of those things. This is my daughter-in-law’s car, and she’s a little on the shy side.” She nodded and went back to the bench. Cash, never one to pass up helping somebody, even if they didn’t think they needed it, went to sit beside her. As she laid her head back, he reached for Luke, who he knew was on his way in.I got me a problem. Not a big one, but I need a jump. Luke laughed. When was the last time you had your battery checked? This car I borrowed from Slone has a battery in it that’s nearly five years past its date.
It’s a new car, so I’m thinking I’m good. But you’re right, I bet she…why the hell does she still have that thing anyway? I mean, she more than likely owns a fleet of cars. Cash thought Luke might be right. I’ll be there soon. Five minutes.
Cash thanked him and looked at the girl. “You should let me pay you for your help. This thing might have had my Slone out somewhere and all alone when her battery quit on her.”
“No thanks.” She didn’t move as she spoke, but she did open her eyes. “You don’t know anyone that’s hiring, do you? I mean a real job, not one you think you owe me.”
It was on the tip of his tongue to tell her that when she put that stipulation on him. He didn’t know of a single job. Not anything he thought she, a pretty little thing, could do. Instead of telling her no, he decided that he might need some help.
“I’m opening an office. Not sure what sort of help I might need, but I could use someone to answer my phone, do a little filing. Can you do any of that?” She sat up and then stood. “Is that a no?”
“It is. I have to get back. I’m…I’m having a bad day and I need to be alone.” Cash had a feeling that she didn’t need to be alone, that it might be the worst idea she’d ever had. He stood up. “Thanks for the drink.”
It took him a few seconds to figure out what she meant. She’d taken a sip of the cola and that was all. As he turned to go after her, Luke pulled in front of his car. When he turned back, she was gone.
“Dad?” He started down the street, and Luke called him back. “I thought you needed a jump. I’m already running behind. I’m sorry. I’m going in to file some paperwork I forgot to do today.”
“There was this girl. Woman, I guess. She looked…she helped me, and now I don’t think she should be alone.” Luke looked down the street, then at him. “She was here. Used a cola to clean off them terminals. I never knew about that. And people put that stuff in their body?”
“I saw her. Who is she?” Cash told him he had no idea. “Well, that was really nice of her to help you. If you have something that belongs to her, we can hunt her down for you. Why are you afraid she shouldn’t be alone?”
“I don’t know. I just have a feeling…Luke, you know how that woman you knew some time ago—the one that went and killed herself—how she looked all the time?” Luke nodded, sadness in his eyes. “I’m sorry, boy, I am. But this here girl, she looked about ten times worse. Like the thought of dying was much better than living.”
Luke looked in the direction she’d gone. Cash looked as well. He had a feeling that the girl was going to harm herself. And if she did, he was afraid he’d be haunted by her for the rest of his life. He looked at Luke.
“I’m going to open an office. Like the one you and Jack was telling me about.” Luke nodded as he hooked up the cables to his battery. “You go on and fix me up on that, please. That building next to your wife’s, it’ll do just fine.” “Dad, what’s this about? You didn’t even want to talk about it the other night. Why now?” He looked in the direction the girl had gone. “This have to do with her? That girl tell you something? Ask you for something so you’d do it?”
“No. Damn it, boy. What makes you think that some snip of a girl is going to be able to make me do a damned thing I don’t want to?” Cash huffed. “Damn it all to hell. There is something about her that makes me think she’s a danger. To herself.”
“How?” He wasn’t sure and told him that. “I don’t understand. You think she’s going to kill herself? Why? What did she say?” Cash got into the car when Luke told him to. He had no idea what it was about her. There was something there. Something profoundly sad that made him want to find her right then and fix it. When the car roared to life, he got out and stood by his son.
“She’s got a sadness about her that hurts me right here.” Cash put his hand over his heart. “Luke, if something happens to her, anything, I’m going to be hurting too. I don’t even know her name or a thing about her, but I like her. She is…I don’t know, I really like her.”
“All right, Dad. Let me see what I can find out.” Luke got into this car and looked out at his dad. “You have her scent? Anything?”
Cash picked up the can and handed it to him. After Luke took it to his nose and handed it back, Cash did the same, taking in her scent to keep it with him. When his son took off, Cash went to the diner and had a little talk with Mable. If anyone knew anything, she would. And by golly, damned if she didn’t.
“There is this girl that is camping at my place. Don’t think it’s her though. Josh said she was on the scared side. Wouldn’t even let him take out his license to show her who he was.” Cash had a feeling this was his girl. “Tall, about six foot, he said. Skinny and a little on the busty side.”
“That’s her. Yeah, busty, that’s a good name for her. Dark hair. Looks like a good wind would lift her up and toss her away.” Mable called Josh from the back, and he nodded at his description of the girl. “What’s her name?”
“She gave me one, but I’m thinking it’s just short for something. Addie Parker, she said. Her truck is broke down, she told me, and she needed some place to fix it.” Mable looked at Josh. “Anything you can tell Mr. Emerson here?”
“She was threatened.” Cash started to ask him what he meant. “As soon as she saw me, she held that tire iron like she was gonna use it on me. I think she would have, too. And her engine is gone. I could smell it from the car when I was leaving. But she didn’t strike me as someone who would trust you if you had a string of priests telling her you were fine.”
“She’s stranded then?” Josh nodded at him. “Good. The longer the better. I want you to let me know if she comes in here. I won’t go out there and bother her none, not yet at any rate, but if you see her let me know. I’m gonna…I need to keep an eye on her for a bit.”
Cash went out to his car and wasn’t surprised that it started right up. He looked down the street and thought he saw her, but wasn’t really sure and turned at the next street to go and see.
As soon as he turned around and got back to where he’d seen her, he pulled over. She wasn’t around, of course. That would have been too easy. He moved up and down the street until he got to Jack’s building. Slipping inside, he stood in front of the big window while he watched. Cash felt Jack before she said anything.
“You have a date or something?” He told her about the girl. “Ah, so you’re stalking. That’s not good. There are laws about that, I think. Should I tell your sons? I’m sure that Hunter will have a lot to say about you stalking someone.” “No, there’s no reason to tell them. Luke knows, but…I just have a feeling about her…this girl, I mean; that’s all.” He looked at her then. Christ, this woman made his heart flutter every time he looked at her. “You’re awfully pretty today. That mate of yours is picking out your clothes again, I’m betting.”
“No, he is not. As a matter of fact, Slone and I went shopping. She has excellent taste. I was going to go with her tomorrow.” They both stared out the window. “What’s the story on your date?”
“I don’t want to date her.” He’d snapped before he could think not to, and she laughed at him. “She’s just a woman that I have a fear for, that’s all. There is just something about her that makes me want to pull her into my arms and keep her safe.”
“I don’t know her, but if you have that feeling, I’ll help you.” They both moved away from the window, and he noticed then that the store was dark behind them. “I was just closing up. Luke called to say that he has to work on something for an hour or so. So I’m all alone. Wanna take a lonely woman out to dinner?”
“Hell yeah.” As she pulled on her jacket, he thought of the other woman. She might be cold or hungry. His resolve to find her doubled and it nearly took his breath away with it. “Jack, do me a favor. If you find this girl, see if you can get her a coat or something to put on. I think she might be a little on the stubborn side.”
“Stubborn, huh? I don’t know that many stubborn people, but I’ll give it my best.” He stared at her until she started to laugh. “I’m kidding. But I will keep an eye out for you.”
Thanking her and walking her across the street, Cash wanted to go and see her now, his mystery woman. Even though he knew where she was and that he could be there in no time, he decided to wait. For now anyway. As soon as they entered the diner again, he was filled with a sense of wellness. The girl would be all right, he knew, for one more night
Next Release is Jace The Pride Of The Double Deuce